Parish church of St Peter and St Paul, Stopnica
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Parish church of St Peter and St Paul

Stopnica

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Prior to its destruction in 1944, the church was one of the most significant 14th-century places of worship in Poland. Reconstructed in the years 1945-56, it remains an interesting example of the practical application of a post-war historical monument reconstruction approach based on the exact recreation of historical forms using the surviving relics of the original structure and placing an emphasis on an exalted moral and ideological message conveyed thereby. Inside, the church features a valuable ensemble of Gothic architectural sculptures dating back to the third quarter of the 14th century or thereabouts, incorporating a profusion of heraldic themes – a typical feature of buildings founded by King Casimir the Great.

History

The church in Stopnica can trace its roots all the way back to the 11th century. It is believed that towards the end of the 11th century, Duke Władysław Herman conferred upon it the status of a collegiate church, with records dating back to the 1110s – 1160s containing mentions of the local canon and scholaster; however several church historians have since attempted to disprove this theory. In the 13th century, there was allegedly a masonry church on the site; in years 1325-27, the church was known to have been maintained by a trio of parish priests. According to the chronicler Jan Długosz (Johannes Longinus), the current church was founded by Casimir the Great, who allegedly sought atonement for the murder of reverend Marcin Baryczka in 1349; more recently, however, these circumstances have been called into question. The exact date of construction of the church remains unknown, although it may have been erected as early as the 1350s-1370s. In 1421, a local provostry was founded here. In the second half of the 15th century, the adjoining chapel of St Anne was erected, followed in 1564 by the northern porch and Gethsemane chapel. In 1645, Adam Hinek, the lord of the manor, erected a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary. In 1657, the church was desecrated by the forces led by the Hungarian duke Rákóczi. The building was renovated in the 1660s and the 1670s. The roof of the church was lowered in 1677. Further renovation works, encompassing the steeple and the pillars, followed in the years 1719-23. In 1783 and 1795, the church was damaged by fire. During the 19th century, the church underwent restoration on several occasions. In the early 20th century, the existing altarpieces were replaced with new ones, designed in the Gothic Revival style, while the Gothic antependium was moved outside, to the Gethsemane shrine. Disaster came upon the church in 1944, with about 80% of the structure being wiped off the face of the earth. The building was subsequently reconstructed in years 1945-56, based on the design produced by Józef Jamroz, its overall form designed to recreate the original appearance of the edifice. Once the new interior fixtures and fittings were in place, the church was consecrated in 1986 and has served the local community ever since. In the 21st century, the exterior plaster finish was repaired, as was the roof of the church. The conservation works performed during that period also extended to the 18th-century paintings, the Gothic architectural detailing and the marble-effect epitaph plaques.

