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(June 18-22, 2009)

Arie P. de Ruiter

Time, Lack of

Leszek Cuper

St. Anthony's Chapel, Wieliczka Salt Mine

Wieliczka, Poland

June 18, 2009

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© 2009 Leszek Cuper, All Rights Reserved.

St. Anthony's Chapel was made in the years 1690-1710 in the Baroque style. It is the oldest of the preserved underground chapels. The first service was said there in 1698. Because of the ongoing process of leaching (dissolving) of the salt interior, It was necessary to continue restoration works in later periods. The most recent conservation works took place in the 1960s and 1970s. The portal and the steps leading to the Chapel were replaced again, as well as parts of the columns and sculptures of the Saints in the anteroom. In 1961 the access to the Daniłowicz Shaft was surrounded with a wall made of salt blocks, which cut off the stream of moist air to the chapel interior. A new entrance, decorated with a salt portal, was made from the Janowice Chamber.

The chapel interior is divided into the presbytery, nave and anteroom, where the rock-salt sculptures, altars and pulpit are displayed. It was dedicated to St. Anthony, the patron saint of the searchers and ore miners. In the High Altar are the figures of Christ Crucified, Madonna and Child, and St. Anthony. In the side niches, among columns, are the figures of St. Stanislaus of Szczepanów and St. Clement. In the presbytery are the sculptures of King August II and a Passion scene, much obliterated. In a similar condition are two altars on both sides of the nave. One of them was dedicated to St. Peter of Alcantara, the other to St. Casimir.

The anteroom, which was the place for the miners, was separated from the presbytery and nave with an arcade and a balustrade. It contains the freestanding figures of SS. Francis, Dominic, Paul and Peter, as well as the pulpit carved in rock-salt.

In spite of conservation works, architectural details and sculptures become gradually obliterated.

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