Wrocław – St Vincent and St James Church

History

    The church together with the monastery was founded by Henryk Pious for the Franciscans brought from Prague around 1240. Still in the process of building his crypt became the burial site of the founder, who in 1241 died in the battle with the Mongols at Legnica. In this church, mentioned in 1254 as completed, was announced in 1261 the privilege of locating the New Town on Magdeburg law, allowing for the further development of Wrocław. The church was a three-nave hall and had one or two-bay chancel. In the 14th and 15th centuries it underwent a major redevelopment and expansion, which for lack of funds has drawn on very long time. At that time, the main nave of the church was built in the gothic style.
   
At the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Franciscans were either largely Protestant or left Wrocław. The church was abandoned by the Franciscans and was taken over by the Norbert monks from Ołbin. They dedicated it to their patron, Saint Vincent. In the years 1662-1674 the church received rich baroque equipment, and in 1673 monastery was rebuilt in the baroque style. After the secularization of the Order in 1810, the church was converted into a parish, and the monastery buildings were designated for the seat of the court. In the last days of World War II, the church suffered heavy damage. The tower collapsed, and with it a part of the side wall and vaults. Preserved in good condition the stalls were transferred to the choir of the cathedral. The restored church was handed over in 1997 to the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Architecture

    Initially, the Franciscan church from the 13th century was a three-nave building of a hall arrangement with a narrower but long chancel, ended in the east with a straight wall. The church’s façades (apart from the northern one) were fragmented with buttresses, while in the corners they were led on the extension of the walls, not diagonally. Windows were pierced between buttresses, probably pointed and narrow.
   The presbytery part had three bays of six-part vaults, with the eastern bay additionally separated with an arch band. The corner wall-shafs of the vaults went down to the floor, and the intermediate wall-shafs were hung on the corbels. There were two portals in the north wall: one led to the sacristy and the other to the monastery courtyard. The nave of the church was divided into five bays. Unusually three eastern bays of the central nave were built on a square plan, and the other two were rectangular and shorter than the eastern ones. The cross vaults of the nave were based on inter-aisle pillars and wall half-pillars with wall-shafts. The chancel and nave were separated by a rood screen, based on a wall standing in a chancel arch and on pillars protruding towards the nave. In the eastern bay of the southern aisle there was a wide arcade, originally leading to the chapel. There were probably two entrances to the nave: from the west and from the south.

   After the reconstruction from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the temple consisted of a three-nave, five-bay basilic nave, which two western bays were still a bit shorter and of a six-bay chancel, five-side ended.
In the southern corner of the chancel and the nave, a square tower was erected, going into the octagon above the roof ridge and topped with a high spire helmet. Outside, the church was covered with stepped buttresses, which were crowned with pinnacles in the closing of the chancel. The presbytery and the nave were covered with gable roofs, while the aisels were covered with mono-pitched roofs. The windows in the presbytery and in the aisles received larger jambs, originally ogival, three-light with tracery. Inside, the church was covered with rib vaults supported on octagonal pillars.

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bibliography:
Kozaczewska H., Średniowieczne kościoły halowe na Śląsku, “Kwartalnik Architektury i Urbanistyki”, 1-4, Warszawa 2013.
Kozaczewska-Golasz H., Halowe kościoły z XIII wieku na Śląsku, Wrocław 2015.

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