Miechów. Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre
The Monastery of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre in Miechów was the location in Poland where the devotion to the Holy Sepulchre first developed. Beginning from 1530, a new four-wing Gothic-Renaissance monastery was built next to the mediaeval one. This is when the gallery and the central domed Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre were built. The construction team, operating also in other Polish cities (Kraków, Kraśnik, Kodeń), combined the characteristic traits of late Gothic masonry with elements of the new art being introduced at that time in Małopolska by Italian architects and builders. The symbolic Holy Sepulchre has been preserved inside the chapel, and impressive decoration presenting caissons with coats of arms, figures of saints, and other representations were discovered inside the dome.
• Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre
The Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre was built within the closed walls of the monastery. It is entered from the gallery through a stone Renaissance portal. The chapel was built on the plan of a square and covered with a lanterned dome. The transition from the square section of the walls into the round dome features corner squinches: an architectural feature that distinguishes the chapel structurally from the ones using the predominant form of arches and pendentives. The Sepulchre of the Lord standing inside assumed the form of a square stone building of a fairly small size, with two storeys divided by pilasters and covered in a full-bodied decoration. The entire construction is currently covered with a wooden baroque superstructure developed late in the 17th century and brought to Miechów from Kraków in 18th/19th century. The entrance to the burial chamber is situated in the front section, on the left-hand side. The chapel provides a powerful backdrop to the liturgies of Paschal Triduum.
Centuries have passed and the historic chapel has regained its original decoration: the Renaissance murals discovered in 2008, with figural, heraldic (coats of arms comprising those of Sigismund the Old, Queen Bona, and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre) and vegetable motifs, and imitation caissons with rosettes in the dome. It is highly probable that the colourful murals were painted by a Kraków artist Stanisław Samostrzelnik or members of his workshop, as suggested by the historical circumstances, style of painting, refinement of the form, and mastery of execution.