Święta Katarzyna – church of St Catherine of Alexandria

History

   The church was built in the 13th century. The oldest record about it comes from 1257, when the burgher of Wrocław, Berwik, once the mayor of Budyšin, together with his stepchildren, sold to John from Wierzbna for 100 fines of pure silver, the village of Saint Catherine and neighboring Blizanowice together with the patronage of the church. Another document regarding the church dates from 1303, and from 1492 came one of the not preserved bells on the church tower.
  
In the years 1552-1654 building served the Protestants. The masses in Polish language was celebrated in it, until the prohibition of the Prussian authorities in 1800. After a fire in 1720 it was rebuilt in 1743-1748. The chancel was enlarged at that time, window openings were converted, a collatorial matroneum was added over the sacristy, and over the entire church a new cailing was built. The interior has been changed to a Baroque one. Again restaurant took place in 1902. In 1945, after the bombing of the German army, the relics of the walls and the damaged tower remained. The church was rebuilt in 1949-1952.

Architecture

   The original church was built from medieval, handmade bricks in the monk bond, and its lower parts of the walls were made of erratic stones with the addition of brick fragments. In addition, the corners of the walls and buttresses were finished with carefully worked blocks of granite. The framing of windows, portals and vault consoles was cut from the same material. The church was built as a late Romanesque, orientated, aisleless with a rectangular nave of 12 x 10 meters in the plan and a rectangular chancel measuring 8.3 x 8.5 meters. Yet in the Middle Ages, its walls were painted brick-red. The tower and sacristy were added at the end of the 15th century.
   
The perimeter walls were supported by four buttresses. On the walls friezes have been preserved under the eaves: on the nave with a network or diamond system and arcaded on the chancel. Frieze panels were probably originally whitewashed or plastered. In both side elevations of the nave there were symmetrically arranged windows. A similar window also existed in the south facade of the chancel and probably in the eastern façade. Originally the richest, ogival portal was located in the western part of the southern wall of the nave. Another was in the south wall of the presbytery and it was topped with a gentle pointed arch. The last portal, fully brick, crowned with a gentle arch, was placed in the attic. It was a passage between the attic parts of the presbytery and the nave.
   
During the research, it was discovered that the interiors of the church, both the chancel and the nave were originally vaulted. The presbytery had groin vault based on polygonal consoles placed in the corners. In the nave, there were two bays of the groin vault going down a little lower and probably based on ceramic consoles or directly on the wall.

Current state

   The appearance of today’s building is the result of early modern transformations, during which the chancel was extended and the southern annex was added, as well as post-war reconstruction, during which the missing fragments of the damaged walls were supplemented. Only the corbels remained from the presbytery vaults, and the plate base of the portal in the southern wall of the nave. From the outside, there are still visible friezes under the eaves, but unfortunately all the windows were transformed in the 17th and 18th centuries.

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bibliography:
Kozaczewski T., Wiejskie kościoły parafialne XIII wieku na Śląsku (miejscowości S-Ż) i na Łużycach, Wrocław 1994.
Małachowicz M., Trzynastowieczny kościół pw. św. Katarzyny Aleksandryjskiej w Świętej Katarzynie [w:] Architektura sakralna w początkach państwa polskiego (X-XIII wiek), Gniezno 2016.

Pilch J., Leksykon zabytków architektury Dolnego Śląska, Warszawa 2005.