Kraków – Corpus Christi Church


   The original, still wooden church, was founded around 1340 by Casimir the Great, and already from 1342 the oldest accounts of papal tithes originating from it, have been preserved. Probably soon after, foundations were laid for a new brick building, of which, until 1348, half of the walls of the chancel and the eastern walls of the nave were built. At the end of the 1360s, according to the accounts kept in the city council’s books, construction works were still ongoing, but soon there was a break. From 1370 the patronage over the construction was taken over by the city, and work began again around 1380. Chancel and the sacristy was finished then with the participation of bricklayers from the Cipser family and under the supervision of Nicholas Wernher, and work continued on the nave, while changing the original plan from hall to basilica layout. These works lasted until 1401, when the chancel was completed and consecrated.
   In 1405, regular canons were brought to the care of the temple by King Władysław Jagiełło. Despite this, much more time was needed to built the imposing nave, tower, roof and vaults. Work on the nave was financed by Kazimierz Jagiellończyk, who shortly before his death, obliged his successor to complete the church building. This also happened, because in 1500 the gable of the facade was completed and the temple was consecrated.

In 1556, as a result of a great fire, the tower burned down. Shortly after its rebuilding, in 1594, the fire consumed the whole roof of the church. In 1655 temple was robbed by Swedish soldiers who arranged magazines and stables in it. The partitions of Poland, as well as the confiscation of religious property, stopped all serious work at the church and monastery for a long time. Renovation began only in 1897.


   The Corpus Christi church was built of bricks on a stone pedestal as a three-aisle building with a transept-free basilica. The five-bay chancel was three-sides ended from the east and the four-bay nave was built in a pillar-buttress system (buttresses were attached to inter-nave pillars, interconnected by arcades stretched along inter-nave arcades). At the west facade, on the north side, a tower was placed 70 meters high, and from the south a Gothic chapel of St. Anna was added to the nave. A sacristy was added to the north wall of the presbytery still in the 14th century. The church was connected to the monastery through an external porch based on arcades.
   Like the church of St. Catherine, the basilica of Corpus Christi created a slim, harmonious, Gothic building, decorated with stone details. In addition, it was enriched from the west side at the end of the 15th century, by a stepped facade, bristling with pinnacles and fragmented with vertical, narrow recesses in which stone coat of arms shields were embedded.
   The interior of the church was covered with rib vaults. The central nave was opened to the aisles with ogival arcades supported by polygonal pillars. The church also has several ogival Gothic portals from the beginning of the 15th century.

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Krasnowolski B., Leksykon zabytków architektury Małopolski, Warszawa 2013.
Walczak M., Kościoły gotyckie w Polsce, Kraków 2015.
Węcławowicz T., Gotyckie bazyliki Krakowa, Kraków 1993.

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