Bernardine monastery complex, currently serving as a convent of the Camaldolese nuns, Złoczew
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Bernardine monastery complex, currently serving as a convent of the Camaldolese nuns

Złoczew

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Early-Baroque monastery complex - example of of a monument founded by noblemen, preserved without significant modifications, built on a rare tetraconch floor plan.

History

The church was built in years 1600-1603 at the request of the then owner of Złoczew, Andrzej Ruszkowski.

The execution of works is attributed to builder Jerzy Hoffman, the designer of the monastery building. Hofmann lived in Złoczew and run a valued construction workshop there. It is assumed that the unusual form of the building, erected on a tetraconch plan, was used at the request of Ruszkowski. The founder travelled to Italy, and probably saw solutions of this type in the Italian Renaissance architecture, and could brought a ready-made design to Poland. Initially, the church was to be used as a parish church, but already in 1607, Bernardines obtained rights to it. The church’s location, in the vicinity of a residential complex, and also on a small hill, provided the structure with additional scenic advantages, while at the same time underscored the piety, wealth, and significance of the founder and owner of the property.

After his death in 1619, the body of Ruszkowski was buried in the Bernardine crypt, starting the tradition of burying subsequent benefactors in the church’s basements. In this way, the church became a family mausoleum.

In 1683, the complex was extended. Castellan of Wieluń Wojciech Urbański founded the construction of the chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary by the chancel of the church. Beneath the chapel, another crypt was created. Urbański founded also a second chapel which has not survived to the present times, the cemetery chapel (end of the 17th century), and a monastery gate (the fencing comes from 1727). After a fire in 1719, it was necessary to replace roofs and interior’s décor. The subsequent owners of Złoczew, the Błeszczyński family, founded the décor of the chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary, where a miraculous painting of the Holy Mother had been transferred earlier from the main altar. The Bernardines looked after the church in Złoczew until the compulsory dissolution of the order in 1864, when the complex became a property of the parish.

The original appearance and exposure were partially distorted by the extension of the monastery building. In 1603, a free-standing, two-storey, “tenement house” was built, and in 1683-1688, it was substantially extended. As a result, a building on a quadrilateral floor plan was created, with a garth in the middle section, adjoining directly the south-western part of the church and permanently obscuring a part of it. Due to fires which affected Złoczew in years 1719, 1766, and 1808, the appearance of the complex was subject to subsequent modifications. During the World War II, the church was used as a storage, and in 1949, it was transferred to Camaldolese Sisters. It is the first seat of the female line of the order in Poland.

Description

The Bernardine monastery complex is located in the central part of Złoczew, in immediate vicinity of the route from Sieradz to Wieluń. It was built on a slight elevation. A dominant feature of the complex is the church, situated in the eastern part, near the road. It is surrounded by a cemetery, with the monastery building adjoining it from the south, and on the west it neighbours an orchard, fields, and utility buildings. The site is surrounded by a brick wall with the main gate on the east. The church is made of solid ceramic brick and lime mortar. External walls of the porch and elements such as window casings and crowning frieze are plastered. The build was erected on a tetraconch floor plan. The nave, on a square plan, is surrounded by apses used as a chancel (from the east), chapels (south and north), and choir (west). The body is covered by a tented roof comprised of four sections, resting on pendentives. In the sacristy and porch, there are double barrel vaults. From the north-eastern side of the chancel, the body is adjoined by a chapel built on a nearly rectangular floor plan. The choir (west) is adjoined by a small tower with staircase and the porch.

The building does not have a distinct front façade.

The external walls are buttressed. All façades are topped with a frieze and a profiled cornice. Window openings and blind windows are surrounded by casings. In the interior, traces of the founders can be found - there are coat of arms cartouches on the ceilings in conches. The walls are also decorated by an arrangement of pilasters in a giant order, and Baroque wall painting of the cupola ceiling. The main nave, built on a square floor plan, opens to the apses with arcaded openings. The fittings originate mainly from the Baroque period (altars, ambo). From the south and east, the church is adjoined by a two-storey monastery building with a garth.

The monastery complex includes also a free-standing cemetery chapel, located within the church cemetery. It is made of brick and plastered. Currently, it is not used.

Also the fencing of the site is entered to the register of monuments - it is made of brick and plastered, and circumscribes the area from the north and east. Its central part is constituted by a three-section gateway with a wicket gate.

The church is accessible all year round, tours of the monastery’s interiors are impossible.

compiled by Anna Michalska, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Łódź, 16.12.2014.

Bibliography

  • Bąbka E., Z działalności budowlanej Jerzego Hoffmana na terenie sieradzkiego, wieluńskiego i łęczyckiego ,[w:] Miedzy północą a południem, Sieradzkie i wieluńskie w późnym średniowieczu i czasach nowożytnych, Sieradz 1993
  • Gryglewski P., Sztuka Polski Środkowej, Vetusta Monumenta, Łódź 2002
  • Kubiak J., Klasztor i kościół pobernardyński w Złoczewie [ w:] BHS 1967, z. 4
  • Majdański J., Kościół i klasztor pobernardyński w Złoczewie [w:] Na sieradzkich szlakach , 1987, z. 3

General information

  • Type: monastery
  • Chronology: początek XVII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Sieradzka 3, Złoczew
  • Location: Voivodeship łódzkie, district sieradzki, commune Złoczew - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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