Parish Church of St Elizabeth, currently Sanctuary of Our Lady of Longing, Warszawa
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

Parish Church of St Elizabeth, currently Sanctuary of Our Lady of Longing

Warszawa

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The parish in Powsin is one of the oldest parishes in the Warsaw archdiocese. The existing church, designed in the Baroque Revival style, was originally a Baroque church that was subsequently redesigned during the first half of the 18th century according to a design by Józef Fontana. Renowned architects - Stanisław Adamczewski, Józef Huss and Józef Pius Dziekoński were also involved in the subsequent stages of the extension works. Overall, the building constitutes a living monument to the rich local history. Inside the church there is a painting of Our Lady of Longing, around which a cult has grown over the years. In years 1803-1815, the eminent preacher and poet Jan Paweł Woronicz served as the local parish priest; he later went on to become the primate of the Duchy of Warsaw. Registers of births, marriages, and deaths containing his handwritten notes have survived in the parish archives.

History

Before it became a part of the Wilanów district of the city of Warsaw, Powsin was a village, changing its status only in 1951. The local parish was approved in 1410 by bishop Wojciech Jastrzębiec; its church was built at a slightly later date, in 1398, with funds for its construction being provided by Elżbieta Ciołkowa, the owner of the village and widow of the castellan of Czersk, as well as by her sons. The original, wooden church - the church of St Andrew the Apostle and St Elizabeth of Hungary, who were the patrons of castellan Ciołek and his wife Elżbieta - is believed to have been destroyed during the Swedish invasion of the mid-17th century. It was then replaced by another wooden church with a brick and stone sacristy. The first mentions of the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary date back to 1675. The village, previously owned by the Doliwa, Ciołek, Zdziarski, and Odrzywolski noble families, was finally incorporated into the estate of Wilanów, purchased in years 1720-24 by hetmaness Elżbieta Sieniawska from the heirs to king John III Sobieski.It was at her request that, in years 1725-29, the Italian architect Józef Fontana replaced the wooden church with a new, brick structure; following a single-nave layout, the church was a two-bay building, its chancel, featuring a semi-hexagonal termination, framed by a pair of annexes. The front façade showed clear Classicist influences and was preceded by a low, elongated porch, with both the porch and the front façade itself being topped by triangular pediments. The subsequent noble families who owned the estate of Wilanów - the Czartoryski family and the Potocki family - extended their patronage over the church. In 1755, the church was consecrated once again, this time by bishop Antoni Kazimierz Ostrowski. The church underwent numerous renovation and alteration works over its lifespan. In the years 1824-26, the roof structure was replaced, while in the years 1855-61, a vestibule was built ahead of the sacristy, with the chancel now terminating in a straight wall behind which a new staircase was erected. In the years 1887-91, the church was extended at the request of countess Aleksandra Potocka who also provided the funding. The man behind the new, altered appearance of the church was Stanisław Adamczewski, although the individual responsible for the ultimate execution of the design - Józef Huss - has introduced chances which were clearly to the detriment of the original design. The church now followed a basilica layout, with a series of arches connecting its original main body to the side aisles. A medallion incorporating the image of the Virgin Mary with Child Jesus was positioned in the top section of the front façade. The extension of the porch and the addition of two squat towers, designed in the eclectic style and adorned with sculptures placed within niches in the walls thereof, are attributed to the architect Józef Huss. In 1891, bishop Kazimierz Ruszkiewicz consecrated the church. The final series of extension works was performed on the basis of the design by Józef Pius Dziekoński, whom the local parish priest Antoni Gniazdowski approached about preparing a redesign back in 1895. These plans were then revisited in 1914, although the onset of World War I delayed the project, so that it was ultimately only implemented in years 1921-24. The porch and the squat towers were torn down, while the three-nave body of the church was extended through the addition of two further bays and a new façade. The rooms adjoining the chancel were reconstructed, albeit with different dimensions; the rear staircase was gone, replaced by an ambulatory. The entire church was redesigned in the neo-Baroque style. It is in this form that the church survived World War II. In the 1960s, the medallion adorning the front façade was replaced by a stained glass window; in 1985, the roof and the steeple were repaired, with the original roof tiles being replaced with sheet metal. In the course of subsequent renovation works performed in the years 1990-92, two large sandstone urns were added to the façade, while in 1999 they were joined by the sculptures of St Elizabeth of Hungary and St Andrew the Apostle, originally designed by J. P. Dziekoński.

