Szalowa – parish church of St. Michael the Archangel, Szalowa
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Szalowa – parish church of St. Michael the Archangel

Szalowa

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The value of the monument

The late Baroque church of St. Michael the Archangel in Szalowa has survived since its construction in an almost unchanged form. It has therefore a high typological value as a link in the development of traditional wooden churches in our country and a precious document of spiritual and aesthetic needs in the twilight of Sarmatia period. The monument is an outstanding example of the characteristic at that time attempts to replicate in wood the solutions of sacral brick architecture. The high class of the object is proven by individual construction solutions as well as expert handling and excellent exploitation of the possibilities offered by the building material.

The interior of the church, giving an impression of unusual dynamism, is composed in an all-embracing manner, combining - in the way typical for Baroque style - the architectural elements as well as painting and sculptural decor into a single coherent whole, and its artistic quality places the temple among the most valuable monuments of its time. Noteworthy are unusual solutions: oblique positioning of the columns between naves and wavy shapes of the rainbow beam and arches of arcades, as well as valuable elements of Rococo-Baroque decoration and furnishing, including: wall polychrome with illusionistic elements related to sculptural figural presentations, musical choir with a moulded sill decorated with a lambrequin, a pulpit with intricate decorations, a marble baptismal font, a set of columned altars, numerous paintings.

History

The parish in the village of Szalowa was founded in 1375. We have no information on the first parish temple; the second wooden church was erected in the sixteenth century. Its modest furnishing included painting of Saint John Cantius from 1640, preserved and honoured to this day. The present church was built at the initiative of the local parish priest Wojciech Stefanowski and the owner of the village Krzysztof Jordan in the years 1739-1756. The architect of the building remains unknown. The wooden model of the temple has been, however, preserved at the National Museum in Cracow and it proves the designer's high qualifications. The Rococo interior polychrome and furnishings were mostly made in the eighteenth century; some of the polychromes on the ceilings and walls were created in 1808. Originally, the church was covered with shingles. In 1911, renovation and refurbishing works were carried out, during which the roofing was replaced by tin. In 1944, another significant renovation was undertaken, when the wall surrounding the church cemetery was renovated and extended with the Way of the Cross, and the belfry was plastered. In the years 1951-53, Przedsiębiorstwo Państwowe Pracownie Konserwacji Zabytków O/Kraków (The State Enterprise - Monuments Conservation Workshops District/Krakow), renovated the polychrome and furnishing of the church. In 2012, another comprehensive renovation began, aimed at improving the technical condition and restoring the external appearance of the temple from the early twentieth century. This included restoration of shingle roofing and replacement of shuttering.

Since its inception the church in Szalowa continuously performs its original function serving the local community as a Catholic parish temple and is a place of local cult of the aforementioned image of Saint John Cantius.

Description

The church is located in the middle of the village, on the northern side of the road leading from Stróże through Szalowa to Łużna. The area around the temple, a former church cemetery with preserved old growth of trees, is surrounded by a wall from 1739. Within it, apart from the church, there is a chapel dedicated to Divine Mercy from the end of the eighteenth century and a belfry from the nineteenth century.

The church was founded on a rectangular plan with a presbytery closed on three sides. It is made of fir wood as a log construction on foundations of broken stone, shuttered outside with boards and covered with shingles. In the rear part of the gable roof there is a ridge turret. In the front elevation there are two towers embedded in the temple's body and a triangular gable in the central axis with the sculpture of Saint Michael fighting against Satan. The church is a three-nave structure in the basilica layout, with three external porches at the front. The church can be entered through the wooden door with rich blacksmith decoration.

Between the side naves and the main nave are arcades in wavy forms supported by obliquely set columns. An apparent barrel vault extends over the presbytery of the temple and flat ceilings over the naves. On the ceiling, in six monumental and richly decorated architectural frames, are allegorical images, including Golgotha, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Tablets of the Decalogue, Noah's Ark. The painting and sculptural composition of the wall and the rainbow beam, cut out in the same way as the arches of the nave, are set in a monumental frame: on the painted illusionistic background there is a carved group of the Crucifixion. The walls of the main nave are covered with coltrina decorations of vertical ornamental strips. Under the windows there are painted cartouches from acanthus and rocaille with Polish sentences (such as kto nie słucha słowa Bożego, przeklęty niech będzie - Cursed be he or she that does not listen to the word of God), and on the ceiling, painting decoration in the form of an oval plaque made of rocaille forms braided with a twine and a border running along the walls. On the ceilings over the side naves, in the spans on the presbytery side, there are richly decorated illusionistically painted sail vaults. The ceilings in the other spans are decorated, among others, with rosettes with oak leaf motif.

All wooden architectural details are polychromous and complemented with sculptural elements, while the columns, pedestals and cornices are mostly marbled. Particularly noteworthy are the two column portals in the presbytery topped with intermittent pediments flanked by figures of angels. Polychromous statues of apostles are placed on the arches of the arcades as well as multi-coloured carved vases with flowers and cartouches supported by putti. The most valuable movable elements of the church's furnishing include wooden columnar late baroque altars with rich rococo decoration - the main altar and six side altars - dating back to the middle of the eighteenth century. In the three-axial main altar there are eighteenth-century paintings of the Holy Trinity and St. Michael the Archangel. The two side altars distinguish themselves with the richness of architectural detail, ornaments and sculptural elements, one with paintings of St. John Cantius from the seventeenth century and St. Anne from the sixteenth century, the second with the paintings of St. Nicholas from the sixteenth century and St. Barbara with St. Stanislaus Bishop from the eighteenth century. Important elements of the furnishing are also: a baroque-rococo baptismal font made of black marble, a rococo pulpit with a rich figural and ornamental wood carving and sculptural decoration (connected by a staircase with a founder’s box - loża kolatorska), original confessionals, stalls and benches.

Particularly noteworthy is the rococo reliquary of St. Barbara in the form of a monstrance from the second half of the eighteenth century, as well as two iron padlocks from at the entrance door to the church dating back to 1659 and 1766.

 

Prepared by the National Heritage Board of Poland

General information

  • Type: ecclesiastical complex
  • Chronology: 1. poł. XVIII w.
  • Form of protection: history monument
  • Address: Szalowa
  • Location: Voivodeship małopolskie, district gorlicki, commune Łużna
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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