Kamionna – church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary


   The church was built at the end of the 15th century from the foundation of Mikołaj Kamieński, according to the local tradition, the abbot of the Cistercian abbey from nearby Bledzew. The list of Bledzew abbots, however, did not leave any information about such an abbot, while Mikołaj Kamiński was the heir of Kamionna, appearing in the documents in the years 1461 – 1489.
   The first reference to Kamienna was recorded in 1261, it was mentioned as a town in 1402, and three years later the parish priest Bartłomiej, who had to work in the older church, was recorded. The Late Gothic church was erected when Kamionna was a small and insignificant town on the Polish-Brandenburg border, whose owners did not hold high offices, but were only among the powerful lords from the Ostroróg family. The position of the parish priest was often assigned to the Kamieński family or their close relatives.

   In the 17th century, during the Swedish wars, the church was damaged. Rebuilt in the 90s of that century, it suffered further damage during the Napoleonic Wars. The church was renovated in the 17th century by representatives of the Prusiński family of the Nałęcz coat of arms and in 1834, when the western facade or gable collapsed. The next renovation was carried out in 1934.


   The church was erected above the hillside sloping in the west towards muddy areas. Its southern façade was turned towards the town, from there the townspeople went to mass and from this direction the church was most visible. Due to the low social position of Kamionna’s owners, it received a simple form consisting of an aisleless building, built of bricks on a rectangular plan, without an externally separated presbytery. A sacristy and a treasury were attached to its northern wall, and a porch and a slender tower crowned with a brick pyramidal helmet were attached to the southern wall. Another shallow porch was built on the west side. In addition, on the north side there was to be a side aisle for which blind windows were marked, but eventually it was never built. The inter-nave arcades were walled up and the church remained an aisleless building
   The church founder contrasted simple layout with unusual features: excellent workmanship, rich architectural detail and references to the surrounding building tradition (collegiate church in Szamotuły). The church’s pride became the two-window eastern façade, supported by three buttresses and decorated with a richly decorated stepped gable. Its next three floors, narrowing upwards, were separated by horizontal strips of unplastered brick wall and enclosed in decorative pinnacles hung on brackets. These pinnacles were led above the end of the storey, where they were half-gables in the form of a ogee arches added (only between the pinnacles of the top floor a slightly sharpened Gothic moulding was used). The walls between the pinnacles were smoothly plastered, creating a background for a tracery decoration full of various lace arches.
   A simple plastered frieze crowned the external facades just below the eaves of the roof, and the tower was repeated four times with a horizontal frieze of bricks set up at the edge, separated by three straight plastered friezes. Also between the tower and the west facade was a short section of a frieze, thanks to which the southern facade was treated like a decorative facade, in which a stair tower, usually placed in one of the corners, was also treated as a decorative element. Its characteristic feature was the top half-gables, which had no analogy in other churches of Greater Poland. It is also worth noting that the construction master working on the church for use had mainly ordinary bricks without a larger number of suitable fittings, and he managed to create friezes and pinnacles in an extremely ingenious way, arranging bricks in friezes at different angles and in different directions, and connecting them at the gable with floor tiles. Other uses were given to unused vault fittings, which filled the southern elevation frieze. He did it without revealing their origin, because at first glance they seem to be specially made fittings for the frieze.
   Inside, the walls were divided by wide lesenes, which flowed down into stone pedestals and joined above into arcades filling six bays. Simple, stepped consoles with ribs were placed on the lesenes. Some of the pilaster strips (lesenes) in the presbytery were narrowed downwards and at a height of about 2.5 meters above the floor was cut off, thanks to which the church, despite its high uniformity, gained a division into the priesthood part and the part intended for the congregation. The interior of the nave, as well as a small porch, were covered with sublime stellar-net vaults, created during the second construction campaign, after a certain change in concept (it is known because the vault did not use two vault corbels and the console on the choir axis).

Current state

   The church in Kamienna is a rare example of a small parish church characterized by a sophisticated form and a very high artistic class. Unfortunately, it did not survive entirely in its original shape, because the western gable after the catastrophe of 1834 gained its current, neo-Gothic crowning. Fortunately, the eastern gable has survived, which has no comparison to any other gables, neither in Greater Poland nor in neighboring lands. Inside the church, preserved late-Gothic monument are stalls from the beginning of the 16th century, with later added desktops and canopies.

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