Parish church of St Valentine, currently serving as the tomb chapel of St Valentine, Woźniki
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Parish church of St Valentine, currently serving as the tomb chapel of St Valentine

Woźniki

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Cemetery Church of St Valentine presents an immense artistic, historical and research value, making it a historical monument of regional importance. It is the oldest ecclesiastical building in the Woźniki commune. In addition, the church also forms part of the Trail of Silesian Wooden Architecture, while the nearby cemetery serves as the final resting place of Józef Lompa, a patriotic activist and one of the most eminent ethnographers of the Silesia region.

History

The very first mentions of the wooden church of St Valentine, Bartholomew and Stanislaus date back to the year 1490. According to the available source materials, the building was erected in the Staromieście district of Woźniki, near the mound which had once been the site of a medieval motte-and-bailey castle. Due to the lack of dendrochronological analyses, determining the exact time of construction of the church would be a difficult task. Most historians agree that the church was constructed in 1696; this date appears, among others, in the Catalogue of Historical Monuments of Poland. The records produced in the course of an inspection visit in 1720, on the other hand, contain the following words: There is also another church or chapel outside the town of Woźniki - a wooden, shingled structure under the invocation of St Valentine, Bartholomew and Stanislaus, erected and consecrated in the Year of Our Lord 1721. As a result, it now appears that the church could not have been erected and consecrated after the said records were produced; however, there is a plausible theory advanced by Ludwik Musioł, a historian and archivist, who states that the date must have been a typographical error and that the actual date must have been 1521, given that the figures “5” and “7” tend to differ little in the manuscripts of old. According to the surviving church records, renovation works were performed on the church in the year 1700, including the addition of an organ gallery, installation of new window joinery and window shutter as well as the construction of a new, brick altarpiece, which was constructed in two stages. In 1702, a porch was added and the construction of the narthex commenced, while in 1714 the church received a new pulpit. The church records remain silent on the time of construction of the turret adjoining the main body of the church, which must have been added after the church itself was erected. In the years 1798-1813 the church served as a parish church; later on, it adopted the role of a cemetery church. In 1901, the church underwent a comprehensive restoration; it was during that period that the figural wall paintings created by Otto Kowalewski, a painter from Katowice, were added. In 1959, the heavily damaged wood shingle cladding was replaced. In 2003, the church received a new wood shingle cladding once again, while a new cupola was installed atop the bell tower. The windows were now protected by decorative grillwork. In 2004, the conservation of the painted decorations took place; in the course of these works, traces of even older paintings were discovered on the ceiling, bearing the hallmarks of the Baroque style.

Description

The cemetery chapel of St Valentine is situated on Tarnogórska street, south of the town centre. The front façade of the church faces the nearby road (front-gabled arrangement). The building occupies the area located in the northern part of the cemetery. The entire complex is surrounded by a brick and stone perimeter wall.

The church is a wooden log structure positioned atop a stone foundation. The church, oriented towards the east, was designed on a rectangular plan with a semi-hexagonal end section. The church does not have a distinct chancel; a small sacristy designed on a rectangular floor plan adjoins the north-eastern side of the structure, while the western façade is preceded by a small porch which had originally served as the narthex. The entire main body - with the exception of the sacristy - is surrounded by cloister-like walkways supported by wooden posts with diagonal braces, their roofs clad with wood shingles. Another notable feature is the small, post-and-beam octagonal turret rising above the front vestibule. The main body of the church is covered with a gable roof, with a three-sided roof used for the eastern end thereof. The sacristy and the vestibule are covered with gable roofs, while the cloister-like walkways feature mono-pitched roofs. The turret is crowned with an arcaded lantern topped with a bulbous, roughly bell-shaped cupola. All roofs are clad with wood shingles. The walls of the sacristy, the vestibule and the main body above the cloister-like walkways are likewise clad with wood shingles, with the exception of the turret and the western gable, which are covered with vertically positioned weatherboards instead. The interior of the church is illuminated by three nave windows, two windows in the vestibule and one window piercing the southern façade of the sacristy. The main entrance is situated on the middle axis of the western façade, in the front porch. Inside, the church features flat ceilings. The western part of the nave is occupied by an organ gallery supported by two pairs of wooden posts. Another notable feature of the interior are the figural painted decorations created by Otto Kowalewski. The rather austere interior fixtures and fittings include the main altarpiece bearing the hallmarks of the Gothic Revival style as well as an 18th-century pulpit adorned with some rather unusual, papier-mâché decorations.

The church can be viewed from the outside.

compiled by Agata Mucha, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Katowice, 30-01-2015.

Bibliography

  • Record sheet of monuments of architecture and urban design. Cemetery Church of St Valentine, compiled by L. Pyrkosz, M. Tomala, Częstochowa
  • Record sheet of monuments of architecture and urban design (the so-called green record sheet). Cemetery Church of St Valentine
  • Szczech B., Z dziejów kościółka św. Walentego w Woźnikach, Woźniki 2006
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, vol. VI woj. katowickie, I. Rejduch-Samkowa, J. Samka (eds.), issue 7 Powiat Lubliniecki, compiled by M. Kornecki and I. Rejduch-Samkowa, Warsaw 1960, pp. 36-37
  • Zabytki sztuki w Polsce. Śląsk, Sławomir Brzezicki, Christine Nielsen, Grzegorz Grajewski, Dietmar Popp (eds.), Warsaw 2009, pp. 949-950

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1696 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Tarnogórska , Woźniki
  • Location: Voivodeship śląskie, district lubliniecki, commune Woźniki - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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