Łekno – church of St Peter and Paul

History

   St. Peter and Paul parish church was founded in a settlement which was originally a princely stronghold, mentioned in 1136 as a castellany, six years later inhabited by Cistercians brought from Altenberg. They funded the church that preceded the Gothic temple in Łekno, but at the end of the fourteenth century they moved to Wągrowiec. In 1370 Łekno was mentioned as a town whose rights were confirmed in 1444. Its parish church, initially wooden, was to be rebuilt into a brick building, made of material from the demolition of the Romanesque monastery church. These works probably began at the beginning of the 15th century with the construction of the presbytery, in which demolition stone had not yet been used. After a break of an unknown length, the nave was built, around the third quarter of the 15th century the aisles were vaulted, in the first twenty years of the 16th century the nave was completed, and a little later it was vaulted together with the presbytery.
   The Łekno church was thoroughly restored in the 17th, 18th and around the middle of the 19th century, when, among other things, a porch (an unfinished medieval tower) was raised by the low upper floor.

Architecture

   The parish church was built in the central part of the settlement, separated by the lake waters from the old Cistercian monastery. It was situated on a hill above the wetland sloping towards the lake. It received the form of a three-nave, pseudo-basilica building with a four-bays nave and slightly lower than the central nave, two-bay, presbytery closed in polygon. The sacristy was located at the presbytery from the north, and from the south the chapel of St. Joseph. In the 16th century, a porch was erected at the eastern bay of the southern aisle, probably built from an unfinished tower.
   The external façades of the church were surrounded on each side by buttresses and provided with a prominent plinth. Wide, ogival portals were found in the west facade and in the ground floor of the tower, but only the first one was decorated with brick fittings with a cross-section of pointed trefoils. By the west facade there are also two pentagonal towers accessible by stairs in the thickness of the wall, above which a surprisingly monumental gothic gable was placed, situated above all three aisles. The ornamentation of the facade was emphasized by a strip frieze, disappearing between the turrets due to the large ogival window that was once pierced there.
   The interior was characterized by large and thick, massive pillars, crowned with impost cornices on which pointed inter-nave arcades were supported. Both the pillars and arcades were decorated with prominent profiling, while in the central nave the cornices embrace them, repeating the multiple steps. This treatment achieved a special impression, because prominent lesenes adhered to the foreheads on pillars, with chamfered edges, also covered by cornices. In this way, the pillars were tightly connected to the articulation of the walls, because the lesenes were pulled up to the base of the vaults, supporting their ribs. Similar lesenes were used on the side aisle walls, although they were not covered by cornices there.
   The central nave, deprived of its own windows, was contrasted with a lower, but much brighter chancel, separated by a low chancel arch, set at the same height as inter-nave arcades. In the presbytery, the walls remained smooth, because the ribs of the vaults were embedded directly into the wall, only in the bay of the polygonal closure two corner wall-shafts were originally mounted on corbels.
   The central nave and presbytery were covered with stellar vaults with drawings of eight-pointed stars with the Maltese cross motif. In the aisles, on the other hand, the vaults received greater differentiation, formed by three-radius ribs. The stellar vault also covered the southern chapel, and the barrel vault the original sacristy.

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bibliography:
Kowalski Z., Gotyk wielkopolski. Architektura sakralna XIII-XVI wieku, Poznań 2010.
Maluśkiewicz P., Gotyckie kościoły w Wielkopolsce, Poznań 2008.

Website zabytek.pl, Kościół pw. śś. Piotra i Pawła Łekno.