Parish Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Sośnica
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Parish Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Sośnica

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The parish church in Sośnica is a rural church designed in the Gothic style, its vaulted ceiling supported by a single pillar; the church is adjoined by the chapel of the Holy Stairs, established in 1776 and modelled after the Scala Sancta chapel, located in the immediate vicinity of the Archbasilica of St. John in Laterano in Rome.

History

The earliest known mention of a church in Sośnica dates back to 1244. The current Gothic church was erected in several phases. The chancel and the peripheral walls of the nave were constructed in the late 13th century. In 1487, the vaulted ceiling above the nave was constructed; the sacristy, funded by Hans von Prockendorf and his wife Katharina von Prockendorf née von Strönichen, was erected during the same period. In 1504, a tower was added, with the date of its construction being displayed on the inscription plaque. The church was taken over by the Protestants in 1570 and reclaimed by the Catholics in 1653; until the year 1684, it remained a filial church of the parish in Kąty Wrocławskie. In 1619, the southern porch - funded by Gotthardt von Prockendorf - was added to the nave, while in 1776 the nave was extended upwards, with the resulting additional space being used as a patrons’ gallery. In 1753, a devastating fire consumed the roof of the church and caused severe damage to the tower, which was only reconstructed in 1799. The roof of the church was repaired much faster, with the works being completed a mere year after the fire.

In 1776, the chapel of the Holy Stairs was erected alongside the church; it was funded by Maria Josepha von Würtz und Burg and modelled after the Scala Sancta chapel located proximate to the Archbasilica of St John in Laterano (Rome). In 1779, Jan Henryk Kynast executed the wall paintings which grace the interior of the chapel. In 1919, restoration of these wall paintings was conducted by a man called Frisch - a painter based in Wrocław who also repainted a few sections of the original décor.

The church was restored on numerous occasions: in 1855, 1862 (when the Gothic Revival tower portal was added), 1921 (when the staircase annex was added on the northern side of the tower), 1923 (plasterwork repairs), 1969 (restoration of the roof) and in the years 1975-1980 (interior renovation, replacement of the flooring and interior plasterwork).

Description

The church is located in the middle of the village, on a small hill. It is surrounded by a cemetery which is also home to the Baroque tomb chapel of Maria Franciszka von Saurma, erected in 1783 and situated south of the church itself. The cemetery is circumscribed with a wall erected in 1819, with the northern part thereof incorporating the remnants of a still older wall, made of split stone (granite).

The church itself is a Gothic edifice oriented towards the east, its walls made of brick and reinforced with buttresses. The wall base is covered with plaster. The main body of the church is adjoined by a number of Baroque annexes. The church is a single-nave structure designed on a floor plan the shape of which is similar to the Greek cross, with a short, four-bay nave with a single pillar and a narrower, two-bay chancel with a rectangular end section. The nave is preceded by the quadrangular tower positioned west of the church, slightly offset towards the north. The tower is crowned with a pyramid roof and adjoined by an annex containing the staircase leading up to the pipe organ gallery (1921). The chapel of the Holy Stairs (1776) with annexes adjoins the northern side of the nave, while another chapel and a porch with patrons’ gallery (1619, upward extension in 1776) adjoins the southern side thereof. The sacristy adjoins the northern wall of the chancel. The nave, chancel and southern porch are covered with gable roof clad with ceramic roof tiles; the chapel of the Holy Stairs features a three-sided roof, while the sacristy and the annexes are covered with shed roofs. Putlock holes can still be seen in the walls of the tower. The interior of the church features ribbed groin vaults, with the vaulted ceiling inside the chancel dating back to the late 13th century; the ceiling of the nave, constructed in 1487, rests on a single, central pillar, with the bays alongside the rood arch featuring a net-like arrangement of ribs and liernes whereby the ceiling of the eastern and western bay is divided into eleven and eight fields respectively. The vaulted ceiling above the chancel is adorned with sculpted keystones in the form of a rosette and a mask; the keystones above the nave are decorated with the family crests of the benefactors of the church (the von Prockendorf, Strönichen, Grundschreiber and Sachs families) in bas-relief. The sacristy, southern chapel and the porch which precedes the chapel all feature double barrel vaults with pronounced groins, while the ground floor section of the tower features a simple barrel vault.

Inside the nave, visitors can admire the Late Gothic foundation plaques of Hans von Prockendorf (1487) embedded in the wall; another foundation plaque, likewise commissioned by Hans von Prockendorf and his wife Katharina von Prockendorf née von Strönichen, adorns the tower façade. The fixtures and fittings of the church are designed in the Baroque style and include the main altarpiece (1714), the side altarpieces (ca. 1680 and 1719), pulpit (ca. 1720), a cycle of paintings centred around the Seven Sorrows and Seven Joys of the Blessed Virgin Mary, created by J. H. Kynast, with the funds for the execution of these paintings being provided in 1779 by Maria Josepha von Würtz und Burg. Other notable items include the Renaissance baptismal font from 1580, with a Baroque lid added somewhere around the year 1720. In addition, the church also contains numerous Renaissance and Mannerist tombstones and epitaph plaques.

The chapel of the Holy Stairs, designed on an elongated rectangular plan, is a two-storey structure with a pair of eastern annexes containing the external staircase as well as the shrine of the Gethsemane (ground floor level) and the altar of repose (first floor level). The tripartite interior of the chapel opens towards the nave through a pair of arched openings; the chapel features a vaulted ceiling of the barrel type. Two parallel stairways running alongside the western wall lead up to the platform where the altarpiece is located. The eastern stairway, graced by an ornate, openwork balustrade, consists of 28 marble steps with the relics of various saints embedded beneath. The western stairway, made of sandstone, was designed as an auxiliary stairway for convenience of the pilgrims descending from the platform above. The walls and vaulted ceiling of the chapel are adorned with painted decorations created by J. H. Kynast, centred around the theme of the Passion of Christ; in the centre of it all lies the trompe l’œil altarpiece surmounted by the figure of Christ in a crown of thorns (1779, partially repainted in 1919).

The site is open to visitors.

compiled by Beata Sebzda, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Wrocław, 17-07-2015.

Bibliography

  • Bajdor A., Jan Henryk Kynast malarz Śląski II połowy XVIII wieku. Roczniki Sztuki Śląskiej, Vol. 4, 1967, pp. 221-224.
  • Degen K., Die Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler des Landkreises Breslau, Frankfurt am Main 1965, pp. 281-289.
  • Hoffmann H., Die Kirche in Schosnitz, Breslau 1935.
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce. Seria Nowa, vol. IV, issue 2, Województwo wrocławskie, Sobótka, Kąty Wrocławskie i okolice, J. Pokora and M. Zlat (eds.), Warsaw 1991, pp. 119-125.
  • Kozaczewski T., Wiejskie kościoły parafialne XIII wieku na Śląsku (miejscowości P-S), Research Papers of the Institute of the History of Architecture, Art and Technology of the Wrocław University of Technology no. 29, series: Monographies 17. Wrocław 1994, p. 24.
  • Pilch J., Leksykon zabytków architektury Dolnego Śląska. Warsaw 2005, p. 311.
  • Świechowski Z., Architektura na Śląsku do połowy XIII w., Warsaw 1955, p.
  • Zabytki sztuki w Polsce. Śląsk, Warsaw 2006, pp. 790-791.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: koniec XIII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Sośnica
  • Location: Voivodeship dolnośląskie, district wrocławski, commune Kąty Wrocławskie - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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