St. Nicholas’ Church in Gąsawa
Gąsawa went down in the history as a meeting place of the dukes of the Piast dynasty in 1227. The visitors to the village are delighted with the local wooden St. Nicholas’ Church – a masterpiece of sacral art. The exterior of the building is rather inconspicuous, but inside we can admire the stunning Baroque paintings.
The present church was built around 1625 by Canons Regular from Trzemeszno. However, it is known that the first parish was established at the turn of the 11 th century. The church is a shrine of a log frame structure and was built of larch wood.
Around 1850 the church was planned to be pulled down due to a poor technical condition, but the Prussian authorities did not allow it. The local community had enough money to renovate the building, but they could not afford the renovation of the wall paintings, therefore they were covered with reeds and plastered. They were forgotten for 150 years.
In the years 1939–45 the Nazis used the shrine as a grain warehouse, but in 1948 it was already fully renovated. The series of wall paintings, as the unique Gothic arrangement of the framework beams, was discovered only during the renovation of the roof and external walls which took place in the years 1998-99.
Although the interior design presents a range of styles – from the Late Gothic, through the Baroque, the Mannerism and the Classicism to the modern times – it is the unique series of Baroque wall paintings discovered at the end of the 20 th century that charms the visitors the most. In the small church they cover 700 m 2 of the surface. The paintings come from four different periods and their present form dates back to 18 th and 19 th century. The best preserved layer comes from the years 1705-06. Besides, there were also recognized two other layers from the 17 th century and one from the period when the Chapel of St. Anthony was built (1817). The paintings are a consistent and precise artistic composition. All the motives are of natural size and the presented characters have natural proportions, which makes an impression of participating in those scenes when entering the shrine.
As for the interior design, what draws the attention is the main altar from the Late Baroque with the miraculous picture of the Mother of God wearing a silver embossed dress, which comes from the first half of the 18 th century. Due to this painting the church was named the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation. It is the image of the patroness of Canons Regular. The painting has the Baroque features and probably was created in the second half of the 17 th century (in 1674 it was already in the church). The miraculous painting has a moveable curtain that presents the patron of the church – St. Nicholas. This painting in turn comes from the 19 th century. Marian devotions in Gąsawa, which used to be intense (as proved by the mentions in the ecclesiastical documents), are now only of local nature.
Another precious monument is also the Manneristic baptismal font from the beginning of the 17 th century which was earlier in the church at the Dominican monastery in Żnin. The oldest element of the church furnishings is the Late Gothic Group of Crucifixion from the first half of the 16 th century. It is also worth having a closer look at the Baroque side altars. On the right there is the Altar of the Holy Cross from the 17 th century with the sculptures of high artistic standard. The cylindrical Chapel of St. Anthony adjoins the nave.
Outside there is a bell tower from the turn of the 18 th century. It is wooden, has two levels and is covered with a tented roof. At the gate leading to the church there is a stone statue of the Mother of God which comes from 1866.