Kraków – St Barbara’s Church

History

   In 1338, Mikołaj Wierzynek funded a cemetery chapel on the site of today’s church. In the years 1394-1402 it was, probably from the foundation of queen Jadwiga, enlarged by two bays. The sermon was preached in Polish in the church. In 1536, during the session of the parliament in Kraków, at the request of the deputies and with the consent of the senators, king Zygmunt I ordered the transfer of Polish sermons to the large St. Mary’s church, and the German ones to the smaller St. Barbara. This act was a testimony to the awakening of national consciousness and pride of Poles and the effect of the process of Polonization of the German burgher families. In 1583, the church was handed over to the Jesuits. At that time Fr. Piotr Skarga delivered his sermon here. In 1687, the church was rebuilt by a Jesuit architect, Stanisław Solski, who added an apse from the eastern side, raised the interior and made a new barrel vault. After the dissolution of the Jesuit Order in 1773, the building had various owners, until in 1874 the order regained the church.

Architecture
 
   The Church of St. Barbara at the end of the Middle Ages achieved the form of an aisleless building orientated towards the sides of the world, without the chancel distinguished externally. The façade of the church has a towerless shape, with a single buttress on the axis and the top in the form of a triangular gable. It was preceded by a cemetery chapel connected with a porch, the so-called Ogrójec, erected between 1488 and 1516. The chapel was made of two bays covered with a cross-rib vault. Richly decorated with sculptures, it housed an altar probably made by Wit Stwosz or his workshop in the 15th century.

Current state

   St. Barbara’s church is today a single-nave building, which has retained its Gothic shape, but was enlarged with an early modern apse on the eastern side and Baroque chapels on the north, above which large four-sided windows were pierced. From the south, the church was completely covered with the buildings of the Jesuit convent. The interior of the church has been chenged in Baroque form, but it houses, among others Gothic Pietà from the 14th century and late Gothic paintings. The pride of the church and its most valuable element is the late Gothic Ogrójec Chapel.

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bibliography:
Krasnowolski B., Leksykon zabytków architektury Małopolski, Warszawa 2013.
Website swietabarbara.jezuici.pl, Historia kościoła.
Website wikipedia.org, Kościół św. Barbary w Krakowie.