Łomża – St Michael’s Church


   The largest Gothic church in the northern part of Mazovia began to be built in 1504. The founder was Anna Radziwiłł, wife of the duke of Mazovia Konrad II Rudy and her sons: Janusz and Stanisław. The local patron and canon of the cathedral chapter in Płock – Jan Wojsławski is considered the proper patron of the building. The vaults were ready in 1526, but the finishing works lasted four more years, and the consecration was made by bishop Andrzej Krzycki in 1530. Soon after, around the middle of the 16th century, work resumed, the church was vaulted and converted into a pseudo-basilica.
   As a result of the destructions during the Swedish Deluge, in the years 1691-1692, a renovation took place, as a result of which the church’s decoration changed from Gothic to Baroque, according to the design of Józef Szymon Bellotti. It was erected, among others, a new west gable, the roofs were lowered and the walls of the chancel were raised. The church was also rebuilt in the nineteenth century, but the traces of later interventions were largely removed during a partly regothisation, taken after the destruction of World War II. Repairs were carried out in the years 1953-1958.


   The church was initially supposed to be a basilica, but the planned proportions of aisles were too ambitious for masters supervising the construction and around the mid-sixteenth century, in fear of disaster, layout was changed to the pseudobasilica system, lowering the walls of the central nave and lifting walls of the aisles. The whole church was  built of bricks with a large use of zendrówka. A short but rather wide presbytery was pentagonal ended. On its northern side a sacristy was erected with a gallery on the first floor. At the northern side of the nave there is a Gothic, four-sided tower – belfry with a porch in the ground floor, and on the southern side a four-sided chapel.
   In the central nave and chancel of the church, stellar and net vaults were used, while in the aisles – diamond vaults. The five bays of the central nave were rectangular in plan, although the extreme eastern bay from the side of the chancel arcade was led obliquely due to the necessity to fit it into a slightly tilted chancel. The bays of the aisles were given the shape of squares.
   The whole church surprises with the scale and diligence of performance, quite unusual in the Mazovia region. A number of solutions, for example impressive diamond vaults, prove the impact of Gdańsk buildings. In the attic above the vault of the nave, the intended originally, pointed arched windows and the notches of the unrealized basilica vault are preserved.

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Architektura gotycka w Polsce, red. T. Mroczko i M. Arszyński, Warszawa 1995.
Kunkel R.M., Architektura gotycka na Mazowszu, Warszawa 2005.

Walczak M., Kościoły gotyckie w Polsce, Kraków 2015.