Description

The Gothic church is situated in the middle of an irregular yard surrounded by a perimeter wall, located in the western part of the hill, near the market square. The hall church, oriented towards the east, follows a pseudo-two-nave layout and features a rectangular main body with a pair of interior pillars, adjoined by a three-bay chancel with a semi-hexagonal end section. The northern side of the chancel is adjoined by a polygonal staircase tower and a two-bay sacristy with a two-sided termination, the latter visibly lower than the chancel itself. A two-bay Gothic chapel of St Anne and a square, domed chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary adjoin the southern side of the nave, while its western façade features a projecting, square porch with a cylindrical staircase turret. Another porch, likewise erected on a square floor plan, adjoins the northern façade of the church. The building is made of limestone, with parts of its walls covered with plaster. Some of the walls are reinforced with buttresses. The reconstructed, tall roofs – especially those of the multiple annexes – take on a variety of forms. Most façades of the church are simple and austere; the western façade is an exception, featuring a triangular gable adorned with blind windows. Stonemasons’ marks and a marble-effect epitaph plaque dedicated to Horacy and Anna Lusti (1628) adorn the northern wall of the chancel, while a plaque with an image of the Lamb of God graces the south-eastern part of the nave. The entrances to the church are accentuated by reconstructed portals topped with pointed or shouldered flat arches. The interiors of the church feature a variety of vaulted ceilings: a modified cross-ribbed vault with three supports instead of two (the so-called Piast vault), located in the nave and resting on a pair of monumental pillars, cross-ribbed vaults in the chancel, the sacristy and the chapel of St Anne, featuring keystones from the second half of the 15th century, a double barrel vault in the northern porch, a barrel vault with lunettes in the western porch as well as a domed ceiling on pendentives which graces the chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary. The vaulted ceilings inside the nave and the chancel are adorned with sculpted Gothic keystones (heraldic crests) and supports with foliate decorations, dating back to the period between the 1350s and the 1370s. The painted decorations adorning the splayed window reveals in the chancel and the nave may originate from the Middle Ages. Notable interior fixtures and fittings include the stone antepedium of the main altarpiece (third quarter of the 14th century, a leaden baptismal font from the 1st half of the 16th century, two 18th-century paintings (The Immaculate Conception and the Virgin and Child with Saint Anne), the altarpiece of the Blessed Virgin Mary (second half of the 18th century, featuring a pair of decorative side sections from the second half of the 17th century, relocated here from the Staniątki monastery) as well as marble-effect epitaph plaques from the period between the 17th and the 19th century.

The site is open to visitors. The interiors may be explored by prior arrangement with the parish priest.

Compiled by Łukasz Piotr Młynarski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Kielce, 09-06-2015

Bibliography

  • Record sheet. Parish church of St Peter and Paul in Stopnica, prepared by E. Polanowska, Kielce 1995, Archive of the Regional Monuments Inspector in Kielce; Archive of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Warsaw.
  • Gadomski J., Funkcja kościołów fundacji Kazimierza Wielkiego w świetle heraldycznej rzeźby architektonicznej, [in:] Funkcja dzieła sztuki. Materiały Sesji Stowarzyszenia Historyków Sztuki, Szczecin, listopad 1970, E. Studniarowa, Warsaw 1972, pp. 103-113.
  • Grzybkowski A., Gotycka Architektura murowana w Polsce, Warszawa 2014, pp. 98,104-106, 108-109, 113.
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, vol. 3. Województwo kieleckie, J. Z. Łoziński, B. Wolff (eds.), vol. 9: Powiat pińczowski, prepared by K. Kutrzebianka, Warsaw 1957, pp. 61-63.
  • Kazimierza Stronczyńskiego opisy i widoki zabytków w Królestwie Polskim (1844-1855), vol. II: Gubernia Radomska, prepared by K. Guttmejer, Warszawa 2010, pp. 309-311.
  • Kiryk F., Urbanizacja Małopolski. Województwo sandomierskie XIII-XVI wieku, Kielce 1994, pp. 141-142.
  • Olszewski A., Włodarek A., Stopnica. Kościół par. pw. śś. Piotra i Pawła, [in:] Architektura gotycka w Polsce, T. Mroczko, M. Arszyński (eds.), vol. 2: Katalog Zabytków, A. Włodarek (ed.), Warsaw 1995, p. 215.
  • Szyszko-Bohusz A., Sokołowski M., Kościoły polskie dwunawowe. Zabytki w nich ocalałe czy też pośrednio się z nimi wiążące i król Kazimierz Wielki, “Sprawozdania Komisji do Badania Historii Sztuki”, vol. 8, issue 1-2: 1907, pages 67-124.
  • Wiśniewski J., Historyczny opis kościołów, miast, zabytków i pamiątek w stopnickiem, Marjówce 1929, pp. 240-255.
  • Wiśniowski E., Prepozytura wiślicka do schyłku XVIII w., Lublin 1976, pp. 113-115.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1350 - 1376
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Pl. Piłsudskiego 1, Stopnica
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district buski, commune Stopnica - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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