The complex of the collegiate church (currently having the status of a cathedral) of the Resurrection of Our Lord and of St Thomas the Apostle, Zamość
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The complex of the collegiate church (currently having the status of a cathedral) of the Resurrection of Our Lord and of St Thomas the Apostle

Zamość

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The cathedral in Zamość is one of the most spectacular Renaissance churches in Poland, designed by the Italian architect Bernardo Morando, with funds for its construction being provided by Jan Zamoyski. The church was intended to serve as a sign of gratitude for hetman Zamoyski’s numerous victories; shortly after its construction it became the leading centre of religious life in the Zamoyski family ordynacja (a type of fee tail estate) - the place where a “crowning” ceremony for subsequent lords of the manor would be held and where the deceased members of the Zamoyski family would be buried in their mausoleum. The cathedral building and its surroundings form a complex which has rightly been designated as unique on a global scale.

History

The complex of the collegiate church (currently having the status of a cathedral) of the Resurrection of Our Lord and of St Thomas the Apostle in Zamość was built in years 1587-98, based on the design by Bernardo Morando and under his strict supervision. Works on the finish and decorations continued long after the architect’s death (1601, although this date is sometimes disputed) and even after the chancellor himself passed away in 1605. It is believed that the works in question were only completed at the time of consecration of the church, which took place in 1637. During the 18th century the interior walls received their painted decorations, while in years 1783-85 the impressive architectural altarpiece was built, necessitating the addition of a dormer with a round window (oculus) above. The steeple above the nave is believed to have been removed in 1809. The only major changes took place in years 1824-26, when, as what used to be a private town was being transformed into a government-controlled fort, numerous parts of the interior décor - including the Zamoyski coats of arms and the inscriptions containing references to the votive nature of the church - were either destroyed or painted over at the request of Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich of Russia. Renovation works were carried out in years 1857-58, 1867-71, 1906-09, 1930-31, 1937-38, 1947 (restoration following the period of German occupation during which the church served as a granary), 1949-51, 1953, 1955, 1960-61, 1972-74, 1977-80, 1986, 1989-91, 1995 and in 2010-12, when a comprehensive renovation was performed under the supervision of monument protection services, with the historic shape of the cathedral and of the surrounding area being restored to their original condition.

The original, wooden bell tower was built back in the times of the city’s founder; it was lost to the blaze in 1658, rebuilt in 1661 and finally demolished during the 18th century. The brick structure which can be admired today was built in years 1760-76, based on the design by Jerzy de Kawe. Inside, three bells - “John” (1662), “Lawrence” (1715) and “Thomas” (1721) - were installed. In 1828, the Baroque cupola and the four pediments which crowned the façade were all dismantled. Another redesign took place in 1937-38, under the direction of Teodor M. Wtorzecki, with the tower receiving a tall, Baroque Revival cupola with a quadrangular lantern perched atop its bulbous base. Subsequent renovation works took place in years 1958, 1992 and 2012-13.

The prelate’s house (rectory) was erected in the final quarter of the 16th century (1582?), most likely on the basis of designs prepared by Bernardo Morando; it was then redesigned before 1620, with Mikołaj Kiślicki - the dean of Zamość - providing the necessary funds. Another redesign was carried out following a fire which gutted the rectory in 1658. During the second half of the 19th century, when the site formed part of the fort, the rectory itself served as the “superintendent’s house”; during the late 19th and early 20th century, an outbuilding located east of the rectory and within the boundaries of the cemetery was added. In years 1940-41, the building served as a school, while in years 1942-54 it became a telegraph station. In 1954 it was returned to the church and was adapted as the residence of the mitred prelate, with parts of the ground floor also serving as the Ecclesiastical Museum of the Zamość Cathedral from 1987 onwards. Renovation works were carried out in years 1935, 1955, 1970, 1989, 1990 (portal), 1994 and 1998.

The vicarage building was erected during the first half of the 17th century, initially covering what is now the southern part of the current building; it was later extended after 1658 and underwent a redesign on two occasions during the 18th century. Subsequent renovation and adaptation works were carried out in the late 19th century and in years 1937 and 1968, when the ground floor rooms were adapted to serve as shops; in 1996, the northern part of the building became a law office.

Description

The complex of the collegiate church (currently having the status of a cathedral) of the Resurrection of Our Lord and of St Thomas the Apostle in Zamość comprises the cathedral itself, the bell tower, the house of the mitred prelate (the former priests' house) as well as the vicarage.

