*FRANCISCANS OF WSCHOWA*
   Church and Monastery of Bernardins order today Franciscans
- brief history of the foundation (Continued)


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         The monastery buildongs also included a brewery, a house of retreat, a bakery and same farm buildings like a cowshed, a pigsty, a granary and barns. The farm with its characteristic gate in the North as well as gardens were surrounded by the wall.
         In 1746 the old altar was changed to the new one to which the painting presenting the " Removal from the cross " was painted, as says the sing placed on the picture, by the friar artist Walenty Żebrowski. Stalls were placed along the walls and in1771 A decorative baroque balustrade was added.
         Inside the building what attracts the attention the most is the beautifully decorated and the organ. Probably the organ was there much earlier, a piece of information of 1752 mentions the change of the old organ to the new one, which cost 4200 tynfs. In 1766 a decorative prospect with sculptures of little angels playing musical instruments and also the crest of Wschowa. The beautiful polychromes of the church was finished in 1746.
         Special benefactors to the church include the return of Poland: Zygmunt III Waza who contibuted to return of the friars, and Władysław IV. Another benefactors are also the apostolic nuncio Antoni Santacroce and the bishop of Poznań Maciej Łubieński. The sources also mention the abbats from the Cistercian monastery in Przemęt. Numerous benefactors came from the local nobility.
         The Saint Cross Sanctuary in Wschowa is strictly connected with the reverence towards an old oak crucifix from as the chronicale says in 1724 - the old church burnt down by Lutherans in 1558. The crucifix, thrown into a pit and coverd with rubble, miraculousy survived and waited till the return of the friars who found it in 1638 while digging the foundations for the new church. The chronicle also keeps the records of miraculous healings. In 1762 Anna Żółkowska received the grace of health and in 1780 Maciej Radoliński. The history of the Cross famous of its graces and erected buildings: the chapel and cloisters, the reverence of the Way of the Cross indicate that a new sanctuary was coming into being. However, the chronicle does not mention any pilgrimages, which makes presumptions that fame of the sanctuary had a limited range.
(34kB)         The monastery in Wschowa - as well as other monasteries - had a library, in which the books collected helped the friars in their studies, in writing sermons.The library is an example of one few Bernardine libraries which managed to survive through annulments and dispersing of a book collection. It remained intact and nowadays it gives a picture of an average monastic book collection. In 1972 the whole collection of old printings was move to the central provincial library in Poznań.
         After the second partition of Poland Wschowa belonged to Protestant Prussia. The policy of the country aimed at total abolition of all monasteries. On 6 January 1828 the monastery was dissolved. The Franciscans returned to their temple after 117 years, on 7 August 1945. The present condition of the historical set of buildings reflects the hard work, numerous prayers and devotion of many friars and priests, who lived in this ' pearl of baroque ' as well as support of people of goodwill who together managed to bring back the original splendour to these buildings. The 1920s marked the major overhaul and conservation the main part of the church and the monastery, the historical polychromes, the altars and many other elements, which can be admired by the tourist visiting Wschowa.
         Thanks to the apostolic work of the Franciscans every day the faithful from Wschowa and its surroundings gather here trying to deepen their religious life. In this charming place they find peace, tranquillity, silance of the heart tired with contemporary problems. Here, they expose to the invigorating inspirations of the Saint Spirit and hear the voice of God.

Tłum. Andrzej Ochmański

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