St. Erasmus's Roman Catholic Church and Parish in Barwałd Dolny

The parish in Barwałd is one of the oldest parishes in the Archdiocese of Cracow. It was first mentioned in historical documents in 1326. There are hardly any sources documenting the history of the parish between the 14th and the end of the 16th century. It can be assumed though that its foundation and development was inseparably connected with the medieval castle of Barwałd, which was erected in the middle of the 14th century on the nearby mountain Żar and ultimately destroyed in 1477.

The first church in Barwałd Dolny was founded most probably at the beginning of the 16th century on donation of the Komorowskis family. Initially, it was a wooden church dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary but due to the proximity of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, famous for its great celebrations of the Feast of the Assumption, the patron saint of the church was changed to St. Erasmus later on.

The church in its present shape was built in 1782 by the owner of the nearby villages - Jan Biberstein Starowieyski. His coat of arms can be seen in the wall-painting of the nave, on the right hand side. What remains of the original 16th century church is the tower. It is attached to the presbytery and not to the main nave from the other side, which makes it a very unique constructional solution. Equally unique is the usage of the lower part of the tower as the sacristy.

The most precious elements of the furnishings of the church are the late Gothic crucifix on the rood-beam, dating back to the first half of the 16th century and the image of Our Lady from the 16th century, visible in the side altar on the left. In the first wooden church, this painting used to be exposed in the main altar. All three altars in the church belong to baroque style. The side altars hold special mechanisms that enable the display of different paintings in the central part of each of them. The paintings that can be seen in the left side altar are the above-mentioned Gothic-Renaissance image of Our Lady from the 16th century (exposed most of the time) and the two remaining paintings are St. Nicholas (19th century) and St. Joseph (20th century). The upper part of this altar holds the baroque picture of The Family of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the right side altar, there are two pictures The Heart of Jesus (1887; exposed most of the time), and The Holy Trinity, painted in 1784. The painting in the upper part of this altar depicts St. Francis of Assisi receiving stigmata (18th century).
Among other interesting and valuable elements of the equipment of the church, there are the baroque babtismal font and the organ made in 1794 in J. Stankiewicz's workshop in Zator.

Above the main altar, there is an image of the patron saint of the church, St. Erasmus, painted in 1877. St. Erasmus, the bishop of Formia, lived at the end of the 3rd century. He died as a martyr around the year 305. He is believed to be the intercessor in all needs, especially in stomach aches, epidemics, and sea voyages. The feast of St. Erasmus is celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church on June 2nd and each year on Sunday following that day, a special Mass is celebrated and a church fair takes place.

The wall-painting of the nave and the presbytery is an original polychrome painted around 1850 and restored in the years 2003 - 2006. The polychrome in the vestibule of the church is new. It was made in 2007 and is based on the painting motives used in the presbytery and the nave, which allows it to make a coherent unity with the other parts of the church. The paintings on the ceilings show what follows: the one in the presbytery - the scene of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the one in the nave - the Transfiguration of our Lord and the one in the vestibule - symbolic images of the Four Evangelists: St. Matthew symbolized by an angel, St. Mark by a lion, St. Lukas by an ox and St. John by an eagle. In order to unify the style of the furnishings of the church, a new altar table, chairs, stalls, and a cross imitating baroque style have been bought and fitted into the presbytery recently.

The churchyard wall was built in the years 1863 - 1864. The oral tradition holds that stone from the ruins of the castle in Barwałd was used to raise it. The church had been surrounded by some nice old trees, however a few of them were cut and others trimmed in the last few years to prevent the danger of their falling and destroying the roof.

The church was renovated many times. At present, a constant renovation has been taking place for the last five years. It has been possible owing to the generous help of the parishioners, a private sponsor, and the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.

Thank you very much for your visit and a few minutes spent on personal reflection inside the church!

You can take a virtual look at our church and see some photos here:

Parafia św. Erazma BM w Barwałdzie Dolnym (pl)

Contact address:
Parafia Rzymskokatolicka
Św. Erazma BM
Barwałd Dolny 50
34-124 Klecza Górna