Uniate parish tserkva of St Cosmas and Damian, currently serving as the Roman Catholic filial church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Wysokie Mazowieckie
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Uniate parish tserkva of St Cosmas and Damian, currently serving as the Roman Catholic filial church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Wysokie Mazowieckie

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One of the few surviving Baroque tserkvas designed on a central plan in the Podlasie province. Despite the alterations made throughout the years, the tserkva retains many of its original features so that, at its core, it is still very much the same central-plan, Late Baroque structure as it was back when it was first erected.

History

An Orthodox tserkva is known to have existed in Wysokie Mazowieckie at least from the mid-16th century. After 1596, it became a Uniate church. The first tserkvas to be erected here were all wooden structures; the existing tserkva is a masonry building erected in 1789 for the funds provided by Aniela Węgierska, the wife of the deceased Tomasz Węgierski, the alderman of Korytnica. In 1875, the tserkva was taken over by the Orthodox community once again. In 1896, the nave and the bell tower with a porch on the ground floor level were added. From 1918 onwards, the tserkva has served as a Roman Catholic church of St John the Baptist. In years 1970-1971, renovation works were conducted, including the replacement of roof cladding with new, sheet metal cladding, the installation of new flooring made of ceramic tiles as well as the execution of painted decorations inside the tserkva.

Description

The building is located in the town centre, on the Resurrection Square (Plac Odrodzenia); it is surrounded by a cemetery. The chancel of the tserkva faces the south-east. The older section of the building was erected during the Late Baroque period, while the more recent part of the structure was designed in the Eclectic style, with numerous influences taken from the Russian Orthodox art.

The tserkva consists of the octagonal chancel and the nave and porch, both designed on a rectangular plan. A pair of side annexes containing a storage facility and a staircase adjoin the porch on both sides. The two-storey porch is topped with an octagonal bell tower crowned with a pyramid-shaped roof with a row of kokoshniks below. The dome above the chancel is crowned with a roof lantern. The nave and the side annexes are covered with gable roofs.

The entire building is a brick structure, its walls covered with plaster both on the outside and on the inside. The roofs are clad with sheet metal. The windows and doors are made of metal and wood respectively. Inside, the church features terracotta flooring. The cornerstone bearing the date of the tserkva’s construction (1789) is embedded in the chancel foundations.

The façades of the chancel are topped with an entablature supported by lesenes, their upper sections incorporated into the architrave. The façades of the nave, the porch and the side annexes are adorned with a profiled crowning cornice; on the front façade, this cornice leads alongside the upper edges of the windows, where it transforms into a row of kokoshniks. The rectangular windows and blind windows in the front façade are topped with semicircular arches and surmounted by narrow, profiled bands following an ogee arch outline. The bell openings in the tower are likewise rectangular in shape and topped with semicircular arches.

The chancel interior features an eight-faced cupola ceiling, with a segmental vault used for the nave. The choir gallery rises above the entrance into the nave. The walls are adorned with wall paintings.

The historic monument can be viewed from the outside. The interiors can be admired during church service.

compiled by Aneta Kułak, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 01-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Record sheet, Cerkiew unicka, ob. kościół filialny pw. Narodzenia NMPanny, prepared by Boruch W., 1985, collection of the National Heritage Board of Poland and the Regional Monuments Inspector for the Podlaskie province.
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, vol. IX: Województwo łomżyńskie, issue 2: Ciechanowiec, Zambrów, Wysokie Mazowieckie i okolice, compiled by Kałamajska-Saeed Maria, Warsaw 1986, pp. 91-92, fig. p. 56.

General information

  • Type: tserkva
  • Chronology: 1798 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: pl. Odrodzenia , Wysokie Mazowieckie
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district wysokomazowiecki, commune Wysokie Mazowieckie (gm. miejska)
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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