ul. Stolarska 12
Although repeatedly destroyed by fire, this church still contains splendid treasures of art and architecture, traces of grandeur of powerful Kraków families and merchant guilds, and precious devotional objects.
Standing previously on this spot was the parish Church of the Holy Trinity. It was entrusted to the Dominicans on their arrival in the city in 1222, and the parish was transferred to St Mary’s Church. After the demolition by the Tatars in the mid-13th century, the construction of a new Gothic church began and it lasted for several decades. In 1462, a fire broke out inside: according to legend it was caused by the Dominican themselves, as they dabbled in alchemy and arcane practices, including the fabrication of gold. Over the following centuries, chapels built by Kraków guilds and designed for families of benefactors were appended to both sides of the nave. A highlight of the church is the upstairs renaissance Chapel of St Hyacinth (Jacek), modelled on the Sigismund Chapel in Wawel. There are plenty of legends and tales that have developed around the figure of the saint, who brought the Dominican Order to Kraków. Some say that the monk could give curative powers to water, and banish Satan from the bodies of the possessed. They say that the wailing of devils and the gritting of teeth of fiends banished from human bodies can still be heard around the church.
The tragic fire that destroyed a large portion of the city in 1850 also affected the Dominican Church. After reconstruction it acquired a stylised front porch that conceals the original Gothic entrance decorated with delicate vegetal ornamentation. A late-Gothic bronze slab commemorating Filippo de Buonacorsi (known as Callimachus, teacher of the sons of King Casimir the Jagiellon (Kazimierz Jagiellończyk) has been preserved inside, designed by the sculptor of St Mary’s high altar – Veit Stoss (Wit Stwosz).
The 14th century cloisters adjacent to the church are adorned with portraits of bishops hailing from the Dominican Order and epitaphs transferred from the cemetery that was once situated by the church. They say souls suffering in Purgatory and pleading for prayers in their name surface in the monastery’s well at times.
Be sure to see:
- cloisters with fragments of 13th-century architecture, refectory with a late Romanesque crypt
- Gothic, renaissance, and baroque chapels; with the late-renaissance ones of St Hyacinth and Gonzaga Myszkowski family especially worth a visit
St Mary’s Church
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