The church of Augustinian Eremites, currently known as the church of St Stanislaus, Dorothy and Wenceslaus, along with the monastery cloister wing, Wrocław
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The church of Augustinian Eremites, currently known as the church of St Stanislaus, Dorothy and Wenceslaus, along with the monastery cloister wing

Wrocław

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The church of St Stanislaus, Dorothy and Wenceslaus, with its typical, long mendicant gallery, remains an example of the Silesian variant of the Gothic architecture, its hall layout and arrangement of vaulted ceilings being characteristic of the architectural trends prevailing in Wrocław during the second half of the 15th century.

History

The church along with the nearby Augustinian Eremite monastery was founded by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, as confirmed by the charter issued on November 24, 1351. The church and the monastic buildings were erected on the land repurchased from Johann Stille and Jacob Reyenfried, two Wrocław burghers, located between the inner and outer sections of the city walls, in the vicinity of the Świdnica Gate, alongside the main road leading towards the south. The monastery, located to the south-west of the church, adjoined the outer ring of the fortifications. In 1354, the church received its invocation - from now on, it would be known as the church of St Wenceslaus, Stanislaus and Dorothy; according to some historians, this was intended to commemorate the peace treaty concluded between Emperor Charles IV and Casimir the Great, according to which Silesia would become a part of Bohemia, while the Wrocław diocese would remain an integral part of the Gniezno metropolitan archdiocese. The construction of the church began with the eastern part thereof; the chancel is believed to have been completed by 1381. In 1448, a part of the structure has collapsed, with the reconstruction process commencing owing to the generosity of Johann Crapff, Johann Gremmel, Niklas Rader (1450) and Niklasa Tiege (1453), all of them members of the Wrocław burgher community. Between 1458 and 1481, the vaulted ceiling above the main body were constructed, owing to the generous donations of Wilke von Berlin, a member of the Wrocław patriciate. In 1455, the bell was suspended inside the tower, while the year 1493 was commemorated by an inscription beneath the cross which surmounted the front façade, most likely due to the fact that the construction process was completed during that same year. Somewhere around the year 1500, the church had a total of fifteen altarpieces, while the monastery remained home to 40 monks.

The monastery, consisting of a number of both masonry, wooden and timber-framed buildings clustered around the garth and utility courtyard, was enriched somewhere around the year 1500 through the addition of a masonry cloister with a lierne vault; the northern wing of this cloister, adjoining the nave of the church, is all that remains of the monastery today.

The church and monastery were both abandoned by the Augustinian monks during the Reformation; for a while, it remained under the supervision of the Franciscan monks (from 1530 onwards), yet shortly afterwards, in 1534, the complex was taken over by the municipal authorities and was used as an armoury, warehouse, salt storage facility and brewery. All the Gothic fixtures and fittings of the church were sold.

In 1615, the Franciscans reclaimed the monastery and consecrated the church on February 6, 1615. In the second half of the 17th century, the roof and vaulted ceilings were repaired, with a crypt being added beneath the chancel. In 1682, a pair of domed chapels of St Anthony and St Barbara (founded by A. von Massa and J. G. von Fröhlich und Freudenfels respectively) were erected inside the bays of the side aisles positioned alongside the chancel. The chapel of St Anthony was added to the northern aisle, while the chapel of St Barbara was constructed in the southern one. In the years 1720-1730, the interior of the church was redesigned in the Baroque style, receiving stucco corbels supporting the vaulted ceiling, portals, corbels on the sides of the pillars facing the nave surmounted by sculptures, decorative bands adorning the splayed window reveals and the rood arch as well as new interior fittings, including an ensemble of altarpieces, choir stalls, pulpit and galleries inside the chancel. Somewhere around the year 1712, the northern porch was added alongside the last bay of the nave, most likely replacing an earlier portal.

The church sustained major damage on numerous occasions (1748 - lightning strike; 1749 - explosion at the Gunpowder Tower; 1757 - explosion at a gunpowder storage facility; 1799 - another lightning strike). The monastery, damaged by fire in 1686, was reconstructed in the Baroque style in the years 1686-1710 and in years 1710-1720 based on the design produced by Johann Blacius Peintner; a new, representational building designed to accommodate the enclosed section of the monastery was erected at that time.

