Parish church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Zbąszyń
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Parish church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Zbąszyń

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An example of a Late Baroque urban church built according to the project of a famous Silesian architect operating in Greater Poland in 1742-1755, Karol Marcin Frantz, financed by an illustrious family from Greater Poland, the Garczyński family. The church is distinctive for its rich Late Baroque stucco fittings from the end of the 18th century.

History

The town of Zbąszyń can trace its origin back to the 10th century. Its history is linked to an early medieval fortified settlement which was located on an ancient route leading from Poznań to Krosno and Lusatia, near a crossing point at the Oder River. The fortified settlement was the seat of a castellany mentioned for the first time in 1231, existing till the end of the 14th century. In the vicinity of the crossing point, there was a trade settlement where a town was chartered in the second half of the 13th century. The oldest mentions indicating that the settlement achieved the status of a town date back to 1311. First, it was a ducal property, later - royal. From 1393 to 1595, the town remained in the hands of the Nałęcz Głowacz noble family from Nowy Dwór who came to be known as the Zbąski family. Later, Zbąszyń was owned among others by the Ciświcki family, related to the Zbąski family, in the 17th century - by the Turczyński and Mycielski families, and from about 1700 to 1848 - by the Garczyński family.

The oldest church in Zbąszyń was probably a hillfort church. In 1238, a church in the area of the trading settlement was mentioned for the first time. In 1516, the church was turned into a collegiate church. In the second half of the 16th century, the then owner of Zbąszyń, Abraham II Zbąski, donated the building to the Protestants. Prior to 1640, Marianna Tuczyńska née Leszczyńska gave the church back to Catholics. At that time, it was a wooden building with a brick tomb chapel added owing to the efforts of Abraham Ciświcki. In the second half of 17th century, already two brick chapels were mentioned. In the mid- 18th century, the church and the chapels were pulled down. The brick-and-stone church which still stands here today was erected at the initiative of Stefan Garczyński, Voivode of Poznań. The project was created by a famous Silesian architect - Karol Marcin Frantz. The construction started in 1757 by the efforts of a son of Garczyński, Voivode of Poznań - also Stefan, a general of the crown army. The church was finished in 1776-1783 by another son of the voivode - Edward, Castellan of Rozprza. The works were directed by builder Jan Franciszek Handtke from Leszno. The church was consecrated in 1796 by bishop Ignacy Raczyński.

In 1850, roofs, ceilings and cupolas of the tower were destroyed by fire, but the church was soon rebuilt. During the German occupation, the church served as a warehouse. After the war, destroyed cupolas of the towers were renovated. In 1957, the church interior was renovated. The wall paintings by Teodor Szukała were made at that time. Next renovation was carried in 1965-66 and the 70s of the 20th century, when the building’s structure was reinforced and leaning towers were secured.

Description

The church of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is situated in the centre of the town, at the southern side of the market from which it is divided by a fence made of metal bars mounted on a low wall with a gate framed by pilastered pillars crowned with curved sections of a cornice. In front of the church, two stone sculptures of saint bishops have been placed on trilateral brick plinths.

The Late Baroque church consists of a wide two-bay nave and a narrower one-bay straight terminated chancel facing the south. By the northern nave, there are two square towers which enclose the narrow bay of the choir. At both sides of the chancel, there are two rectangular annexes: at the eastern side - the sacristy, and at the western side - the chapel. Galleries are situated on the first floor of both annexes. The body of the church, consisting of the nave and the chancel, is covered with a low gable roof. The entire structure is dominated by tall, two-storey towers, topped with polygonal cupolas with lanterns.

The church is a brick building. Its walls are covered with plaster. The roof is clad with sheet metal. Also cupolas of the towers were made of sheet metal. Inside, there are brick vaults.

Façades of the church were divided by Tuscan pilasters, which are situated at tall plinths, supporting the entablature with a profiled cornice. The windows are topped with basket-handle arch and framed with profiled window surrounds. The façade is enclosed with two avant-corps towers with pilastered corners. On the lower storey, there are Tuscan pilasters, on the upper storey - Ionic ones. The pilaster support an entablature with an architrave and cornice curved over the clock faces. On the axis of the front façade, there is a low vestibule with an entrance with semicircular arches, crowned with a balustrade. In the straight terminated gable between the towers, in a niche, a sculpture of Saint Edward from around 18th century was situated.

The interior arrangement is characterised by a tendency for compromise between a longitudinal and a central complex, which is typical for K. M. Frantz. The nave has the shape of an elongated octagon. Its spans are enclosed with pronounced engaged columns. Between the piers, there are deep window niches topped with semi-circular arches. By the walls of the piers, pairs of Corinthian columns were placed which support the entablature and disconnected pediments forming architectural frames of the altarpieces and tombs which are placed here. On the northern side between the towers, there is a choir supported by a pair of piers and three arches. The wavy projecting choir parapet was adorned with musical motifs and Rococo ornaments. The nave is covered with a sail vault supported by basket-handle arches. Also the chancel, sacristy, chapel and the rooms on the ground floor of the towers are covered with sail vaults. The passage from the chancel to the sacristy is enclosed with a portal with oblique pilasters, crowned with a drapery supported by puttos which constitutes a background for oval portraits of Edward Garczyński and his wife, Katarzyna née Radolińska. Over the arch leading from the chancel to the chapel, two another portraits were placed in a Classicist stucco framing - of general Stefan Garczyński and his wife Weronika née Krzycka.

The valuable Late Baroque fittings of the church include among others: the main altar with a substantially repainted painting of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and four side altars. On the side altar by the rood (on the eastern side), a painting, which was once considered marvellous, of Our Lady of the Rosary surrounded by medallions representing the Mysteries of the Rosary has been preserved. The fittings also include a pulpit, a baptismal font, and four confessionals. Particular attention should be paid to the Baroque and Classicist tombs of the initiator of the construction of the today’s church - Voivode of Greater Poland Stefan Garczyński and his wife Zofia née Tuchołka - which are situated at the piers by the choir. The tombs were built around 1780-90 by the son of the deceased - Edward. They are decorated with portraits of the deceased, vanitas motifs, as well as heraldic and inscription cartouches.

The church can be visited both from the outside and inside. More information on the parish and the Holy Mass schedule can be found online at www.parafia-zbaszyn.pl

compiled by Krzysztof Jodłowski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Poznań, 25-08-2014.

Bibliography

  • Barokowe kościoły Wielkopolski, koncepcja, teksty i wybór ilustracji P. Maluśkiewicz, Poznań 2006, s. 330-33.
  • Dubowski A., Zabytkowe kościoły Wielkopolski, Poznań 1956, s. 282-83.
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, t. V, z. 14: powiat nowotomyski, Warszawa 1969, s. 40-44.
  • Kohte J., Verzeichnis der Kunstdenkmaeler der Provinz Posen, Bd. III, Berlin 1896, s. 100-102.
  • Kręglewska-Foksowicz E. [i in.], Sztuka baroku w Wielkopolsce, „Biuletyn Historii Sztuki” XX, 1958, nr 1, s. 77-78.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1757-1796
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Zbąszyń
  • Location: Voivodeship wielkopolskie, district nowotomyski, commune Zbąszyń - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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