St. Francis of Assisi Church in Wieliczka

Catalogue note author
Maria Działo


The church and monastery of Reformed Fransciscans in Wieliczka were funded by the Wieliczka council members, the management of the salt mines and king Sigmunt III. The works started in 1624 and were completed in 1626. The church was consecrated the same year, under the invocation of St. Francis of Assisi's Stigmas. The temple is a representative type of Baroque architecture solutions, implemented in a group of monastery Franciscan churches spread all over the region of Lesser Poland. Therefore, the architecture of the church is distinguished by its adaptation to the monasterial charisma, expressed by simplicity and modesty. The monks adopted a single-nave structure as the dominant type, with a narrower and extended chancel, enclosed with a straight wall and separated with a high altar. The chancel extension houses a monastic choir which was liquidated in the church in Wieliczka, and the high altar was moved towards the chancel wall. The church in Wieliczka has been recurrently referred to as a model for all reformation churches. The church furnishings (six side altars, high altar and a pulpit) was created after the fire of 1718. Special attention should be paid to: a painting created by Szymon Czechowicz, titled "St. Casimir Jagiellon", pieces created by Michał Stachowicz whose numerous works decorate altars in the church, and a painting of Our Lady of Graces which is currently presented in the chapel built in 1989-1990. According to the Franciscan tradition, the image is older than the very monastery complex and originates in a chapel dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua, the patron of miners. The painting of Virgin Mary was apparently left by Balkan or Italian merchants who presented it to local miners in exchange for salt. One of the characteristic features of the church in Wieliczka is its relationship with the miners who not only funded it, but contributed to the funding of the altars and the paintings. Many images of Saint patrons, placed on the altars, are Saints who have been glorified by miners themselves, such as St. Kinga of Poland, St. Barbara, or St. Anthony of Padua. The Madonna of Częstochowa painting originally came from the Wieliczka mine, where it was placed on the side, altar and transferred from one of the mine's shaft bottoms.

How to cite?

Maria Działo, "St. Francis of Assisi Church in Wieliczka", [in:] "The Sacred Lesser Poland Heritage", 2022, source:

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