The Parish of Cerkno

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The following churches and objects belong to the Parish of Cerkno:

  • The parish Church of St. Anne
  • The cemetery Church of St. Bartholomew in Cerkno
  • The succursal Church of St. Andrew in Zakriž
  • The succursal Church of St. Joyce in Trebenče
  • The succursal Church of St. John the Baptist in Planina
  • The succursal Church of St. Cantianus in Reka
  • The succursal Church of the Holy Spirit in Labinje
  • The succursal Church of St. Paul’s Conversion in Straža
  • The Chapel of Holy Cross in the memory of victims of communism

The parish Church of St. Anne is located in the center of Cerkno and has beautiful frescoes on the front, which are the work of artist Maša Bersan Mašuk.

The Church of St. Anne in Cerkno

The main inscription in the parish Church of St. Anne says, “St. Anne, intercede for us.” The church is dedicated to Anne, mother of Mary, whose feast day is on 26 July. The meaning of Anne in Hebrew is “favor, grace, prayer”. Around the world she is the patroness of happy weddings and marriages and also the patroness of mothers and widows, working women, miners, servants, housewives, turners, goldsmiths, tailors, carvers, millers, sailors, rope makers, sock knitters, weavers. Women pray to her especially for the blessing of their children and a labor without complications. In Slovenia St. Anne was also the intercessor for a happy final hour, wherefore cemetery churches and chapels were dedicated to her.

The construction of the Church of St. Anne in Cerkno began in 1710 – the task was taken on by the baroque architect Gregor Maček from the village of Poljane above Škofja Loka. The church was modeled after the Ljubljana cathedral without the dome, and the facade is reminiscent of the Ursuline Church in Ljubljana. In 1717 the Eucharist was transferred from the old parish Church of St. Bartholomew to the new parish Church of St. Anne, where the first Holy Mass was also held. The construction of the church was finished in 1774. The roof of the church was damaged during bombing in WWII and was then renovated in 1948. The last major renovation of the church took place as part of an earthquake renovation (2003 – 2004).

The original frescoes on the front were assumed to be the work of Italian painter Giulio Quaglio. With the help of old photographs, they were repainted in 2003 by Maša Bersan Mašuk. The largest fresco in the upper part represents Mary’s Coronation (Assumption) and the four evangelists. Mary’s parents are depicted in the bigger central niche below her – St. Anne and St. Joachim with Mary as a child. In the left corner there is a fresco of a lacemaking pillow. The smaller niches in the same row contain the frescoes of St. Florian, St. Joseph, St. John the Baptist, and St. Bartholomew as seen from left to right. In the lower niches there are frescoes of St. Peter on the left and St. Paul on the right. Two of the aforementioned saints represent the chaplains who were killed on the Lajše hill in 1944 (St. Florian – Ladislav Piščanec, St. Bartholomew – Ludvik Sluga).

The main altar in the church is a wooden altar with a marble finish and sculptures and was made by local sculptor and carver Jakob Raspet with the exception of the statues in the niche behind the altar. On each side of the niche there are three columns with Corinthian capitals. In front of them are the statue of St. Sebastian on the left and the statue of St. Roch on the right – both in life size. The oil painting on the top of the altarpiece represents St. Peter Claver, the patron saint of slaves and ministry to African Americans among black people. There is a statue of St. Agnes with a sword in her hand and a lamb by her feet on the left side of the painting and a statue of St. Lucy on the right. Just like on the tabernacle, there is an angel on each side of the top end of the altarpiece. In the middle of the great niche behind the altar there is a statue of Virgin Mary with baby Jesus in her lap. There is a statue of St. Anne on her right side and a statue of St. Joseph on the left. According to oral tradition, the statues in the niche are supposed to be the work of Jakob Raspet’s student, Matej Dežela.

There are four side altars in the church. The upper right one is dedicated to St. Joseph and is a replica of the altar standing on the opposite side in marble. The altar painting from 1866 depicts the dying St. Joseph. There are two wooden gilded statues on the altar table – St. Aloysius on the left and St. Francis Xavier on the right. In front of the painting, between two angels with a candle holder, there is a simple tabernacle. This side altar is the work of Jakob Raspet and so is also the lower right wooden altar, which is also a replica of the marble altar standing on the opposite side. The altar painting depicts the stoning of St. Stephen and bears the year 1866. The upper left side altar of Our Lady of the Rosary, made in marble, was made by an unknown author. Above the altar table there are two stone statues – St. Anthony of Padua on the left and St. Teresa on the right. The niche behind the altar painting contains the statues of the Mother of God and infant Jesus standing separately. Both statues are taken out during May devotions. The statues were made by sculptor and carver Matevž Kokalj. The lower left side altar made of dark grey marble is dedicated to St. Florian.

