Filial church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Wilczków
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

Filial church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Wilczków

photo

A brick and stone church designed in the Gothic style, surrounded by a fortified cemetery.

The interior of the chancel is graced by lavishly designed painted decorations from the Gothic era. Some of the Gothic fixtures and fittings have also survived inside the church.

History

The church in Wilczków (previously known as Wiltschau and then, from 1937 onwards, as Herdhausen) was first mentioned in 1307.

According to H. Lutsch and K. Degen, the existing church was erected in the 15th century, with the sacristy being added in the 16th century. According to the authors of the Catalogue of Historical Monuments and Artefacts in Poland - Silesia, on the other hand, the church was erected in the second half of the 14th century.

The lavish painted decorations which grace the walls of the interior are believed to originate from the second half of the 14th century, the fourth quarter of the 14th century or the 15th century. In 1715, the painted decorations were covered with a layer of plaster. It was only in 1972 that the painted decorations were rediscovered and restored to their former glory.

In the 16th century, Protestants took over the church. It was only in 1654 that the church was returned to the Catholic community.

In the 19th century, a small porch was added to the western façade, occupying a hitherto vacant space between the buttresses. In the course of wartime hostilities, the top section of the tower has been destroyed; it was subsequently reconstructed in the years 1963-67.

The cemetery, circumscribed with a defensive brick wall with embrasures, dates back to the 16th - 17th century.

Description

The church is oriented towards the east. Located in the eastern part of the village, the church stands atop a small elevation; it is surrounded by a fortified cemetery circumscribed with a tall, brick perimeter wall with wedge-shaped embrasures. A gate topped with a round arch is positioned in the western part of the wall. A pair of penitential crosses can be found alongside the western section of the wall, near its northern edge.

The lower half of the walls of the church is made of split stone (granite), with the upper section being made of brick, including some overburnt brick characterised by a visibly darker shade and a slightly glazed surface. The church is a single-nave structure with a relatively low tower forming an integral part of the western façade. The small chancel takes the form of a semi-decagonal apse. The sacristy adjoins the northern side of the chancel. A small porch was added on the middle axis of the western façade. The two-bay nave and chancel both feature a groin vault. A pointed-arch barrel vault can be found in the sacristy. Single-flight stone steps positioned within the northern wall of the nave lead up to the attic and the tower. The façades of the nave and chancel are reinforced with stepped buttresses. The lower section of each buttress is made of stone, while the upper part is a brick structure. The western façade is reinforced with a pair of massive buttresses reaching all the way up to the walls of the tower. A porch was added to the front façade in the 19th century, with the adjoining buttresses being incorporated into its peripheral walls.

A frieze made up of diagonally positioned bricks runs alongside the walls of the main body, underneath the eaves.

The windows of the nave and chancel are topped with pointed arches. One of the windows in the eastern wall of the chancel features surviving stone tracery. A pointed-arch portal constructed using sandstone blocks can be found in the southern façade of the church.

The vaulted ceiling and walls of the chancel are adorned with Gothic painted decorations covering a wide variety of themes; the painted decorations have been rediscovered and restored in the 20th century after spending many years underneath a layer of plaster. The painted decorations which grace the walls of the chancel can be subdivided into several distinct areas in the form of panels incorporating the images of saints. A portrayal of Judgement Day with Christ as the Judge, set against the background of a mandorla and surrounded by the symbols of the Evangelists, the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist accompanied by angels as well as the scene of the resurrection of the dead can be admired on the ceiling of the chancel. Images of the Virgin Mary - the Woman of the Apocalypse, accompanied by saints, adorn both the spandrel walls above the arches and the splayed window reveals. Small fragments of painted decorations have also been discovered on the walls of the nave.

A Gothic tabernacle framed by a decorative surround topped with an ogee arch graces the northern wall of the chancel. An image of Christ’s head adorns the underside of the arch. The tabernacle itself is positioned on a corbel which incorporates a sculpted representation of a male head.

The main altarpiece, designed in the form of a cabinet, is a modern addition, although it incorporates a number of Gothic sculptures dating back to the 15th century. The church also features original Gothic choir stalls. The organ gallery, added during the 16th century, comes equipped with a balustrade adorned with stencilled decorations. The Baroque side altarpiece had originally served as the main altarpiece.

The site is open to visitors.

compiled by Maria Czyszczoń, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Wrocław, 08-09-2014.

Bibliography

  • Degen K., Die Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler des Landkreises Breslau, Frankfurt am Main 1965, pp. 326-330.
  • Lutsch H., Verzeichnis der Kubnstdenkmäler der Provinz Schlesien, vol. 2: Die Kunstdenkmäler der Landkreise des Reg.-Bezirk Breslau, Breslau 1889, p. 442.
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, seria nowa, vol. IV, issue 2. Katalog zabytków sztuki, woj. wrocławskie, Sobótka, Kąty Wrocławskie i okolice,
  • Malarstwo gotyckie w Polsce, A.S. Labuda, K. Secomska (eds.), Warsaw 2004, vol. 1, p. 78.
  • Zabytki sztuki w Polsce. Śląsk, Warsaw 2006, p. 930.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: XV w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Wilczków
  • Location: Voivodeship dolnośląskie, district wrocławski, commune Żórawina
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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