Racibórz – Dominican nunnery

History

   Dominican nunnery with the church of Holy Ghost was founded in 1306 by Przemysł, the Duke of Racibórz. A little earlier, in 1299, the prince presented the foundation project to the General Chapter of the Dominicans, and after obtaining the consent, the protonotary Jan announced the donation of the prince of the townspeople of Racibórz gathered in the market. Legal approval did not take place until 1306, while nuns came to Racibórz in 1317.
   The monastery in the initial phase consisted of a timber buildings and probably a small chapel, only after 1317 the sisters began building a new church. Initially obstacles were crop failures and epidemics slowing down construction. The church was built in 1334, when it was consecrated by the Bishop of Wrocław Nanker. Monastery chapel dedicated to St. Dominic then became the prince’s necropolis. Rested in it, among others Prince Przemysł and his daughter Ofka, Dominican nun and first abbess. The Dominican monastery was very rich in princes’ salary from the foundation period and the property of nuns, which were taken over after their death. It quickly became one of the most important monastery centers in Upper Silesia.
   Numerous fires of the city in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries also destroyed the church and monastery, but the subsequent reconstruction did not significantly affect the appearance of the temple. Most likely, only the equipment and roof constructions suffered losses. In the 17th century, the southern porch was added, but it was demolished in 1937.
   The church and the nunnery were closed during secularization in 1810. Altars, relics and equipment were then sent to several other churches. During the Napoleonic Wars, it housed a hospital for wounded soldiers, and in 1821 the Prussian king Frederick Wilhelm III handed the object to the Protestants. In 1911, the evangelicals moved to a new temple, and the old church of Holy Spirit was to be destroyed. Fortunately, it eventually became the seat of the museum in 1926. During the war in 1945, the building lost its roof, and its interiors were damaged.

Architecture

   The nunnery was situated in the north-west part of the medieval town, close to the defensive walls running on the west and north sides of the convent. From the south, the monastery was adjacent to a small square in front of the Nicholas Gate, from which one of the main town roads led to the centrally located market square. The nunnery consisted of a church dedicated to Holy Ghost and the buildings located on its western and northern side.
   The original monastery church was modeled on the solutions of the oldest Dominican churches and was subject to strict, 13th-century monastic regulations. Therefore, it consisted of an aisleless nave, covered with a ceiling inside, and a narrower, rectangular chancel. The initial lack of the tower was also characteristic, as was the simplified decorations and separated spaces, characterized by reducing Gothic.
   At the end of the Middle Ages, the church still consisted of one nave, rectangular in plan, and a narrower, two-bay, straight-ended chancel, added on the eastern side. Even before 1359, a chapel of St. Dominic was added to the church from the north. At the same time, a four-sided tower was built, adjacent to the south-west corner of the nave. The interior of the chancel was covered in two bays with a cross-rib vault, and the nave was topped with a flat beam ceiling. Both parts of different heights were delimited by a prominent arch. In the western part of the nave, there was originally a nuns’ gallery.

Current state

    Currently, the west facade of the church is partly invisible due to the tenement built from the turn of the 19th and 20th century. From the north adjoins a row of annexes, which are the remains of a former monastery, now adapted for a staircase and a museum rooms. The interior of the church has been significantly transformed as a result of adaptation to exhibition halls and divided into two floors. The three-light window in the upper part of the eastern wall of presbytery has been preserved from the Gothic interior, closed with a pointed arch with original stone tracery. The only object of the former equipment is the tombstone of the princely couple from around 1500. The building houses today a town museum. It has four main sections: Archeology, Ethnography, History, of Art and Artistic Crafts, and auxiliary departments: Educational and Administrative, as well as photographic and technical studios.

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bibliography:
Kutzner M., Racibórz, Warszawa 1965.

Pilch J., Leksykon zabytków architektury Górnego Śląska, Warszawa 2008.
Website zabytek.pl, Kościół dominikanek pw. Św. Ducha, ob. Muzeum.