Church of the Holy Mary Magdalena in Chvalšiny

Chvalšiny, the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, foto : Petr Odložil

The parish church is situated approximately in the middle of the long rectangular square along the old road between Český Krumlov and Prachatice and is consecrated to St. Mary Magdalene. Thanks to excellent discoveries by the conservators in the 1990s during the revealing and restoring of the paintings in the church it was possible to learn much more about it and its history than what had been known before. The present church is already the second construction of this type in the community, because before this church there had been already another church consecrated to the same saint.

Chvalšiny, the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, the pulpit, foto : Petr Odložil Chvalšiny, the altar picture in the Virgin Mary_s shrine, foto : Petr Odložil

The present church was built in the Late Gothic style during 1487-1507, which is evidenced by several dates preserved in various places of the church nave. Some works were only finished by 1514. A large part of the church is the work of the famous Rožmberk building works and its architect Hans Götzinger. His name is provided for in the middle of the nave vault. There were made ordinary repairs in the church during the time. The restoration works led to the discovery of a very large wall painting above the Triumphant Arch which shows the Last Judgement. Its author was the master Jakub Pecka in 1514, as provided for at the painting. Also other wall paintings were revealed in the surroundings of the first vault coping stone in the nave, the shape of which reminds you of a thorn crown. In the vicinity of the coping stone you will find the family emblem of the lords of Rožmberk, their five-petal rose.

Chvalšiny, the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, a fresco in the presbytery, foto : Petr Odložil

The church nave features a combined reticulated and stellar vaulting of a pre-Hussite type, but it comes from a later date. The whole interior is very impressive and when you enter the church you will feel joy originating from its beauty. With the exceptions of small ordinary modifications at various times the nave has kept its original appearance. Short, mutually intersecting arch ribs in the nave vault form the pictures of hexagrams. Double grooved arch ribs are supported by engaged pillars which feature a rich zoning and meet in three open apex stones. Two of these stones are decorated with a typical thorn crown. The pillars at the church choir are decorated with a rose. Two high windows at the northern part of the nave do not have any tracery, another two windows situated on the southern side are three-part windows decorated with late Gothic traceries. On the supporting columns as well as in other places in the nave it is possible to find numerous stonecutter\s marks. The choir is supported by two walled columns and its second level established in 1846 stands on cast iron columns. The organ situated in the choir was built in 1672. The southern side of the church features a high portal saddle which is situated in the main entrance gate and decorated by rich profiles.

Chvalšiny, the church nave vault of the church of St. Mary Magdalene, foto : Petr Odložil Chvalšiny, the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, the church nave, foto : Petr Odložil

The portal has a pointed tympanum and flat header joist. In the tympanum tracery you can see a coat-ofarms with the illustration of cracknel as a symbol of the baker\s trade which was likely to take part in the construction of the church. On the left from the southern entrance gate you can see a low door leading to the cellar. It is characterised by a beautiful and rich door surround. The southern entrance gate to the church features rich articulated decoration and a dominating rose. It has also nice side obelisks. Hundreds of years ago it had served as an entrance gate to the original cemetery of the church, and in 1847 it was moved to its current place. The presbytery of the church is of an octagonal shape and is vaulted over with a reticulated vault, which is of a star design. In the vault above the altar you can see the year 1494 which used to serve as a starting point for the identification of the age of the church. The grooved ribs of the vault, as in the church nave, are supported by the deeply profiled engaged pillars reaching down to the pavement. In the central part they are stemmed by the eaves converging at the coping stones decorated by a rose. Coloured windows in the presbytery were installed in 1894 to the memory of the 400th anniversary of the church existence. The northern part of the presbytery contains a wall painting of the twelve apostles from some time around the year 1500. On the pulpit you can see the statues of Virgin Mary with the Christ Child and St. Dominicus as well as allegoric statues of the Faith, Hope and Love.

Chvalšiny, a part of the supporting pillar of the church of St. Mary Magdalene, foto : Petr Odložil

From the presbytery you can enter into the sacristy. The sacristy portal features a very rich door surround bearing the year 1489, two horseshoes and a five-petal rose on the shield. Above the presbytery you can see a little sacrament tower with a pyramidal roof dating back to 1887. In 1760 the Rosary Brotherhood had constructed at the northern part of the church a shrine consecrated to Virgin Mary. It is a very nice construction of a circular floor plan vaulted into a low cupola with a lantern. In the cupola you can see a fresco illustrating Virgin Mary as the guardian of both secular and spiritual estates. On the altar you will see a picture of Virgin Mary with the Christ Child to whom St. Dominicus and St. Catherine of Siena are making a bow. The walls contain frescos painted by friar Lukáš Plankl from the Golden Crown monastery, which illustrate the Holy Three Magi and the Escape of the Holy Family to Egypt. The wall paintings as well as other works of art in the shrine were restored in 1998. The cartouches situated on the walls illustrate the 15 secrets of the Rosary. The entrance into the shrine is decorated with pilasters. Above the entrance you can see the wall painting of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary situated in the tympanum while the cartouche contains an unidentified emblem.

Chvalšiny, the interior of the church of St. Mary Magdalene, foto : Petr Odložil

At present there are three altars in the church. The main altar in the presbytery reaches as far as to the vault and it was delivered to the church from Český Krumlov in 1688. The sculptor of the altar is woodcarver Martin Lindenmayer. In 1862 the old altar picture of St. Mary Magdalene was replaced by the new one painted by A. Lhota. Also the statues of St. Peter and St. Paul were replaced by the new ones (author E. Wessely). The upper part of the altar contains the pictures of the Crowning of Virgin Mary and St. Ann with Mary. Nearby the pictures, at their sides and above, you can see the statues of St. Joseph, St. Barbara, St. Catherine and St. Michael. The old statues of St. Peter and St. Paul stand at the wall. There were five pictures belonging to the altar which used to be changed in the various periods during the church year.

Chvalšiny, the Virgin Mary_s shrine at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, foto : Petr Odložil

Other altars:
At the gospel side of the nave you can see a small altar of St. Linhart while the epistle side contains an altar with a picture of the Virgin Mary\s Assumption. It is a very old picture but it has been repainted. Above it you can see a picture of the Holy Trinity, the statues of St. Sebastian and St. Rochus stand at the sides. The statues of St. Mary Magdalene and St. Barbara are situated in the upper part, the statue of St. Michael is situated above the altar. It used to be an altar of the weavers\ trade. The baptismal font comes from the end of the 17th century. The outdoor frontage of the building contains a bay window with two holes on three brackets. It bears the year 1507. The purpose of the bay window is not exactly known. It may have been used for the construction of the upper parts of the church. The northern part of the nave contains a low little tower with a clock, which was constructed in 1887. The church tower is a solid and relatively low construction. There had been several bells in the church before the First World War, but some of them were confiscated for war purposes and melted in an unknown place. There remained only two bells in the tower - the big one, to the honour of St. Mary Magdalene from the year 1762, and the smaller one cast by master Václav of Vodňany in 1472. It probably originates from the older church. This bell bears the relief of the Christ with the Virgin Mary and St. John.

Once there used to be a cemetery around the church, but later its area ceased to be sufficient for the needs of the community and the settlements incorporated in the same parish. The cemetery was surrounded by the enclosing wall which was pulled down in 1838. The current cemetery is situated behind the village on the left alongside the road leading to Prachatice.

Further information :
History of the village Chvalšiny
Important buildings in Chvalšiny
Museum of Schwarzenberk's channel in Chvalšiny
Červený Dvůr Castle
Schwarzenberg Navigational Canal
Josef Rosenauer
Chvalšiny - Literature

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