Tum – collegiate church of St Mary and St Alex

History

   The exact date of construction of the collegiate church is not known. It was erected at the site of the former Benedictine abbey, perhaps in 1149, at the initiative of the Janik, Metropolitan of Gniezno. Consecration of the church, wchich was perhaps still unfinished, took place in 1161. The successor of archbishop Jakub, archbishop Janik, and all Polish bishops and princes participated in it. Since then, 21 synods have been held in the collegiate church of Tum, known as the Synods of Łęczyca. The first was convened in 1181, the last was held in 1547. Apart from religious functions, the collegiate church could also serve as a refugee for the local population. In 1241 it resisted the invasion of the Tatars, but in 1293 Lithuanians under the leadership of Witenes managed to get it. Part of the population was taken captive, and the rest were cut down or burned in church. Several years later, in 1306 Łęczyca was invaded by the Teutonic Knights, who returned here again in 1331.
   For several decades the collegiate church was ruined.
During its subsequent rebuilding, some of its former romanesque features were partially obliterated. Among other, after the fire in 1473, on the occasion of the completion of reconstruction in 1487, preserved to this day, gothic pointed arcades and pillars of bricks and grion vaults in the aisles appeared. In 1569, a renaissance porch with frescoes was built in front of the main entrance. In 1705 Łęczyca was invaded by the Swedes, who also destroyed the collegiate. In the years 1765-1785 the church was rebuilt in classicist style. In 1818 Tsar Aleksander I Romanov ordered the dissolution of the Łęczyca Chapter and the collegiate church lost its rank. From that point until 1915, it remained a parish church. During the Battle of Bzura in 1939 it was partially destroyed and burned. In 1947 the postwar reconstruction of the church was started with the restoration of romanesque appearance.

Architecture

   Built of granite, sandstone and field stone collegiate, is a three-nave, orientated basilica with apsis in the chancel, two round towers from the east, and a powerful two-storey apse on the west side, flanked by two large, square-shaped towers. The two western towers with typical romanesque openings in the form of biforas on the lower storeys and triforiums on the upper storeys are crowned with hipped roofs. The two towers on the east side are covered bu the conical roofs.
   Built in the 16th century, the vestibule protects the 12th-century romanesque portal, probably made in Mainz. It belongs to the outstanding groups of romanesque sculpture. In the jambs there are columns and capitals with the zoomorphic decoration, and on the front face, antiquating columns were placed. In the tympanum, the Mother of God with the Child and the angels holding the lily and the cross are presented. The wall painting decorating the semicircular vault of the western apse, presenting Christ in the presence of tetramorphs, also has a unique significance.
   Inside, the western apse along with the short choir span was divided into two floors: the lower one was low and squat, and the upper one was a gallery. It was suspended at a slightly higher level than lateral galleries, with which it had a direct connection through a corridor located in the wall thickness. Vertical communication was provided by the two spiral staircases located in the thickened walls of the inner corners of both western towers. The interiors of the western towers, vaulted in the ground floor, were connected on the first floor with side galleries.
   The interior was rebuilt in gothic style, destroying the biforas of matronea and replacing them with pointed arches and adding rib vaults in the aisles. The central nave had a timber ceiling. The collegiate church is one of the best examples of romanesque architecture in Poland.

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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.
Tomaszewski A., Romańskie kościoły z emporami zachodnimi na obszarze Polski, Czech i Węgier, Wrocław 1974.

Website wikipedia.org, Kolegiata w Tumie.