Frombork – Holy Spirit Hospital


  The beginnings of the hospital in Frombork are not known. The local chapter probably established the first modest almhouse in Frombork already in the 14th century, probably built of wood and clay with a straw roof. The oldest documented construction or expansion of the Holy Spirit Hospitalt took place in the years 1426-1433. Its founder was the priest of the chapter, canon Arnold von Datteln.
   From the beginning of the 16th century, the hospital was run by theAantonite Order, brought in 1507 by Bishop Łukasz Watzenrode from Tempzin in Mecklenburg. In the period until 1513, they rebuilt almhouse, during which the existing half-timbered walls were replaced with brick ones. Then, in the second quarter of the 16th century, the straw roof was replaced with a ceramic one. The Antonite preceptory began to decline fairly quickly, however. In 1519, the monks handed over the hospital and the goods to the bishop. During the war of 1520, the Teutonic Knights army burnt Frombork, but spared the hospital, although the technical condition of the buildings was still not the best.
   At the end of the 17th century, another major reconstruction of the hospital took place, carried out by the canon Ludwik Demuth. The scope of these works was much larger than the previous ones, although it did not consist in demolishing the old hospital house, but in its thorough reconstruction. At that time, the arrangement of windows was changed and inside walls were built that created a three-aisle layout. The side aisles created in this way were additionally divided with partition walls, creating two rows of rooms, a cells for hospital residents.
   From the beginning of the 18th century, renovation works were still carried out in the hospital, but they did not change the overall appearance of the building. Only in 1709, the curator Jan Jerzy Kunigk erected a new, rectangular sacristy from the east, adjacent to the apse of the chapel of St. Anna, numerous altars were also founded. In 1874, the western part of the complex was rebuilt, which gave the building the character of a small church with a chapel on the east. In the years 1927-1932 the hospital was renovated, but unfortunately it suffered a lot during the Second World War. Repair work was carried out intermittently from 1948 to 1958.


   The hospital of the Holy Spirit from the 15th century, received a plan of a strongly elongated, rectangular building with a chapel from the east, and a hospital house from the west. The walls of the hospital were erected in a half-timber technique, and only the chapel on the eastern side and the so-called Gothic house on the west side were brick. The roof was covered with thatched straw or reed. Inside, there were three rooms: two for the poor and one for the sick. In addition to them, on the west side there was a bathhouse, kitchen, dining room and a small living room.
   At the beginning of the 16th century, the existing half-timbered walls were replaced with brick ones, obtaining uniform longitudinal facades with window openings in the form of narrow slits. Then the thatched roof was replaced with a ceramic one. The internal layout did not change, only in the hospital room, along the walls on the north and south sides, communication routes were created connecting the Gothic house with the chapel, which were lit by small windows from the east.
   Eventually, at the end of the 17th century, the building had a shape on an elongated rectangular plan in a three-aisle basilica layout.
On the eastern side there was a chapel, consisting of a single nave and a semicircular apse, decorated with polychrome from the second quarter of the 15th century. Under the western part of the hospital there was a group of medieval cellars with pointed, barrel vaults. Along the nave, there were twelve low cells for the sick patients and rooms for the dining room, kitchen and pharmacy, opened by arcades to the main hall and connected to each other. The cells were heated by stoves in the walls of the building separating the cells, which were fired from the main aisle. A latrine adjoined the hospital from the outside.

Current state

   The Holy Spirit Hospital with the chapel is the only monument of this kind in the region, and in addition, it is very well preserved. Today it has a layout from the Baroque reconstruction, but many late Gothic elements are visible. At present, the Department of the History of Medicine of the Museum of St. Nicolaus Copernicus operates in the hospital. The most valuable elements of the interior design are wall paintings from the beginning of the 15th century, preserved in the chapel of St. Anne. You can also see two bath stoves from the beginning of the 15th century. From the south to the hospital adjoins the garden cultivated by the monks – herbarium, with the cultivation of medicinal herbs.

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Rzempołuch A., Przewodnik po zabytkach sztuki dawnych Prus Wschodnich, Olsztyn 1992.
Webpage, Szpital Św. Ducha. Historia budowy.