Saint Bernard’s Church is located on Bernardyńska street, near Wawel Castle. The church is a very popular tourist destination because of its beauty, both inside and out. The interior of the church is decorated in gold, and the exterior of the church features 12 statues on the facade of the building. The church’s towers are a distinctive part of Krakow’s skyline. At the back of the church, there is a monastery for the monks of the Franciscan order of Krakow.

History

The first Saint Bernard’s church was built in the 15th century and it was rebuilt in the 17th century. The land that the church is built on was donated by Oleśnicki and his brother Jan of Oleśniczka to Saint Giovanni da Capistrano. Saint John of Capistrano founded Saint Bernard’s church in 1453.  Saint Bernard’s church was built as a house of worship, and for people to confess and atone for their sins. The church was also built as a place for people to learn, and also live their lives according to the teachings of Saint Francis of Assisi. The architect of the current baroque church was Krzysztof Mierzewski. Unfortunately, we don’t know who built the previous Gothic church. Did you know that Saint Bernard’s church had a cemetery? In the 19th century, the cemetery was destroyed due to renovations to the church. The cemetery used to be in the small square in front of the facade. The only thing that was not destroyed from this cemetery was the statue of God’s mother located on a column in the corner of Stradomska and Bernadyńska street.  The organs of the church were renovated not long ago.

Architecture

Saint Bernard’s church, as we see it today, is built in baroque style, but the original church was in gothic style. In the church, there are lots of mosaic’s with gilt frames around them. There are also windows made by Jozef Mehoffer, displaying scenes from the lives of the Saints. There are many pictures made by Franciszek Lekszycki made in the mid-17th century.  He tried to combine the styles of Rubens and van Dyck with the style of Polish artists of the time. These paintings can be found in different places in the church, and include “The Last Supper” and “Our Lady of the Snow”. The church was originally built out of wood and then rebuilt out of stone. Saint Bernard’s church used dark wood and the beautiful carvings were made by Mateusz Szeps. The facade has two spires that are on the top green. On the top of the spires there are crosses. In the middle of them is a pediment. On the top there is one more cross. Under the pediment and under the two tops of the spires are 12 niches that have a saint in them. On top of 7 niches there are pediments. The middle of the church has 5 niches that don’t have a pediment. At the top there are 2 niches, then it has 5 niches. It’s separated by an entablature. It is again separated by an entablature and again 5 more niches. The face of the church has a picture of a god.

Each of the carvings that are in  front of the building are for people and it is called (krakowski szlak swietych). In the middle of the facade there is a balcony and on this balcony there is a carving of mother of the god that is praying. The statues are separated with buttresses. The church is a domed building.Saint Bernard’s church has a geometric interior, featuring much gilt with, red, blue, and white colors. Some of the chapels and paintings were made in the 17th century. There is also a specific chapel dedicated to Saint Ann. Next to this is a painting called “The Dance of Death”. In this painting there  are a lot of dancing women, holding hands with skeletons. The painting represents heaven and hell. On the northern side of the church, there is also a chapel called “Blessed Szymon of Lipnica”. He was a priest at the Franciscan’s church and he was inspired by Saint Bernard’s church. After a couple of years, he decided that he would become a priest at Saint Bernard’s church. Szymon died because he was helping other people that were sick, and he died because he caught one of those illnesses and because of this there is a chapel that represents him helping people when they were very sick. Saint Bernard’s is one of the most beautiful churches in Krakow and therefore sometimes very crowded by tourists. In this church, during Christmas season you can see a moving crib on a platform.  If you would like to visit the church, there are free guides with headphones in different languages.

The facade of the Church of St. Bernard

Resources

Britannica, T. E. (2019, January 01). Saint John of Capistrano. Retrieved June 5, 2019, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-John-of-Capistrano
Church of St. Bernard of Siena, Krakow. (n.d.). Retrieved June 5, 2019, from https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g274772-d8370727-Reviews-Church_of_St_Bernard_of_Siena-Krakow_Lesser_Poland_Province_Southern_Poland.html
Church Of St. Bernard Of Sienna. (n.d.). Retrieved June 5, 2019, from http://www.krakow.pl/english/6302,artykul,church_of_st__bernard_of_sienna_.html
Britannica, T. E. (2019, January 01). Saint John of Capistrano. Retrieved June 5, 2019, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-John-of-Capistrano

Church of St. Bernard of Siena, Krakow. (n.d.). Retrieved June 5, 2019, from https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g274772-d8370727-Reviews-Church_of_St_Bernard_of_Siena-Krakow_Lesser_Poland_Province_Southern_Poland.html
 
Church Of St. Bernard Of Sienna. (n.d.). Retrieved June 5, 2019, from http://www.krakow.pl/english/6302,artykul,church_of_st__bernard_of_sienna_.html
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