Description

The church stands in the ice-marginal valley of the Vistula river, near the elevated landform known as the Warsaw escarpment, in the vicinity of the palace and park complexes of Natolin and Wilanów. Surrounded by old trees, it stands on a polygonal plot of land located at the intersection of Przyczółkowa and Ptysiowa Streets, surrounded by a low wall intersected by gateways and wicket gates. The Baroque Revival belfry, designed by J. P. Dziekoński and also covered by the current conservation policy, is incorporated into the south-eastern section of the wall. The church is a brick building with plastered walls, its chancel facing westward. Despite the alteration works performed since its construction, the church retains a compact four-bay, three-nave basilica layout, its two-bay chancel featuring a rectangular termination with truncated corners, framed by annexes which are accessible via a three-sided ambulatory. The roofs are covered with sheet metal; the nave and the slightly lower chancel feature gable roofs, with a three-sided roof being used for the end section of the chancel. The roof of the nave is adorned by a decorative, polygonal steeple with a cupola on top. The side aisles, the chancel annexes and the ambulatory around the chancel, the latter being much lower than the chancel itself, all feature mono-pitched roofs. The façades, crowned by a profiled cornice, are restrained and elegant in appearance. The walls are pierced by large, rectangular windows topped with segmental arches. The façades of the side aisles are accentuated by paired pilasters, with the corners of the chancel termination being adorned by slender pilasters with a distinctive, broken outline. The most lavishly decorated part of the church is its front façade, its design being reminiscent of the earlier designs for the church and its initial appearance back when it was still a Baroque edifice with classical influences. The middle section of the façade follows a three-bay, two-storey layout and is accentuated by paired, giant order pilasters. The gable above is also divided by paired pilasters and features a centrally positioned, oval window. The gable, crowned with a triangular pediment, is flanked by simple fractables terminating in plinths topped with decorative urns. A portal framed by a decorative surround with label stops is positioned on the main axis of the ground floor section; it is topped with a triangular pediment, above which there is a rectangular panel topped with a segmental arch. The side axes of the façade are occupied by niches containing figures of saints. The lower, side sections of the façade incorporate simple, plain portals and are adorned with paired pilasters supporting a broad entablature; above them rise simple yet decorative fractables terminating in plinths topped with sculptures of the patrons of the church. All openings in the façade feature decorative surrounds. The interior of the nave is rhythmically divided by tall arcades, the supporting pillars being adorned with paired pilasters. Above, one can admire the entablature running alongside the interior walls as well as the arches supporting the barrel vault, the design of which incorporates a series of lunettes. In the side aisles, the arcade pillars are adorned with simple lesenes which flow seamlessly into the arches positioned between the successive sections of the groin vault above. In the eastern section, a pipe organ gallery towers above the vestibule below. Some of the interior fixtures and fittings date back to the 18th century, including the baptismal font, the pulpit, and the main altarpiece. The altarpiece incorporates a quality painting of Our Lady of Longing, dating back to the first half of the 17th century and believed to posses miraculous properties; the coronation ceremony which confirmed the authenticity of the cult surrounding the image of the Virgin Mary took place in 1998. From 1753 onwards, the image is kept hidden underneath a painting of the Holy Trinity, the current one dating back to the 19th century.

The feature is available for visitors outside the hours of religious services.

compiled by Małgorzata Laskowska-Adamowicz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Warszawa, 02-03-2017.

Bibliography

  • Karta Ewidencyjna, Kościół, Powsin, 1959, Archiwum NID;
  • Karta Ewidencyjna, Dzwonnica przy kościele św. Elżbiety, Powsin , 1959, Archiwum NID;
  • Gutt T. Kraszewski Z. Matyja E., Sześć wieków parafii powsińskiej 1410-2010, (red). ks. Jan Świstak, Warszawa-Powsin 2010;
  • Łoza S., Architekci i budowniczowie w Polsce, Warszawa 1954;
  • Majdowski A., Budownictwo kościelne w twórczości projektowej Józefa Piusa Dziekońskiego (1844-1927), Warszawa 1995;
  • Majdowski A., Przekształcenia przestrzenne kościoła w Powsinie k. Warszawy od XVIII do XX stulecia, „Ochrona Zabytków”, 1992, nr 45/4(179), s. 296-323;
  • Pietrusiewicz I. , Kościół w Powsinie, „Spotkania z Zabytkami", 2012, nr 7-8, s. 24-27;
  • Słownik architektów i budowniczych środowiska warszawskiego XV-XVIII wieku (red.) P. Migasiewicz, H. Osiecka-Samsonowicz, J. Sito, IHS PAN 2016;
  • Świątek T.W., Konstancin. Wędrówka śladami ludzi i zabytków, Warszawa 1995,
  • http://parafia-powsin.pl - dostęp 16.02. 2017 r.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1725 - 1729
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Przyczółkowa 29, Warszawa
  • Location: Voivodeship mazowieckie, district Warszawa, commune Warszawa
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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