Plešivec – St George’s Church

History

   The church was built by the Bebek family, in the seat of their estate, in the first half of the 14th century, probably on the site of an older temple, which was built in the 13th century at the latest. To complete the construction work, Juraj Bebek demanded in 1349 from the Pope himself one-day indulgences for the faithful who would visit the church on two appointed holidays and support the construction. It probably brought the expected income, because in the mid-fourteenth century the interior of the temple was decorated with frescoes. Then, in the first quarter of the 15th century, a late Gothic chapel was added from the north.
  
In 1558, the church and village were burnt by the Turks. In addition to the destroyed roof, the walls of the nave of the temple suffered greatly. In 1617, the destroyed building restored Calvinist’s. The nave of the church was shortened from the west, and the new flat ceiling replaced the destroyed gothic vaults. Two new windows also appeared in the nave, and more on the wall of the chancel. Further repairs were made in the 18th century. In 1713, the church received a new roof, and in 1744, a wooden matroneum was restored in the chancel. In this century, the appearance of all windows was also unified, which led to the transformation of the oldest ones.
  
In 1861, next to the interior repairs, the first study focused on the gothic frescoes of the church. The first professional restaurant took place under the direction of Hungarian experts in 1939. Archaeological research was carried out and the floor in the chapel was reduced to the level of the original medieval pavement made of cubic bricks. Also, the entrance from the nave to the chapel was reopened by the gothic portal. In 1977, new research took place, the effect of which is, inter alia, the discovery and restoration of two high-quality frescoes on the southern wall of the chancel. The probes also confirmed the fresco decoration throughout the presbytery and partly in the nave. In 2009, the church was completely renovated.

Architecture

   The original church was probably planned as a two-aisle building with larger dimensions, with a polygonal chancel on the eastern side. The nave, originally up to about 30 meters long, was vaulted on the central pillars and probably had an entrance from the west. The chancel, about 12 meters long and slightly narrower than the nave, was reinforced from the outside with buttresses.
   In the first quarter of the 15th century, a side aisle (chapel) was added on the northern side of the nave. Its interior was vaulted and illuminated with large pointed windows filled with stone tracery. These tracery took the form of three clearances topped with trefoils over which there were two three-leaf rosettes. Before 1558, arrowslits (later bricked up) were pierced in the walls of the chancel, so the church was also used for defensive purposes.
   The interior of the chancel in the mid-fourteenth century was decorated with frescoes, which were high-quality work of at least two Italian masters. The murals depict the life of Christ, including the scene of the Last Supper and the Crucifixion. Also shown Christ in the temple, baptism, coming to Jerusalem, washing the feet, the garden of Gethsemane, meeting Pilate, scourging and carrying the cross. Among the pictures from the life of Christ on the sides of the windows in three rows, one above the other, there are 24 figures of saints. Other paintings were located on the northern and eastern walls of the nave, and perhaps also on the southern one.

Current state

   The church has survived to modern times, although its nave is 11.5 meters shorter than the original one and is only about 19 meters long, and the level of the ground in the Middle Ages was about 1.2 meters lower than today, which means that the building has lost its height.
   The northern chapel has preserved its medieval character the most. You can see some valuable stonework details there: gothic windows with rich tracery, wall-shafts with heads and partially ribs of the vault, as well as unique sedilia with an arcade in the ogee shape. Particularly valuable is the original gothic portal through which you enter the chapel from the side of the nave, similar in style to the portal from the cathedral of St. Elizabeth in Košice. Despite several reconstructions, the 14th-century polychromes have been preserved in the interior of the presbytery, while only one semicircular wall-shaft on the northern wall has been preserved of the Gothic vault in the nave, topped with a decorative head.
   Since 2009, a comprehensive renovation of the church has been carried out, during which the roof of the northern chapel (aisle) obtained its original form and further frescoes were revealed inside the chancel. In 2013-2015, the chancel windows were restored to their original Gothic form.

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bibliography:
Website apsida.sk, Plešivec.