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Carmelite Church (Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
ul. Karmelicka 19
When Pope Urban VI established a new holiday – the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – in 1395, King Ladislaus (Władysław) Jagiełło and Queen Jadwiga decided to honour his decision by building a new church dedicated to the Visitation, and entrusted it to the Carmelite Order previously unknown in Poland. It took a long time to build the church, as the construction continued until the 1470s. The Gothic building stood for approximately 200 years. As it was thoroughly destroyed during the Swedish Deluge of 1655, it was rebuilt in Baroque style from 1659 to 1679.
The towerless façade with a triangular pediment flanked by volutes and obelisks is a modest sister of Carmelite churches of the Roman model. A high altar from the end of the 17th century with a relief sculpture portraying the visitation of St Elizabeth graces the end of the chancel. The baroque stalls with scenes from the history of the Carmelite Order painted by Antoni Konikiewicz in 1752 are worthy of note.
There are two chapels adjacent to the church on the south side that were completed in the 1640s: the chapels of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal with the venerated painting of the Madonna, and of Our Lady of Piasek. The latter is home to a classicist altar from the 1780s and a fresco of the Madonna with Infant Jesus, the so-called Our Lady of Piasek. It was painted around the year 1500 and initially adorned an outer wall of the church. Its veneration began early in the 16th century, and was respected by both simple folk and monarchs. Queen Bona is believed to have come here regularly to pray. Going to relieve the siege of Vienna, King John III Sobieski entreated Our Lady of Piasek for help.
An interesting curio is a stone block with a footprint situated outside the church in Garbarska Street. This is the so-called “little foot of Queen Jadwiga” which is linked to the legend of the Queen’s visit to the site, and the generous support she offered one of the stonemasons.
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