St Peter and Paul's Church

The institution is a department:
Address:
Grodzka 25a, 31-000 Kraków

Description

Jesuits arrived in Poland soon after the Council of Trident of 1563.

Jesuits arrived in Poland soon after the Council of Trident of 1563. Following the decisions reached at the Council, they were to defend the Catholic faith from the influence of the Reformation and its ideas. Thanks to the support of King Stephen Batory, they received the Church of St Barbara where the Order established a modest residence. It soon turned out, however, that the Jesuits could not carry out their pastoral duties properly due to the small size of the Church. Thus the idea of building a new church was born. A site was chosen in Grodzka Street, next to the Convent of the Poor Clares. Thanks to the intercession of Rev. Piotr Skarga, King Sigismund III Vasa earmarked appropriate funds for the foundation and the new church was built in 1597-1619. The Jesuit church was the first church in Poland to be built in the new, baroque style.

The construction continued but not without major obstacles: it was only the third architect, Giovanni Trevano, who succeeded in erecting the dome on the church and putting up the impressive façade lined with stone blocks.
The towerless façade is clearly derived from the Il Gesù Church in Rome, the precursor and touchstone for early baroque. Early in the 18th century, Kacper Bażanka designed the railings of the church on the Grodzka Street side incorporating 12 plinths on which late-baroque figures of the 12 apostles, by a German Jesuit sculptor David Heel, were placed (those standing there today are copies).

The interior of the church is as monumental as it is austere. Enclosed in a semi-circle, the chancel is home to the high altar designed by Kacper Bażanka and including a 19th-century painting depicting the presentation of the keys to St Peter. Attention is attracted to the elaborate stucco decoration by Giovanni Battista Falconi on the vaulting of the apse which illustrates the lives of St Peter and St Paul. Buried in the crypt of the church (open to visitors) is Father Piotr Skarga: theologian, writer, preacher, and confessor of King Sigismund III Vasa.

In 1832, the church took over the functions of the parish from that of All Saints which was demolished at that time.

Standing next to St Peter and St Paul’s is the building known as Collegium Broscianum. Its buildings were constructed at nearly the same time as the church for a college for Jesuit clerics. Today students of the Jagiellonian University are educated within its walls.

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Date: 2012-03-28 Show ticket
News author: ANNA WAŚKOWSKA
News Publisher: Redakcja MPI
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