St Francis of Assisi’s church was initially built in the 13th century, and then expanded in the 15th century. Its original Gothic form was altered several times and it now bears many neo-Gothic marks. It is, however, best known for its magnificent Art Nouveau interior, particularly stained glass designed by Stanisław Wyspiański.
Next to the church there are monastery buildings grouped around two courtyards. They were constructed in the 14th and 15th centuries, and then reconstructed several times. The most authentic part of the church is the northern elevation of the transept, surviving almost intact in its 13th-century form.
The church was founded by Bolesław V the Chaste in the 13th century, after prince Henry II the Pious brought Franciscans from Prague in 1237. In the 15th century the church received its final Gothic form, with the nave adjoining the Passion of Christ Chapel. In 1850 the church and monastery were damaged by fire. The reconstruction and redecoration took several dozen years.
The church is a Gothic one-aisle building (with neo-Gothic parts) with a transept, presbytery closed on three sides and adjoining chapels. The presbytery and transept are decorated with polychrome and stained glass windows, completed according to the design by Stanisław Wyspiański.
In the aisle you may note late Baroque altars with twisted columns. In the presbytery there is a commemorative plaque in honour of the church’s founder, Duke Boleslaw the Chaste, made in 1871 by Walery Gadomski according to the design of Jan Matejko. Next to the entrance to the church is the Chapel of Blessed Salome built in the 15th century and later reconstructed in the 17th century. The altar holds a Baroque coffin with the relics of the Blessed, and the niche next to it contains the reliquary with bones of Boleslaw the Chaste.
Wyspiański designed not only the murals that cover the interior of the church, but also the marvellous stained glass windows. Most famous is the huge ‘Let it Be’, which is located in the western façade and shows God in the act of creation, radiating creative energy.