The Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Nicholas has been since its foundation part of the Cistercian monastery in Žďár nad Sázavou. The Cistercian monastery existed after 1250 thanks to magnate of Křižanov whose name was Přibyslav. Early history of the monastery was described in Cronica domus Sarensis by monk Jindřich Řezbář. The chronicle was written in Latin and it is part of the top middle-age literature. The church was elevated to the honour of a Minor basilica on January 5, 2009.
Historical and political situation brought together three very important people of our middle-age history. Those three were husbands of Přibyslav’s daughters. The husband of their daughter Eufemia – Boček of Zbraslav, finished the foundation of the monastery. After his death his brother-in-law, the husband of Eliška, Smil of Lichtenburk took care of the monastery. Přibyslav’s eldest daughter Zdislava left with Havel of Lemberk and she died far away – in Podještědí. She is one of the Czech saints.
The Cistercians with the leading authority of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux pointing towards monastic discipline founded monasteries in the places which were difficult to access since they wanted to come closer to God with their hard work. They chose a border forest between Moravia and Bohemia. The wall painting in the baptismal chapel shows the year 1462 – Pope Pius II allowing abbots of Žďár to use pontifical regalia. The church itself was founded on the life-giving spring and afterwards it was called Fons Beatae Mariae Virginis – the spring of Virgin Mary. Studniční chapel (the Well Chapel) was part of a cloister and the debris of garden of Eden show the period of prosperity and decay of this place. The statue of the Well Virgin Mary is very important for the monastery. It is to be seen on the side altar in southern aisle. This early Gothic masterpiece was brought by monks of Pomuk. They were running away from the Hussite fury.
After the year 1705 when Václav Vejmluva became a head of the religious communities came the time when there was an architectonic and artistic flourish of the monastery. The masterpiece of this period is the altar of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary whose concept was made by Jan Blažej Santini Aichel. The dominant of this is the dualistic picture of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. The author of this paiting is Michael Leopold Willmann. The decoration of the monastery was done by very talented Řehoř Theny. This sculptor is the author of the altar in the south chapel of Annuniation of the Virgin Mary (Zvěstování Panny Marie). This sculpture shows the moment when archangel Gabriel annunciated Virgin Mary that she would have a son. The light is falling onto Mary’s face and the repose urges the visitor to stay still for a while. A perfect example of Santini's creative inventiveness is a built-in music stand and Empire dominant organ in the transept of the church. This rare musical instrument comes from the workshop of Jan David Sieber.References:
The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.
The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.
The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.
The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.
Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.
Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.