Scots, CC BY-SA 3.0 PL, via Wikimedia Commons

St. John of Nepomuk Church in Zwierzyniec: a pearl of Roztocze located on water

The Church of Saint John of Nepomuk, also known as the ‘church on the water’ or the ‘church on the island’, is a Roman Catholic branch church belonging to the parish of Our Lady Queen of Poland in Zwierzyniec. It is one of the most characteristic and picturesque monuments not only of Zwierzyniec, but of the entire Roztocze, attracting both worshippers and tourists from all over the country.

The small but charming temple was built between 1741 and 1747 on the island and founded by Tomasz Zamoyski, coat of arms Jelita, and his wife Teresa Michowska, coat of arms Rawicz. The church was consecrated in 1747. Originally it served as the Zamoyskis’ chapel, located within the palace buildings. Until the creation of the church of Our Lady Queen of Poland in Zwierzyniec, it served as a parish church. In the 1960s, the church underwent several significant renovations: in 1961 the roof was renewed, and in 1963-1964 a reinforced concrete bridge leading to the temple was built, which was restored to its historic appearance in 2014. Further restoration work continued in 1966.

Saint John of Nepomuk Church in Zwierzyniec, 1920s. Source: Zamojskie Museum

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The Church of St John of Nepomuk is a brick building, built of stone and brick, with a single nave, representing the Baroque style. The façade of the church is decorated with a triangular pediment with two cartouches containing the coats of arms of the founders – Jelita and Rawicz. The interior of the church is decorated with a polychrome painting by Łukasz Smuglewicz, a well-known Polish painter.

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Photo author: wojniz/, License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

The central element of the interior is the oak main altar, in which the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa is placed, and the image of St John of Nepomuk on the slider. To the right is the Chapel of Our Lady with a painting of the Coronation of Our Lady, attributed to Lukasz Smuglewicz, while to the left is the Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the music choir there is an organ with four voices, made in 1905 by the Biernacki company. In front of the church is a wooden bell tower.

Scots, CC BY-SA 3.0 EN, via Wikimedia Commons

The church on the island is a symbol of the martyrdom of St. John of Nepomuk, who died in the waters of the Vltava River on the orders of King Václav IV of Bohemia, refusing to reveal the secret of his confession. Every year at the end of May, during the indulgenced feast in honour of St. John of Nepomuk, a spectacular procession on boats takes place around the church. This is a unique event that attracts both the inhabitants of Zwierzyniec and tourists.


Read also: Architecture | Renovation | Monument | History | Sacral architecture | Interesting facts

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