It is with meditation and pensiveness that we face the 12th century tample. For more than eight hundred years it has been a faithful servant of the Church and the Polish nation on Mazovian land. The church was built of ashlars and although it was reconstructed twice it maintained its original roman style, especially the vaults. The roman style prevails also thanks to original towers, walls, a portal, columns and a wide selection of wall paintings. These architectural features give the church in Czerwińsk a well-deserved and lasting position among the most precious historical monuments in Poland. In reply to the request of the bishop of Płock Bogdan Sikorski, the pope John Paul II gave the church the title of Smaller Basilica.
Visiting Smaller Basilica
As soon as you enter the basilica and then go in the direction of the south aisle you will see the picture of Jesus Christ Crucified. The painting was created by the abbot Mateusz Kraszewski, Jastrzębiec coat of arms (1759-1767). At the western side of the second column there is an altar of St Isidore the Farmer . In the altar there is a baroque picture of St Isidore, which comes from the 18th century. The Altar of St Anna is situated at the third column. On the painting you can see St Anna teaching Mary. It is an oil painting on canvas by Juliusz Zawadziński painted in 1849 copying the original by Murill. Above the altar there is the medallion of St Lucas the Evangelist. Further away there is the epitaph of priest Gruberski and a roman column which was partially revealed (1970). On the south wall, behind the roman side entry there is an early baroque plate made of black marble, it commemorates the latest reconstruction of the church which was conducted by abbot Mikołaj Szyszkowski. Further away there is an altar of John Bosco. Above the altar there is a medallion of St Gregory the Pope. On the right there is a white marble baptismal font from 1901. Then in front of you there is the former chapel of Jesus Christ Crucified. On the southern wall, at windows there are renaissance wall paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries. On the eastern (middle) wall there are roman wall paintings from the 13th century discovered by professor Karol Dąbrowski from Warsaw in 1951. They were revealed from under 12 other layers of wall paintings the so-called whitewashes. On the north wall there is a gothic painting of Pieta from 1425 and baroque wall paintings from the 17th century.
When you leave the chapel of Jesus Christ Crucified you go past the main aisle and go in the direction of the north aisle. Then you go down three marble steps to the Chapel of Our Lady Lachrymose where we can also see the hidden old fundamentals of the church. There is a roman portal in the north wall. Under the floor there are tombs of Canons Regular. As you leave the chapel, in the church on the north wall you can see the following pictures:
Alexander of Malonne, the bishop of Płock (1129-1156)
St Michael from the 18th century
St Anthony from the 19th century
Blessed Joseph from 1647
St Nicholas from the 19th century
St Augustine from the 18th century
As you go in the direction of the picture of God’s Mercy, over the altar you will see the medallion of St Ambrose. At the first column there is a baroque altar with a picture of St Norbert from the 17th century. Over the altar there is a medallion of St Lucas. Against the background of the second baroque column there is an altar of St Barbara. Over the altar there is a medallion of St John the Evangelist. Next to the column there is a picture St John Nepomuk from the 18th century. In the central aisle there is a historical pulpit from about 1600, a crypt (discovered in 1982) and a roman gallery.
In the presbytery you can admire arched vaults with lunettes painted by Drapiewski brothers and Idzikiewicz in 1913. At both sides of the presbytery there are 7-bay stalls with two rows of seats under a conopy from the 17th and the 18th centuries. Over the stalls there are six big oil paintings on canvas, they all picture Our Lady’s life: the Annunciation, the Offertory, the Wedding, the Immaculate Lady, the Assumption and the Coronation. In front of the stalls there are late baroque confessionals, they are from the 18th century.
There is also painted and gilded Czerwińsk gate, which most probably comes from half of the 17th century. Offerings were made here by kings, dukes, bishops, knights, townsmen and simple people. They were made by single people, families, religious brethren and whole cities. They are one of the oldest and most precious ones in Poland. There are 103 old offerings and a growing number of new ones. The main altar of abbot Szyszkowski foundation was transferred by the Vistula from Cracow about the year 1630. It is covered in wood. At its basis you can see the Annunciation of Our Lady, an oil painting on canvas from 1633. In the middle of the altar there is a shutter-picture painted by Władysław Wincze in 1936. In the centre of the painting you can see Our Lady with Jesus surrounded by angels, at the feet of Our Lady there is John Bosco and below you can see the panorama of monastery and the Vistula.
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