The collegiate church (currently having the status of a cathedral) of the Resurrection of Our Lord and of St Thomas the Apostle in Zamość was built in the south-western part of town. It was constructed using brick, limestone and sandstone blocks, its walls covered with plaster. The cathedral takes the form of a three-nave basilica, oriented towards the east, with a row of lower chapels on each side; the main entrance is situated in the west, with side entrances from the south and the north. While the church may appear rather massive from the outside, its interior is quite remarkable for its slender proportions. The church consists of a five-bay main body designed on a square floor plan and the chancel section separated from the nave by the rood arch. The western bay of the main nave features the organ gallery, its front section resting upon three semi-circular arches. The 25-stop pipe organ was installed in 1895, with Maurycy Zamoyski, the 15th lord of the manor, providing the necessary funds. The main nave is separated from the side aisles by slender pillars supporting the arcades above. The chancel features a barrel vault with an end section taking the form of an apse. The nave and the side aisles also use barrel vaults with tangential lunettes, while the side chapels feature groin vaults. In the sacristy and the south-eastern chapel, visitors can admire elaborate groin vaults with pairs of lunettes in the corners. The crypts feature barrel vaults. The roof over the main nave is based on a wooden double-suspension trusswork. The side aisles and the chapels are covered with a common shed roof with a purlin and rafter truss. The chancel features an attic truss roof. The roofs are covered with roof tiles. The tall main nave is graced by a sculptured entablature. A total of 85 rosettes are placed between the supports of the projecting cornice, with none of them being exactly alike. Another notable feature of the interior is the Baroque main altarpiece dating back to the years 1783-85 and incorporating a painting depicting the patron saint of the cathedral - St Thomas the Apostle standing before the Resurrected Christ. The altarpiece also features a silver tabernacle, designed in the Rococo style. A total of four 17th-century canvas paintings depicting the scenes from the life of St Thomas as well as the scenes of his martyrdom adorn the side walls of the chancel. The most interesting out of eight chapels is the one located on the right hand side of the chancel - the Zamoyski family chapel. The floor of the chapel incorporates the tomb slab of Jan Zamoyski, the founder of the town of Zamość, as well as a headstone made of white Carrara marble, dedicated to Tomasz Stanisław Zamoyski, the 14th lord of the manor, created in 1891 by Antonio Argenti. The portraits on the walls of the chapel are those of hetman Jan Zamoyski and of his son, Thomas. Both of these paintings are the work of Wojciech Gerson. The vault of the chapel is adorned by Baroque plasterwork, executed in 1635 by Jan Baptysta Falconi. Next to the chapel entrance there is a metal door set into the floor of the church, carrying the inscription that reads “Fundatoribus Grata Memoria” (“In grateful memory to our benefactors”) and leading down into the crypts of the Zamoyski family. The crypts are the final resting place of all the lords of the manor as well as members of their families.

The bell tower is a four-storey structure with a total height of 47 metres, made of brick and stone, its walls covered with plaster; the tower stands north of the cathedral, on the transverse axis thereof. The ground floor level was designed on an elongated rectangular floor plan as a tripartite structure featuring a single-bay gate positioned on the transverse axis beneath the tower itself and featuring a groin vault inside as well as a pair of arched passages, their reveals splayed towards the inside. The gate is flanked by two small rooms with barrel vaults; the eastern one serves as a storage room, while the western one incorporates the staircase leading up to the tower which houses three antique bells - “John”, “Lawrence” and “Thomas”. The two-storey shaft of the tower was designed on a square floor plan and features rounded corners; the lower part of the shaft has balconies facing the east and the west. The fourth storey is narrower than the rest, square-shaped from the outside and octagonal from the inside, featuring a set of niches in its corners; it is surrounded by a balcony and topped with four pediments as well as a tall, bulbous spire clad with copper sheets.

The house of the mitred prelates (the former rectory, also known as the dean’s house or the prelate’s house) is located south of the cathedral. It is a two-storey building with a basement, set on a rectangular, almost square floor plan and following a three-bay, tripartite layout. It is a brick and limestone building with plastered walls, covered by a low hip roof. The portals and window surrounds are made of sandstone; the ground floor level also features a surviving Renaissance window surround with bossage. A distinctive feature of the building is its lavishly ornamented, sculpted arched portal above the main entrance in the northern façade, preceded by a flight of steps leading to the higher level of the cemetery; the portal, originating from the Early Baroque period, features a pair of engaged columns in the Roman variant of the Doric style, set against the background of half-pilasters topped by pinnacles, as well as the Prus coat of arms of the benefactor of the complex - a nobleman named Kiślicki - incorporated into an ornate cartouche with “NKDZ” initials and a prelate’s mitre. The basements as well as the rooms on both the ground floor and the first floor all feature double barrel vaults. Inside, the building features a number of portals - rather more restrained in design than the external one - as well as vaults adorned with ribbing and plasterwork decorations, the latter also incorporating the Kiślicki coat of arms.

The vicarage is located north of the cathedral; it is a two-storey building with a basement underneath parts of its structure, designed on an elongated rectangular floor plan and covered with a hip roof. The building is made of brick, its walls covered with plaster. The façades are austere in appearance, with no partitions whatsoever; a crowning cornice runs around the entire building, while the northern façade features a simple portal. The windows are rectangular in shape and divided into four or six panes, their arrangement being predominantly irregular. The interior follows a three-bay layout and features long hallways with barrel vaults on both levels.

Limited access to the historic buildings.

compiled by Ewa Prusicka, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Lublin, 20-11-2014.

Bibliography

  • Czterysta lat Zamościa, J. Kowalczyk (ed.), Wrocław-Łódź 1983
  • Herbst S., Zamość, Warsaw 1954
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, compiled by J.Z. Łoziński, J.A. Miłobędzki, B. Wolff, typescript - Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw 153
  • Record sheets, Collegiate church (...), gate-belfry - gateway in the collegiate complex (...) Zamość, compiled by R. Zwierzchowski, E. Mitrus, 1997, Archive of the Regional Office for the Protection of Historical Monuments in Lublin, Zamość branch; Archive of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Warsaw.
  • Katedra w Zamościu, rev. Cz. Grzyb (ed.), Zamość 2007
  • Kędziora A., Kolegiata Zamojska, Warsaw 1988
  • Kędziora A., Dawna architektura i budownictwo Zamościa, Zamość 1990
  • Kędziora A., Encyklopedia miasta Zamościa, Chełm 2000.
  • J. Kowalczyk, Kolegiata w Zamościu, Warsaw 1968
  • Wyszyńska L., Manierystyczne epitafia w Kolegiacie Zamojskiej, “Konserwatorska Teka Zamojska” 1980
  • Zarębska T., Zamość - miasto idealne i jego realizacja, /in:/ Zamość miasto idealne, J. Kowalczyk (ed.), Lublin 1980

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1587-1598
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Kolegiacka 1, Zamość
  • Location: Voivodeship lubelskie, district Zamość, commune Zamość
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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