The most important baroque monument in northern Bohemia invites you to the mysterious catacombs and the tomb of the saint

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From the turret above the dome to the underground, the most important Baroque monument in northern Bohemia was transformed in the past two years. The temple in Jablonné in Podještědí in Liberecko underwent extensive reconstruction for more than 62 million crowns. He is so ready for this year’s pilgrimage season.

“The basilica is breathtaking especially with its beautiful baroque form, it is a building that is completely unique in the entire region. It was built in a dynamic baroque style, which is very long-winded,” explains historian Jan Rucz.

The adjacent Dominican monastery was founded here already in the 13th century, and at the beginning of the 18th century, the basilica itself was added to it, which today towers majestically over the city. “Its author was the famous Viennese architect Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt, who became famous, for example, for the construction of the Vienna Belvedere,” adds the historian. However, even in the aforementioned Vienna or Prague, the Austrian architect would not be ashamed of this building.

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“It was built as a monument to the Berk family from Dubé, František Berka from Dubé, who was the first permanent diplomat in the history of the Habsburg Monarchy, is buried here. And it is above all the tomb of Saint Zdislava, who has been buried here since 1252,” explains Rucz.

Photo: News

The baroque basilica with the monastery is unmissable in the city.

“Zdislava was a saint who lived here for about ten years in the middle of the 13th century and during that short time, in addition to being the mother of four children, she helped all the poor and sick on this estate,” explains Pavel Maria Mayer, superior of the Dominican monastery in Jablonné and dean of the local parish.

They control the church from a mobile phone

The list of what was changed and restored in the richly decorated basilica during the reconstruction is long. Apart from the fact that the restorers uncovered the ancient marbling on the vertical pilasters (flat columns) and discovered the gilding in the presbytery, the biggest and most interesting advance has come in the technologies that now serve the temple.

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Photo: Stanislava Benešová, Novinky

The image of Saint Zdislava, who cared for the poor.

Believers, pilgrims and other tourists should not be surprised if they see a Dominican friar or nun with a mobile phone inside the nave. “The basilica got new electricity, lighting, sound and security, and we can control it remotely,” says Mayer, who is happy about the news.

While he is talking, the Dominican sister Roberta Markéta Ševčíková, standing nearby, squeezes the screen of her mobile phone with undisguised joy and demonstrates how the whole basilica lights up in the new lighting and how easy it is to turn off or change the lighting again.

Moved remains

Believers and tourists who return here will recognize that the mysterious and vast underground under the temple has also undergone significant changes.

“The entrance to the underground is repaired and the catacombs have a new brick floor. In a reverent and liturgical way, we also changed the arrangement in the catacombs and transferred the remains of Count Berka of Dubá, who financed the construction of the temple, to a new place even closer to the crypt of St. Zdislava. After all, that was his wish, to be buried as close as possible to her grave,” describes the dean of the parish.

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Photo: Stanislava Benešová, Novinky

Restored organ

A new audio-visual exposition plays out the game of lights and shadows underground, and you can also see the grave of a nameless boy, whom the locals call a tinkerer. A small orphan was inadvertently locked here in the 18th or 19th century, and before the catacombs were reopened, he died of hunger and thirst.

Five baroque statues of Dominican patrons, which were already in poor condition, also disappeared from the exterior facade of the temple, and a more suitable place was found for them inside the basilica. Their copies should replace them on the balustrade, but so far only the first of them has been raised, namely a copy of the statue of St. John the Baptist.

The pews in the main nave and the presbytery, almost the entire equipment of the sacristy, all the frescoes in the church and the organ were also restored. According to Mayer, the parish is still preparing for the second stage of repairs, which should include the renovation of four interior altars.

Practical information

  • The temple is open from Thursday to Saturday from 9 am to 12 pm and from 1 pm to 4 pm.
  • Group tours are possible by prior arrangement.
  • Tours run from May to September from Tuesday to Friday at 10 am and 2 pm, on Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm.
  • Entrance fee (monastery, basilica, crypt) costs 200 crowns, reduced to 100 crowns and family to 500 crowns.

A pilgrimage is about to take place

To the so-called minor basilica, which is an honorary title granted directly to important churches by the Pope – in the case of Jablonný, it was John Paul II. –, the first believers returned to Advent services at the end of last year after a two-year closure.

But now the temple is expecting the biggest onslaught. Pilgrims come here not only from the Czech Republic, but also from Poland and Germany. “The basilica will be solemnly opened on May 1st, you are cordially invited, and on May 25th there will be a solemn pilgrimage to St. Zdislava,” Miroslava Janičatová, director of the St. Ludmila association, which promotes domestic pilgrimage sites, enumerates.

Visitors will find an exhibition in front of the church called Pilgrimage to our Saints, which should inspire them to travel to other places associated with Czech patrons.

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The article is in Czech

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