Parish church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Topolno
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Parish church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Topolno

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The only former monastic church of the Pauline Fathers in the Kujawsko-Pomorskie province with a front façade featuring a pair of towers, setting it apart from other rural churches in the region. With its lavish interior fixtures and fittings originating mostly from the Baroque period, the church ranks among the most important landmarks not just in the region, but in the entire province.

History

The first written reference to the village of Topolno appears in a document signed by Świętopełk, the duke of Pomerania, dating back to the year 1239. In 1251, the village is mentioned under the name “Thopulna”. From the early 14th century onwards, Topolno remained under the secular administration of the local castellan. In the early 15th century, the village was the property of the local knights. From the second half of the 15th century to the early 18th century, the entire area remained in the hands of the Konarski family. The first, wooden church was founded in 1533, with the village of Topolno forming part of the Gruczno parish until the second half of the 16th century. In the early July 1588, a separate parish was established here. References to the presence of a miraculous painting and numerous instances of divine healing were made in documents dating back to 1676. A new, masonry place of worship was added to the existing sanctuary in the years 1681-1683. The members of the Konarski family, who funded the construction of the church, have also made efforts to establish a monastery here, inviting the Pauline Fathers from Częstochowa to settle in the area. The monks finally arrived in Topolno in 1684, although construction works have continued well into 1686. In 1688, the bishop of Włocławek confirmed the foundation of the monastery, entrusting the entire parish to the Pauline Fathers. The church erected in the 17th century had a single porch, with the monastery buildings being situated on the southern side of the structure. The monastery complex encompassed a residential building, an infirmary and a stable. There was also a local brewery and a forge. In years 1685-1700, the interior of the church was enriched through the addition of Baroque fixtures and fittings, including the main altarpiece, six side altarpieces, the pipe organ and the ambo. Following the 1st Partition of Poland, the Topolno monastery experienced a period of gradual decline. The Pauline Fathers remained in Topolno right until the secularisation of the monastery in 1811; after that date, the church went back to its original function, i.e. that of a parish church. After 1851, the monastery buildings were torn down. The sacristy of the church was extended eastwards. According to the description dating back to the year 1880, its walls were extended upwards so that it now shared a single roof with the chancel. In years 1890-1910, the church and its interior fixtures and fittings underwent a series of renovation works, with the original organ being replaced with a new one, manufactured in the year 1900, while the large windows were now graced with decorative stained glass. In addition, a small crypt was also built, designed as a final resting place for the mortal remains of the members of the Jeżewski family. In 1957, the church underwent restoration once again, with the roof truss being strengthened while the cladding thereof was replaced. In addition, various missing sections of the plasterwork were also replaced, while a concrete surround now enveloped the building’s foundations. During another series of renovation and conservation works, conducted from the beginning of the 1990s, the church underwent a thorough restoration in years 1993-1994, followed by the renovation of the stained glass windows (1997-1999) as well as of the interior fixtures and fittings (altarpieces, pipe organ casing) and of the painted decorations which grace its walls.

Additional funds for conservation works were allocated within the framework of the project designated as “Cultural heritage of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie province - support for the maintenance of historical monuments in the years 2013-2014”, intended for implementation over a 2-year timespan. Furthermore, the administrators of the church have also secured funds from the Regional Operating Programme of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Province for years 2007-2013 and from the budget of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie province itself, allowing for further renovation works to be performed, encompassing the late-17th century organ gallery balustrade as well as various sculptures and paintings.

Description

The church is situated in the north-eastern part of the village, on the western side of the road leading from Zbrachlin to Gruczno; it is a free-standing structure, located in the middle of a small cemetery surrounded by a brick wall. The rectory as well as a number of utility buildings are located on the southern side of the church.

The church itself is a free-standing Baroque building oriented towards the east, its brick walls positioned on brick and stone foundations. The nave and the chancel are covered with a gable roof clad with roof tiles, with the extended side section of the chancel roof also covering the adjoining sacristy. An octagonal steeple with a lantern crowned with a bulbous cupola clad with sheet metal rises above the eastern section of the nave.

The nave itself follows a four-bay layout and is adjoined by a pair of porches positioned to the south and the west. The flat wooden ceilings of the nave is coved along the sides. The porches likewise feature flat ceilings. A crypt is concealed beneath the eastern part of the nave.