Following the secularisation of the monastery in 1811, the buildings were taken over by the municipal authorities, while the church was now simply a parish church, although it had already performed this function from 1707 onwards. The church was restored on numerous occasions, including in 1855, when the flooring was replaced, and in 1875, when the windows of the main body were extended upwards. In 1892, a the regothicisation of the church began, based on the design by Gustav Brinkmann. In 1897, the neighbouring monastery buildings were torn down, leaving only the northern cloister wing, having previously served, among others, as a prison and storage facilities maintained by the Higher National Court. The demolition of the monastery allowed the designs for a Gothic Revival western portal and a wind porch inside the church to be implemented. The eastern portal in the ground floor section of the tower, likewise designed in the Gothic Revival style by Gustav Brinkmann, was also constructed in 1897. Two years later, the buttresses of the church were subjected to conservation works, with some of the pinnacles adorning the chancel being reconstructed; in addition, the cornices beneath the windows and above the wall base (eastern and northern façades) were modified, with Eggert and Richard Schultze being responsible for the redesign. Subsequent renovation works were carried out in years 1913-1914 (roof), 1927-1928 (façades), 1926 (replacement of some of the traceries), 1932 (western façade), years 1927-193 (interiors, fixtures and fittings).

Having sustained negligible damage in 1945, the church underwent renovation in years 1945-1947, 1968-1976 and 2002-2005; until 1951, the church performed the role of a pro-cathedral.

In 1890, the area located south of the church along with other monastery buildings was purchased by a building consortium which, having demolished the existing structure, began the construction of the “Monopoly” hotel in 1892.

In the years 1893-1894, the existing building of the rectory on Plac Franciszkański (Franciscan Square) was constructed. The design of the building was produced by an architect named Grosser, with the task of supervision of construction works being entrusted to Handke, a master brickmason.

Description

The church is situated in the Old Town, south of the Market Square. The area adjoining the church to the west was originally occupied by the monastery, its buildings clustered around a southern garth and western utility courtyard.

The church itself, designed in the Gothic style, is oriented towards the east, its walls reinforced with buttresses. It features a three-nave, five-bay hall layout with no transept as well as a narrower, five-bay chancel with a polygonal end section, adjoined by a three-bay sacristy to the south. A low tower reinforced with buttresses is positioned on the northern side of the church, in the corner between the nave and the chancel. The tower is adjoined by a polygonal staircase turret. The chancel and the nave are both covered with gable roofs; the main body of the church features an elaborate, stepped western gable adorned with pinnacles. The eastern gable of the church is punctuated by blind windows, while the windows of the church are graced by decorative tracery. The buttresses positioned alongside the polygonal end section of the chancel are surmounted by pinnacles. The lower sections of the chancel blind windows are adorned by eighteen sandstone escutcheons; three of them are adorned with sculpted coats of arms: the heraldic eagle of the Holy Roman Emperor, the lion of the Kingdom of Bohemia and the eagle of the Piasts of Wrocław. The original entrance to the church, located in the final bay of the northern nave, is preceded by a Baroque porch with an ornate portal (ca. 1712). The western portal, added in 1897, was designed in the Gothic Revival style. A two-storey, five-bay wing of the former monastery cloister adjoins the southern side of the main body of the church, covered with a mono-pitched roof and featuring a lierne vault in its ground floor section. The chancel and the sacristy as well as the western bay of the main body all feature ribbed groin vaults, with a stellar vault used for the nave. The side aisles feature asymmetrical vaults, their ribs dividing the ceiling into seven fields in each aisle. The vaulted ceiling of the nave rests upon brick pillars, with Baroque corbels providing support to the ribs which flow downward from the ceiling. Gothic supports designed as sculpted human heads survive only in the sacristy, with the visages portrayed on the keystones of the vaulted ceiling including that of Jesus Christ and a bishop saint (perhaps St Stanislaus, although this remains uncertain). The keystones of the vaulted ceilings inside the nave are adorned with sculpted foliate and heraldic motifs, including the coat of arms of Wilke von Berlin. A pair of canopied Baroque chapels topped with ornamental roof lanterns grace the eastern wing of the main body. The Gothic Revival pipe organ gallery in the western part of the nave was erected in 1863.

A stone tabernacle from ca. 1335 is the sole relic of the original, Gothic fixtures and fittings. The rest of the fixtures and fittings are predominantly Baroque in style, dating back to the period between ca. 1690 and ca. 1750, including the main altarpiece, eleven side altarpieces, the pulpit, the baptismal font, the monastic galleries and choir stalls in the chancel, the confessionals and an ensemble of sculptures surmounting the rood arch and the sides of the pillars facing the central nave. Other notable items include the inscription plaque commemorating the return of the Franciscan monks to Wrocław in 1628, a Rococo sepulchral monument dedicated to Heinrich Gottfried Spaetgen, designed by F. J. Mangoldt (years 1752-53), numerous Baroque epitaph plaques and a Gothic Revival pipe organ casing from 1868.

Two manual construction windlasses (a vertical and a horizontal one) have survived in the attic of the main body of the church.

The historic monument is accessible to visitors.

compiled by Beata Sebzda, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Wrocław, 12-03-2015.

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General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: l. 1351-1493
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Franciszkańska, Świdnicka , Wrocław
  • Location: Voivodeship dolnośląskie, district Wrocław, commune Wrocław
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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