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Reformed Franciscan Church
ul. Reformacka 4
The Reformed Franciscans arrived in Kraków in 1625. They settled in the district of Garbary, by the mouth of ul. Kapucyńska, in a monastery and church they received as a gift. Unfortunately, when facing the Swedish invasion of 1655, these were destroyed for strategic reasons. Faced with such a situation, a number of benefactors offered the monks plots lying next to the defence walls just within their perimeter. In these plots, the Castellan of Kamieniec Franciszek Szembek erected the church together with a monastery in 1666-1672. As the tradition of the Order requires, the buildings erected here were modest, and devoid of large façades and rich furnishings.
The baroque church of St Casimir has one nave, the chancel ending in a straight wall, and a towerless façade decorated with a triangular gable decorated with the figures of St Casimir, St Anthony, and St Peter of Alcantara situated in niches.
The lunetted barrel vaulting is decorated with polychrome murals painted by Aleksander Mroczkowski early in the 20th century. The altars date back to mid-18th century. One of them accommodates the venerated icon of Our Lady brought to the new church from the first one in Garbary. The portrait of the patron of the Church, St Casimir (died in 1484), is also worthy of note. He was the son of the royal couple: Casimir the Jagiellonian (Kazimierz Jagiellończyk) and Elizabeth of Austria (Elżbieta Rakuszanka). In the treasury of the monastery there is a precious figurine of Our Lady made of ivory around 1370: a rare example of French sculpture of this type.
Once a year, on 2nd November, the crypts of the Church are made available to visitors. Thanks to their specific, dry microclimate, the corpses of the church benefactors and monks have mummified. The bodies of the latter have been deposited here without coffins since 1667 – a great curiosity on a scale far wider than just the City of Kraków.
Situated on the other side of the street is the former cemetery with 14 stations of the Way of the Cross, decorated with paintings by Michał Stachowicz (1816).
The “bell for the dying”, suspended in 1750 on the wall of the monastery, is another feature of interest. Ringing it at the moment of the death of a close relative was believed to help the soul leave the body in peace.
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