The wooden pulpit and the Holy Sepulcher, which is set up for the Holy Week, were also both made by Raspet. In the center of the pulpit’s main area is a gilded relief frame with a depiction of the Christ’s Ascension: Christ stands in the middle, next to him is an angel holding a cross, and below there is a group of apostles. On the right side of Christ, there is a depiction of Virgin Mary. On the right there is another relief on the fence, which shows the 12-year-old Jesus among the teachers. The pulpit ends with a baldachin, above which there is a gilded statue of an angel with a trumpet.

The middle niches of the nave are filled by the confessionals made by Martin Mažgon, which are decorated by Raspet’s oval paintings. The left one depicts St. Anthony the Great and the right one St. Nicholas. There are two more oval paintings by Raspet (St. Peter and King David) to the left at the entrance to the church. Above the confessionals are the paintings of the most important Slovene baroque painter Fortunat Bergant, both from 1766. Above the left confessional there is a painting of St. Anthony of Padua. Next to the painting stands a statue of St. Barbara on the left and a statue of St. Catherine of Alexandria on the right. Above the right confessional there is a painting of bishop St. Wolfgang of Regensburg in clouds and next to it are the statues of St. Paul on the left and St. Peter on the right.

The paintings of Stations of Cross were painted by Kugler and the frames, which are stylistically shaped in similar manner as the frames of Bergant’s paintings, were made by Franc Peternelj.

The organ in the church has two manuals, one pedalboard, and 21 stops. This is an old organ, which was upgraded to a pneumatic system in 1930 and completely restored in 1991.

On the pilaster, above which is the place for the choir, there is a statue made of white marble. This is the last Slovene archbishop of Gorizia, Dr. Franz Borgia Sedej, who was born in Cerkno. Above the statue, a relief coat of arms of Sedej is cemented into the wall in the arch below the place for the choir.

One of the most precious artistic creations in the church is the altar painting of young Mary with her parents, which is assumed to be the work of the already mentioned Giulio Quaglio. Restored in 2007, it used to be an altar painting, but is now in the presbytery above the door, which leads to the sacristy. The painting depicts Virgin Mary as a girl at the top of a staircase with a youthful St. Anne below on the left and a slightly older St. Joachim on the right. Above the clouds, the painting shows God the Father with a group of playful little angels.

For 295 years, God the Father has thus been protecting the inhabitants of Cerkno in the parish church of Cerkno through the intercession of patron saint St. Anne.

The Church of St. Andrew in Zakriž

The first mention of the church in Zakriž goes back to 1515, but refers to the original church, which is believed to have stood elsewhere. This original location is supposed to have been (judging by field names) in Župnca, near the chapel below the village, or in Cerknovnca. Today, the Church of St. Andrew stands in the middle of the village. It was built around the year 1767. Oral tradition says that the wood for the church was driven from the village of Davča with several pairs of oxen and the oxen and the wagons were left in Zakriž as a gift. This is probably true, as the church is very richly decorated – all the statues and the rest of the ornaments are gilded.

The main altar is dedicated to St. Andrew. The altar is similar to the altar of St. Anne in Cerkno, except for being more modest. In the middle, behind the painting, there is a niche which is painted with gilded stars. In the niche stands a statue of St. Andrew clinging on to a cross with his right hand and holding a palm branch with his left. Over the red robe he is wearing a golden coat. This is the only statue made by the local sculptor, carver, and gilder Jakob Raspet, which is painted in a bright color and not gilded. Above the niche there is a medallion shaped like a sea shell adorned with floral decor, and bearing the inscription: “St. Andrew, intercede for us before God”. The altar niche is hidden by a painting of Raspet, which shows the torture of St. Andrew. Three hangmen are tying St. Andrew to the cross and two angels are floating above him. The painting can be moved, as is the case with many other altarpieces. The upper part of the altarpiece is decorated with a painting of the Holy Trinity. At its sides there are two vases with flowers and two sitting angels next to the vases. On each side of the tabernacle there are also statues of the apostles Peter and Paul.

The concept of the side altars is the same. The right one is dedicated to St. Anthony the Great and there is a painting of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the top end of the altarpiece. The left altar is dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua and there is a painting of the Heart of Mary on the top end. There is also a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes on the altar, this is where we hold May devotions. On both altars there are two statues of saints, who are unfortunately unknown to us. All the statues and decorations are gilded.

In the space for the choir in the back there is an organ from 1734, which was renovated in 2003. Unfortunately we do not have an organist, so our organ is sadly silent.

In Christmas time a nativity scene is set up in the church. The figures were made by Rafko Tratnik, a local from Zakriž. Last year he also made a stable, which can be assembled. Before that the stable used to be made out of old boards. The nativity scene is very ingenious and worth a look. The church was renovated after earthquake damage. All the villagers took part in the renovation and this year the protective layer on the lower part of the walls at the ground was finished as well. The altar is covered with beautiful bobbin lace cloths made by local women. Since a mass is often held in the church, the building is well aired and neatly maintained. The villagers of Zakriž are proud of their beautiful church.

Source: Rezka, ŽIVI VRELEC | nr.16 | christmas 2016, pages 11, 12