The Church of St. Francis of Assisi with Monastery of the Franciscan Order is a Roman Catholic religious complex. The Church dates back to the 13th century. Saint Maximilian Kolbe was a monk there in 1919, and led his first service at this church on Poland's return to sovereignty.
There is no consensus among historians about the church's founder. He was probably Duke Henry II the Pious (1196–1241), son of Prince Henry the Bearded (1165–1238) who resided in Kraków and also previously invited the Franciscans to Wrocław. His wife, Anna (daughter of the Bohemian King Premysl Otakar I), and especially her sister Agnes (Agnieszka) contributed as well. However, widely regarded as the founder is also Duke Bolesław V the Chaste with his wife St. Kinga, especially in the construction and reconstruction of the church and monastery after the devastation of the Mongol invasion in 1241.
The Church was one of the first tall brick-and-sandstone buildings in the city. The original 13th-century Gothic structure was consecrated before 1269, and expanded in 1260–70. Not much remains from that particular period other than the ribbed 13th-century vault. Presbytery was elongated beginning in 1401 with the three-sided apsis (pictured). The cross-shaped central part with nave arcades was added around 1420–36 (the original chancel was straight). The annexes gave the temple a shape of a Greek cross for the first time. The expansion was re-consecrated by Cardinal Zbigniew Oleśnicki in 1436. In spite of various calamities (1462, 1476, 1655), the Church of St. Francis of Assisi and the adjacent Monastery experienced the most destructive fire only in 1850. The written records of its consecration along with priceless artifacts were lost.
For the Franciscan Order in Poland the period of foreign partitions was deadly. By 1864, from over 90 Franciscan monasteries only 8 remained in the country including the one in Kraków. The situation slightly improved after the Austro-Prussian War. In 1866, Austria granted a degree of autonomy to Kraków after its own massive defeat. In 1895, the eastern part of the church received murals with floral motifs by the founder of Young Poland, Stanisław Wyspiański. Wyspiański was also the author of magnificent stained glass windows in the apse, manufactured at the Innsbruck foundry in 1899–1904. The re-consecration of the renovated church by Bishop of Kraków, Anatol Nowak, took place on 14 June 1908. It was promoted to the rank of Basilica Minor on 23 February 1920.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).