Presbyterian Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary
Beginnings of the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary in Stary Bohumin, the oldest cultural monument in the territory of Bohumin, where in the13th century the Benedictines were its spiritual administrators, remain a mystery for its unpreserved historical records. Local monastic community included a provost and six other brothers of the Benedictine order from the home monastery placed in Týnec, Krakow, Poland. Probably the first wooden chapel stood there at the turn of the 12th and 13th century. A Gothic brick church was probably replaced in 1320 -1400.
After the death of Valentin - the last Prince of Přemyslovci from Ratiborz in 1521 and John - Prince of the Piast dynasty from Opole in 1523, Prince George of Hohenzollern of the Ansbach branch obtained the Bohumín estate into his possession. Soon it was given to his son Georg Friedrich Hohenzollern. Members of this family soon began instead of Catholicism to incline to Protestantism Augsburg Confession. Their descendants were Branibors electors who changed to Calvinism and the local population under the principle of "Whose country, those faith" was made to confess the faith of their new lords.
The church in Bohumin was taken from the Benedictines in 1530 and given to the care of the Augsburg Confession of Protestant pastors. Inscriptions placed on the walls of the church in Bohumin by the Benedictines were removed almost a hundred years later, on the basis of order by Prince Vaclav Adam from Cieszyn.
The only known Protestant pastor George Floderus from Frystat was mentioned in connection with Bohumin in 1620, he completed extensive Renaissance reconstruction of the church. The newly constructed church tower was given two bells with a high content of silver, made in the Bell workshop of Hans Knauff in Opava. The weight of this larger one was 1,200 kilograms and it had 124 centimeters in diameter and now can be found in Remscheinu, Germany. The smaller one of weight 650 kilograms and 103 centimeters in diameter is in Woppertal-Nachstebreck, Germany.
Gradual return to Catholicism occurred only since 1621 after the collision and defeat of a mercenary army of Johann Georg from Krnov, the son of Prince Joachim Friedrich of Brandenburg. Then on 22nd January, 1621 the Emperor Ferdinand II. finally dispossessed the rebellious Prince of Krnov of Bohumin and Bytom estate, and confirmed the ownership of Bohumín and Bytom to Prague banker Lazar II. Henckel Donnersmarck and Vösendorf, who was a confessing Protestant pietism.
The church of Bohumin, whose patronage was taken over by the Emperor himself, and the Protestants were withdrawn somewhere in the second half of 1629 and Bohumin was sold to Elijah Henckel. In the same year Jan Fridrichowski became the new local spiritual administrator.
But when the Orlovsky monastery was in a restitution given back to the Benedictines from Týnec in Krakow, in 1631 the Breslau Bishop Charles Ferdinand Waza allowed them to take over just released parish in Bohumin. This included the settlements in Bohumín, Dvorek, Gorzyce (PL), Chałupki (PL), Kopytov, Łaziska (PL), Olza (PL), Pudlov, Rudyszwałd (PL), Sunychl, Vrbice and Zabełków (PL). Nevertheless the economy background of the monastery, settlements such as Orlova, Lutyně, and Rychvald, weren’t returned back as well. The first abbot of Orlova located in Bohumin became Athanasius Stanislawski. However, he and his successors stayed mainly in the parental monastery and left their deputies to represent them in the church.
For the systematic neglect of their duties such as administrators of the local parish in Bohumin, in 1669 this parish was taken off their hands and onto a vacant position of a priest in Bohumin, until the arrival of the Franciscan Friars of the home monastery in Panewnikach, Poland, in 1993, were appointed diocesan priests. In 1668 the parishioners of surrounding communities such as Olza, Gorzyce and Łaziska built at their own expenses the next northern part of the church - the St. Jan Chapel. To change its dedication to the Chapel of St. Jan of Nepomuk became possible after the canonization of that saint, which took place on 19th March, 1729. Several years later, but no later than in 1688, the Chapel of Our Rosary Lady was built up to the southern part of the church. So the floor plan of the church gained for a short time a form of the Latin cross. Into its present form the chapel was rebuilt in 1721. Under the floor of the northern St. Jan's Chapel, a crypt with an area about 20 m2 was established at the expenses of the former estate owners of Bohumin, and burials were held there until the second half of the 18th century. Tombstones of buried clericals and nobles, located in the floor of the chapel, were allegedly covered by the new pavement in 1900. At the night from 14th to 15th April, 1779 the local church was robbed by an unknown band of thieves because of this, nothing valuable was left there. Then the caused damage was estimated at the incredible sum of 1968 quid.
Perhaps the greatest damage of the Church was caused on 22nd August, 1850, when lightning struck the church tower so badly that subsequent fire damaged not only the tower made from shingles, but most of the roof-frame. Falling beams penetrated the vault of the nave. Concerning the church inventory only a small part was saved. Not till 1853 repairs of the roof and arches of the nave were completed. The original Gothic cross vault was replaced by a barrel vault with frescoes, it means that the original three-naves church turned into just one-nave type. By reducing the height of the new vault nave with a few yards, two original Gothic tracery windows were preserved in the attic of the church. Reconstruction of the tower, which had lost onion shape dome with a lantern and got a pyramidal roof, was not completed until 1854.
The church acquired its current appearance during the extensive renovation in 1910 -1911, which was realized due to command of imperial commission for art and historical monuments. All kind of the new-renaissance furniture was manufactured by c.k. Art Wood School in Valasske Mezirici at the turn of the 19th and 20th century. Only the organ originates from the workshop of brothers Riegers in Krnov (opus 723 of 1899).
During the First World War on 17th December, 1917 two small bells purchased by Valentin Joseph Alexander and copper conductor wire were confiscated for war purposes. Nevertheless, the church was much more damaged in the first two post-war years. During the Second World War, when the bells (two from 1620 and one from 1921) together with the other copper and brass things such as candlesticks and altar bells were confiscated for military purposes, the church was seriously damaged by several grenades that fell near by. War damage reached 42 145 crowns.
Thanks to the coronation of the romantic image of the Virgin Mary Rosary-Starobohumínske by the Bishop Frantisek Vaclav Lobkowicz from Opavian –Ostravian diocese, was executed on 7th October, 2004, the parish Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary in Stary Bohumin gained back its status of the popular pilgrimage site.
Published / updated: 1.6.2006
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