Międzyrzecz – St John’s Church


   The beginnings of building the Gothic parish church in Międzyrzecz, which was under the royal patronage, probably took place in the 14th century, although the local parish existed at least since 1232, when the local priest was mentioned.
   In 1474 an army of King Matthias Corvinus invaded Międzyrzecz. After this tragedy, the church was rebuilt with the help of the castle staroste in 1474-1479. Perhaps it was only then that the presbytery with the sacristy was created (the order in which the nave and presbytery were built is disputed), while the church vaults and gables were erected at the end of the 15th century and at the beginning of the 16th century.

The next reconstruction was necessary after 1520, when the city was plundered by the mercenary German army rushing to help the Teutonic Order. In 1545, the chancel received a rich renaissance painting decor from the foundation of Wawrzyniec Myszkowski, the starost of Międzyrzecze. Three years later, the church was handed over to Lutherans, although it continued to be under the patronage of the king. Returned to Catholics in 1604.
The tragedy in the history of the church was a fire in 1824, which consumed part of the roof with a tower and a free-standing belfry. In 1828, the temple was rebuilt, a new roof was made and the interior of the temple was renovated. In 1835, the construction of the tower on the western part of the church roof began, which has survived until today. During the Second World War, the church did not suffer damages.


   The Gothic church was erected as a building orientated towards the sides of the world, made of bricks in the southern part of the medieval town, close to the city fortifications. At the end of the Middle Ages, it reached the form of a three-aisle hall building with a straight presbytery to the east and a 16th-century sacristy from the north. It was covered over all three main elements with gable roofs. The external façades of the nave and the presbytery were fastened with buttresses, while the south-eastern buttress of the nave was strangely arranged, as the only corner one perpendicular to the church, not diagonal. This could suggest the existence of a building once around the south wall of the presbytery. The eastern gables were decorated with pinnacles, blendes and mascarons
   The aisels in the nave were covered in the 16th century with five-bay stellar vaults, supported by octagonal pillars. Despite their rich designs and wall shafts, probably added during the vaulting, the church interior was quite severe. The inter-nave arcades were set up quite low, so that standing in one of the aisles, one cannot see the vaults in the neighboring aisle. Windows were also taller than the arcades, and interestingly in the wall above the arcades, and opposite the windows several openings of narrow, irregular transparency were pierced. Perhaps they had a technical function, providing access to the attic space above the aisles, which were planned to be lower than the current ones (in this case the construction of a basilica or pseudo-basilica would be planned).

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Kowalski Z., Gotyk wielkopolski. Architektura sakralna XIII-XVI wieku, Poznań 2010.
Pilch J., Kowalski S., Leksykon zabytków Pomorza Zachodniego i ziemi lubuskiej, Warszawa 2012.

Website lwkz.pl, Międzyrzecz – kościół parafialny pw. św. Jana Chrzciciela.