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The parish church "Exaltation of the Holy Cross" in Doubravník

The oldest reference to Doubravník is uncertain, there is a reference to it in a document from 1208 whose authenticity, however, is questionable.

The first validated reference to Doubravník is from around 1230 when Stephen of Medlov, the first known predecessor of the Lords of Pernštejn, founded the first nunnery in Doubravník, however there are disputes over whether the nunnery was of Premonstrate or Augustinian order. In the monastery premises there was a church of St. Cross and a chapel of St. Francis.

The beautiful building that you see today is the third church in the town of Doubravník. In 1535 John of Pernštejn started its construction, thus fulfilling the wish of his father, William of Pernštejn. The Lords of Pernštejn intended to build their burial site in the church. The building wasn't finished until 1557, but by 1548 it was already being used as the main family tomb. The church was consecrated by a bishop from Olomouc, Stanislaus Pavlovský in 1583.

The church was built in the late Gothic style with Renaissance and Baroque elements. Stone masons used marble from Nedvědice for its construction, their activity is witnessed by signs carved in the marble columns. There were about 93 different types found and recognized, which is evidence of the great number of workers or work groups involved in the building's construction. Similar signs can be seen in the church of St. Jacob in Brno or in St. Stephen’s cathedral in Vienna. The church altars are in Baroque style, the tribune, font, rails separating the presbytery from the main nave and the rails in the gallery are in the Renaissance style. The square relief in the marble tribune is decorated with four evangelists together with their attributes. In the fundament is a label with a stone masonry sign and the year 1541. What is special about the tribune is that the staircase is not fixed to the column but each stair is carved into the column to fit perfectly. The font dates back to 1601.

The church is consecrated to Elevation of St. Cross. This corresponds with the theme of the painting above the main altar "Finding of the Saint Cross", which shows the Empress Helen and a sick woman, who is cured after touching the cross which proves the authenticity of the Christ’s cross. The painting in the altar is the work of Francis Anthon Maulbertsch (1724-1796). The older, original canvas with the same theme is now in the front hall of the church and its author is the painter John Baptist Spiess.

The statues in the main altar are the work of Andreas Schweigl and depict St. Peter, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Veronica and St. Paul.

The altar-piece on the left hand side is the painting of St. Barbara painted by Ferdinand Licht and the statue of St. Catherine and most probably of St. Margaret (or Lucy) by Andreas Schweigl, in the extension piece is an angel carrying a goblet with Eucharist. On the right hand side is an altar with the painting called the Death of St. Joseph painted by the same painter and the statue of St. John of Nepomuk and very probably St. Francis, in the extension piece is the statue of God the Father with his throne in the sky. In the altar of Mary there is a painting of crowned Madonna of Brno, inserted in a case which is carried by two angels, then statues of St. Michael and St. Sebastian. There are two paintings in the presbytery – Leaving of St. Peter and Paul and Return from Egypt.

The Baroque organ is very valuable and rare. It was made in 1760 by an organ maker from Brno called John Výmola. Thanks to the fact that since its construction there has been very little work carried out on it, it has preserved its beautiful soft baroque sound. On several occasions the organ has been recorded for the radio. In 2007 the general repair of the organ was started and the work was given to organ maker and restorer, Dalibor Michek from Studénky near Jihlava.

The acoustics in the church are excellent and concerts, sometimes held here, are very popular with the public.

In the 1980s Doubravník church obtained an artistically valuable, carved wooden Way of the Calvary from the church in Mušov, which was emptied during the construction of Novomlýnské reservoirs. The cross above the side entrance of the church comes from the same church.

Most windows come from 1905 and were given as a gift by Count Wladimir Mittrowsky. Two painted windows at the main altar were given by Oswald Životský, the man who oversaw the construction of the railway line Tišnov – Nedvědice – Žďár nad Sázavou. The gift was the expression of his thanks to God for the successful completion of his work. The original windows made from transparent glass can only be found in the gallery.

Six marble tombstones can be seen in the presbytery. On the left is the marble tombstone of Catherine (†1448), the daughter of John of Pernštejn and the tombstone of Joan of Libice (†1515), the wife of William II. of Pernštejn. On the right are four tombstones – marble tombstone of John of Pernštejn (†1475) made by stone mason Andreas, evidenced by the sign “Andreas e fecit“, tombstone of Vratislav I. of Pernštejn (†1496), marble tombstone of William II. of Pernštejn (†1521) – the date of 1520 which is carved in the tombstone is not correct, it was probably made later in the 1540s. This matches the style of the last marble tombstone belonging to his son John of Pernštejn (†1548). The four oldest tombstones were transferred to the new church from the original monastery church.

The Lords of Pernštejn built the church to use it as their burial site. The entrances to both tombs are closed by marble boards in the floor in the centre of the church.

The bigger tomb belongs to the family of Pernštejn and leads to the main altar. During the Thirty Years´ War the Swedish soldiers did not manage to seize the castle of Pernštejn, but they reached Doubravník and in their search for some precious metals they looted the burial site. Most probably they also took the coffins and other riches which were in them, and left the bones scattered around. Next to the pile of bones and remains of rotten burial robes we can find the remains of the coffin of six counts, two children and the countess Cecilia, née Bemelberg from the 17th century. There is also a small case with the heart of Cecilia’s husband, Maxmilian Lichtenstein-Kastelkorn, who wished to be buried with her to be reunited after death.

The second tomb – smaller, of later date and now vacant – belonging to the Lichtenstein family, leads towards the back entrance and finishes in the middle of the main nave. There was no family link between the Pernštejns and Lichtensteins-Kastelkorns. The family of Pernštejn was forced to sell the estate to Paul Kataryn of Katar in the 16th century due to some heavy debts and in the 17th century the estate was acquired by the family of Lichtensteins-Kastelkorns through the marriage to its owner at that time, Esther Seidlitz of Schönfeld.

Both these tombs are closed to the public.

The third tomb belongs to the Counts of Mittrowsky, the last owners of the castle of Pernštejn. Wladimir, the count of Mittrowsky had it built at a cost of 40,000 golden pieces in 1867. The burial chapel with the altar decorated with a stone statue of Christ was used for requiem masses for the dead at the anniversary of their deaths and the chapel was only open to the members of the Count's family. There are 19 large coffins in the tomb, the reason for their enormous size is that they are 3 coffins in one – wooden, tin and iron. The iron coffins are all the same, they were made according to the same mould in the nearby ironworks in Štěpánov. The only difference between them is the peerage crowns and coat of arms in front of each coffin. The crowns ornamented with nine pearls show that the dead man was a Count, seven pearls indicate Barons. Coffins with five pearls, which were typical for Knights, are not in the tomb. The front part of each coffin is decorated with sand glass, broken torch and a skull – the symbols of life and death. The translated Latin signs are the evidence of often very young age of the dead - old age was exceptional. The high death rate can be put down to the poor level of medical science at that time, frequent occurrence of various diseases and also the hereditary propensity towards some diseases in the family of the owner of the Pernštejn estate. The high death rate is evidenced by the coffin of little Elizabeth, the first child of Wladimir Mittrowsky jr. and her mother of the same name who died shortly after giving birth to her daughter. Wladimir married another woman, Mary Baworowski, they had 8 children and died shortly after each other in 1930.


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