Basilica of St. Stanislaus and Dominican monastery in Lublin
The Dominican church and the monastery were erected in the southern part of the Old Town Hill (wzgórze staromiejskie), on a small elevation, the so-called Dominican Hillock (górka dominikańska). The monastery’s history is related to the relics of The True Cross that were kept there until 1991.
The church is located at 9, Złota Street, in the eastern part of the Old Town Hill (wzgórze staromiejskie), the monastery adjoins it from the south.
The church performs sacral functions, the monastery buildings are used by Dominican monks.
According to the account of Jan Długosz, after their arrival in Lublin, the Dominican monks took possession of the already existing oratory of The Holy Cross. The monastery was erected probably in the 1250s. Its origins are associated with the wide-ranging missionary activities of the western church, targeted at Eastern Europe. Those actions comprised, among others, the coronations of Lithuanian duke Mendog in 1251 and duke of Galicia and Volodymyr, Daniel, as well as plans of establishing missionary bishoprics in Lithuania and Ruthenia. On the list of Dominican monasteries, compiled in the early 14th century and ordered according to dates of construction by Bernard Gui, the Lublin monastery occupies the place between the ones in Gryfia (today’s Greifswald) and Cieszyn. An analysis of sources regarding the origins of the other two monasteries led prof. Jerzy Kłoczowski to the conclusion that the monastic establishment in Lublin had been approved by the provincial chapter in 1260s. The work by Bernard Gui mentions the church in Lublin by the dedication to St. Stanislaus, which it still bears today. It could not have received this dedication before the canonization of St. Stanislaus which took place in 1253 in Rome.
Construction of today’s church of St. Stanislaus relates to the endowment of Casimir the Great in 1342. It is assumed that newly erected buildings incorporated the previous facilities: the oratory of The Holy Cross (situated at the site of the presbytery of today’s church) and the tower, mentioned in 1288, that is believed to be the place where duke of Masovia Konrad II took refuge during battles of Lublin. According to Jakub Lewicki’s architectural research, elements of that tower can be identified as the walls of the so-called one-pillar hall (sala jednosłupowa) preserved inside the monastery. The hall was a detached building, later incorporated into the city’s fortified walls, which were built under the reign of Casimir the Great.
At that period, the church was probably of the two-aisle hall type, with an elongated presbytery, typical for the architecture of mendicant orders that include the Dominicans. It is possible that at the early stage of its existence, the "Casimirian" church had a nave and a single aisle. Such layout was frequently utilized in Dominican and Franciscan temples. At that time, the monastery consisted of the lower storeys of today’s eastern wing adjacent to the city wall at the escarpment.
The history of the development of the Lublin monastery relates to the relics of The True Cross, kept there until 1991. There are two different versions of the events leading to the arrival of the relics in Lublin. According to Jan Długosz, they were brought to Lublin and donated to Dominicans by duke of Kiev Grzegorz, during the reign of Casimir the Great. Later Dominican sources contain different information, according to which the relics are supposed to have arrived in Lublin during the reign of Władysław Jagiełło, owing to the Dominican bishop of Kiev, Andrzej.
The cult surrounding the relics of The True Cross was constantly growing and, one after another, new chapels were constructed around the church in order to store them. Around 1420, a chapel was built at the end of the northern aisle (today it is the vestibule of the chapel of Holy Mother of Protection), then, after 1615, the so-called Firlej’s chapel at the end of the southern aisle and after 1645, the Tyszkiewicz’s chapel, incorporating the presbytery that took over the function of monastic choir.
The church suffered severe damage in the fire of 1575 (vaults, roof and gables collapsed), from which it was gradually restored in a new, modern form. The reconstruction involved Lublin builder Rudolf Negroni and, in its later phases, Piotr Gallon (ca. 1615), Jan Wolff (the Firlej’s chapel, 1615-1630) and Jan Cangerle (the Tyszkiewicz’s chapel, 1645-1658). After the 17th-century expansions, the church obtained the shape and the spatial layout that it has retained until today.
The monastery was expanded up to its present size after 1618. J. Ciepliński argues that new storeys in the "basilican" layout, frequently applied in Polish monasteries of the time (in the Bernardine monastery in Lviv and the Benedictine monastery in Jarosław), were added to the eastern wing of the monastery at that time. That manner of expansion consisted in raising the roof above the monastery’s corridor, whose walls jutted above the roofs of monks’ cells.
The 17th and 18th centuries were the period when the monastery thrived the most. It was also the time of the biggest popularity of the cult of The True Cross relics kept in Lublin. Further chapels were constructed around the main body of the church — the Ossoliński’s chapel at the end of the northern aisle ca. 1624 (today the chapel of Holy Mother of Protection) and two rows of chapels along the aisles in the 1650s and 1660s. The years 1728-1729 saw construction of the chapel of St. Andrew (later named Ruszelska after the painting of Virgin Mary worshipped especially by fr. Paweł Ruszel) at the northern side of the presbytery and the chapel of Immaculate Conception, also referred to as the Paris Chapel.
After a thorough restoration of the buildings in mid-19th century, the monastery was suppressed by the tsarist authorities in 1864. Between 1901 and 1902, the southern wing of the monastery was remodeled following the design by architect Stanisław Weiss. The Dominicans regained the temple only in 1938. The buildings required another restoration after the damage wrought during World War II. In 1967, the Dominican church obtained the title of minor basilica. In 1991, the relics of The True Cross were stolen. A complex restoration of the basilica and the monastery has been carried out since 1994.
