Filial Church of St Joseph, Wierzbno
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Filial Church of St Joseph

Wierzbno

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The church is a typical example of an Early Gothic church in Western Pomerania, built using granite ashlars. Its interior features a unique late-Gothic ceiling with a cove moulding, decorated with lavish figural painted decorations.

History

Located on the shores of the Miedwie lake, the small village of Wierzbno had once enjoyed the status of a town. The local church was erected during the second half of the 15th century as a parish church, forming part of the archdeaconate in Stargard Szczeciński. The first mentions of the church date back to the year 1493. During the Reformation period, the church was taken over by the Evangelical community in the 1530s. From 1733 onwards, the church served as the seat of the synod (an administrative unit of the Evangelical Church). This change in the status of the church has meant that the local parish priests would now enjoy the status of superintendents. In years 1729-1780, the function of the local parish priest was performed by Christian Wilhelm Zierold, an advocate of the Pietistic movement and the son of a well-known theologian Johann Wilhelm Zierold from Stargard Szczeciński. During the period between the 15th and the 18th century, numerous sumptuous fixtures and fittings were installed inside the church, including four decorative stone headstones from the Late Gothic and Renaissance period (embedded in the floor), the wooden epitaph plaque dedicated to Erdmuta Alff (1657), a confessional from 1696 adorned with painted figural scenes and the portraits of the benefactors of the church, 17th-century choir stalls, an organ gallery likewise dating back to the 17th century, adorned with painted decorations from 1707, a sculpture of the baptising angel from 1728 as well as portraits of the local pastors and numerous other paintings. After 1733, the interior of the church was thoroughly remodelled, with both the appearance of the windows and the architectural articulation of the walls being modified; the church also received a new, coved ceiling funded by the Prussian king Frederick William I himself, adorned with figural painted decorations executed by the painter Johann Christoph Thiessen. The new altarpiece with an integrated pulpit was added during the same period. In 1839, the steeple jutting from the roof ridge was added. In 1852, the tower cupola was destroyed by a lightning strike and was subsequently reconstructed in the years 1853 -1854 based on the design by C. L. H. Lentze, a master carpenter based in Stargard Szczeciński. In 1854, the medieval sacristy adjoining the northern wall of the main body of the church was torn down. In 1915, the tower cupola was once again lost to the blaze. After 1945, the church was reconsecrated as a Roman Catholic place of worship; today, it serves as a filial church of the parish in Stary Przylep. Much of the original fixtures and fittings was sadly removed from the church during the postwar period.

Description

The church is located in the southern part of the village, on the northern side of the former village square amidst the village green, within the area of the churchyard cemetery surrounded by a stone wall. It is oriented towards the east, its appearance bearing the hallmarks of the Late Gothic style with some Late Baroque influences. The aisleless church with its western tower was built on a rectangular, almost square floor plan. The tower is topped with tall corner pinnacles adorned with pointed-arch blind windows. The cupola which had once graced the structure is gone, replaced by a flat roof. The main body of the building is covered with a gable roof. The church is a masonry structure, its peripheral walls constructed using nearly undressed field stone. Inside, the walls are lined with brick from the early modern era. The brick and stone tower’s uppermost storeys are constructed predominantly using brick.

The facades feature a low, plastered plinth. The western portal of the tower is a pointed-arch design dating back to the Gothic era and featuring three-stepped, archivolt reveals. Each of the tower walls above the ground floor level is partitioned by four slender, pointed-arch blind windows accompanied by small blind oculi at the corners. The upper sections of the blind windows are pierced with paired bell openings. A large circular blind window is positioned above the main portal. The façades of the main body feature windows and doors which bear the signs of the Baroque redesign carried out in the 1730s, topped with segmental arches. The nave windows are framed with plaster surrounds; the same applies to the doorways in the northern and southern façades, except that the surrounds are also rusticated. Remnants of the Late Gothic sacristy which had also served as a tomb in later years can still be seen in the eastern side of the northern façade. Vestiges of a dichromatic ornamental frieze from the Late Gothic period are still discernible in the top section of the side façades, just below the cornice. The frieze on the northern side incorporates foliate scrollwork motifs, whereas the one on the opposite side relies on the use of the quatrefoil motif. In the eastern façade, remnants of a bricked-up pointed-arch window positioned between the current windows are still clearly evident. The eastern gable is partitioned by seven pointed-arch blind windows adorned with plaster surrounds.

The interior of the nave features a wooden ceiling adorned with Baroque painted decorations. The walls have been remodelled during the Baroque period (in the 1730s) through the addition of large, spacious niches topped with segmental arches. Side entrances to the church with double doors are positioned in the middle of each side wall. An inscription which says “M. Samuel Jordan 1744” can be seen on the southern door. The wooden organ gallery positioned alongside the western wall of the church consists of two unconnected sections, both of which feature a panelled parapet adorned with painted decorations.

Interior fixtures and fittings.

The altarpiece, formerly with an integrated pulpit, crafted in 1738 and designed in the Baroque style, funded by Frederick William I of Prussia; the altarpiece was partially dismantled during the postwar period. The Mannerist baptismal font from ca. 1600, partially deprived of its period features after 1945; a wooden, chalice-shaped structure designed on an octagonal plan, adorned with reliefs depicting Christ the Saviour of the World (Salvator Mundi), St Peter and St Paul. A consecration cross from the 2nd half of the 15th century, adorned with painted decorations, positioned on the southern side of the eastern wall. Organ gallery parapet from the first quarter of the 17th century, designed in the Late Renaissance style, adorned with new painted decorations from 1707 (as stated in the accompanying inscription) which were funded by Christian Fuchs and his wife Erdmuta Krähen as well as by the church provisor, the merchant Jacob Fuchs. The panels are adorned by 13 figural paintings centred around christological themes.

The painted decorations on the coved ceiling, executed by Johann Christoph Thiessen in 1738, funded by Frederick William I of Prussia - figural paintings framed with sumptuous ornamental surrounds incorporating the motif of cornucopias filled with flowers. The ceiling is adorned by a trio of plafonds, the outer two incorporating painted scenes depicting Christ and the Evangelists (eastern plafond) and the Sending of the Holy Spirit (western plafond). The central plafond incorporates the symbol of the Holy Trinity in the form of a triangle, which is believed to have originally also included the Hebrew tetragrammaton - the letters “YHWH”. The cove moulding is adorned with a series of cartouches; the eastern and western ones incorporate Latin foundation inscriptions, whereas the northern and southern ones are adorned with six scenes from the Old and New Testament. A pair of tin altarpiece candlesticks (1704), executed by Christian Schwartz, a tin caster from Stargard Szczeciński. Ornamental stained glass windows from the 2nd half of the 19th century. A pair of bells suspended inside the tower; one of them, made in 1906, was recast from a Late Gothic bell dating back to 1563 by Ludwik Jochim Karstede from Stargard Szczeciński. The second bell dates back to the second half of the 19th century and was cast by the bellfounder C. Voss from Szczecin.

Exploring the church is possible by arrangement with the parish priest in Stary Przylep.

compiled by Maciej Słomiński, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Szczecin, 23-03-2015.

Bibliography

  • “Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce”, new series, vol. XIII, woj. zachodniopomorskie issue 1, pow. pyrzycki. D. Bartosz, M. Słomiński (eds.), Warsaw 2013, pp. 223-227
  • Lemcke, Die Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler des Regierungsbezirks Stettin, H. VII, Der Kreis Pyritz, Stettin 1906, pp.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 2. poł. XV w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Wierzbno
  • Location: Voivodeship zachodniopomorskie, district pyrzycki, commune Warnice
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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