Parish church of St. Michael in Lublin (nonextant)
The favourite and privileged temple, in the walls of which, at whose altars, paintings and in sacred vessels [...] Lublin had been offering, throughout generations and centuries, tokens of its religiosity, was the church of St. Michael Archangel, a parish church at first, then a collegiate, commonly called the old parish church, existing on Grodzka Street until 1854.
J.A. Wadowski „Kościoły lubelskie na podstawie źródeł archiwalnych”
The Church of st. Michael the Archangel was the most important temples of Lublin, and its history was inseparably connected with the history of this city. Today it is an invisible church, about which Józef Czechowicz once wrote: "On a green square the stars shine through the gothic ribs of the church made of air".
- History of the church
- The first church
- The "golden" period in the history of the Lublin parish church
- Remodelings and restorations
- Foundation of the cathedral and demolition of the parish church
- Stages of construction
- Materials and techniques
- General descritpion
- The bells of the parish church
- Remains of the church
- Scientific and historical research
- Major research works
The church was located on Po Farze Square, at Grodzka Street, on the north-eastern part of the old town hill, in the Old Town district. Archaeological research confirmed the existence of a cemetery in the period preceding construction of the church (11th-13th century).
Initially, a parish church;
in the years 1574-1826, collegiate church;
in the years 1826-1832, cathedral.
Moreover, the church was the seat of chaplains and altarias (a specific kind of prebend, related to a particular altar, with fewer duties than in case of a rector).
History of the church
Jan Długosz in his Annals associated construction of the church with the legend about the miraculous dream of Leszek Czarny (Leszek the Black, Polish Duke of the late 13th century). In 1282, during an expedition against Yotvingians, Leszek stopped in Lublin. While resting under an oak tree, he had a dream in which the Archangel Michael, handing him the royal sword, encouraged him to fight. After his victory, the Duke founded a church located in the very place where he had had a dream. Trunk of the oak tree that had been said to form the base of the altar was claimed to be found during demolition of the church.
The first church
Originally, the church consisted of square nave and rectangular chancel. The first rearrangement took place in mid-15th century. It was then, that a spherical dome coped with a bulbous spire was constructed. On top of the spire, there was a vane and a clock. Visible within a radius of five miles, the tower was the highest point of Lublin at that time. The appearance of the church during that period was depicted on the polychrome located in the Lubomelski family's apartment house,at 8, Market Square.
In 1574, the church obtained the status of a collegiate church, which spawned activity of numerous religious brotherhoods, the most famous of which was the Archconfraternity of The Holy Trinity (Pol. Arcybractwo Trójcy Przenajświętszej), gathering the clergy of Lublin and its vicinity. In addition, guilds of furriers, jewelers and shoemakers took care of chapels. Unfortunately, in the same year the building was severely damaged by a fire. The tall tower burnt entirely and the clock was destroyed. The fire consumed some of the interior equipment. Repairs prolonged until 1610, since they were accompanied by a partial rearrangement of the temple. Walls of the nave were heightened and covered with new vault. Top of the east wall of the nave was coped with a flèche. Vaults of two chapels were changed, and another chapel was added. Additional windows were fitted. The next fire in 1653 consumed the spire and wooden structure of the tower. Repairs of the tower were completed in 1654 and three new bells were hung and given names of the archangels: Gabriel, Rafał (Raphael) and Michał (Michael).
The "golden" period in the history of the Lublin parish church
The 1st half of the 17th century was a "golden" period in the history of the church. At that time, its shape was dominated by the tower, 113 ells, or about 65 metres high, crowned with a sphere and a crucifix. Inside the tower, three bells were placed. One could enter the high and elongated Gothic chancel with seven chapels, a sacristy and treasury through a porch. The square shaped nave was divided by means of four piers and covered with cross and rib vault. Side chapels were not connected with each other. A feature that was interesting and unique countrywide, were two choirs - the lower for worshippers and the chorus which was active at the church, and the upper which contained pipe organ.
The interior was richly furnished. A painting depicting the patron saint of the church, St.Michael, was located in the main altar, along with another painting, depicting the dream of Leszek the Black, in addition to the numerous altars. In the chapel of Crucified Christ, there was the Trybunalski Crucifix. Some of the chapels were also additionally decorated with murals. Inventories mention, apart from paintings, a bronze baptismal font from the 13th century, sculpture of the Crucifixion group placed on the rood beam, sculptured choir stalls, pews and confessionals, two chandeliers and a silver lamp. Floor and walls contained numerous tombstones of Lubliners, townsmen and clergy, including the city councillor Erazm Lubomelski of the Zadora coat of arms.
The church conducted charity activities, running three hospitals. A parish school, training, among others, organ builders, also functioned at the parish church.
