Few words about the village
Tarczek is one of the oldest villages in the region of the Świętokrzyskie Mountains. In the Middle Ages it was an important economic centre. It had been established in the place of barter (Pol. “tarżowanie”) between the people from the woods and the farmers, near another trading centre – Stary Tarczek (presently the village of Świętomarz).
The Church of St. Giles (Pol. św. Idzi) – Romanesque style and unique insides
What mostly distinguishes Tarczek, is the church from 1067, built by a Cracow bishop Lambert Zula. According to the records, it has been consecrated in 1072 by St. Stanislaw who was Zula’s successor. The church was built in a Romanesque style and until today it has almost entirely preserved its original shape. The temple is made of square blocks of freestone. Three narrow windows on the northern and one on the southern side have original shape, while the one in the back wall of the presbytery has been turned into an alcove with a figure of St. John the Baptist. In 1887 a ceiling from planks, reed and lime was added, the roof is now covered with shingles.
The founder of the temple was not mentioned in the church records, but the date of its erection could be deduced from a Latin inscription inside the church which, more or less, stated: “The temple, built in 1067 and severely damaged through centuries, was kindly ordered to be restored A.D. 1803 by the fortunately ruling, Most Illustrious Lord Francis II, the Holy Roman Emperor, on a humble request of Fr. Oszczędłowicz, the local parson.” Unfortunately, the sign was damaged during the church whitewashing in 1887.
In the 16th C. the Tarczek church was either thoroughly renovated or simply enlarged, because the inventory from 1611 mentions a consecration ceremony, performed in 1591 by bishop Paweł Dębski, which took place due to the contribution of parson Walenty Mrowicki. Father Walenty mentions there the cost of the church’s restoration, taken before the ceremony. The temple had three altars and all of them were consecrated at that time. The largest altar was built to the glory of St. Giles (Pol. św. Idzi) and St. Stanislaw, the second, southern one is devoted to St. Valentine, St. Nicholas and St. Adalbert (Pol. św.Wojciech), while the third altar depicts the nativity scenes of the Virgin Mary’s and St. Anna.
The church has also other, wooden altars. The biggest and most interesting of them contains a picture of the Częstochowa Mother of God, painted on a wooden board with chalk primer. On its left side there is a figure of the kneeling St. Joseph, behind him one can see a nobleman with three children who pray to the Infant Jesus. On the opposite side, next to the Virgin Mary, there is a woman with two children, probably the nobleman’s wife. The figures are accompanied by three angels, four shepherds, an ox and a donkey.
Inside, on the right, there is also a very old altar of St. Giles (Pol. św. Idzi), painted on a golden background. Unfortunately, the relic has been defaced and devastated. It is probably one of the parts of a former triptych altar. On the both sides of this altar there are the figures of St. Joseph and St. Anthony, above there is a depiction of St. Valentine. The central triptych is a medieval relic and depicts a scene of the coronation of the Mother of God. The upper part of the first wing presents Christ’s Fall under the Cross; on the other side there are two pictures of St. Giles standing on a riverbank with a cross in his hand, behind the river there is a monastery; the lower part of the picture depicts the martyrdom of St. Stanislaw. The second wing shows Scourging of the Christ and in the lower part there is Christ’s Deposition from the Cross; on the opposite there is Christ’s Baptism and, below it, two pictures of St. Nicholas: in his youth and in a bishop’s garment.
Other interesting objects are: a 19th-century bell-tower and four nature monuments – three 300-year lime and a 200-year poplar. The legend says that the trees have been planted by St. Stanislaw, the Cracow bishop.
Like in most of the Romanesque churches, St. Giles (Pol. św. Idzi) is the patron of the sanctuary, which is probably connected with the popularity of this saint and his cult at that time. The large altar in the centre of the temple was consecrated by bishop Smoliński in 1778.
When planning a trip through the most interesting sites of Świętokrzyskie, it is worth including the unique temple in Tarczek.