Świerzawa – church of St John and St Catherine

History

   The church was built in the second half of the 13th century. In 1263, local priest Walter was mentioned in the documents. From 1552 it served Evangelicals, which was taken away in 1654. In 1506 to the church was added tower, southern annex and vestry. Since 1713 it was a cemetery church. After the displacement of local Germans after 1945 the church began to destroy, but fortunately avoided total devastation. The first maintenance work was carried out in 1959, the next in the 1960s and from 1977 to the present day. The church is no longer sacred, but functions as museum and exhibition.

Architecture

   The church was built of unworked stones and sandstones (used in window jambs and portals, as well as to strengthen the corners), as an aisleless structure with dimensions of 11.6 x 17.5 meters, with a four-sided chancel on the eastern side measuring 8.5 x 8 , 5 meters, closed with a semicircular apse and an oblong sacristy on the northern side of the chancel. At the beginning of the 16th century, a four-sided tower was added to the west, and a four-sided annex to the south-west.
   All windows of the church were topped semicircle, while the windows in the apse were enriched on the sides with columns, both from the outside and inside. The main entrance was located on the western side of the nave, in a portal with rich ornamentation, stepped, originally equipped with four pairs of columns. It was topped with a semicircular archivolt and probably a triangular gable, with a tympanum decorated with a relief depicting the motif of the Tree of Life against the background of intertwined plant twigs. The chalice capitals were decorated with leaves and placed diagonally in an interesting way, while the bases were strongly flattened and set on a common, also diagonally placed pedestal. The second portal was placed in the southern wall (it had a much simpler form, moulded, pointed), while the third, intended for the parish priest, led from the south to the chancel.
   The nave and the presbytery were originally covered with a wooden ceiling, supported in the nave on two timber pillars. Inside, on the west side, a gallery had to function already in the Middle Ages, as evidenced by the entrance opening in the upper part of the western wall.

Current state

   Due to the state of preservation and the lack of major modern alterations, the church is a very valuable monument of Romanesque architecture. Only the southern window in the chancel and the south-eastern window in the nave were enlarged during the construction of the tower and the annex in the 16th century. The southern portal in the nave probably also dates from this period, and the presbytery portal was then walled up. In the nineteenth century, the crown of the nave and presbytery walls was raised.
   A medieval stone altar has been preserved in the presbytery, but the true work of masonry is the magnificent portal with the Tree of Life, dating from the 13th century. Inside the chancel, animal and plant paintings have also been preserved, depicting, among others, birds, fish and fantastic animals, probably from the 13th century.
   Currently, the church no longer performs sacral functions, but museums and exhibitions. In the summer season, it is open from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.

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bibliography:
Dzieje budownictwa w Polsce według Oskara Sosnowskiego, t. 1, Świechowski Z., Zachwatowicz J., Warszawa 1964.

Jarzewicz J., Kościoły romańskie w Polsce, Kraków 2014.
Kozaczewski T., Wiejskie kościoły parafialne XIII wieku na Śląsku (miejscowości S-Ż) i na Łużycach, Wrocław 1994.

Pilch J., Leksykon zabytków architektury Dolnego Śląska, Warszawa 2005.
Świechowski Z., Architektura na Śląsku do połowy XIII wieku, Warszawa 1955.