The ancient town of Nesvizh is located in a picturesque place on the bank of the Usha River. By modern standards, it is small, it has about 16 thousand people. Nesvizh Castle is called the main attraction. It really impresses with its interesting architecture and rich history. Nearby is the famous Farny Church of the Body of God, which can safely be called unique.
Secrets of the Body of God Church
Historically, the temple has become a hub of amazing facts and objects. It is full of allegories and, although well researched by historians, constantly presents new surprises. It is toured by one of the attendants. Only they can tell you about all the interesting facts about the temple.
The term “farcical” in the name means that the church does not belong to any order, but is a parish church. Its construction began in 1584 by order of Nicholas Radziwill, and after 9 years the building was completed, the temple was consecrated and opened its doors to parishioners. The architect, Giovanni Bernardoni, did not live to see the end of construction, and the dome was installed by Giuseppe Brisio, one of his pupils, so the overall style was maintained. One of the features of the farmer’s church is that it was the first outside of Rome to be built in the Baroque style. The prototype was the cathedral of Il Gesu.
St. Andrew Bobol held services in the church, and the farmer’s church in Nesvizh is the only surviving building of all those where he served. The icon created by Vitkovsky, a researcher of the life of the saint, reminds us of this fact with respect to classical canons.
The next unique object was The Last Supper, painted by the Radziwill court painters Xavier Geski and his son Jozef. It is considered one of the largest icons painted on canvas. The size of 4 by 8 meters is unique for such creations.
It is full of symbolic elements:
- pulled upwards instead of a horizontal composition;
- The figure of Judas with the pieces of silver on his knee is turned away from the table and the people gathered around it;
- only the silhouette of the traitor casts a shadow, indicating his deed;
- the image of the god-father is written out for the first time.
The frescoes are also by Geschi. They are unique in their own way, as the technique used, visually expanding the space and giving additional volume. On the columns they are made in a monochrome style, and the dome plays with all the colors and shades. Unfortunately, many of the images are tweaked and require professional restoration to regain their true appearance. Only a fragment of the original, dated 1750, located in the side altar behind the icon, has survived.
The organ, created by master Wacław Bernacki especially for the porcelain church in Nesvizh, has its own, almost detective story. The instrument is relatively small, but with clear, clear rich voices, which allowed it to be used to accompany services and concerts. Ksendz Kolosovsky managed to keep it from being melted down during the war. It was done in a very original way. He asked the uriadnik to draw up a paper, according to which the instrument had already been taken away, and the priest had removed the pipes and hidden them in his vegetable garden. After the war was over, they dug it out and put it back. To complete the organ, the façade is missing, which is planned to be made of wood and carved.
The next fact that surprises tourists is that the farmer’s church has two almost equal altars. At first the plan was to make the center altar of the Holy Cross in marble of 3 colors. It is installed near the entrance to the Radziwill crypt. But later the decision was changed and the leading role was given to the one under the “Last Supper” icon.
Another object full of hidden meaning is the bas-relief of Nicholas Radziwill “Orphans”. Made of sandstone, it amazes with its fine detailing. The ruler is depicted at a moment of prayer, wearing a cloak. Behind his back are the lats, as an illustration of the epitaph “in the face of death no one is a knight,” a statement attributed to Radziwill himself.
Nearby is a monument to the heir. Judging by the dates and the memorial inscription, he lived only 16 years and died of abdominal pain. Researchers suggest that the cause of death was an acute attack of appendicitis. On the wreath carved on the monument, the inconsolable father originally ordered the leaves to be knocked down as a symbol of the fragility and transience of life.
The next unique fact – in the farmer’s church is the burial vault of the Radziwill family. It became the third in Europe.
The temple commemorates several prominent people of the time.
- The ministers speak with reverence of Grzegorz Kolosowski, who served as rector of the church for more than 50 years and kept it from being burned down and looted. Thanks to his efforts, the church was always open to parishioners.
- Edward Voynilovich is known as the founder of the “Red” Church in Minsk. He also has a memorial plaque dedicated to him, which will soon be hung in the temple.
- Writer Vladislav Syrokoml, who worked in the Radziwill library and was married in the church, has also not been forgotten, installing a plaque with his picture in 1902.
Radziwill had to get permission from the Pope to create it, because it was not customary to leave the dead unburied in the ground. Now the tomb has 72 sarcophagi. They stand on paw feet, inspiring awe and respect for the country’s most famous lineage. There are epitaphs carved on the walls opposite each sarcophagus.
There are many legends about the crypt, which is natural for a place where burials were held for four centuries. The first bodies were embalmed, but then the secret was lost. Research was conducted in the crypt in the early 20th century, it was hasty and caused considerable damage to the burial grounds. The order was restored a few years ago by arranging the sarcophagi in the right order, covering them with a wire frame and sealing them. During the works were found a lot of historically valuable artifacts, which are planned to be exhibited in a separate show.
Nesvizh Church is active, which must be taken into account when planning a tour of this unique architectural and historical monument.
Video overview of the Church of the Body of God