Radom – Bernardine Monastery

History

   The beginning of the Bernadine monastery in Radom go back to the second half of the 15th century, when the order was brought to Poland by king Casimir IV Jagiellonian. The site was designated in 1468, and was subsequently approved by the bishop of Cracow. Initially, the church and the monastery, built in one year, were wooden. Because it was outside the city walls, it took the form of a fortress surrounded by earth ramparts, which allowed to defend in the case of an enemy attack.
  
Brick church and monastery was erected in several phases. The Bernardines themselves built a brick factory in which they fired gothic bricks. They also made lime and performed masonry work. In the first place the chancel was built together with the sacristy, which was supposed to serve as a treasury. Then the southern wing of monastery was erected. The next stage was the church’s nave, built in the late 15th century. At the latest, the remaining monastery wings were erected, connected by an enclosed double-storey cloister, with a small turret in the north-eastern corner, characteristic of the medieval Bernardine monasteries. In 1598, on the north side, a St. Anna chapel was built.
   
During the January Uprising of 1861-1864 the monastery was a place of patriotic manifestations. Here also important decisions were made with the col. M. Langiewicz. This activity was met with tsarist repressions, which resulted in the exile of many monks to Russia. By the tsarist order convent was closed, and the buildings were taken over by the government, the army and the police. In the years 1911-1914 the restaurant and the extension of the church were designed by architect Stefan Szyller. On the west side, a “tower” with a staircase and two porches were added. In addition, the church was rebuilt and later St. Anna and St. Agnes chapels joined to the aisle. Bernardians recovered the church and monastery in 1936. Recent major refurbishment works were carried out in 1998-2000.

Architecture

   The monastery was located outside the defensive walls of the old town, at the eastern part of the road running out of the city gate. The monastery complex includes the church of St. Catherine of Alexandria together with the presbytery, the sacristy, the treasury, and the three wings of the convent that surround the cloister. From the south side of the monastery there is an economic wing with a kitchen building, so called oven with pyramid chimney. This is a unique monument in Poland. In addition, the monks at the monastery had a garden, a spacious courtyard with domestic buildings, among others a barn and a coach house, a fish pond and a meadow.
   The entire southern wing was originally a free-standing building with a basement, with facades pierced with pointed windows. Its eastern part on the ground floor housed the most important room from the point of view of monastic utility in which meals were eaten. It was a great refectory, simultaneously serving as a meeting place for chapters. From the west, it was adjacent to the guardian’s apartment, while on the first floor there were monk’s cells, which were extended to the west at a later stage of construction. The semi-tract on the north side was a long corridor that was later a cloister’s arm. The southern wing was erected from brick with a flemish bond, while the corners of the wing from the east and west side, were reinforced with buttresses covered with brick roofs. The wing was covered with a saddle roof, enclosed in two different gables. The west façade was covered with two wide and massive buttresses. The blendes were plastered and dyed black.
   The eastern wing of the monastery connecting the church with the south wing, housed the sacristy, library and pantry. Probably from the fifteenth century comes a stone, pointed portal connecting these rooms with a cloister. The western wing closed the whole complex  into a quadrangle, with a courtyard in the middle. Initially, the buildings of both wings were probably one-storey. Later, both arms of the complex were superstructured and covered with a gable roof. The entirety monastery was connected from the side of the church with a cloister, piercing pointed passageways in the buttresses. In the north-east corner of the courtyard, a small tower was erected on the reinforced walls, which was originally covered with a low, gable roof. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, near the refectory, there were also additional, perpendicular to the southern wing of the monastery, extensive economic facilities.
  
The monastery church consists of a single rectangular nave, covered with a six-pointed stellar vault, with ribs falling on stone corbels and a short, lower and narrower two-bay chancel, three-sides ended on the east. The nave of the church was connected to the presbytery with a rudimentary, narrow transept, in which probably there was originally a rood screen, separated from both sides by an ogival chancel arch. Initially, the main facade of the church was devoid of any additions. It was divided into three parts by two buttresses, between which a modest portal was located, leading directly to the temple. Above the entrance there is a rosette. At the two bays of the nave, from the north, a chapel of St. Anne was added.

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bibliography:
Janicka A., Kościół i klasztor bernardynów w Radomiu od XV do XVIII wieku [w:] Acta Universitatis Lodziensis 85, 2010.
Smirnowa L., Kilka uwag na temat architektury polskich klasztorów bernardyńskich [w:] Dziedzictwo architektoniczne. Rekonstrukcje i badania obiektów zabytkowych, red. E.Łużyniecka, Wrocław 2017.

Żabicki J., Leksykon zabytków architektury Mazowsza i Podlasia, Warszawa 2010.