Remodelings and restorations
Fires led to church undergoing multiple modifications and repairs. In 1653 the church tower had burned down and was restored owing to the endowment of the Lublin townsmen. All of the bells located inside were refounded at that time. Another repairs took place in 1741, 1769 (when the storm knocked the crucifix off the church tower) and in 1771. However repairs, being only partial, could not prevent the church from gradually falling into decay. Financial shortages and disasters in the 2nd half of the 18th century led to difficulties in maintaining the building in proper condition. In 1780 it was decided to melt the less needed pieces of silver and spend the funds raised this way on the essential repairs. Unfortunately, the obtained funds proved to be insufficient.
Foundation of the cathedral and demolition of the parish church
Subsequent years of the 1st half of the 18th century were a period of progressing dilapidation. Planning of renovation of the church coincided with Poland losing its independence. Regardless of the needs of the church, 42 liturgical vessels were donated to support the country. Another factor that contributed to the definitive ruin of the parish church was the papal bull issued by pope Pius VII. It brought into being, as of 1805, the Lublin diocese. The solemn proclamation took place in 1807 in St. Michael collegiate church, nevertheless, the cathedral was established at the former Jesuit church of St. John. The collegiate church became a parish church, commonly referred to as fara or stara fara (Polish for parish church, old parish church).
Renovation of the cathedral was completed on 26 August 1832 and the relocation ceremony took place on the same day. Parish services were transferred at the same time, along with the Trybunalski crucifix and other pieces of equipment: paintings, altars, bells and the more valuable items from the collegiate treasury. These measures met with strong opposition of the citizens of Lublin, which resulted in an ordinance being issued in 1839 by the Civil Governor of Lublin Province, prohibiting further removal of the equipment of the collegiate church.
Project undertaken in 1841 with intention to dismantle the church and build it anew did not come to fruition due to lack of funds. When a few years later the tower started tumbling down, the authorities began to demand an immediate restoration. Again, due to lack of money, the project failed. Parts of the roof above the nave, the chancel and the sacristy were already severely damaged at that time.
In these circumstances, at the turn of February and March 1846, the magistrate and the church supervision reached an agreement on demolition of the parish church. It was meant to be directed by master carpenter Jan Woźniakowski. According to the agreement, the text of which is stored in the Lublin Archives (Archiwum Lubelskie) among the files regarding Lublin, Jan Woźniakowski was to demolish the church and clean up the square, receiving in exchange the materials obtained during demolition. Equipment remaining inside the church was temporarily deposited in the Dominicans monastery.The demolition continued until 1855. the final cleaning up of the site by means of filling the church crypts was paid for by the Lublin municipality. In 1857, on request of engineer Feliks Bieczyński, advocate of green areas in the city, a square with grass and a cobbled pavement were arranged at the site of the former church.
Utensils that had been constituting the equipment of the church, were distributed to churches around the diocese. Most of the equipment was transferred to the cathedral. Aside from the Trybunalski Crucifix, the baptismal font, the epitaph of Sebastian Klonowic, the altar funded by Sapieha, paintings, books of manuscripts and certificates were also moved there. Statue of crucified Christ was moved to the Bishop's Palace.
1282 - foundation of the church by Leszek the Black as a votive offering after the victory over Yotvingians
1447 - the church is damaged in fire
1459 - another fire of the city
2nd half of the 15th century - a thorough remodeling of the church, construction of the tower
1546 - launch of the clock on the tower (operated until 1575)
1574 - foundation of the collegiate church by the bishop of Cracow, Franciszek Krasiński
1575 - the church tower collapses due to the great fire of Lublin
1575-1610 - repairs combined with remodeling, raising of new walls to reach above the surrounding buildings
1653 - another fire, damage to wooden structures of the church tower
1654 - end of the renovation of the tower, three new bells hung
1719 - another fire of the city
1743 - cessation of burials at the church cemetery
1769 - the roof damaged by a vehement storm
1780 - sale of some of the silver utensils belonging to the church in order to raise funds for repairs
1799 - Bishop Wojciech Skarszewski allows conducting cathedral services
1805 - foundation of Lublin diocese by Pope Pius VII
1807 - solemn proclamation of the papal foundation bull in the church
1825 - the bells are transferred to the cathedral
1826 - cassation of the collegiate church
1826-1832 - the church serves as the cathedral
1832 - transfer of the parish to the new cathedral, closure of the church
1836-1840 - efforts undertaken by the Government of Lublin Province in order to repair the church building
1846 - decision is made on demolition of the church
1852 - transfer of human remains remains from the old cemetery to the cemetery on Lipowa Street
1855 - end of demolition works
1857 - site of the former parish church earmarked for a city square
Stages of construction
13th-14th century - construction of a brick, oriented church
2nd half of the 15th century - major rearrangement, addition of a 113-ell-high tower
late 15th century - two chapels, sacristy and small porch added
1574 - construction of another chapel commences (finished in 1636)
1575-1610 - reconstruction after a fire
1575 - raising of the church walls, enlargement of windows, construction of two chapels
1595 - construction of another two chapels
1654 - completion of renovation of the tower
1741 - replacement of the tower's spire
1771 - another repair of the tower's spire
Materials and techniques
The chancel, the sacristy, naves, pillars and the two eastern chapels built of limestone;
facing of the foundation in the basement, frames of vaults, porch under the tower and the vestibule of the porch at the side of the chancel - made of brick;
foudations of the chapels and the tower - mixed materials.
