Church of St. Adalberte

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Church of St. AdalberteThis secession Roman Catholic Church was built between 1904 and 1905 at the expense of the St. Boniface Society according to the project by architect Matěj Blecha in Karlín. At the start of the 20th century the capacity of the chapel inside the Libeňský Castle was no longer sufficient for the worshipers. The need for a greater liturgical sanctuary in Libeň was resolved by the off er from the St. Boniface Society of Emauzy in Prague, which in 1904 has made an off er to the religious administration to build a temporary Church of the Lord. Despite the lack of consent and obstacles, the St. Boniface Society started the construction of a church on land leased from the farmstead Košinka owned by Emanuela and Dr. Hugo Graba.

The preparation works commenced on October 3rd 1904. The main part of the construction was concluded just before the Easter holidays of 1905. The priest P. Václav Stejskal attended the building approval process and the building was declared to be a provisional arrangement on April 8th 1905. This arrangement was awarded until the year 1910, because part of the lot had a street designed on it according to the regulation proposal by Libeň. The following day the church was consecrated by the consecration Bishop František Krásl, according to estimates the consecration was attended by more than 10 thousand people. It was agreed that this new temple was to be dedicated to the beatified Anežka Premyslid. Since a request for permit was not sent to the Vatican on time, the Prague Archbishop Cardinal Lev Skrbenský of Hříště decided that the new temple is to be dedicated to St. Adalbert. This most likely occurred due to the fact that the St. Boniface Society was publishing a Bohemian periodical of the same name.

In the beginning, problems accompanied the provisional church. As soon as 1905 Libeň was hit with a large hail storm, which broke 22 large and 6 smaller glass windows. Water leaked through both towers into the church and caused much destruction, especially to the organs. Further detriment was brought on by the World War, on October 28th, 1916 the bells from the castle chapel, as well as the new church, were taken down as part of metal collection.

Following the abolition of the chapel on Pelc Tyrolka in 1935, the items partially damaged by fire were moved to Libeň for the needs of the St. Adalbert Church. The same year a choir was built and rods were installed over the center part of the aisle. During the repair of the castle chapel in 1939 the Holy Trinity Altar was brought into the St. Adalbert Church and the church roof was fixed. The repeatedly extended provisional character of the building in connection with the continuous hope in building a permanent Church of the Lord were the causes of neglected maintenance and the gradual dilapidation of the building. The Union for the construction of the Church of the Lord in Libeň paid only for the church’s bare essentials.

Church of St. AdalberteAt the end of the Second World War (March 25th 1945) the Anglo-American armies carried out an air raid over Prague and the strong bombing also struck the area of Košinka. The bombs dropped over the Sokol playground, and its adjacent park, have shattered the church’s windows. New religious administration of the Silesians in Kobylisy was established on December 1st, 1946 and the Cyril Ondra became first parish priest.

The hope of building a new church was not on the agenda even in the post war years and following 1948 it perished all together. The Union for the development of the Church of the Lord, established in 1885, was dissolved in 1951. Church of the St. Adalbert kept dilapidating and in 1947–1948 it was necessary to address vital repairs due to safety reasons. Financial strife was the reason why only minor repairs were performed. These included painting, the large window behind the altar being fitted with a metal mesh, the eternit roof being fixed and the area in front of the church entrance was groomed.

In May and June of 1967 the roof was repaired, the spires and gutters were painted and in May of 1970 the church received a new 15 thousand Kčs public address system and speakers were installed on the columns and even the pews. The entire cost was covered by an undisclosed donor to honor the memory of his passing mother. In July of 1972 a windstorm damaged the church’s roof and afterwards it was only emergency safeguarded against rain and not until a year later were the roofing and exterior stuccos repaired. In 1986–1988 there was a complete overhaul of the church’s exterior. However, the work was not performed in sufficient quality and the ensuing long term leakage damaged the original polychrome and decorative murals.

Prague City Hall during 1996–2001 has completely renovated the church at its own expense. This project included the construction of copper roof, installation of new wiring, restoration of interior wooden structures including revitalization of the original painted ornaments, renovation of interior murals, preservation of wooden elements and new paint on exterior walls. Even the main altar and the two side altars were restored. The restoration of the original polychrome and unique decorative murals, which were in a much deteriorated condition due to the long term leakage, was based only on the preserved fragments. Prague City Hall thereafter signed a 99 year free lease contract with the parish in Libeň.

Church of St. Adalbert is noteworthy due to its system of masoned vertical structures and wooden, complexly shaped roof trusses, where distinct wooden decorative and architectural elements were used. The roof of the spire has a shape of a four sided helmet with a tip and a poppy capsule at the top and from the bottom of the stairway it measures 23.7 meters. Each side wall contains three dormer-windows intruding into the bottom brickwork where side portal doors are placed. The interior arrangement of the temple’s area is triple vault with a 7.2 meter clearance.

The St. Adalbert Church in Libeň is a monument landmark of Prague 8 and is a one of a kind preserved church hall building. In 1987 the church was declared to be a cultural heritage and without a doubt it is among the most impressive early secession buildings in the Czech Republic.

Church of St. Adalberte Church of St. Adalberte
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