Parish church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Szaniec
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Parish church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Szaniec

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One of the most spectacular Gothic church of the Ponidzie region and the entire Świętokrzyskie province, undoubtedly modelled after the churches founded by King Casimir the Great in the Sandomierz region, intended as a form of atonement for the death of the preacher Marcin Baryczka. Both the original silhouette, interiors and structural substance of the building have survived intact to the present day.

History

Next to Prandocin, Szaniec was one of the oldest estates held by the Odrowąż family in the Lesser Poland (Małopolska) region; it was most likely already in existence during the 11th century, even though the first mentions of a church in this area date back to the first half of the 13th century and appear in sources pertaining to the establishment of a canonry by Iwon Odrowąż, the bishop of Cracow and the most eminent member of this powerful family of magnates. Still later, in 1326, we find written mentions of a local parish in Szaniec. The existing church was erected towards the end of the 15th century, its consecration taking place in 1499. The funds for the construction of the church were provided by Krzesław from Kurozwęki, bearer of the Poraj coat of arms (1440-1503), the bishop of Wrocław and royal chancellor. The building retained its original appearance until the 19th century, although the fact that the church was consecrated for the second time in 1662 strongly suggests that its interiors must have been damaged during the war against Sweden. It was only in 1863 that the northern porch was added, while in the years 1914-1915 the church was thoroughly restored and extended through the addition of the western porch; in addition, a perimeter wall on the northern, western and southern side of the church was also built during that period. In 1930, the church underwent another series of renovation works; a brick bell tower was erected during that year, as was the eastern part of the perimeter wall, incorporating the main gate. A trio of Rosary shrines was also added. In years 2011-2012, the stone façades of the church underwent a series of conservation works; new windows were also added, their shape designed to fit in with the remnants of the original Gothic window casings. In 2014, the first Parish Museum in the region opened its doors to the public in Szaniec.

The wooden chapel of St Anthony, located in the immediate vicinity of the church, was erected in 1876; it is traditionally believed that its structure incorporates timbers salvaged from the Camaldolese monastery, established in the woodlands near Szaniec in 1722 by the last lord of the Pińczów manor, Józef Władysław Myszkowski. In 1819, this mysterious monastery shared the fate of many other similar structures as the monastic assembly itself was forced to disband.

Description

The church is situated in the southern part of the village, on a plateau of a gentle hill rising among the relatively tightly clustered ensemble of village buildings of both residential and utility nature. The church itself, made of limestone blocks, has an aesthetically pleasing silhouette which speaks volumes about its builders. The nave and the narrower chancel, featuring a semi-hexagonal end section, both feature a set of monumental, two-stepped buttresses supporting their walls. The chancel and the nave are covered with tall gable roofs, with a Gothic Revival steeple jutting from the nave roof ridge. The façades are pierced with tall, pointed-arch windows with deep, splayed reveals. A drip cornice running above the tall wall base can be seen just below the window sills, while the upper part of the walls is topped with a profiled crowning cornice. The tall, triangular gable of the western façade is adorned with a series of blind windows topped with semi-circular arches – a recurring motif which is also present on the gable of the western porch, added in 1914. The northern wall of the nave is adjoined by a chapel which was erected at the same time as the main body of the church itself. The original, stone lavabo drain can be seen on the northern wall of the 16th-century sacristy. Another notable feature of the church is the striking, Late Gothic stepped portal adorned with bar tracery which can be found in the southern wall of the nave. A stone plaque bearing an inscription summarising the history of the church was embedded in the wall next to the portal in 1874. A few sections of the walls of the church are covered with scribbled graffiti from various periods, including one which states that “Cossacks came to plunder, 1657”, bearing testimony to the trauma of the period when Poland was at war with Sweden. The interiors of the church, with their vaulted ceilings of the double barrel type, are a spectacular sight to behold. The main body of the church follows a two-nave layout, with the ribs of the distinctive, tripartite vaults flowing downwards to meet a pair of octagonal pillars positioned in the centre of the interior space. The vault keystones are adorned with the Poraj and Łabędź coats of arms.

The silhouette of the church blends in harmoniously with its surroundings, comprising a brick perimeter wall with embedded Stations of the Cross as well as three Gothic Revival Rosary shrines. These are supplemented by a rather austere wooden chapel of St Anthony, located in the south-western part of the former cemetery. The Gothic Revival bell tower, crowned with a pyramid-shaped roof, is positioned in the south-eastern corner of the churchyard.

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

Compiled by Aleksandra Ziółkowska, 01-12-2015

Bibliography

  • Record sheet of monuments of architecture, Szaniec Zespół kościelny, Kościół, Dzwonnica, Kaplica św. Antoniego, Kaplice różańcowe, Brama główna, bramy boczne, ogrodzenie (Szaniec church complex – church, bell tower, chapel of St Anthony, Rosary shrines, main gate, side gates and perimeter wall), prepared by J. Maraśkiewicz, Kielce 1996, Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Kielce.
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, vol. III, issue 1, Warsaw 1957.
  • Kazimierza Stronczyńskiego opisy i widoki zabytków w Królestwie Polskim (1844-1855), vol. II: Gubernia Radomska, prepared by K. Guttmejer, Warsaw 2010
  • Rawita-Witanowski M., Szaniec, “Tygodnik Polski”, V, 1901.
  • Sobieszczański F. M., Kościół parafialny w Szańcu, “Tygodnik Ilustrowany”, IV, 1862.
  • Sokołowski M., Kościoły polskie dwunawowe, “Sprawozdania Komisji Historii Sztuki”, VIII, 1912.
  • Wiśniewski J., Historyczny opis kościołów, miast, zabytków i pamiątek w Stopnickiem, Marjówka 1929.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1499 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Kościelna 217, Szaniec
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district buski, commune Busko-Zdrój - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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