Filial Church of St John the Baptist, Zaborsko
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Filial Church of St John the Baptist

Zaborsko

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One of the few churches in Western Pomerania designed in the Dutch Baroque style. Despite its small size, the church has an outstanding architectural value, exhibiting an excellent quality of workmanship which speaks volumes about its builders, whose identity sadly remains unknown today. Inside, the church boasts lavish fixtures and fittings, including the painted decorations of its ceiling, dating back to 1929.

History

The existing church was built on the site of an even earlier, medieval structure. During the Protestant era, it served as the filial church of the Evangelical parish in Stary Przylep. The current church was erected in the years 1721-1723, at the initiative of the local pastor, Jacobus Necker. In 1725, the interior was fitted with an altarpiece with integrated pulpit as well as a sculpture of a baptising angel. The organ gallery is believed to originate from the same period, its parapet adorned with twelve painted images. Before the mid-18th century, the coved ceiling received its painted decorations, designed in the Baroque style. This ensemble of paintings was one of three such works executed in the Pyrzyce region, the other two being the painted decorations which grace the churches in Wierzbno and Obryta. The ensemble consisted of three plafonds incorporating the symbolic depiction of the Law and the Gospel with Moses and St Paul, the Fall of Adam and Eve and Judgement Day, accompanied by smaller scenes from the Old and New Testament painted on the cove moulding. In 1736, pastor Jacobus Necker and his wife were buried beneath the floor of the church, with the commemorative inscription visible on the ceramic tiles until the early 20th century. In the 18th century, the tower is known to have contained a pair of bells. In 1930, the church underwent restoration, resulting in the existing church tower roof being replaced with a new, Baroque Revival cupola. Much of the valuable interior décor was lost, however, including the Baroque painted decorations which had once graced its ceiling. The new ceiling decorations, designed in the Baroque Revival style, were painted by Ernst Fey. A new, western organ gallery was also added, as was the internal, wooden vestibule preceding the southern entrance. The original pews were also replaced with new items. In 1946, the church was taken over by Catholics and consecrated under its current name. Since 1968, it has served as the filial church of the parish in Stary Przylep.

Description

The church is located in the northern part of the village, in the middle of the village green, surrounded by a cemetery circumscribed with a brick and stone wall with access gates in its northern and southern sections. The edifice was designed in the Baroque style. The church, oriented towards the east, was erected on a rectangular floor plan, with a square tower positioned west of its main body and inaccessible from inside the nave. The tower is narrower than the main body of the church. The tower is topped with a quadrangular, bulbous cupola with an octagonal, arcaded roof lantern, its openings topped with round arches. The main body is covered with a gable roof. The church features exposed brick walls. The tower cupola is clad with sheet metal, while the roof above the main body is covered with roof tiles. The façades of the tower feature a tall wall base and a southern entrance topped with a basket-handle arch. Each of the walls of the tower is subdivided by four tall blind windows, each of them topped with a paired round arches. Above them there is a row of roughly oval blind windows positioned just below the cupola. Narrow, paired bell openings are positioned on two levels of the tower. The side façades of the main body are pierced with windows topped with basket-handle arches, positioned inside single-stepped reveals. Large niches topped with basket-handle arches and flanked by pilasters are positioned in the middle of the side façades and the eastern façade. The main entrance portal with its semi-circular fanlight is positioned inside the niche in the southern façade. The upper section of the niche in the eastern façade is pierced with an elliptical window and flanked by a pair of tall, slender blind windows topped with paired round arches. A stone plaque with the inscribed date “1721” is positioned directly above the elliptical window. The façades of the main body are topped with a crowning cornice. The eastern gable follows a two-storey layout and features a volute-shaped fractable adorned with low pinnacles, its lower storey partitioned by three blind windows topped with paired round arches, while the upper section is adorned with a circular blind window and topped with a semi-circular pediment. The interior of the church features a polychromed coved ceiling made of wooden boards. The walls are punctuated by niches topped with semi-circular arches across all their height. The wooden organ gallery constructed in 1930 occupies the western part of the nave.

Notable fixtures and fittings include the Baroque altarpiece from 1725, formerly equipped with an integrated pulpit, a Gothic Revival baptismal font from the fourth quarter of the 19th century, made of stone and featuring a chalice-like shape, as well as the painted decorations on the coved ceiling, designed in the Baroque Revival style and executed in 1930 by Ernst Fey. The entire composition consists of figural paintings in decorative surrounds, set against a lavishly designed ornamental background. The ceiling is adorned with a trio of plafonds incorporating the portrayals of the Jordan River Baptism, Jesus teaching his disciples as well as Moses on Mount Sinai. Twelve monochrome scenes from the life of Christ are incorporated into a row of cartouches which grace the cove moulding beneath the ceiling.

Exploring the church is only possible by arrangement with the parish priest in Stary Przylep.

compiled by Maciej Słomiński, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Szczecin, 28-03-2015.

Bibliography

  • “Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce”, new series, vol. XIII, woj. zachodniopomorskie issue 1, pow. pyrzycki. D. Bartosz, M. Słomiński (eds.), Warsaw 2013, pp. 232-234
  • Lemcke, Die Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler des Regierungsbezirks Stettin, H. VII, Der Kreis Pyritz, Stettin 1906, pp.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1 poł. XVIII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Zaborsko
  • Location: Voivodeship zachodniopomorskie, district pyrzycki, commune Warnice
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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