Poznań – St Martin Church


   The construction of a Gothic church, which was a parish temple for the then settlement of Saint Martin near Poznań, began in the fourteenth century, but the church first appeared in written sources as early as 1253. The Gothic church was initially built as a aisleless building, probably covered with a wooden ceiling (later the central nave of the presbytery). After some time, annexes from the north and south were added, and then a three-aisle nave was erected. It was probably completed during the priests Grzegorz of Szamotuły and Marcin Święcicki in the years 1515-1521. In 1516, an agreement was concluded with Jan Rozdrażewski from Gogolewo, who was to supply 315 oak logs, probably for roof construction, for 66 fines. It is uncertain when late-Gothic vaults were established in the church, perhaps these works began in the 15th century (aisles or chapels) and were completed in the first half of the 16th century (central nave).
   In 1657, the church was burnt by the Brandenburg army, as a result of which the vaults collapsed. Rebuilt in the following years, it was also enlarged with a baroque tower. However, it was demolished in 1745, because it threatened to collapse. Another tower was built during the major renovation of the church in 1925-1929. The fourth nave was added to the corpus of the temple at the same time. During the fighting in 1945 the church was seriously damaged, but the reconstruction in 1949-1954 restored the temple to its late gothic forms.


At the end of the Middle Ages, the Gothic church reached the form of a three-aisle pseudo-basilica with a central nave higher than the aisles, but without its own windows. The three-bay nave and the two-bay presbytery were quite clearly separated from each other by chancel arcades in all three aisles, with the church plan unusually narrowed from the south in the presbytery part, and the central nave with transverse bays was about 1.5 times wider than aisles. The latter were given nave bays similar to a square, and narrower, elongated bays were in the presbytery. Originally, the southern aisle of the choir was a sacristy, above which was the chapel of the literary brotherhood.
   Inside, the facades of the central nave in both parts of the church was articulated identically with prominent lesenes with bevelled edges, hung on decorative, early modern consoles and topped with a cornice. In the nave they were on the forefronts of the pillars, while in the presbytery they were mounted on special wall pillars, which formed high, semi-circular or slightly pointed recesses reaching the zone of vaults. It was only in these recesses that proper inter-nave arcades were placed, lower and narrower than in the nave, and additionally arranged asymmetrically with respect to the axis of the above high recesses. For a change, the walls of the aisles remained smooth and undivided everywhere, except for the wall pillars that form the arcades in some bays.
   Originally above the aisles were stellar vaults, four-pointed in the presbytery, eight-pointed in the central nave, except  for the eastern bay of the southern aisle where the net vault was placed. The late gothic vaults in the central nave of the presbytery and the nave are unknown.

Current state
   Today, the church has a form strongly transformed by post-war reconstruction and regothization, which partly removed and masked early modern rebuildings. Among others, all portals, triangular gables and all vaults were reconstructed (mostly their original appearance remains unknown and the reconstructed forms are a creation invented by architects and historians). Currently, the most interesting monument inside is an altar in the form of a triptych depicting the life of St. Catherine, from 1498 from the church in Świerzawa in Lower Silesia and the wooden polychrome sculpture of the Madonna with the Child from around 1510, located in the southern aisle.

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

Website poznan.pl, Kościół św. Marcina.