Racibórz – Holy Spirit Church

History

   The church of the Holy Spirit was established as a temple of the Dominican convent founded in 1306 by the prince of Racibórz Przemysł. 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 wooden 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 monastery 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 original church was modeled on the solutions of the oldest Dominican temples and subordinated to strict 13th-century orders regulations. Therefore, it consisted of a aisleless nave covered with a ceiling, and a rectangular chancel. The initial lack of a tower was also characteristic, as well as simplified decorations and sharply separated spaces that were characteristic of the Reducing Gothic style.
   At the end of the Middle Ages, the building consisted of a rectangular nave and a narrower, two-bay, chancel closed straight from the east. Even before 1359, a chapel of St. Dominic was added to the church from the north. The quadrilateral tower adjacent to the southwest corner of the church dates from the same time.
   The interior of the presbytery was covered in two bays with a cross-rib vault, and the nave was crowned with a flat beam ceiling. Both parts of different heights were separated by a prominent chancel arch. On the west side of the nave there was originally a nun’s gallery (matroneum).

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 goraciborz.pl, Kościół Św. Ducha (obecnie Muzeum).
Website zabytek.pl, Kościół dominikanek pw. Św. Ducha, ob. Muzeum.