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Kościół św. Leonarda

The Church of St. Leonard was built in 1141 on the ruins of an ancient pagan temple dedicated to Swiatowid. A stone totem pole was used to support the structure of church's altar. The building that was re-erected in the 15th century is nowadays considered to be a gem of wooden architecture. It is amongst the oldest and best preserved Gothic temples that have remained unaltered through the ages.

The interior holds valuable relics of church's rich past: murals, sculptures and pieces of decorative arts. The walls and ceiling are covered with paintings from different historical periods, from Gothic works dedicated to church's patron saint to Baroque genre scenes from 1711. Unique depiction of the Ten Commandments, full of expressive folk-art designs, adorn the choir loft. Three triptych altars of great artistic value have been recently relocated. These prime examples of Lesser Poland's panel painting have been thoroughly discussed in professional literature.

The main altar dedicated to church's patron St. Leonard was in made in a workshop in Krakow in the early 16th century. The middle panel of a side altar dated from the late 15th century, contains a depiction of the Adoration of the Child Jesus. The third triptych made around 1530 is dedicated to St. Nicholas. Amongst the medieval monuments particular mention may be made of the woodcarving of the St. Mary's Falling Asleep dated from the late 14th century.

After burglary that took place on the night of 4 July 1992, recovered triptychs were moved to the Diocesan Museum in Tarnow.

Unfortunately, the memorable flood of 1997 caused damage to many historical sites in Lipnica. On 9 July 1997, water level in Uszwica River dramatically increased. Finally, the river had overflown its banks and wave hit the west wall of the church with great power, what caused the collapse of the gate and columns supporting the arcade. Foundation was seriously weakened; muddy water flooded into the building and caused significant damage to the interior and its priceless art treasures. A cellar and Blessed Ledochowski family tomb were completely destroyed by flooding.

On 5 July 2003, the Church of St. Leonard was registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List as the pearl of medieval wooden architecture.

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