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The Church Under the Call of Saint Elizabeth

The Church Under the Call of Saint Elizabeth Little houses Jaś and Małgosia, standing in the north-western part of the market, seem even smaller compared to the giant standing behind them, the XIV-century saint Elizabeth of Hungary Gothic basilica, also called Elizabethan Parish church or from it's later function the Garrison Church, possessing the highest tower in Wroclaw — it is about 90 m high today, however when in XV century the building was finished, together with it's 50 meters helmet it had over 130 meters of height and it was not only the highest tower on Silesia, but one of the highest in Europe. It was supposed to fulfill the ambitions of Wroclaw's patriciate and rich townspeople, compeering in height with the Episcopal Cathedral of saint John.

This church was originally Catholic, however in 1525 it passed in the rules of Protestants. The legend says that a clever Protestant patrician, Heinrich von Rybisch had won him in cards from Erharda Scultetusa, the master of Crusaders from saint Matthias, risking the loss of the marvelous beauty of the gold chain. In four years after taking over the church by Protestants, the helmet - crooked from the beginning, too heavy, because weighing well over 25 tones - collapsed from the tower on the nearby tenement number 22. Catholics claimed that it was a punishment for taking their church. Protestants on the other hand announced that it was a miracle, because in the result of the building catastrophe only one kitten died, which was on top of the roof in that moment. It was told that people crossing by saw angels raising the declining part of the tower, what the bas-relief illustrates on the facade of the church.

Wonders multiplied around the saint Elisabeth's Parish church. One could once see a wooden crucifix, on which true human hair grew (allegedly) in the wayside shrine near the church, which burnt in 1848!

The rich townsmen considered as point of honor to buy the next elements of the equipment of the church, so it's interior decorations The Church Under the Call of Saint Elizabeth became more and more rich. Special attention should be paid to an unusual, 15 meters high, late-gothic sacramentary carved in stone, finished in 1455. However, once almost 47 mediaeval altars existed here. Acolytes, who lived in the nearby Jaś and Małgosia, looked after them. As time passed a huge, counting above 370 arts, collection of beautifully carved in epitaphs was collected. The Parish church could also be proud of it's richly adorned organs with 91 voices, made by Michaela and Benjamin Englers, creators of organs famous in the whole Europe. Unfortunately the organs were burnt in 1976, but the recordings of their sounds and pictures were saved, thanks to what one could begin an ambitious project of their reconstruction, which lasts till today.

If we are in a good shape and do not fear stairs, let's enter the scenic terrace on the tower and admire the old city from the bird's eye view. Kościół św. Elżbiety It is also good to pay the attention on the plates of the path leading from the market to the entry to the Parish church - the graves of 23 participants of a revolt of the municipal pleb in 1418 lie beneath it, who killed several councilors and the mayor. The path was arranged so that their graves were continually trampled by passers-by and their souls did not experience quiet after death. According to a legend, the spirit of a dishonest fabric saleswoman got up every night from this cemetery as a punishment for her frauds and from midnight to one o'clock she measured canvas in the nearby cloth halls. The ghost stopped intruding it's former stall, when the corpse of the dishonest woman were dig out and burnt. This legend was surely an inspiration for the "Danse macabre" ballad by Johan Wolfgang Goethe, who in 1790 spent two months in Wroclaw and lived near the saint Elisabeth church.



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