Chapels at the basilica of St. Stanislaus in Lublin
History of the Dominican church and the monastery relates to the relics of the True Cross, kept there for several ages. According to Jan Długosz, they were brought to Lublin in 1333, while another account states that it happened after 1400. New chapels were being constructed at the church one after another in order to store the relics.
This chapel was being erected between 1615 and 1622, funded by Henryk Firlej, bishop of Lutsk, then of Płock and eventually primate of Poland. The stucco ornaments in the chapel were finished in 1630. The designer and main builder was probably Jan Wolff, sculptor, plasterer and builder frequently employed by Firlej and Zamojski families.
The motive for erecting the chapel was the will to provide a proper setting for the relics of the True Cross kept in the church, and build a mausoleum for two of the endower’s ancestors: Mikołaj, his great-grandfather and Piotr, his grandfather. Their tomb, made several years earlier, was embedded into the southern wall of the chapel.
The chapel forms the end of the church’s southern aisle, adjoining the southern wall of the presbytery.
Built on a rectangular plan, with corners rounded on the inside, the building is covered with a dome crowned with a roof lantern. Inside, the walls are framed with pairs of tall, slim Corinthian pilasters with fluted shafts, situated on high socle in each corner. Stuccos, whose authorship is attributed to Jan Wolff, cover the vault and the inside of the lantern. They consist of batten-like reliefs that frame decorative plaques.
Early Baroque altar of the chapel housed the shrine containing fragments of the True Cross.
Chapel of Holy Mother of Protection (Ossoliński’s)
The chapel of Holy Mother of Protection, also referred to as the chapel of Holy Mother of the Tribunal or Ossoliński’s chapel, was built in 1624, forming an extension of the northern aisle of the Dominican church. A gothic chapel, erected at this site ca. 1420 in order to store the relics of the True Cross, forms the vestibule of Ossoliński’s chapel.
The construction of the chapel was funded by Katarzyna Ossolińska. Its layout is square-shaped, with pilasters in the corners. The roof is in the form of a dome, decorated on the inside with stuccos in the so-called Lublin Renaissance style. The altar originates from the second half of the 17th century. It accommodates a painting depicting the Holy Mother Protector of the Dominican Order (Holy Mother of the Tribunal), also from that period. Until 1886, this painting was situated in the monastery cloisters. In the upper section of the altar, there is a painting depicting the Mother of God and St. Dominic. Further up, the altar is flanked by sculptured likenesses of St. Antoninus of Florence and St. Albertus Magnus.
In 1645, Voivode of Kiev Janusz Tyszkiewicz initiated the construction of a chapel on the extension of the presbytery. It was situated behind the altar and formed the monastic choir, like it still does today.
Jan Cangerle, a Lublin-based builder, was the chief architect of the chapel. Construction works were concluded in 1658, owing to the support provided by the endower’s sister and Stanisław Witowski, the castellan from Sandomierz, who was also the benefactor of the Dominicans in Wysokie Koło on the Vistula, south of Kozienice.
The chapel forms a coherent and homogeneously planned architectural- painting- and sculptural complex, thematically related to the relics of the True Cross that were meant to be kept there. Its body is rectangularly shaped, passing into flattened hexagon at the level of the tholobate. The dome, decorated with stuccos by Giovanni Battista Falconi, was constructed on an oval base. Falconi was assisted by painters Krzysztof Herman and Tomasz Muszyński, whose paintings and frescos can be seen next to those by Albin Kuncewicz. The vault also boasts a monumental painting depicting the Last Judgement, attributed to either Muszyński or Herman.
Chapels at the aisles of the Dominican church
The 1650s and 1660s saw addition of three chapels to each of the church’s aisles.
Pszonka’s chapel is situated at the eastern bay of the southern aisle. In the middle (looking from the south) is the chapel of St. Catherine. A painting depicting St. Thomas Aquinas is fitted into the altar constructed in 1756. Figures of the Doctors of the Church: Augustine, Gregory, Jerome, and Ambrose, stand on both sides of the altar, which is crowned with a sculpture of St. Thomas Aquinas. A painting from the early 17th century, depicting the retreat of Bohdan Chmielnicki’s troops from the vicinity of Lublin, hangs on the opposite wall.
The chapel of St. Mary Magdalene (Szaniawski’s chapel) is located at the southern aisle, adjoining its western wall. A painting of Mary Magdalene from the second half of the 17th century is fitted into the Rococo altar. Sculptures of St. Martha and St. Lazarus flank the altar on both sides. Across from the altar one can see a painting depicting the fire of Lublin in 1719, painted ca. 1740. It is one of the most important iconographic sources of information about the 18th-century Lublin. The city is depicted viewed from the north.
The chapel of The Transfiguration (Hulewicz’s chapel) stands by the northern aisle, at its western bay. A painting of the Transfiguration forms a part of the altarpiece. Above it, there is a painting of St. Joseph with the Infant Jesus from the second half of the 18th century. A figure of Christ Risen from the Dead crowns the altar, which is flanked by sculptures of St. Barbara and Elijah.
The chapel of Lord Jesus (Korczmiński’s chapel) is situated at the middle bay of the northern aisle. A Renaissance-Baroque crucifix is fitted in Rococo altar from the 1760s. Next to it, there are 18th-century figures of the Sorrowful Mother and St. John the Evangelist.
The chapel of St. Stanislaus adjoins the eastern bay of the northern aisle. The Rococo altar contains a painting of St. Stanislaus from the early 17th century. It is flanked by sculptures of St. Stanislaus and king Bolesław II the Bold.
The 18th century saw additions of further chapels. The chapel of St. Andrew, later called also the chapel of ‘Ruszelska’ Holy Mother was erected on the northern side of the presbytery in 1728, funded by Andrzej Jełowicki. One year later, the chapel of the Immaculate Conception (also called the Paris chapel) was built next to it.
Construction of the Paris chapel was financed in 1728 by Eleonora Anna Krasicka de domo Rzewuska. It was laid out on a rectangular plan, with semi-circular outer wall and the altar located on the northern side. Small interior of hall type contains, as a matter of fact, all the elements of a typical church interior. There is a choir loft over the entrance in the southern wall. Spatial divisions are articulated by Corinthian pilasters. The surface of the barrel vault is decorated with paintings depicting the Holy Spirit, God the Father and scenes relating to the Holy Cross: Mother of God giving the relics of the True Cross to Dominic and Thomas, and bishop Andrzej giving the relics to the Lublin Dominicans. The 18th-century altar contains a painting from 1838 by Feliks Pęczarski. In 1991, the relics of the True Cross were stolen from this chapel.
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