The History of Augustinian canony in Šternberk 1371-1784


       The Order of regular canons of St. Augustin brought into Bohemia by a Prague bishop Jan IV. from Dražice in the 30´s of the 14. century, penetrated in the second half of the same century also into Moravia. The canony of the Annunciation of Virgin Mary in Šternberk became the first Moravian foundation , established on the 4. of March 1371 by the then holder of Šternberk dominion, Albert II. from Šternberk,, The tombstone of Alberta II an archbishop in Magdeburg and counsellor of emperor Charles IV. The first fourteen friars, arriving from their motherly cloister in Roudnice nad Labem, led by their superior provost Wenceslas, at first settled on parsonage at the older town church of St. George (the first mention about the parish comes from 1296). After the construction of the new convent in the 80´s of the 14. century had been finished , the friars definitely moved into the new canony on the mild hilltop at the northern outskirts. There had been a Gothic two-aisle church of the Annunciation, to which on its southern part clung a quadrature and not very extensive convent buildings. In consequence of disagreement and problems with the transport of friars into the new convent, the canony as a matter of fact had been founded for the second time in 1384 by Peter from Šternberk.There were 25 canon members. Canonry assumed into rights Šternberk parish, a parish school and a hospital at the chapel of Purification of Virgin Mary in the suburbs of Šternberk.

    Except the canony in Šternberk, the order thanks to Beneš from Kravaře had been installed to Fulnek (1389), and with the contribution of Peter from Kravaře the last pre-hussite foundation of the order had been done in Prostějov (1391). On the turn of the 14 and 15 century in Moravia, the Augustinian canonry represented a new reformatively order concentrated on spiritual administration in towns. The representatives of the order had been up against the then church vices and tried to remedy the situation in pre-hussite church, as we can see in literature - there are for example a postil by an unknown Šternberk augustinian friar or The interpretation of psalms and kantiks written by a second Šternberk provost Bedřich.

    Hussite wars very heavily affected Šternberk canony, and similarly many other Moravian cloisters. Friars returned into the ruined cloister at the beginning of the 50´s of the 15 century and started with its gradual renovation and corrections of monasterial estates. Successful government of provost Nicholas Veleka was rewarded in 1489 with the right for his successors to use pontifical emblems (mitre, crutch, pontifical glove etc ..) in terms of monasterial divine service. The development of the cloister, which together with the canonies in Fulnek and Olomouc (here the canony came into being at the end of 15. century) joined the Lateran congregation at the beginning of the 16 century, stopped in 1538 with fire and a critical lack of friars. The last mentioned problem caused crisis in majority of Czech and Moravian cloisters in the post-hussite period. Also penetrating Protestantism led monasterial life into deep crisis. Provost Šalomoun revolted to heresy and ran away from an almost empty convent. His successor, postulated Bedřich Boříkovský, lived a dissolute life and put the cloister in debt. A similar situation was at the same time in remaining canonies in Fulnek and Olomouc.

    Not until a newly postulated provost Jan Rozenplut from Švarcenbach managed to bring the canony out of the worst decline, in spite of Lutheran atmosphere in Šternberk. Rozenplut belonged to the elite of the then Moravian church and the Czech catholic counter-reformation. His best-known preserved work was in 1601 published, first printed catholic hymn-book. At the time of denominational contentions among Catholics, Protestants and Czech brethren at the beginning of the 17. century, the hymn book represented an action of church in terms of proceeding re-catholicization. A chronic lack of novices in augustinian canonies made Olomouc bishop intervene into their situation.. He inducted new provosts, who were close to him. War events (1619 - 1650) affected heavily the total development of canony . Cloister suffered at Danish campaign and later at the time of Swedish occupation. After Swedish troop had left in the year 1650 there was a slow renewal of devastated canony.

