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The Bernardine Monastery in Leżajsk

Information has been make available: 01.10.2007 14:30

This is the first property in the Podkarpackie, which was registered with the elite List of the Monuments of History. It is one of the most valuable examples of church architecture from the turn of Renaissance and Baroque periods, and the second largest Bernardine sanctuary of the Virgin Mary. The monastery was distinguished due to its historic value. The valuable and famous organ, XVII–century polychrome and beautifully incrusted stalls were also taken into consideration.

Zespół Kościoła i Klasztoru OO. Bernardynów w Leżajsku
37–300 Leżajsk, Pl. Mariacki 8
tel. (+48 17) 2420006, 2428356, 2428357
fax (+48 17) 242 83 59

The present-day Bernardine church and monastery in Leżajsk was constructed in the years 1618–1628. It was founded by Łukasz Bnin Opaliński, Great Marshall of the Crown and Leżajsk governor (starosta) and his wife, Anna Pilecka. It was built in the place, where, according to the legend, in 1590 Tomasz Michałek saw the Virgin Mary with St. Joseph. In 1594, a wooden church was built in the place, where the revelation took place, and 16 years later, the first stone church was constructed by the Bernardines, transferred here from Przeworsk in 1608 by the Bishop of Przemyśl, Maciej Pstrokoński. The early Baroque furnishings of the church and monastery were created by Bernardines. In 1630, the Bishop of Przemyśl, Adam Nowodworski consecrated the church. In 1657, the church partially burnt in a fire, and in 1670, some of the original, Mannerist decorations of the church were destroyed. In the second half of the XVIII century, the fresco creators from Lviv, Wojtanowski, Kłossowski, Maciel and Mateusz Miller and Stanisław Stroiński decorated the church with murals. Before the coronation of the Miraculous Image of the Virgin Mary in 1752, Bernardines introduced many changes: they created the side altar naves and the main altar was moved from the west edge of the monastery choir to the apse wall. In the years 1891–96, the church underwent thorough preservation works. During the war, in the years 1915–1917, the church in Leżajsk was badly damaged. Thanks to the efforts of the bishops of Przemyśl, on July 10 1928, Pope Pius XI declared the Bernardine Church in Leżajsk a Lesser Basilica.

The style of the church is early Baroque. It is typical Lublin architecture, with three naves and an elongated presbytery with a semicircular end. In the extension of the south nave, there is the chapel of the Virgin Mary of Leżajsk, with the image of the Virgin Mary with Infant Jesus. In the western part, there is the Baroque choir. The presbytery is connected with the Baroque building of the monastery. It is made of stone, storied, with four wings, a patio in the middle, and four pavilions in the corners. The monastery was constructed around 1637, and it was surrounded with a defensive 10 m high wall, on a layout of an irregular polygon with bastions, curtains, three towers and three gates. The curtain walls (saw-tooth shaped) have guard galleries with embrasures, connected with bastions and huge western towers. Inside, there is the Baroque organ, one of the largest in Europe, and one of the most valuable relics of art, as far as instrument construction and decoration goes. The organ dates back to the second half of the XVII century. Stanisław Studziński from Przeworsk started their construction, and Jan Głowiński from Krakow continued the work, finishing it in 1693. In the years 1903–1905, Aleksander Żebrowski gave the organ a Romantic look, and in 1960’s, Robert Polcyn from Poznań restored their Baroque character. The fabulous woodcarving decoration of the organ is the work of the Bernardine fathers. The Leżajsk organ consists in fact of three separate instruments. In the side-naves, there are smaller instruments, and the largest one is in the main nave. The organ has mechanical controls (tracker system) and 75 voices altogether. It is equipped with effects, such as cuckoo, drum (tyman), birds, horribile. The organ has full 32' voice. The four cases of the main organ, connected with the choir decoration, constitute the monumental façade, which fills the west wall of the basilica, reaching the vault. The main organ is 15 m high and 7.5 m wide, and it has an inseparable connection with the instruments in the side-naves. This is why three organists can play simultaneously. The image of the Solace Virgin Mary of Leżajsk from around 1590 is the work of the priest Erasmus of Leżajsk. The miraculous Hodigitria image is representative of late Gothic Małopolska painting school from the turn of the XV and XVI centuries. It is modeled on the miraculous image of Virgin Mary in the Santa Maria Maggiore basilica in Rome. The painting is covered with a dress and has beautiful, richly decorated frames from 1752, founded by Maria Potocka of the Sanguszko family. The holy image cover is the painting by Stanisław Stroiński from mid XVIII century, depicting "Tomasz Michałek’s Vision" and a metal curtain, decorated with an emblem of the Virgin Mary, papal crest of John Paul II and the Polish ensign, made in 1983. Originally, the image was placed in the wooden church, and in the XVII century, it was moved to a specially constructed chapel. First, the church authorities pronounced it miraculous, and in 1752, thanks to the efforts of Great Hetman of the Crown Józef Potocki and the Bernardine order authorities, Pope Benedict XIV distinguished it with crowns. Among avid worshippers of the Virgin Mary of Leżajsk were the founder of the church and the monastery Łukasz Opaliński, King Władysław IV Vasa and Great Hetman of the Crown Stefan Czarnecki.
This is a compilation of information available on the following web sites: www.bernardyni.ofm.pl/klasztor/lezajsk and www.culture.pl


Placed by: Mirosław Gieroń
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