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Sławianowo: church of St. Jacob the Apostle

Date of construction: 1806

Sławianowo is found on the Way of St. James – one of the most popular pilgrimage routs of the Middle Ahes. Who was St. James? Where does the route lead to?

St. Barbara is always presented with characteristic attributes which are connected with the last days of her life. There are a tower, a goblet and a sword among them. What is the story behind it?

In the wooden belfry next to the church hang bells which have a very interesting story. When were they made? What is their story?

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Wooden monuments
Sławianowo: church of St. Jacob the Apostle

The patron saint of the church is St. Jacob the Apostle whose image can be seen in the main altar. Jacob, also known as James the Greater, was summoned by Christ as one of the first apostles. His name means “to protect”. As a trusted disciple of Jesus, he was a witness of His transfiguration on the mount Tabor. He died in 44 AD by beheading with sword, without a trial in prison. He was the second martyr after St. Stephen.

In the 7th century the saint’s relics were brought from Jerusalem to Spain because, as legend has it, just after the descent of the Holy Spirit St. James traveled there. The relics were laid in the place which is now called Santiago de Compostella. Campus stellae means the field of the star because the relics are said to have disappeared and later found by a bishop who was led by a miraculous star in the 9th century. Santiago, on the other hand, means St. Jacob. In time, the place of his burial became a famous pilgrimage destination. The symbol of pilgrims is a shell which resembles an open hand that symbolizes an openness for good deeds.

The connection of St. James with shells stems from a medieval legend. After his death in Jerusalem, the saint’s body was laid on a ship without ores and it survived a 7-day voyage. When the ship reached the shores of Spanish Galicia a wedding was taking place there. The groom was sitting on a white horse which saw the boat and rushed into the sea. After a while the horse and the raider emerged from waves all covered in shells and the Apostle’s ship sailed on.

There is an extremely beautiful altar of St. Barbara in the church. The saint is presented in a long, ornamental dress which is carefully draped and decorated. On the side, in the painting’s copy a sliver dress of the saint is seen.

Barbara belongs to the group of Holy Helpers. She is the patron saint of hard-working people: miners, metallurgists, sailors, soldiers and stonemasons. She is considered to be a patron of good death.

Barbara is holding a sword and a palm in her hand – symbols of martyrdom.

In the background a tower can be seen where the saint was imprisoned. Despite her father’s pressures, she didn’t want to renounce Christian faith.

A goblet with a wafer can be seen in the picture as well. According to the legend, to Barbara’s hunger jail cell in the tower angels brought wafers so that she could eat.

Barbara was sentenced to death by beheading with a sword.

In Catholic churches the way of the cross is shown in paintings or sculptures usually put of the side walls of temples. In the church in Sławianowo the paintings were painted on a metal sheet put in wooden frames. Stations of the cross are not only a reconstruction of the events from the last days of Christ. Each of the stations has its own symbolic meaning and constitutes a basis of meditations. The tradition of the reconstruction of the way of the cross was born in Jerusalem (Via Dolorosa). The Franciscans popularized it in the Middle Ages when they showed it to the pilgrims and stopped by each of the stations depicting the story of Jesus’ death. The number of fourteen stations was determined in the 17th century.

Noteworthy is a wooden bell tower built in post and beam construction, situated in front of the church. Now there are three bells but earlier there were five. During the Second World War the bells form Sławinowo were taken by the Germans and probably remelted for ammunition. Only the smallest and the oldest one, dated to 1621, was left. Years later one of them was discovered in Germany. Thanks to the priest of the parish, the bell returned to Sławinowo after 63 years.

The bell which has been retrieved has a sign below the crown: “Sit nomen Domini benedictum me fecie Michael Wittwerk Gedani Anno 1715” – “Blessed be the name of the Lord – I was cast by Michał Wittwerk in Gdansk in 1715”.

SŁAWIANOWO kościół pw. św. Jakuba Apostoła

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Sławianowo: church of St. Jacob the Apostle

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Sławianowo: church of St. Jacob the Apostle


Sławianowo 3, 77-400 Złotów
tel.: 67 263 11 93


Indulgence date

The project is co-financed by European Union subsidy as a part of European Regional Development Fund