Parish church of St Nicholas, Wierzenica
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Parish church of St Nicholas

Wierzenica

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The church from the 16th century is an interesting example of wooden sacred architecture. It is one of the oldest wooden churches in Greater Poland. Valuable fittings from the 18th century have survived to this day. The main altar from that time contains a painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Child, called Our Lady of Wierzenica, created from the funds provided by wheelwright Bartłomiej from Kłecko from 1636. Particularly noteworthy is the neo-classical funerary monument of the well-known philosopher August Cieszkowski, created in the late 19th century according to the project by Teofil Lenartowicz and Antoni Madeyski. This monument, which is a replica of the tombstone of the mother of A. Cieszkowski housed in the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence, is considered one of the most exceptional examples of Romantic funerary sculpture in Poland.

History

The earliest known mention of Wierzenica dates back to 1153. The village was comprised of two parts: Wierzenica Mała and Wierzenica Wielka. Wierzenica Mała (currently called Wierzonka) belonged to the Cistercian monastery in Łekno, later it was property of princes, and afterwards it was managed by the Cistercian convent in Owińska. Wierzenica Wielka was likely private property from the very beginning. It was owned by the Łodzia family in the 14th century, later by the Górka family, by the Ostroróg family in the 16th century, by the Chudziński family in the following century, and by the Koźmiński family in the 18th century. In 1842, Wierzenica was bought by August Cieszkowski of the Dołęga coat of arms, philosopher and co-founder of the Poznań Society of Friends of Sciences.

The original church in Wierzenica was probably established as early as in the 13th century, with the first mentions thereof dating back to 1335. The oldest part of the existing wooden church - the nave and the chancel - was erected before 1589. In the years 1939-1945, the church was used by Protestants. Before 1635, a brick sacristy was added to the chancel. Before 1742, the church underwent restoration and a tower was added in the west. In the years 1771-1778, the tower was replaced with a new one, which exists also today. The southern porch was also erected at the time. In the years 1850-1860, the church was renovated owing to the efforts of A. Cieszkowski. Circa 1870, the brick tomb chapel of the Cieszkowski family was added to the nave. The next renovation took place in the years 1930-1932 at the initiative of A. Cieszkowski the younger. The works included an extension of the nave towards the west by incorporating the ground level of the tower. The tomb chapel was also modified according to the project of architect Marian Andrzejewski. A number of works were carried out in the 1970s. These included replacement of rotten elements of the walls and the weatherboard covering, replacement of the wood shingles on the roof and a full-scale renovation of the interior. In 1978, a porch was added at the western wall of the tower.

Description

The church of St Nicholas is situated in the northern part of the village, on a relatively high elevation. The surrounding area (a former graveyard) is enclosed with a wooden fence.

The church consists of a nave (originally square, but later extended towards the west by incorporating the ground level of the tower) and a slightly narrower chancel terminating in a semi-hexagon which abuts it from the east. A rectangular sacristy adjoins the chancel towards the north. A small porch was added to the nave in the south, with the rectangular tomb chapel of the Cieszkowski family being added in the north.

Both the nave and the slightly lower chancel are covered with tall gable roofs. The nave roof is crowned with a steeple, which is covered with a bulbous dome. The sacristy and the tomb chapel of the Cieszkowski family are covered with three-pitched roofs. Above the roof of the chapel, there is a small tower. The southern porch is covered with a gable roof. The entire building is dominated by a two-storey tower topped with a bulbous dome.

The church is built of wood on a stone and brick wall base, with a log structure, and features a wooden tower with a post-and-beam structure. The northern wall of the church and the abutting annexes - the sacristy and the tomb chapel, as well as the southern porch, are made of brick. The walls of the building - both the wooden ones and these made of brick - are covered with weatherboards. The roofs and the cupola of the tower, as well as the cupolas of the steeple and the tower which crowns the roof of the tomb chapel, are covered with wood shingles. Inside, there are wooden ceilings.

The exterior walls of the church are covered with vertically-positioned weatherboards. The windows are topped with segmental arches, and the entrances are rectangular. The storeys of varied width are separated by roofs. The tower of the tomb chapel contains a plaque with the names of the members of the Cieszkowski family whose resting place is Wierzenica.

Inside, the chancel is separated from the nave with a basket-handle arch supported on corbels. A similar solution was used for the connection between the nave and the ground level of the tower, which houses a wooden music gallery supported on two posts. The Baroque fittings, created in the years 1630-1640, include the main altar, two side altars by the rood and a pulpit (currently incorporated into the ambo). The main altarpiece features a painting of Our Lady of Wierzenica with a kneeling figure of the founder and an inscription commemorating the foundation in verse (1636). The side altar to the north contains a late-Gothic crucifix accompanied by the painted figures of Our Lady of Sorrows and St John the Evangelist. In the northern wall of the nave, there is the neo-Classical funerary monument of A. Cieszkowski in the shape of a marble portal with a brown door which fills the imitation of an entrance. The tympanum which crowns the portal contains a sculpted bust of A. Cieszkowski. The door features vanitas-themed images and scenes depicting the Lord’s Prayer.

The church, situated along the “Trail of Wooden Churches Around the Zielonka Forest”, may be visited from the outside and - by prior arrangement - also inside.

More information on the sanctuary and the Holy Mass schedule is available at www.plebania-wierzenica.pl

compiled by Krzysztof Jodłowski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Poznan, 27-08-2014.

Bibliography

  • Drewniane kościoły w Wielkopolsce, koncepcja, teksty i wybór fotografii P. Maluśkiewicz, Poznań 2004, s. 171-73.
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, t. V, z. 20: powiat poznański, Warszawa 1977, s. 53-54.
  • Kohte J., Verzeichnis der Kunstdenkmaeler der Provinz Posen, Bd. III, Berlin 1897, s. 13-14.
  • Kowalski J., Podróż do dwunastu drewnianych kościołów, Murowana Goślina 2008, s. 211-40

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: przed 1589 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Wierzenicka 12, Wierzenica
  • Location: Voivodeship wielkopolskie, district poznański, commune Swarzędz - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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