Order of Malta church of John the Baptist, today the parish church of John the Baptist, Stara Zagość
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

Order of Malta church of John the Baptist, today the parish church of John the Baptist

Stara Zagość

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A valuable example of the Romanesque architecture in Poland. The rich ornamentation of the façade with bas-relief depictions of a mermaid and triton has no counterparts in the local 12th-century sacred architecture. The Gothic, stone architectural details of the temple and the external encasement of the presbytery of the 1st half of the 14th century are among the important examples of the 14th-century stonework craft in Małopolska.

History

The monastery of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem in Zagość was funded and sponsored by Henry of Sandomierz between 1154 and 1166. Casimir II Just upheld and expanded his brother’s foundation ca. 1173-1175. The temple partially preserved to this day was built by the Order of Malta probably in the 1160s-1170s. After 1321 the monks transferred the commandry as a compensation to the diocese of Włocławek. A source of 1335 mentions the existence of a parish. After 1350 the church nave and presbytery were vaulted and enlarged. According to Jan Długosz, this project was initiated by King Casimir the Great as expiation for arranging for the murder of Marcin Boryczka, a curate of the Kraków cathedral, in 1349. Currently, this motivation is sometimes challenged. The sacristy was added in the 15th century. In 1657 Rakoczy’s troops destroyed the building. It was rebuilt between 1664 and 67. Re-consecration followed in 1667. In the following centuries, the complex was renovated several times. The church was extended again in the years 1900-1901. A chapel, porch and south sacristy were added and the nave was enlarged towards the west. The year 1962 saw the discovery of the remains of the Romanesque (frieze with the mermaid and triton) and Gothic structure. In the years 1968-1971, the sacristy was deconstructed, which allowed the exposure of the Romanesque and Gothic traces on the walls. Also, the 18th-century altars were removed. Between 1995 and 2000, the roofs were repaired and the Romanesque stonework was conserved; the presbytery received a new design (by Janusz Cedro). In the years 2010-2011, the façades were renovated.

Description

The church is located in the centre of the village, in the middle of a rectangular square surrounded by a stone wall. This oriented, single-nave church consists of a long, rectangular nave (the east part of it with the Romanesque base and Gothic walls) and a narrower and lower Gothic presbytery, closed on three sides. To the north, the presbytery adjoins a square sacristy with a small hall. The west side of the nave borders on a lower porch and a square chapel. The temple is supported by buttresses. The Romanesque and Gothic parts are made of stone blocks, the other of quarry stone and brick. The interior is only partly plastered. The building is covered with a gable roof (over the nave with a bell turret, presbytery, chapel and porch) and a hip roof (over the sacristy). The stone façades are divided by horizontal cornices and corner buttresses. The east part of the nave is dominated by rich architectural ornamentation; in the north-east corner (today in the sacristy hall), there are the reliefs of the mermaid and triton. The church's interior is covered with wooden ceilings (over the nave, chapel, porch and sacristy) and a cross vaulting (above the Gothic presbytery with relief supports and keystones). The passage between the presbytery and the sacristy is through a Gothic portal with the doors of the 2nd half of the 15th century. Among the modest fittings of the temple, there are: stone tabernacle of the 2nd half of the 14th century, the image of Our Lady of Consolation in the high altar from the 2nd half of the 16th century and the statues of St Hedwig and St Veronica of the 2nd or 3rd quarter of the 18th century.

The building is accessible to visitors. It may be visited upon prior telephone appointment.

Compiled by Łukasz Piotr Młynarski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Kielce, 04.12.2014.

Bibliography

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General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: lata 60.-70. XII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Stara Zagość 12
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district pińczowski, commune Pińczów - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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