Church of St. Francis of Assisi


(Friars Minor)

The Observant branch of the friars minor built a wooden chapel and a monastery in 1456. Since Bernardino of Siena was one of the chief propagators of the branch, the friars came to be called Bernardine monks in Poland. A new Gothic church and monastery were built in the years 1471-73 but the buildings were burnt down by the Swedish in 1655. A new church dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi was erected in the years 1661-68 (by Krzysztof Bonadura the Older and Jerzy Catenazzi). In the years 1730-38 the façade was reconstructed and two cupolas were added to the church towers (a design by Jan Adam Stier of Leszno). The figures of Franciscan saints placed in the recesses of the façade (a work of Franciszek Domusberger of Wschowa) were made in the same period. The Chapel of St. Mary from Loreto was built south of the nave sometime after 1742. The buildings of the monastery from the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries adjoined the north wall of the church. New edifices were erected in 1988 and replaced the Chapel of St. Anne dismantled in 1843. After the dissolution of the order in 1835, the shrine functioned as St. Martin's parish church and since 1843 the buildings have housed St. Mary Magdalene Grammar School. Destroyed in the Second World War, the church underwent major renovation before 1988. A parish church since 1974.

It is a Baroque church with a long presbytery whose roof are lower than that of the nave and with the Chapel of Saint Mary from Loreto to the south. From the narrow narthex between the towers stairs lead up to the nave and down to the Chapel of the Holy Cross. Barrel vaulting with lunettes in the presbytery, barrel vaulting over the nave, and sail vaulting in the narthex. Arcaded passageways under the pillars along the walls. A peculiar feature of the church is the floor located high above the ground due to the burial vault placed beneath.

The interior of the church, damaged in the war, has been painstakingly reconstructed. The painting in the main altar (made after 1950) titled God's Wrath is a copy of Paul Rubens's work by Józef Pade (1950). Figure of God the Father in a ring of light at the top, on both side Baroque sculptures of John the Evangelist and St. Joseph with the Infant, in front of the altar figures of saints: Bonaventure, Bernardino of Siena, Augustine and Ambrose (Augustyn Schöps, 1778-79). Stalls along the walls of the presbytery reconstructed in the years 1950-60 embellished with the scenes from the life of St. Francis of Assisi. A pulpit by the column to the left with a sculpture of Christ at the top; opposite it a symbolic tombstone of St. Mary with the rendition of the Assumption above (1954). In the side altars from the years 1988-89 paintings of St. Joseph with Jesus and St. Anne with St. Mary (left altar) and St. Anthony of Padua and blessed John Duns Scotus (right altar). The Baroque Chapel of Saint Mary from Loreto adjoins the nave from the south and is separated from it by an Early Baroque lattice from around 1650.

The nave extends to the organ loft in the west supported by an arcade embellished with the sculptures of St. John Capistrano and St. Francis of Assisi. Neo-Baroque organ pipes (19th c.) transferred from an evangelic church in 1952. The stairs from the narthex lead down the Chapel of the Holy Cross from 1950 with a Late Baroque crucifix from the mid-eighteenth century. A sculpture of St. Francis of Assisi and a broken church bell from the 18th c. in the square between the church and the north wing of the monastery. The monastery houses a province of the Friars Minor established in 1991, an ethnography and mission museum and a library. The church boasts the largest nativity scene in Poznań at Christmas time.

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