Holy Relics Chapel, Tarnów Cathedral
The Tarnów Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary has been very closely linked to the history of the city since its foundation. It was a parish church at first, became a collegiate church in 1400 and a cathedral when the Tarnów diocese was established in 1786. It received the honorary title of a minor basilica in 1972 by bull of Pope Paul VI. As of 2006, the Cathedral has borne the name of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sorrows. The church kept growing larger as its importance grew. The oldest part, erected most likely immediately after the establishment of the city, is currently the main nave. Refurbishments came in the 19th century. The first one involved combining side chapels into a single file both on the northern and on the southern sides. The church acquired three naves as a result. The current appearance came about during the second refurbishment towards the end of the 19th century. It involved extending the chancel and raising the tower to its present height. All of it was done in the neo-Gothic style fashionable at the time. The interior can be accessed from Cathedral Square through the south vestibule. The vestibule features a monument commemorating the 2000 years of Christianity and historical epitaphs, a 17th-century stoup, a stained glass window with the Adoration of the Three Kings from 1894 and a former 16th-century metal door placed on the back of the bronze door. The southern portal is an excellent work of art in the Gothic and Renaissance style, with elaborate ornamental and figural sculpture. It was made after 1511 and is modelled on a woodcut by Albrecht Dürer from the same year. Two coats of arms: Leliwa and Szternberg, commemorate grandparents of Hetman Jan Tarnowski (1488–1561), i.e., Jan of Tarnów and his wife Elżbieta of Šternberk in Moravia, founders of the Tarnów collegiate church. The nave of the cathedral was created by merging a few older chapels. Fragments of the Gothic and Renaissance polychromes of 1514–1526 in the former chapel of Our Lady of the Scapular depict scenes related to Virgin Mary (Annunciation, Nativity of Jesus, Adoration of the Three Kings, Presentation in the Temple) and to the Passion (Captivity, Judgment of Caiaphas and Flagellation). This is also where the entrance to the crypt with the tin sarcophagi of Duke Janusz Ostrogski and his wife Zuzanna is located. On the west wall of the nave is a statue of Barbara Tarnowska, née Tęczyńska (d. 1521), the first wife of Hetman Jan Tarnowski, made by the Italian sculptor Giovanni Maria Padovano after 1536. It is a unique masterpiece of Renaissance tomb sculpture in Europe. The statue was made of sandstone with red marble used as well. It was founded by Hetman Tarnowski. The figure of the deceased Barbara is of particular interest to the historians. It is described as ‘the most beautiful Renaissance figural sculpture in Poland’ or even ‘one of the most beautiful female sculptures of the Renaissance in Europe’. The neo-Gothic choir site comes from 1897. Two stone figures on the balustrade were made by a Krakow sculptor Zygmunt Langman (1924). They depict St. Cecilia, a martyr from the first centuries, patroness of singing and church music, and Pope St. Gregory the Great, reformer of the chant called Gregorian after his name. The Neo-Baroque side altars come from the 19th century.