Szczecin – St John’s church

History

   The site for building the church of St. John was donated by the Szczecin mayor Heinekin Barfoth to the Franciscans in 1240. The primal monastery and the church erected by the monks in the 13th century were probably wooden. The present brick church was erected in stages. The chancel was built around 1300, and the nave probably in the second half of the 14th century. In the 15th century ten chapels were built between the buttresses.
  
During the Reformation the monks left the monastery, and the parishioners and clergy mostly accepted Luther’s reforms. From that moment until 1945 the temple was an evangelical church. In the second half of the 16th century, the monastery buildings were converted into a St. John’s hospital, but the church continued to serve religious purposes until the French occupation of 1806-1813, when it was converted into a warehouse. In later years it was closed for a long time because of collapse threat. Thanks to the research of German historian and conservator prof. Hugo Lemcke, in the twenties and thirties of the twentieth century carried out restoration work in the church, which protected the object from destruction. Old monastery buildings were demolished in the mid-nineteenth century.

Architecture

   The church was erected as a building not orientated on the east-west line, because of the road leading to the new Holy Spirit Gate. It is a hall building without an ambulatory, it has no tower, but a ridge turret between the chancel and the nave. The presbytery is three-span, aisleless, seven-side ended. This type of solution can be found in the early gothic cathedrals of France, where it is most likely borrowed. The eastern gable of the church was decorated with four pinnacles, while the western one was decorated with nine pinnacles. Inside the chancel from the nave separates the arch with figural supports. On the walls preserved medieval polychromies from the 15th and 16th century.
   The monastery buildings were located on the south-eastern side of the church. At first, the monastery had its own fortifications for protection, only at the beginning of the 14th century, after the extension of the town area to the west and south, the convent and its surroundings were absorbed into the new system of town fortifications. Next to the western side of the church there was an entrance gate to the courtyard, where the monastery’s economic and residential buildings, inhabited by the servants employed on the monastery propriety, were located. The central place was occupied by the buildings of the monastic community, which three wings and an inner, four-sided courtyard with a garden adjoining the south side of the church. Inner courtyard with a well located in the middle of the garden was surrounded by cloisters of monastery ranges. According to tradition, the eastern wing was occupied by the monks’ meeting room, that is, the chapter house and perhaps a shared dormitory.
While, in the wing located opposite the church, there was a refectory. In the west wing there were kitchen rooms and probably another dormitory.

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bibliography:
Architektura gotycka w Polsce, red. T. Mroczko i M. Arszyński, Warszawa 1995.
Pilch.J, Kowalski S., Leksykon zabytków Pomorza Zachodniego i ziemi lubuskiej, Warszawa 2012
Website encyklopedia.szczecin.pl, Kościół św. Jana Ewangelisty.
Website wikipedia.org, Kościół św. Jana Ewangelisty w Szczecinie.