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Wtelno: church of St. Michael the Archangel

Date of construction: 1785-1787

The construction of the wooden altar required patience and talent – as it was a long and complicated process – and knowledge – because the altar had to possess compulsory elements. How then were altars created? What are their components?

Baptismal font is an incredibly important sacrum object for all the faithful. To emphasize its importance, sculptors gave it different shapes. The one in Wtelno is very decorative and full of symbolism.

Monuments Project effects

Wooden monuments
Wtelno: church of St. Michael the Archangel

Built almost 250 years ago, the altar in Wtelno represents the Baroque style. Its construction consisted of several stages. The most important was the acquisition of material: wood should have been be properly seasoned (after having been cut it had to lay for a few months, even years). The next stage was the removal of knots and the elimination of roughness. Then a mixture of adhesive-chalk or adhesive-casein was smeared over the smooth surface. Decorative elements were put on it and next everything as polychromed, i.e. painted. To highlight its greatness, the surface of the altar was painted in thin veining pattern. This decoration is called marbleisation because the veining is characteristic to marble. This procedure increased the value of the altar which looked as if it was made from the precious stone.

Mensa – panel with legs, often in a shape of a box or a sarcophagus, covered by three linen tablecloths which resemble white sheets which enveloped the body of Christ in the grave.

Sepulcrum – (from Latin – “grave”) place for relics enclosed in a metal box. In the case of wooden mensas, relics were put in portable, marble or alabaster altars.

Relics – when brought to the altar, relics should come from bones of at least two saints, at least one of whom should be a martyr.

Antepedium – decorative piece of the altar’s mensa covered with paintings or bas-reliefs (eg. with scenes from a patron saint’s life).

Tabernacle – richly decorated cabinet used for keeping of consecrated Hosts – the central point of a church, it refers to the Ark of Covenant (Latin tabernaculum – ‘tent’; it was in a tent where the Israelites kept the Ark).

Reredos – kind of a retable placed on an altar; they were usually paintings, sculptures or works made of gold, put in decorated frames which imitated architectural details.

Pinnacle decoration – the highest decorated part of an altar, put on its top.

God’s mercy manifests itself through baptism when we can be freed from the original sin. The reception of this sacrament takes place by the baptismal font which is an essential element of church’s furnishings. The one in Wtelno is distinguished from other fonts through its form. It is almost 250 year old, like the altar. It is in the shape of a goblet, which consists of a bowl with a cover, a pillar and a foundation. An open book with a cross is placed on the bowl. The font was additionally equipped with a backrest (a kind of a decorated wall), at the top of which there is a scene of Christ’s baptism.

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Gospel of St. Matthew

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Wtelno: church of St. Michael the Archangel

Useful information

Wtelno: church of St. Michael the Archangel


2 Kościelna Street, 86-011 Wtelno
tel.: 52 382 83 22


Sundays: 8.00 am, 10.00 am, 11.30 am

holy days of dispensation: 10.00 am, 6.00 pm

working days: 5.00 pm (winter), 6.00 pm (summer)

Indulgence date

St. Michael the Archangel’s day: September 29th

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