Turčianske Jaseno – St Margaret’s Church

History

   The church was built around 1300, probably under the influence of a construction workshop operating in Kláštor pod Znievom since the mid-13th century. It was recorded for the first time in 1332. In the 14th-16th centuries, the interior of the church was decorated with frescoes, which, unfortunately, at the end of the 16th century, when the building passed into the hands of Protestants, were painted with lime.
   In the years 1636-1648 the nave of the church was vaulted, and the entire building was adapted to the liturgical needs of Protestants (a pulpit was placed inside). The original southern entrance has been bricked up, and the new one has been opened on the west side, using fragments of the original portal. In 1653, a painted, wooden gallery was inserted into the interior and a crypt was built, which had a negative impact on the statics of the building. Then a porch was built in front of the west entrance and smaller annexes in the north of the nave.
   At the beginning of the 18th century, Evangelicals built a new church, and the Gothic building was returned to Catholics. After the abolition of the parish in Hornom Jasene in the sixties of the last century, the Catholics handed over the church to the administration of the museum in Martin. At that time, it was largely devastated. Its renovation began in the seventies, when it received a new shingled roof. In 1991, a comprehensive restaurant was launched. During it, the early modern annexes were demolished, and the Renaissance vault was removed and replaced with a flat, wooden ceiling. The new floor was placed on the original level. Then, in 1996-1999, medieval polychromes were restored.

Architecture

   The medieval church was situated on a hill on the edge of the village. It received the form of a aisleless structure with a polygonal chancel on the eastern side, slightly narrower than the nave, to which the sacristy was attached from the north. The polygonal, gothic presbytery was then an architectural novelty in this region, especially among rural architecture.
   The original entrance to the church led through the pointed portal from the south, and a saddle portal led from presbytery to the sacristy. The church was illuminated by very narrow and at the same time high windows of early Gothic shape, contrasting with the advanced form of the chancel. They were pierced only from the south and east sides, while from the west there was a small cylindrical opening filled with a stone quatrefoil and a slit opening to illuminate the attic. According to the medieval building tradition, the northern side of the church was devoid of any openings. It was related to the mysticism of that times and the perception of the northern side as a habitat of evil powers that had to be separated. On the practical side, however, the greatest amount of sunlight came from the east and south.
   The interior of the church had a simple wooden ceiling in the nave and a rib six-section vault in the presbytery topped with a boss in the shape of the Lamb of God. The slender ribs were lowered low, extended with round, delicate wall-shafts and set on corbels in the places where the walls were bent. In addition, a four-sided recess for church valuables was placed in the chancel wall, with a simple stepped border surrounded by decorations painted on plaster.
   The walls of the church were decorated with colorful paintings. The oldest ones had the form of consecration crosses, painted on plaster applied only in the place of the crosses. A more consistent fresco decoration was created around the mid-fourteenth century and was completed around 1380 and at the beginning of the sixteenth century. On the eastern wall of the nave, there are two scenes with an unconventional combination. In the background of the Last Judgment, St. Christopher with Jesus on his shoulder was placed, while the saint received a rich priestly robe (usually depicted in a simple outfit). The scene of the Last Judgment was enriched by the figure of a devil with three faces and a figure holding two fish tails in his hands (according to legend, the end of the world would come when they were released). On the opposite left side of the chancel arch, St. Catherine, St. Margaret and the third saint, possibly Elizabeth were painted, but the most artistically valuable fresco was the image of a saint and an angel with a cross. In addition, on the north-eastern wall of the chancel, Adam and Eve were depicted, below the figures of St. Paul, St. Peter, St. John and the Sorrowful Christ.

Current state

   After the renovation and removal of an early modern transformations carried out in the 90s of the 20th century, the church is a very good example of rural early Gothic architecture, the value of which is enhanced by a very picturesque location. Unfortunately, the sacristy has not been preserved (a walled saddle portal has remained only) and the gothic southern portal leading to the nave has been moved to the west wall. In the nave there is a torso of a Gothic stone baptismal font, the sixteen-sided pedestal of which has not survived.

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bibliography:
Website apsida.sk, Turčianske Jaseno.