Timeline of the Dominican church and the monastery
ca.1253 — hypothetical time of the arrival of the Dominicans;
1333 — relics of The True Cross brought to Lublin by Ruthenian duke Grzegorz (according to Jan Długosz);
1342 — Casimir the Great’s endowment, construction of the Gothic church;
after 1400 — relics of The True Cross brought to the Dominican basilica (according to Historia perbrevis... by Maciej Walerian);
1569 — The Union of Lublin — according to the local tradition — sworn in the Dominican church;
1575 — fire of the church and the monastery;
1585 — the Crown Tribunal chooses the Dominican monastery as the place to keep its files;
1586 — novitiate and Studium Formale, that prepare the seminarists to enter priesthood, are mentioned as functioning at the monastery;
1615-1630 — construction of Firlej’s chapel;
ca. 1624 — construction of Ossoliński’s chapel;
1645-1658 — construction of Tyszkiewicz’s chapel;
1650s and 1660s — construction of two rows of chapels on both sides of the nave: Pszonka’s chapel, chapel of St. Catherine and Szaniawski’s chapel on the southern side; chapel of St. Stanislaus, Korczmiński’s and Hulewicz’s chapels on the northern side;
1644 — inauguration of Studium Generale — the first higher education institution in Lublin. Studium, functioning at the monastery site, conferred degrees of lector and bachelor of philosophy and theology (equivalents of today’s master and doctor degrees);
1686 — closure of Studium Generale;
1728 — construction of the chapel of St. Andrew (Ruszelska);
1728-1729 — construction of the Paris chapel;
1758 — construction of the choir gallery (designed by Józef Gringenberger);
1794 — construction of the main altar;
1818 — gen. Zajączek issues an order to demolish the cracked church;
1864 — suppression of the monastery;
1886 — last seven monks expelled, several days of riots around the monastery;
1900-1902 — remodeling of the southern wing;
1938 — church and monastery regained by Dominicans;
1967 — the title of minor basilica bestowed on the church;
1991 — theft of the relics of The True Cross.
Rudolf Negroni, Piotr Gallon, Jan Wolff, Jan Cangerle, Józef Gringenberger, Stanisław Weiss
The currently existing church has features of the early modern architecture — in the so-called Lublin Renaissance style. The chapels are in the late Renaissance (the Firlej’s chapel and the chapel of Holy Mother of Protection) and the Baroque style (the Tyszkiewicz’s chapel and the Paris chapel). The monastery building has retained few style features, mostly of the late Renaissance style in its local variant, the so-called Lublin Renaissance. The southern wing has an eclectically styled gable from the early 20th century, referring in its form to the architecture of the Sigismund’s Chapel and the palace on Kraków's Wawel Hill from the times of Sigismund I the Old.
The Dominican church is a hall church with two side aisles and an elongated presbytery of height and width equal to those of the nave. Barrel vaults with lunettes cover the nave, the aisles and the presbytery. The presbytery and the main body of the nave are covered with gable roof. Two rows of chapels with domical vaults, covered with conjoint skillion roofs, adjoin the aisles. Firlej’s chapel, built on a square plan with rounded corners, is located at the end of the southern aisle. It distinguishes itself from the church’s body by a stately dome with an ornate roof lantern. The chapel of Holy Mother of Protection, also erected on a square plan and covered with a dome, is located at the end of the northern aisle. It is preceded by a vestibule, which is a remnant of the gothic chapel of The Holy Cross. Tyszkiewicz’s chapel, built behind the presbytery on hexagonal plan and covered with an oval dome, serves as the monastic choir. On the northern side of the presbytery, there are two chapels: the chapel of Virgin Mary "Ruszelska" (small, on rectangular plan) and the Paris chapel of hall type, with semi-circular outer wall.
The facade of the church is coped with a high gable and its corners are enclosed with low towers, whose crown cornices are unified with the one that crowns the facade wall, separating it from the gable. The facade is devoid of surface divisions. The towers are three-storey with corners of the upper storeys enclosed with pairs of Corinthian pilasters. The northern tower has a sgraffito decoration. The gable has five storeys, divided by small pilasters. Spaces between them were originally filled with arcade-crowned panels. The shape of the gable was simplified in the course of numerous remodelings. For example, a drawing by Adam Leure from 1870 shows large fragment of the middle part of the gable without any dividing elements. The pilasters and cornices were restored during later renovation works, yet without the arcade-shaped panels. The pilasters are crowned with pinnacles.
The interior of the nave, the aisles and the presbytery is divided by pairs of Corinthian pilasters with plain shafts. Between them, in the main body of the nave, there are arcades that separate the aisles from the nave. Arcade-shaped panels perform the same function in the presbytery. The vault is plain, with exception of a buttress between the nave and the presbytery, and the intrados over the entrance to Firlej’s chapel — both decorated with stucco of the so-called Lublin type. As for the chapels, each interior is arranged in a different, individual manner.
The present-day main altar, which forms the partition between the church and the monastic choir, was constructed in 1794, in the Classicist style. The Altars in the nave and the two pulpits placed symmetrically on the margin between the nave and the presbytery were made in the 1760s, in the workshop of Sebastian Zeisl, a sculptor based in Puławy. Six paintings thematically related to the Dominicans hang on the walls of the aisles. One of them depicts the miracle which occurred when in 1434, Henryk, a merchant from Gdańsk, attempted to steal the relics of The True Cross. A view of Lublin in mid-17th century constitutes the backdrop for this scene.
Text by Hubert Mącik
Edited by Monika Śliwińska
Translated by Jarosław Kobyłko
Wzorek J., Drzewo Krzyża Świętego. Kościół oo. Dominikanów, Lublin 1991.