During the renovation of the facade of the church of Saint Francis Xavier in Krasnystaw (Lublin Province), the workers discovered that there are rich decorations under the contemporary plaster layer. It turned out to be the original 18th-century polychromes that are now being restored and preserved.
According to the Lublin conservation services, the history of the temple dates back to the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries. Its creation was related to the bringing in the Jesuits to Krasnystaw by Stanisław Święcicki, the bishop of Chełm, in 1685. After the dissolution of the Jesuit congregation in 1773, the church served as a cathedral, and then as a parish temple.
An unprecedented discovery was made there last year. Workers working on the renovation of the front elevation noticed that there are colorful decorations under the modern plaster layer. It turned out that these are fragments of the original 18th-century polychromes.
Such an appearance of a church facade is a rarity in contemporary Poland
– When it comes to colors, pink, gold, yellow and green dominate. Among the paintings, plant motifs are the most numerous. The pilasters, cornices and window frames are also richly decorated. Such an appearance of a church facade is a rarity in contemporary Poland. It can only be compared with the temple in Święta Lipka – says Paweł Wira, head of the Chełm branch of the Provincial Office for the Protection of Monuments in Lublin.
Work is currently underway on the facade. In its lower parts, where most of the paintings have survived, the polychromes are preserved, while in the upper parts – partially reconstructed.
– The intention of the projects and founders was certainly to inspire admiration among the faithful. First, we see the enormous and beautifully decorated facade in front of us, then we enter the church, where the motifs from the paintings are the background for scenes from the life of Saint Francis Xavier – emphasizes Wira.
The colorful facade still existed in the 1820s
As the archaeologist Konrad Grochecki from the Regional Museum in Krasnystaw tells us, the colorful facade still existed in the 1820s. – At least that’s what the church archives show – he emphasizes.
However, at the end of the 1930s, the walls were painted with white paint. It was probably related to the fact that the paintings began to deteriorate more and more due to the influence of weather conditions.
– In the 1850s there was also a construction disaster in the church. A huge dome collapsed inside the temple, which of course also left its mark on the condition of the church walls, which cracked in some places. The building was also shelled during World War I and II. There are traces on the elevation to this day. Apparently, in 1944, a German sniper was deployed on one of the church spiers, in the direction of which the soldiers of the Red Army – entering the city – said Paweł Wira, quoted in the introduction.
There are also plans to renovate the remaining facades
The parish also plans to recreate the original appearance of all the facades of the temple. – We suppose that they will not have such rich decorations, but the final answer will be the conservation research – emphasizes the conservator.
Work currently underway is to be completed this year. For their implementation, the parish received funding, among others from the city hall, voivodeship office and the ministry of culture. So the last subsidy was the biggest. It amounted to PLN 600,000.
– The work performed here is certainly not easy. Let the fact that the façade is enormous prove it. It is 28 meters high, and its area is over 800 square meters – emphasizes Paweł Wira.
St. Franciszek Ksawery is located in Krasnystaw at Piłsudskiego 3
Main photo source: Paweł Wira / Provincial Office for the Protection of Monuments in Lublin