Franciscan and Poor Clare monastery complex, today rectoral church of St John the Baptist, Zawichost
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Franciscan and Poor Clare monastery complex, today rectoral church of St John the Baptist

Zawichost

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The Zawichost monastery was the first Polish monastic facility built for the Poor Clare nuns but was soon transferred to the Franciscans. It is one of the most splendid projects of Bolesław the Chaste, probably completed thanks to the considerable support of his mother Grzymisława and sister Salomea. The church is a typical example of a monastic complex for the medicant order of serious influences in the prince’s court. Of course, the modest architecture and decoration of the church corresponded to the poverty recommendations of St Francis and St Clare, and the spatial layout of the interior with the great hall-nave for the faithful defined the preaching nature of the order.

History

The complex with the church of St John the Baptist was funded after 1245 by Bolesław the Chaste and his sister Salomea as a convent for the Poor Clares. In 1257 the Franciscans settled in the site and the Poor Clares, probably due to the growing threat of foreign invasions, were relocated to Skała, near Kraków. The church and the monastery were erected in the years 1245-1257. In the early 15th century, part of the monastic buildings destroyed in the fire in 1353, were demolished by the castellan of Sandomierz, Michał Czyżowski, who used the obtained material to erect a castle in nearby Czyżów. The church was renovated in 1600 with the assistance of the Rev. Wacław Łukasiewicz and thanks to the funds of Mr Janowski and the heir of Zawichost Mr Maciejowski. In 1628 the owner of Opoka Wielka, Stanisław Opocki, funded the chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary and, a little later, the chapel of St Francis. After renovated, in 1633 the church was consecrated by the Rev. Tomasz Oborski, auxiliary bishop of Kraków, but it was destroyed along with the Zawichost castle during the Swedish invasion in 1657. The buildings of the 2nd half of the 18th century greatly deteriorated and, despite the repairs in the early 19th century, there was still an urgent need for the restoration of the church and monastery complex. Renovation was carried out on earlier than in the years 1840-1841 owing to the financial support of the owners of the neighbouring estates. After the dissolution of the convent in 1864 and the death of the last Franciscan, Fr. Celestyn Adamski, in 1902, the church was administered by the diocesan priests. After a fire in 1944, the church was renovated and its original condition was restored according to the design by the architect Józef Jamroz.

Description

The monastic buildings are located southeast of the Zawichost market, by a steep escarpment upon the Vistula River. The church is built of brick arranged in the so-called monk bond, with a rectangular nave and three-bay presbytery, originally the choir. Two east bays are cross-vaulted with the brick-and-stone ribs of the mid-13th century. The west bay has a stellar vault, probably built after the destruction of the church in the 2nd half of the 14th century. The arches of the vaults run down to the striped, brick-and-stone, overhanging, stepped wall pillars, mostly reconstructed. In the south wall of the presbytery, there is a preserved semicircular vaulted piscina and a Gothic bay for seats, vaulted with three pointed arcades. On the walls of the rood beam and the side walls of the nave there are visible remains of the former rood screen. In the east wall of the presbytery, there is a heavily damaged Renaissance tabernacle bay, enveloped in half-columns made in 1542 by Szymon Pencz. The north wall reveals some hardly legible fragments of figural polychrome, probably of the 15th/16th century, with the figure of a nun and a heraldic eagle. The nave walls possess embedded, early Baroque, marble gravestones of Zofia Słupecka of Bobrek, the wife of Zawichost starost, with the lying figure of the deceased and cartouches in the top section displaying coats of arms. Opposite, there is the epitaph of Stanisław Opocki of Opoka, died in 1629, and his wife Anna of Miłoszów; the epitaph was installed in 1672 by their son Piotr, the castellan of Wiślice, with a bas-relief of a nobleman kneeling before St Francis in the top section. The monastery buildings of the mid-13th century were repeatedly rebuilt, and in 1412 mostly dismantled by the castellan of Sandomierz Michał of Czyżów to be used as a construction material for his family castle in Czyżów. Preserved is a part of the east wing of the chapter house, accessible from the cloister by the recessed portal; it was rebuilt and extended after WW2 by the architect Kazimierz Skórewicz. After the renovation, the building was settled by the Sisters of St Queen Jadwiga - the Servants of Present Christ.

The monastic buildings are not accessible due to their residential function; the church interior available upon the consent of the rector

Compiled by Jerzy Zub, 15.12.2014.

Bibliography

  • Łuszczkiewicz W., Architektura najdawniejszych kościołów franciszkańskich w Polsce. Przyczynek do historyi gotycyzmu (w:) Sprawozdania komisyi do badania histotyi sztuki w Polsce, t. IV, 1901, s. 139-81.
  • Wiśniewski J., Dekanat sandomierski, Radom 1915.
  • Jamroz J. S., Kościół pofranciszkański w Zawichoście (w:) Biuletyn Historii Sztuki, t. X/3/4, Warszawa 1948, s. 185-230.
  • Pencakowski P., Sanktuaria minoryckie w Zawichoście i Nowym Korczynie. Dwie fundacje związane z księciem Bolesławem Wstydliwym i jego rodziną (w:) Kwartalnik Architektury i Urbanistyki, t. XXXV/2, Warszawa 1992, s. 119-43.
  • Zub J., Klasztor pofranciszkański w Zawichoście w świetle ostatnich badań (w:) Zeszyty Sandomierskie, nr 18, Sandomierz 2004, s. 28-36.

General information

  • Type: monastery
  • Chronology: 1245-1257 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: 11 Listopada 5, Zawichost
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district sandomierski, commune Zawichost - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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