Czchów – church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary


    The first Czchów temple was erected in the romanesque style in the first half of the 12th century. In a document from 1357, it was called “alba ecclesia”, meaning a white church. The current gothic church was built in two stages. First, before 1360, a chancel was built from the foundation of king Casimir the Great, and then around 1450 a nave was built, to which the tower was added also in the fifteenth century. For the construction of the present, gothic church, stones from the earlier romanesque were used, putting them among others to buttresses. Also in the eastern wall of the presbytery, fragments of the romanesque cornice were embedded.
In the years 1551-1554, the church in Czchów was temporarily in the hands of Lutherans. At that time, the parish priest was Franciszek Lismanini, provincial of the Franciscans, confessor to queen Bona and leading Polish reformer. In the 18th century, a chapel was added to the chancel, and in 1841, due to the fear of collapsing, the tower was lowered. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the church was thoroughly renovated, at that time the neo-gothic west gable and the ridge turret were erected.


    The church is oriented, that is set on the east-west line. It consists of a wide rectangular nave and a narrower chancel on the rectangular plan. The western side is topped by a low tower, originally one storey higher. Entrances surrounded by gothic, ogival portals lead to the church from the west and south. Outside, the walls of the building were fastened with buttresses.
In the chancel there is a rib vault. Here, there are also gargoyle-shaped arch corbels. Two of them have human faces that express different kinds of grimaces. In front of the altar is a gothic baptismal font from 1506 in the shape of a goblet, with a timber, later cover. At the border of the presbytery and the nave there are two renaissance tombstones. One of them with Old Polish language inscriptions, is considered to be the oldest known gravestone poem in Polish. The monument was probably made in the second half of the 16th century by the famous Milan sculptor Hieronim Canavesi. In 2011, during the conservation work, a polychrome from around 1375 was discovered. In the presbytery there is also a gothic wall tabernacle from the 14th century.

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Architektura gotycka w Polsce, red. T. Mroczko i M. Arszyński, Warszawa 1995.
Krasnowolski B., Leksykon zabytków architektury Małopolski, Warszawa 2013.
Webpage, Czchów, kościół Narodzenia NMP.