    The last six successive provosts had the biggest meaning from the viewpoint of building development of the contemporary object of canony . Between the years 1718-1723 a bricklayer master Karel Antonin Reiny constructed the building of prelatura,, which was a house of baroque prelates in 18. century. Ten years later a Viennese theatre engineer and decorator Antonio Nicola Beduzzi designed and erected a summer house, which was a precious decoration of a new and extensive convent garden. Perhaps the most important for local canony had been prelate John Joseph Glätzl, a mastered builder and good manager of monasterial estates. First in years 1736-1740 he constructed according to the project of geometer Matyáš Wagner a garden wing of the new convent, where there was a stately summer refectory for 25 canons, decorated by an Olomouc painter Jan Kryštof Handke. Handke participated in decorating of the whole complex of convent buildings including a provost´s residence and a summer house, together with a sculptor Filip Sattler, from the beginning of the 3O´s of the 18 century. Sattler was substituted by another Olomouc sculptor Jan Kammereit, A statue of Christ the Saviour who decorated the interiors of rooms in the monastery and made a statue of Christ the Saviour at the western wing. The convent building had been reconstructed from 1745 to 1748, when the easter wing had been built up. As a result of the enlargement of the monastery, the town wall had to be put down partially. Provost Glätzl built and created also on monasterial estates. First, at the end of the 40´s of the 18. century, he built a new branch church kept by the augustinians in Štarnov, and constructed ( according to a project by Wagner ), a monasterial parish church in Výšovice, where he also built up a new summer residence in the centre of farming court. The reconstruction of monasterial complex in Šternberk had been completed with the construction of a new convent church, initiated in 1775 by a Šternberk native, provost Aurelius Jan Augustin, picture of face of the church according to proposal of harness architect František Antonin Grimm and finished in 1783, only a year before the church was abolished. In the church there was above all a rococo interior painting, that was the biggest and the last fresco work by a Prostejov painter František Antonin Sebastini. There is a lateral chapel of Virgin Mary the Helper built together with the new church. The chapel is a burial-place of the founders of the canony, Albert II. and Peter from Šternberk, and due to the interpretation of Sebastini ceiling fresco was a place of strong cult of Virgin Mary the Helper - the Protector of citizens from war and plague. The chief altar-piece  in the chapel is a baroque replica by Lucas Cranach senior, coming from the earlier convent church and partly made by painter Jan Kryštof Handke.


The Equipment of the church. The parish after the secularization of the Augustinian order up to 1972

    After the abolition of the Augustinian canony in September 1784 there remained a newly completed church together with a former building of provost´s residence kept by Church. The remaining convent buildings had been divided among four private proprietors. A stately flight of stairs had been built in the front of the church in 1784. The next year the main altar had been erected. On the 7 of May 1792 the Olomouc archbishop Antonín Teodor, earl of Colloredo, consecrated the church. The former provost´s residence was converted to parish building for parish priests and kooperators, the members of regular monastic community. The local parish priest Matouš Alois Bernarth (1786-1798), former regular canon, went on with internal equipment of the church, and at the same time a several pieces of canvas linens from the former cloister had been saved from successful auction and became part of the church estates . Let us mention a capacious canvas made by Jan Kryštof Handke - The Adoration of the Magi- created in the year 1746 for cloister refectory, or a set of set fourteen oval pictures of holy helpers created already in 1719. interior of the church The present chief altar-piece The Annunciation of our Lady in parish church, coming from the older convent church, had been made by an excellent baroque painter of the second half of the 17 century and a regular member of Olomouc augustinian canony, Antonín Martin Lublinsky. There was also a sculptor Ondřej Schweigl who worked on the interior church decoration at the turn of 18. and 19. century . He created four lateral altars - two stone reliefs (an altar of the Holy Cross and Last supper). and two altars dedicated to (St. Augustin and St. Jan Nepomucky.) Ondřej Schweigl made a pulpit and statues of the chief altar (depicting St. . Luke and the prophet Izaiah).

    One of spiritual managers of Šternberk parish was Jan Babora, an excellent expert and Professor of oriental languages and hermeneutical of The old and The new testament at the theological faculty of Olomouc lyceum , the author of German translation of The new testament and The preface to The old testament, both published at the beginning of 19. century. He had lived and worked in Šternberk from 1798 to 1810.

    Another parish priest Josef Ospald (1836-1853) had changed considerably the area of the parish and the church. He let the monasterial summer-house of provost Meixner tear down on parish gardens. The gardens had been reduced as well because of building of the imperial way (today´s Opavská street). In 1847 with the financial support of Šternberk citizens the tower church had been provided with a clock.

    After Ospald´s death, Jeroným Hampel (1854-1867) became a priest here. He used to be a superior of Olomouc seminary. The church had been supplied an organ. People loved their priest and transported his tombstone from an abolished town cemetery below the window of the parish building.

The old organ     In the 90´s of 19. century, thanks to the effort of the then parish priest Ferdinand Knirsch (1886-1898), Sebastini painting decoration of the church were under restoration and new organ by Karel Neusser from Nový Jičín had been constucted. Unfortunately, in 1931 the fire completely destroyd the organ and destructed also the fresco decoration of the church, which still has not been repaired.

    Dominic Willner (1932-1945) lived a moved life in his parish. He was a great specialist in town history and former canony and published many articles in a local periodical. After the WW2 had begun, he was persecuted for his national feelings and finally arrested in a concentration camp. The German speaking citizens had been transferred after the end of the war. Willner never returned to Šternberk His new place of work was an Austrian parish Dürnstein , where he died in 1971.

    Parish priest Josef Pospíšil ( 1946-1972 ) tried to build up the foundation of parish community out of newly arriving Czech inhabitants. This process was hard due to anti-church communist politics and insufficient local roots of the newly arriving people, and has borne its fruit in the last two decades.

Filip Hradil




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