In the last phase of its existence, the temple consisted of a nave and two aisles, a long, narrow chancel, seven chapels, and high Gothic tower at the front. Adjacent to the chancel (enclosed polygonally, with quoins and buttresses, without windows) was the sacristy that accommodated the treasury, as well as the first porch. The second porch, serving as the entrance, was located at the bottom of the tower.
The tower housed three bells in its top, octagonal section.
Copper roof of the tower was crowned with a sphere and a crucifix. The roof of the nave and the chancel was steep and high, covered with tiles, while the chapels were covered with sheet metal or shingle.
The church walls were plastered, save for the walls of the tower. The body of the building bore sixteen large and three small windows.
The altar was situated centrally, two choirs were located above the main entrance on the western side - the lower for the worshippers and the upper for pipe organ and the church band.
Along the aisles, there were side-chapels. Vaults above the nave, aisles and the chancel of the gothic interior were of cross and rib type. The chancel was long and narrow, the nave - short and wide. Floor was made of marble slabs or bricks.
A cemetery surrounded by a wall occupied the area around the church. Rectory, vicars' house and house that accommodated church help and archdeacon, were all located in the vicinity outside the church wall.
The bells of the parish church
Apart from the bell of St. Michael, the cathedral received two more bells after the parish church had been closed: one called Rafał and the other Gabriel. The former, cast in 1634 and measuring 13 feet in circumference, was decorated with a plaque depicting three human figures. The latter measured an ell and 5 inches in diameter, which was the same as its height. Those bells were hung in Trynitarska Tower (Trinity Tower).
Both bells' histories abound with interesting details. Some of them were given by Rev. Ludwik Zalewski in his book about the Lublin archsee. In 1873 it was noted that "the bell of St. Raphael, the middle one on Trinity Tower [...] having such a beautiful and powerful sound once, now barely rattles". This was the result of a crack. In the autumn of that year, the bell was removed from the tower. It weighed 2,270 pounds. A forge had been set up on the square and the ceremony of re-casting the bell took place. It was carried out by Zwoliński company from Warsaw. The original shape and the depiction on the plaque and the Latin inscription were copied, with addition of the information: "Cast by Zwolinski from Warsaw in 1873".
The other bell, Gabriel, was also re-cast. Names of Ludwik Mikołaj were given to it then. Originally, it had been cast in 1770, in the workshop of Karol Gotfryd Antoni Gedaris. the benefactor remains unknown. The bell remained in Trynitarska tower until 10 July 1915, when, by the decree of the Russian Governor in Lublin, Steligow, it was taken to inland Russia where it ended up in a monastery in Gudowo. It returned to the tower in 1922, reclaimed under the Treaty of Riga. Its body bears depictions of St. Nicholas and St. Louis. A latin inscription is placed between the friezes and sphinxes are placed in the bell's crown.
Remains of the church
Building materials obtained from the demolished church were utilized in various ways. Some of them were used to build the house at the entrance to the Saski (Saxon) Garden, while the rubble was rolled down the slope over Podwale Street and was later used to pave the Lublin-Ciecierzyn route.The floor was removed and reassembled under the cathedral colonnade. Ashes from the collegiate cemetery were moved to the cemetery on Lipowa Street.
"Such is the history of the no longer existing St. Michael church in Lublin. Oddly dependant it was on the history of the old community of this city. When this community began to resurge, the St. Michael church emerged, when it was flourishing, the church was rising, and when it started to fall, the church was also declining, and when it changed beyond recognition, the church turned into debris as well and disappeared among the walls of Lublin" - summarizes the already quoted Rev. Wadowski.
Scientific and historical research
The first study regarding the parish church, at the same time containing the last depictions of it, are drawings by Kazimierz Stronczyński.
The first scientific paper pertaining to the Church is included in the work of Rev. J. A. Wadowski, titled "Kościoły Lubelskie" ("The Churches of Lublin")
The latest and most comprehensive findings are included in the book by Jadwiga Kuczyńska "Kościół farny św. Michała w Lublinie" ("Parish Church of St.Michael in Lublin")
Major research works
1936-1938 - the first uncovering of the foundations - J.E. Dudkiewicz
1977-1979 - first excavations and research concerning remains of the church - A. Hunicz
1984-1985 - uncovering and securing the foundations of the chapels
1991 - uncovering of fragments of porch, tower and part of the pillars
2002 - exposition of the foundations of the church on Po Farze Square
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