Sunday, July 21, 2013

Church of St. Francis of Assisi - Zagreb, Croatia

The Church of St. Francis of Assisi in Zagreb, Croatia was built in the 13th century as part of a Franciscan monastery. There is a legend that St. Francis visited Zagreb after returning from the east and lived as a guest of a wealthy widow, Catherine Galovic, and the widow later donated the property on which the Franciscan monastery and church were built. The church was originally Gothic, but after an 1880 earthquake, it was renovated in neo-Gothic style and a new steeple was added. This church is kind of like a geode, outside kind of plain, but inside full of amazing beauty. It is not on any of the tourist lists, but we stumbled across it looking for St. Mark's and other than the amazing roof of St. Mark's, I liked this church much more.  
St. Francis Church and the steeple added after the earthquake in 1880.
The Franciscan monastery is in yellow to the left. The church is to the right of it. The steeple rises out of the picture.
A crucifixion scene on the front of the church.
A closer look at the crucifixion. Two women at the feet of the crucified Jesus.
The backside of St. Francis and the main entrance. 
Close-up of a relief showing St. Francis receiving the stigmata. This is a subject in other medium inside the church.
Another relief. My guess is that it shows the hands of both Jesus (to the left) and St. Francis (to the right) with the wounds from the cross. 
Internally, St. Francis is considered one of the most beautiful Franciscan buildings in Central Europe. It is large, but has only one nave. 
From the back of the church, looking toward the main altar.
Looking toward the back of the church and the organ.
One of the very distinctive and very beautiful elements of the church is the cross-ribbed arched ceiling in deep blue with gold accents. 
The ceiling.
Closer view of the blue with gold accents.
A junction of ribs.
The main altar features a painting of St. Francis done by Celestin Medovic (1857 to 1920). 
The main altar with plastic greenery, in keeping with St. Francis and his love of nature.
The painting by Celestin Medovic.
Choir chairs.
The church is full of other paintings, many of them featuring St. Francis. Unfortunately, the lighting made it difficult to get decent pictures. 
St. Francis preaching to some fish.
St. Francis
A painting of St. Francis receiving the stigmata. 
The stained glass windows in the apses were made between 1960 and 1964 by Ivo Dulcic and for me, they are what really make the church. They are very modern, and apparently were so groundbreaking that the church authorities were not real happy with them at the time. I have read two different versions of what inspired them. One version is that they depict scenes from the "Canticle of the Sun." From what little I know, this version makes more sense to me. The other version is that they were inspired by the movie, "The Flowers of St. Francis," a 1950 film based on two early books on St. Francis which focus on some of the extravagant tales of the life of St. Francis and his followers. 
St. Francis receiving the stigmata - this time in stained glass.

Portion of stained glass showing various animals.
A closer view of panels from the same window.
My favorite window: it reminds me of Little Mermaid. Some individual panels from this window follow.
lobster (how many stained glass windows contain lobsters - not many)
skate or stingray
spider crab (or something similar)
various fish
more fish

single panel from the window above

panel from the window above
Franciscans meeting the Holy Family (this is probably not by Dulcic)

a panel from the above window

What an amazing collection of stained glass. Lined up inside the church, it is real eye candy.
Pattern inside the church.
Pattern inside the church.

1 comment:

  1. A very serendipitous find. I love the blue ceiling. It reminds me a bit of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal.