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  • Day13

    Our Lady on the Sand (Wroclaw)

    September 20, 2019 in Poland ⋅ ⛅ 59 °F

    Sand Islet took its name after the church from this place which patroness was Saint Mary on the Sand. The Latin name Sancta Maria in Arena is connected with a Roman church built on the site of an earlier circus. In the Middle Ages the Polish version of the name came into use. In 1149 a monastery of Augustinians, was established here. Equipped by its generous founders, the monastery was one of the wealthiest in Wrocław. The original temple was erected here before 1148 on the initiative of Maria Włostowicowa and her son Świętosław. The brick Gothic church started to be constructed in 1334 under the supervision of Master Builder Peschel.

    In the 15th and 16th centuries, the church continued to be expanded. In 1632, during the Thirty Year's War, the church was looted by Swedish troops. The new monastery was built in stages between 1709 and 1802 on the site of the mediaeval one. During the Seven Year's War the Prussian government used the church as an ammunition depot. In 1810 the Prussian authorities secularized the monastery. The church, however, remained in the hands of the Catholic Church.

    In 1944 Hitler declared the city of Breslau a fortress. During the subsequent Soviet siege of the city the general command of the city was headquartered in the evacuated church and monastery. As a result, the building sustained heavy damange, and the entire Baroque interior of the church burned to ash, including paintings by Michael Willmann, a large organ and a pulpit by Franz Joseph Mangoldt.

    The reconstruction returned the church to its original, severe Gothic architecture, as the Baroque fittings of the 17th century were considered too German by the Communist government. Most of the interior fixtures of the church were taken from other destroyed churches and from the Archdiocesan Museum. New stained glass windows were created by the Warsaw-based artist Teresa Reklawska in 1968. The 16th-century Victory Madonna in the church was a gift from the city of Mariampol in the Ukraine and was the first piece installed in the reconstructed church.
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