The parish church of St Florian, Żnin
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The parish church of St Florian

Żnin

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The brick church of St Florian, originating from the Gothic era, has been a part of the landscape of Żnin for centuries, virtually from the earliest days of the town’s existence. Today, the church continues to tower above the oldest part of town - the former Ostrów district.

History

The first mentions of the establishment of a local parish date back to the 11th - 12th century. The original, Romanesque church erected during the times of archbishop Janisław was subsequently demolished in the first half of the 14th century, with parts of its structure being incorporated into the new, Gothic edifice. The construction of the chancel was most likely completed in the first half of the 14th century, while the nave was only completed in the second half of the 14th century, under archbishop Bogoria Skotnicki. At that time, the church featured an elongated, two-aisle main body; inside, the chancel featured a double barrel vault, whereas the nave came equipped with a flat, wooden ceiling. The construction works faced interruptions due to fires which damaged the structure in 1447 and 1494. Following the latter of these two disastrous fires, the reconstruction of the building - known as the church of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the time - was completed in 1512. During the Swedish invasion of Poland, the church was desecrated and served as a stable. In 1692, another devastating fire engulfed the structure, leading to the collapse of the Gothic vaulted ceiling within. In 1720, the church went up in flames once more, with a substantial part of the building - including its tower - suffering severe damage as a result. Shortly afterwards, however, the reconstruction of the church commenced under the patronage of bishop S. Łubieński. A new, Baroque vaulted ceiling was constructed above the chancel, with the consecration ceremony taking place in 1758. The Baroque redesign of the entire church lasted for many years, with the final works being completed in 1795. A new vaulted ceiling inside the nave was constructed, resting on sturdy pillars, while a wooden bell tower was erected in place of the now-defunct Gothic tower, which has never been rebuilt following its destruction many years before. A Gothic sacristy was replaced by a new, Baroque structure in the 18th century, while a new porch which mirrored the design of the sacristy was constructed on the southern side of the church, between the buttresses supporting its walls. Significant changes to the appearance of the church were introduced in the years 1910-20, during the construction of the new tower. The tower, erected where the old, Gothic tower had originally stood, featured a new, Baroque Revival portal at the ground-floor level, replacing its earlier, Gothic predecessor. Since a staircase facilitating access to the garret was now placed inside the tower, the side entrance, positioned on the north-western side of the nave and leading into the separate staircase turret, became obsolete and was subsequently bricked up. In 1924, as the flooring was being replaced, the entrance to the crypt located beneath the great altarpiece in the chancel was also blocked. In 1925, a new chapel, known as “The Gallery”, was added on the northern side of the church. The church underwent a comprehensive renovation after 1945.

Description

The church is situated east of the Old Town, in the area of the former Ostrów district, on a piece of land overgrown with trees and surrounded by the local streets from all sides, making it possible to walk around the church without coming across any major obstacles.

The church is a three-nave hall structure, designed in the Gothic style and oriented towards the east, featuring a distinct chancel and a western tower. The interior of the church has been redesigned in the Baroque style. The chancel features a rectangular end section, its northern side adjoined by a rectangular chapel, while a square sacristy with truncated corners is positioned alongside its western bay. Cylindrical staircase turrets are positioned at the north-western corner of the main body as well as at the north-eastern corner of the chancel.

The silhouette of the church is compact in shape and almost perfectly symmetrical, consisting of a cuboid main body and a slightly smaller chancel, with the five-storey western tower serving as the dominant architectural feature. The tower, designed on a square plan, features an octagonal top section surmounted by a cupola with a roof lantern on top. The north-eastern corner formed by the walls of the main body and the chancel is occupied by a pair of structures - the sacristy and the chapel, the latter being smaller than the former; the southern side of the church is adjoined by a porch topped with a tall gable. The individual sections of the church are covered with gable roofs, with the tower featuring a cupola designed on an octagonal base. The walls of the church are reinforced with buttresses.

The building is made of brick arranged in the so-called Gothic bond, with some overburnt bricks as well as stone blocks being present, the latter most likely being the remnants of the original, Romanesque church which had once stood here. The walls of the porch and the sacristy feature a plaster finish.

