The Hospital of the Holy Spirit
Once we have visited all the departments of the Muzeum Ziemi Bieckiej in Biecz, have looked into the beautiful parish church and the former synagogue located on the market square, let’s ask about the Hospital of the Holy Spirit, called today St. Jadwiga, the Queen Hospital for the Poor, from which the 16th-century Christ Crucified presented on our website comes.
Located in the south-eastern part of the Biecz hill, it is the oldest preserved hospital building in Poland. It was founded by Queen Jadwiga of Poland in 1395. Thanks to the preserved document drawn up on the 26th of July that year in Kraków, we know the exact date and details of its establishment. In this act, the queen agreed that the town councillors build a hospital dedicated to the Holy Spirit for the poor, sick and other unfortunate people from the town of Biecz. For the upkeep – i.e. financing and maintaining the hospital and treating the sick, Jadwiga freed 2 fields on the outskirts of the town, a grange in Libusza with 3 fish-ponds and half of the rent from the bathhouse in Biecz from taxes and levies. Successive rulers confirmed these privileges, further increasing the means of the hospital’s upkeep. Its name comes from the now non-existent church dedicated to the Holy Spirit, which was erected beside the hospital at the same time. During construction, the Queen donated grounds in the vicinity of the bottom gate, which constituted the remnant of the royal castle that was probably burned down during a fire in 1388.
The hospital still stands today, although it is difficult to recognize one of the best-equipped medieval hospitals in Poland in its current state. The church of the Holy Spirit, erected next to it at the same time, from which the original name of the hospital was derived, was demolished in the 18th century. Meanwhile, the historic building performed its functions related to treating and caring for people until 1949, when – according to the policy in force at that time – it was nationalized. In 1950, it was designated as a boarding house for the youth studying at the secondary school in Biecz. When a new edifice of the upper-secondary school in Biecz was erected, the old one was abandoned and began to fall into ruin. It was not until 2000 that Saint Jadwiga the Queen Foundation for the Hospital for the Poor in Biecz was founded with the Rzeszów diocese in order to save the forgotten monument.
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