The two-bay chancel, lower and narrower than the nave, features a semi-hexagonal end section and it topped with a double barrel vault with a lowered rise. A sacristy adjoins the northern side of the chancel. The nave and the chancel are separated by a low-crowned elliptical rood arch (basket-handle arch).

The corners of the church are accentuated with pronounced lesenes which continue above the roof line into cubiform finials topped with spheres. The chancel is flanked with single-stepped buttresses. The walls are crowned with a simple frieze and a profiled cornice.

The walls of the church feature an exposed brick surface, with the exception of the southern porch which features plasterwork detailing. The plain frieze and profiled crowning cornice gracing the façades are likewise covered with plaster. The windows and doors are rectangular in shape, topped with basket-handle arches and framed with plasterwork surrounds with keystones; this arrangement applied to all the façades of the church with the exception of the southern porch.

The front (western) façade follows a three-axial layout with a single-storey porch positioned on its middle axis; it is crowned with a bipartite gable with a small oculus and a segment-headed, empty niche in its lower section. The upper section of the gable is triangular in shape and is flanked by low finials surmounted by spheres; at the very top of the gable there is a small cornice segment surmounted by a triangular gablet topped with a finial and sphere similar to those positioned at the sides of the gable. The entire arrangement is flanked by a pair of turrets positioned at the corners of the main body, their lower sections being designed on a square plan. The upper, octagonal sections of the turrets are separated from the lower parts by pronounced cornices. The turrets are crowned with bulbous cupolas with roof lanterns, clad with copper sheeting and graced with metal weathervanes, each of them bearing the date “1681”.

The corners of the porch are reinforced with buttresses. The entrance on the northern side of the porch is topped with a basket-handle arch, with an oval window positioned directly above. The gable of the porch is triangular in shape, pierced with an oculus and topped with a trio of squat, cubiform finials surmounted by spheres.

The southern façade of the main body follows a four-axial layout and features a rectangular porch on the third axis counting from the west, its walls covered with plaster. The porch adjoining the southern façade is a single-axial structure with a slightly overhanging gable. Apart from the entrance door, the porch also features a blind window topped with a semi-circular arch.

The eastern gable of the nave rising above the roof ridge of the chancel features a small oculus in the centre, with a plaque bearing the date “1681” positioned right below the oculus. The gable itself is flanked by simplified volutes above which rise stout finials topped with spheres.

The churchyard is surrounded by a brick perimeter wall erected in 1681, its surface covered with plaster; the inner surface of the wall is punctuated by several alcoves topped with semicircular arches, with its top section protected by a rooflet clad with roof tiles.

The entrance into the church leads through the front porch into the western part of the nave, occupied by a wooden pipe organ gallery supported by quadrangular pillars. The stairs leading into the gallery are positioned alongside the northern wall. The nave is separated from the chancel by a rood arch and a profiled rood beam surmounted by a wooden crucifix. The entrance into the sacristy is located in the northern wall of the chancel. A spiral staircase into a single, open space of the first-floor level is positioned alongside the southern wall. The interior is graced by lavish fixtures and fittings, including the main altarpiece and six side altars.

The monument is open to visitors. Viewing of the church is only possible by prior telephone appointment.

compiled by Mirella Korzus, Historical Monument and National Heritage Documentation and Popularisation Department of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Cultural Centre in Bydgoszcz, 10-12-2014 - 19-12-2014.

Bibliography

  • Record sheet, Kościół klasztorny oo. Paulinów i parafialny pw. Nawiedzenia NM Panny ob. kościół parafialny pw. Nawiedzenia NM Panny, prepared by Jankowski A., 1998, Archive of the Regional Office for the Protection of Historical Monuments in Bydgoszcz; Archive of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Warsaw.
  • Arszyński M, Rejmanowski M., Zabytki architektury i budownictwa w Polsce, issue 2: Województwo bydgoskie, Warsaw 1972,
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, vol. XI: Województwo bydgoskie, issue 15: Powiat świecki, Warsaw 1979,
  • Parucka K., Raczyńska-Mąkowska, Katalog zabytków województwa Bydgoskiego. Bydgoszcz 1997,

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1681-1686 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Topolno
  • Location: Voivodeship kujawsko-pomorskie, district świecki, commune Pruszcz
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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