Inside the nave, visitors can admire sail vaults resting on structural arches; a similar vaulted ceiling is also present inside the chancel, with the seams of the vault flowing down onto massive engaged pillars. The chapel and the vestibule beneath the tower feature groin vaults, whereas the sacristy comes equipped with a domed ceiling. A wooden ceiling with a plaster finish is present inside the southern porch.

The front (western) façade follows a three-axial layout with a projecting tower shaft and a cylindrical corner turret located between the buttresses, topped with an octagonal tholobate. The entrance, positioned on the middle axis of the front façade, is framed with a Baroque portal. The doorway itself features a plain surround, flanked by paired pilasters supporting a profiled entablature adorned by a frieze. The entire design is crowned with a simple, segment-headed pediment with a profiled entablature. A circular blind window is incorporated into the pediment, flanked by a pair of volutes. Above the portal, the tower features narrow, slit-like windows on each individual storey. The upper section of the tower features a plaster finish, with a large, arched bell opening and tower clock dial on each side, surmounted by a massive crowning cornice. The surfaces of the truncated corners of this section of the tower are enlivened by rectangular recessed panels. At the very top of the tower there is a multi-tiered cupola with an openwork, quadrangular roof lantern and a cross on top.

The northern façade of the church follows a seven-axial layout with a pronounced, projecting socle, its walls showing signs of where the original, Gothic windows had been before they were bricked up. The walls of the entire main body of the church are reinforced with two-stepped buttresses, with single-step buttresses being used for the chancel walls. The walls of the main body are adorned with a drip cornice positioned at the level where the sills of the original, Gothic windows had once been.

The southern façade is similarly disposed as the northern one, except that no drip cornice is present; the porch adjoining the façade is positioned on the second axis (counting from the west).

The eastern façade follows a single-axial layout and features a large oculus on the middle axis, accompanied by a number of narrow, slit-like windows. The buttresses supporting the walls reach up to about one-third of its height. The gable between the chancel and the nave is triangular in shape.

The interior fixtures and fittings date back to the period of the Baroque redesign (18th century), although the original, Gothic structure - including the remnants of the pointed-arch windows - has survived above the vaulted ceilings of the chancel and the nave and can still be seen inside the attic. The capitals of the pilasters inside the nave and the chancel are adorned with lavishly polychromed stucco decorations.

The rood beam transecting the chancel arch is surmounted by a group of Late Gothic sculptures depicting the scene of the Crucifixion, originating from the first half of the 16th century. The organ gallery rests upon a pair of pillars and features an extended, overhanging front section.

The interior fittings date back to the year 1795 and are designed in a uniform style, combining Baroque and Classicist influences. The main altarpiece is graced by the sculptures of St Peter and St Paul. The church also features a pair of side altarpieces; the left altarpiece incorporates a Late Gothic Pietà from the early 16th century, flanked by the sculptures of St Stanislaus and St Adalbert, dating back to the mid-16th century, while the right altarpiece is adorned with the sculptures of St John of Nepomuk and St Joseph with Child Jesus. The pulpit, dating back to the year 1795, is adorned with a sculpture of Christ, while the baptismal font is graced by a brass sculpture of St Florian (late 18th century). Other notable items include a pair of Rococo confessionals and pews from the late 18th century as well as oil paintings depicting the Holy Family, bishop Łubieński (portrait, 1795) and St Barbara (painted in the vernacular Baroque style, 1821). There is also a marble inscription plaque from 1863, designed to commemorate Jan and Jędrzej Śniadecki.

Limited access to the historical monument. The church may be visited during church service.

compiled by Krystyna Parucka, Historical Monument and National Heritage Documentation and Popularisation Department of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Cultural Centre in Bydgoszcz, 10-12-2014 - 19-12-2014.

Bibliography

  • Record sheet, Kościół parafialny pw. św. Floriana. Żnin, prepared by Bartowski K., Winter P. 1995, Archive of the Regional Office for the Protection of Historical Monuments in Bydgoszcz; Archive of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Warsaw.
  • Żnin. 700 lat dziejów miasta, Wiśniewski J. (ed.), collective work, pp. 19, 21, 30 - 33.
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, vol. XI: Dawne województwo bydgoskie, issue 21: Żnin i okolice, Warsaw 1979, pp. 44 - 49.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: XIV w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: św. Floriana , Żnin
  • Location: Voivodeship kujawsko-pomorskie, district żniński, commune Żnin - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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