The Ways of St. James in Poland

The St. Lawrence's Deacon Church in Olesnica Mala

Saint Lawrence’s Deacon Church is one of the churches in Roman Catholic Saint Michael’s Parish of Jaworow in parishes’ area of Wiazow. Since 2005 rector of Parish has been the priest Adam Skalniak.

In Olesnica Mala, at the end of the XIIth century, prince of Silesia Bolesław I Wysoki (Boleslaw the Tall) ordered to build a ‘hunting’ castle with a chapel. Those days the surroundings were boggy forest area which was seldom visited by hunters. In that castle prince received distinguished guests. One of them was Bishop from Wroclaw Zyrosław II who in Olesnica Mala issued a document which concerned salary of the Joannits’ church in Lagiewniki.

In 1227 Olesnica Mala was devolved to the Templars. Within a few dozen years they established in devolved area many new places and extended their seat in Olesnica Mala. There were imported relics of Saint Jadwiga and relics of other saints to the monastic chapel. That chapel became an impressive monastic church.

Klemens V the Pope in 1312 dissolved the order of the Templars and all of their goods in 1314 gave to the Joannits. Maltese knights owned goods in Olesnica Mala till the time of church goods’ secularization in 1810. It was their the biggest and the richest property in Silesia.

Stone, covered with shingle monastic chapel was situated in place where now the main hall is and reached the edge of flower bed. The main altar devoted to Saint Lawrence was situated from the west side and the tower from the east side. The leader of order was able to listen to the mass from the window which came out at the church of his rooms.


The chapel’s walls were tilled from the inside with stone slabs. Above the nave was vault and above the chancel was ceiling of beams. In chapel’s basement were placed grave crypts where were buried the members of the order. The inhabitants of Olesnica Mala (in 1678 the village was mentioned as a small town which then had three gates, a hospital, an inn and a slaughterhouse) were praying in the second church, a small one which was situated in the centre of Olesnica Mala, in front of today’s bus shelter. Next to it there was a cemetery.

In 1642 at the end of thirty-year war, exactly on the eve of Saint Lawrence’s day, monastic complex was burned by Swedish army. Swedish army stole gold and silver equipment of the temple but also destroyed ‘portatyl’ with relics in main altar in order to make the temple’s reconstruction difficult.

In 1706 in the monastery broke up dangerous fire which destroyed the castle, the farm and a part of the village. A 400-year old chapel was damaged so badly that desisted from its reconstruction. They decided to move it to the south wing of the castle, also destroyed by the fire but built not long ago. That wing before the fire had had exterior corridors with arcades on second and third floors. It was possible to go to these corridors from the staircase situated in the clock tower. While adaptation to church the arcades were bricked up and placed there windows and corridors were converted into a sacristy, a side chapel (it is currently a funeral chapel) and a side choir. The building lasted about a year. Fitting the interior with the equipment lasted longer.

The Saint Lawrence’s branch church occupied south wing of the palace, former a monastery. The church is a building with one nave, covered with a cradle vault with telescopes. The church is built on map of rectangular with no marked off chancel. There are three rooms stuck to the nave from the north side: a sacristy, a funeral chapel and a vestibule to the side choir. Above the main entrance there is a special building called ‘empora’ with Godbox supported by a pillar. There are the main altar and two aisles inside decorated with acanthus leaves, a baroque pulpit, a wooden polychromous-plated figure of Saint Anthony’s and also Godbox and a recently renovated baptismal font.

In the main altar there are two paintings: the one in the centre shows Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, above there is a painting with Saint Lawrence. Between these paintings there is a cartouche with the Maltese cross – coat of arms of von Dittrichstein, an initiator of moving the chapel into new place. In altar’s finial there is a sculpture of Saint Michael’s the Archangel – the patron saint of the parish church in Jaworow.

In every of two side altars there are also two paintings. On the right, in north side, is shown a Holy Family and the Holy Trinity. Above it there is a painting which shows a young Saint John the Baptist. On the left is shown the Virgin Mary of Distress and Saint Helena. In front of the south altar stands a sculpture of the Virgin Mary with the Child. All paintings are of the technique of Johann Jacob Eybelwieser.

In the church’s wall by the door leading to the choir there is kept a former pillory stone – by that stone it used to punish people who violated commonly established moral standards. On the church square – former monastic cemetery – stands a figure of Saint Jan Nepomucen, moved there in 1843. This figure was standing earlier by the gate to the village, next to the bridge on the Gnojna river. Nearby the figure are lying two commemorative stones: a granite plate where are engraved names of  inhabitants of Olesnica Mala who were killed during the First World War and a marble gravestone of a Maltese knight von Lobkowitz. A few dozen meters from the church stands a building of a former presbytery.

Recently thanks to the priest Arkadiusz Wysokiński has been carried out for example a thorough renovation of the main altar. Before the altar’s renovation its structure was so damaged that it was imminent to collapse. Thanks to generosity of inhabitants of Olesnica Mala, the conservator from Wroclaw and other generous people the main altar was renovated and now looks really impressive. 11 May 2005 renovated altar was consecrated by the Wroclaw Archbishop Marian Gołębiewski in priests’ from our parishes’ area, invited guests’ and inhabitants’ of Olesnica Mala and neighbouring villages presence.

Thanks to the Priest Adam Skalniak's initative the side altars of the church have been renovated since beginning of 2007. In November 2007 the side altar of Saint Family was renewed completely. However in 2008 the side altar of Sorrowful Mother was renovated. 10 August 2009 renovated altars were consecrated by the Wroclaw Archbishop Marian Gołębiewski. There is also planned the renovation of the antique church ambo in the near future.

High Road

via_regia.jpg

Who's Online

We have 17 guests and no members online