Demandice – St Helena’s Church


   It is not known exactly when the original Romanesque church was erected. It is sometimes considered that this may have happened in 1023, because such a date was engraved on the temple’s pastophory, but this information is uncertain, as this date was partially illegible already in the 19th century. The original church was probably destroyed during the Mongol invasion in 1241-1242.
   The reconstruction and significant transformation of the enlarged church took place in the Gothic period, probably at the end of the 15th century. These works could have ended in 1523, if it is assumed that this is the original distorted date on the pastophory. Such a late completion of the reconstruction would be indicated, among others, by the southern portal of the church.
   Around the middle of the 16th century, the church was abandoned during the wars with Turkey. Its reconstruction was carried out only in the 20s of the 18th century, funded by Samuel Blaškovič, the local landowner. Another renovation was carried out at the beginning of the 19th century thanks to the initiative of František Šimoni and his wife Maria Belušiova Barošová. Shortly after its completion, the church was struck by lightning, which forced the couple to carry out a second renovation of the building, during which, due to static problems, the west facade of the building was replaced and the presbytery vault was removed. The last major reconstruction and renovation was carried out at the beginning of the 20th century.


   After the late Gothic reconstruction, the church acquired the form of a aisleless structure with a chancel two-side ended on the eastern side. Its total length was about 18 meters and a width of 6 meters, so it had a very elongated silhouette. The whole church was set on a fairly high pedestal, ended with a sloping stone cornice, falling stepwise towards the slope of the surrounding area. The brick façades of the building were whitewashed, except for the jambs and window splayeds, which were covered with red paint.
   The church was illuminated by two narrow, two-side splayed windows with semicircular heads in the southern wall of the nave and three similar ones in the chancel from the south and south-east. From the south there was also an entrance portal, crowned with an ogee arch. The northern part of the church, according to the medieval building tradition, was devoid of openings, yet perhaps the window was in the western wall.
   The chancel was not distinguished externally from the body of the church, while the interior of the nave was separated from the chancel by a semicircular arcade. The chancel originally had rib vault and a stone pastophorium in the northern wall with a stepped, moulded recess, originally framed by intertwined shafts.

Current state

   The church has preserved to this day the form obtained mostly in the late Gothic period, with the relics of the oldest, Romanesque walls in the central part of the northern wall. The early modern reconstructions of the nineteenth century resulted in the transformation of the western façade of the building along with the entrance portal, and the removal of the vault in the chancel. The chancel arcade may be of modern origin, or it has been partially rebuilt. During the last renovation, the original colors of the church’s facade were restored.

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Bóna M., Žazová H., Kostol sv. Heleny v Demandiciach-Hýbeci, “Pamiatky a múzeá”,  č. 4, 59/2010.
Slovensko. Ilustrovaná encyklopédia pamiatok, red. P.Kresánek, Bratislava 2020.