Corpus Christi Church, Nesvizh

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Corpus Christi Church
Касьцёл Божага Цела ў Нясьвіжы
Nyasvizh CorpusChristiChurch 001 5583.jpg
DenominationRoman Catholic Church
Religious instituteSociety of Jesus
Founder(s)Mikołaj Krzysztof "the Orphan" Radziwiłł
Architect(s)Giovanni Maria Bernardoni
Years built1584-1593

The Corpus Christi Church in Nesvizh, Belarus, is an early Jesuit church[1] and one of the oldest baroque structures outside Italy,[2] influencing the later architecture of Poland, Belarus and Lithuania. Commissioned by Prince Nicholas Radziwill and constructed in 1587-1593 by Gian Maria Bernardoni during the times of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth,[2] it contains tombs of powerful Radiziwiłł family members.

The church is included into the UNESCO World Heritage list.


The interior of the church

Construction and Architecture[edit]

The first wooden Corpus Christi church was built in 1510 by Petr Kishka who owned Nesvizh in the early XVI century. In 1555 Nikolai Cherniy Radziwiłł (lit. 'the Black') gave the church to the calvinists.[3]

The stone Corpus Christi church was founded by Mikołaj Krzysztof "the Orphan" Radziwiłł, who decided to return into Catholicism.[3] On August 19, 1584, he signed a document allowing the Society of Jesus stay in the city of Nesvizh.[4] The architect Giovanni Maria Bernardoni was invited to head the construction of the collegium and the church. He was inspired by the Church of the Gesù in Rome. However, he died in Krakow in 1605 and the dome of the Nesvizh church was completed by his apprentice Giuseppe Brisio. The nave is 17.8 m high and the dome is almost two times higher. The frescoes widely used compositions of Peter Paul Rubens. The first mass was chanted on November 1, 1953.[5][6]

The altar was painted by the court artist of the Radziwiłłs Ksavery Dominik Gesksky. He also restored the dome in 1752-1754. In 1747 Italian artist Maurizio Pedetti [it] built near the church a chapel for Thaddeus Bulgarin's grandfather.

During the World War II in 1944 the building was hit by a bomb, it destroyed the roof and started a fire. The church was restored after the war.[5]

The church's organ was created in XIX century by a master from Vilnius Vishnevsky. It survived the wars due to the efforts of its priest Grigoriy Kolosovsky and the organist Edvard Girdo. When in 1944 the retreating German troops took all the nonferrous metals and ordered to dismantle and transport the instrument to Germany, Kolosovsky managed to took it off the train and return to the church by bribing the train's accountant. Then Girdo buried the pipes into the ground and dug it only after the war's end.[7]

XXI Century[edit]

The last burial took place on June 8, 2000, when Antoniy Nikolay Radziwiłł's ashes were taken from London to the church's Radziwiłłs crypt.[3]

In 2010 the authorities started the church's restoration. The restorers discovered a piece of the bomb that hit the building in 1944. They also found out that after the war there was shortage of materials, and in order to save the church the locals installed cut telegraph poles instead of the destroyed rafters, this construction preserved the unique interiors up to the XXI century. Also in 2010 the restorers discovered Medieval paintings under layers of plaster. After some research it turned out that the whole interior of the church was fully covered with frescoes, almost 80 % are well-preserved.[5]

In 2018 the crypt was damaged by flooding.[8]

The restoration was planned to be finished in 2021.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Home".
  2. ^ a b Andrzej Piotrowski, Architecture of Thought. University of Minnesota Press, 2011, p.142-143, 297-298.
  3. ^ a b c "Фарный костел" [Corpus Christi Church, Nesvizh] (in Russian). Nesvizh district executive committee official site. 2019-02-17. Retrieved 2022-01-29.
  4. ^ Mariusz Karpowicz. Baroque in Poland. Arkady, 1991. P. 20.
  5. ^ a b c Belokhvostik, N. (2016-06-28). "Фарный костел в Несвиже скрывал уникальные фрески почти 150 лет" (in Russian). Komsomolskaya Pravda. Retrieved 2022-01-28.
  6. ^ Bazhenova 2010.
  7. ^ "Елизарьев рассказал подлинную историю спасения органа Несвижского фарного костела" [Story of Saving the Organ of Corpus Christi Church in Corpus Christi Church] (in Russian). Belarus Today. 2021-07-01. Retrieved 2022-01-29.
  8. ^ "Причина течи в крипте князей Радзивиллов в Несвиже устранена" [Flooding Stopped in Nesvizh Church] (in Russian). Belta. 2018-03-20. Retrieved 2022-01-29.
  9. ^ "Стало известно, когда закончится реставрация Фарного костела в Несвиже" [Nesvizh Church Restoration is Due 2021] (in Russian). Nesvizh News. 2020-07-24. Retrieved 2022-01-29.


External links[edit]

Media related to Church of the Corpus Christi in Niasviž at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 53°13′14.49″N 26°41′1.49″E / 53.2206917°N 26.6837472°E / 53.2206917; 26.6837472