Corpus Christi Church, Nesvizh

Corpus Christi Church, Nesvizh


Mickevich street

The Corpus Christi Church is an early Jesuit church and one of the oldest Baroque structures outside Italy, influencing the later architecture of Belarus, Poland and Lithuania. Commisioned by Mikolay "the Orphan" Radziwill and constructed in 1587-1593 by Gian Maria Bernardoni. The prototype of the church is the Roman Temple of Ile Jezu, built in 1584 by the architects Vignola and Porta. The church was built in a complex with a Jesuit collegium.
The temple represents a stone 3-nave cross-dome basilica with an extended apse, on the sides of which are 2-storey rectangular in plan sacristies, and 2 faceted chapels.The main facade is completed with a triangular pediment. The building is decorated with deep niches with sculptures of saints (Nicholas, Christopher, Francis and Xavier). On the main facade of the temple - an inscription in Latin: "I bow to your holy house in your fear."
The interior of the church has a magnificent decoration, the dome and vaults are painted with frescoes. The main altar of the church is decorated with the painting "The Last Supper" by artist Heskey. Art critics count more than 40 compositions among the murals of the church. They represent biblical stories, full of allegories. Among them: "The Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek", "Solomon and the Queen of Sheba", "Abraham leads Isaac to the immolation", "Holy Family", "Adoration of the Continents", "The Prophet of Isaiah", "The Blessing of Elijah Samuel", "The Return of the Prodigal Son ". Before the altar there is a fresco "Apotheosis of the Catholic Church". Above the entrance there is an organ, next to fresco paintings with images of saints who playing musical instruments.
Church is also decorated by sculptural works -  the altars of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary of marble, as well as several monuments of secular memorial plastics: monuments to the founder of the church Radziwill "the Orphan" and his children. In the shallow relief of the stone, an infant which lying with arms crossed on the lid of a coffin strewn with flowers is depicted. It is a monument to the first-born of "the Orphan", who died at the age of two. A large tombstone with a bust is placed in memory of another son of "the Orphan", who died at the age of 16 of plague in Bologna, where the young prince studied at the university.ТThe third embossed gravestone from sandstone was made after the death of "the Orphan". Here the founder of Nesvizh ordination is represented in the guise of a pilgrim praying against the background of knight armor. Below is an epitaph composed by "the Orphan", in which it is said that in the face of death no one is a knight.
The temple is the burial vault of the Radziwills.  In the cave under the church, in the crypt in the coffins lie the embalmed bodies of the Radziwills of many generations. "The Orphan" was the first who was buried here (in 1616).The Nesvizh burial vault of the Radziwills is the only one necropolis of the historical family in Eastern Europe. It deservedly put next to the famous crypt of the Habsburgs in Vienna and the pantheon of the Spanish monarchs in the castle complex of Escorial, near Madrid.
One of the attractions of the churchyard is the "Bulgarin's chapel" or "the killer's tower". It was created in the beginning of the XVIII century by the grandfather of the Russian writer Faddey Bulgarin - Skanderbek Bulgarin. There are opinions that he buried in it. The history of the tower tells us that Bulgarin killed his neighbor while quarrel with a gun and was verry sorry about it. According to the laws of the time, in accordance with the Lithuanian Statute, he had to pay the "virus" and gave to the family of killed neighbor a few villages. And after he built a chapel where he prayed for forgiveness of his sin alone, without food and water. And he paid for 350 years ahead because of annual ministration for murdured.

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