Jackowski A. (red.), 1995, Zeszyt wielotematyczny, Peregrinus Cracoviensis, z.1.
Język publikacji: polski
"Peregrinus...Mundialis?... Polonus?... Cracoviensis?..."
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The Way of Pilgrimage - the Way of Salvation. Nicholas Wierzynek's Remorse for His Sins Shown on the Outside Walls of St. Mary's Church
Summary: The decorative stone figures in the presbytery of St. Mary's Church in Cracow are the greatest ensembles of Gothic architectonic sculpture in southern Poland. On the ex-terior, the sculpture composed of a group of eleven figures placed in the keystones of the window arcades, and higher, under the cornice, eighteen of the original twenty-two figure corbels under where there were once gargoyles - altogether more than fifty human and animal figures, mythical creations, and heads and masks. On the inside, there are still twelve baldachin canopy niches between the windows, placed on the window cornice, which were destined for the no longer suriving (partially reconstructed) figures of the Apostles. Władysław Łuszczkiewicz was the first to introduce the sculptures of the presbytery of St. Mary's Church to the literature some 120 years ago. The academic debate centred principally on the supposed founder, and on the iconographic programme. Nevertheless, the attempts made hitherto to decipher the significance of individual presentations were random and the suggestions as to the interpretation of the whole were too general. The purpose of this paper is to propose an interpretation of whole group of sculptures, though because of the destruction, the recognition of some figures is no longer possible, or in many cases is made difficult. The foundation of the presbytery has been attributed hypothetically to Nicholas Wierzynek the Elder, as expiation for the pledge he took in 1354 to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Analysis of the representation of the windows on the south side suggests than even if Wierzynek did not pay for the building of the whole Choir, he certainly did so for the decorative figures. Thanks to his generous foundation, Wierzynek symbolically made his pilgrimage, and countinues to make it every time we look at these sculptures at St. Mary's Church. Over the windows on the south side are the following sculptures: St. Nicolas - the Patron Saint of the founder, Wierzynek; St. Catherine - his wife's Patron Saint; and in the window between them St. Christopher - one of the Patron Saints of pilgrims. The founder himself (Wierzynek) is depicted in the form of a monkey in the last window. This is because the monkey, as 'similitudo hominis' personifies the imperfect, sinful man. The presentation of sinner protected by his patron, St. Nicholas, together with the other saints - St. Catherine and St. Christopher - forms a visual basic for the hypothesis of the expiatory character of Wierzynek's foundation . The figurative corbels under the cornice do not constitute a separate narrative, but are linked with the figures, in the individual windows. The personification of the sins, against which they fought during their lives, are presented over the heads of the Patron Saints. Over St. Nicholas: the woman on the lion represents Superbia; the famous Phyllis on Aristotle represents Luxuria. Over St. Catherine, there remains only one figure of a monk - certainly representing Invidia. The two women with crowns, one riding on a goat and the other on a ram, above St. Christopher are the personifications of Luxuria and Voluptas: the sins of Nicea and Aquilina, the two prostitutes converted by St. Christopher. Over the figure of the monkey, however, there is the figure of a seated man (the only figure extant) with unnaturally large ears, representing the spiritual disposal of the sinful founder to the Word of God. Wierzynek's pilgrimage is therefore seen in a wider context, as the way to surmount one's own sins through the examples of the Patron Saints. The sculptures on the south side of the wall, however, are only a part of larger composition, the centre of which is found on the walls of the apse. In the niche of the eastern window, there is a monumental head of Christ surrounded by adoring angels; in the north-east window - souls suffering in Purgatory; and in the south-east one - the Mother of God with the Infant Jesus surrounded by angels playing musical instruments. The figures on the corbels represent: above Christ - two virtues: Fides and Castitas (or Prudentia); above the Purgatory - most probably allegorical representation associated with death: the giving up of clothes and looking into the mirror; above the Mother of God - Adam and Eve - already redeemed and dressed in ´feast garments´. The Mother of God should be perceived here as the Gate to Heaven in opposition to Purgatory. This is a warning against individual responsibility for one's sins - Wierzynek's prayer before death. Wierzynek's road of pilgrimage on the south wall is juxtaposed to satanic images, as well as to figures of the persecuted and damned on the north wall. There is one figure, however, in the niche of the last window on the north wall which is neither Satan nor a damned soul. It is hunched over , naked dwarf stretching his mouth with his fingers. He represents Self-restraint, the overcoming of one's bad tendencies. In the context of the whole cycle, it is hope for sinners desiring to avoid damnation. The representations of the last bay in both windows: from the north - Self-restraint and from the south - the Monkey-sinner, create a transition from sin and evil by means of self-discipline and penance to salvation. This completes the entirety of the composition of the west side and is a warning to the living. Wierzynek's pilgrimage to the Holy Land is a road to salvation, and a preparation for the Last Judgement. The Apocalyptic Heavenly Jerusalem is seen in the spatial concept of the presbytery. The twelve niches with the figures of the Apostles in the interior correspond to the twelve foundations of the City on which the names of the Apostles of the Lamb were written, according to the vision of St. John, the Evangelist. The monumental stone 'aediculae´ on buttresses on the outside of the presbytery walls correspond to the twelve gates of Jerusalem. The programme of the figurative decorations is distincly individual and multilayer: the expiatory foundation, the penitential pilgrimage, the warning to the living, and the hope of salvation are depicted in the model of the City of God towering above Cracow.
Peregrinus Cracoviensis, 1995, z.1, s. 117-136.
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