Church of St. Michael

It is a Baroque temple, one of the most beautiful in Olomouc. Already at the beginning of the 13th century, there was a chapel devoted to St. Archangel Michael. To which the Czech king Václav I donated this Chapel to a group of Dominicans who stopped in Olomouc on their way from Italy to Poland. Their arrival dates to 1230. The Dominicans have done very well . They built a large Gothic church, which was completed and consecrated in 1251.The Gothic church,suffered so much during the Swedish wars, that the Prior of the monastery Antonín Peretius decided to demolish. On its foundations, using a large part of the perimeter masonry, built a new baroque church. The new church was built in 1676. It was finished and sanctified on 9 May 1707 by the bishop of Olomouc, Julius of Braidy. However the Dominicans did not enjoy the new beautiful church for long . Emperor Joseph II. abolished the Dominican monastery by the Court Decree from 1784, as well as a number of other monasteries and churches. So that when the church was rescued, it became a parish church and rectory. Then Olomouc archbishops in two stages built it into the huge building complex it is today.

Church of St. Michal is considered the first dome-shaped structure of the North-Italian type in Moravia. The first church builder was the imperial architect Giovanni Pietro Tencala, who has many buildings in Moravia, including the Basilica of the Virgin Mary at Svatý Kopeček. The second church builder was the Italian architect Domenico Martinelli. These two have given the church with an unique character. There is another similar church is, according to the sources, somewhere near Naples. Church of St. Michal is a specific three-domed church built to illustrate one truth that God is love. The first dome of the altar in the ceiling fresco shows God the Father as the Creator. The last dome (at the organ) shows God the Son with the winning cross, and the middle dome shows the symbol of a dove, like love connecting Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Three domes - one temple; God in three persons, blessed Trinity .Also, the orientation of the church itself is not accidental, since early Christian times, the Christian churches were built with an altar to the east (where possible). This is because the faithful faced the rising sun during their pray, which is the clearest image, a symbol of Christ who as the light of the world rose from the darkness of the tomb, and as the sun is again and again coming from the east, coming again and again to offer his friendship, to become the light of people's lives. On Sunday morning, with two upper windows in the eastern wall above the altar, there are two massive streams of light that are like two light arms, like a light that embraces worshipers.

The church is 60 meters long, 20 meters wide and tall from the pavement to the ceiling of the middle dome 41, 2 meters. At the main entrance there is a massive cave that is supported by two cherubims. The organ cabinet is baroque. But the organ from Krnov in 1960 is a concert instrument. At the back on the side is the altar of the Virgin Mary in the hope. on the opposite side there is the altar of St. Sebestian. In the middle of the church the side altar of St. Philomenes and against him the altar of St. Jan Sarkandra from 1860 (beatification year). Notable is the baroque pulpit with a roof that has a similar effect to electronic amplifiers. On the roof sculpture is the Virgin Mary giving the rosary to St. Dominic, who shared this prayer across Europe. We can also mention the sign of the Dominicans, a dog with a burning torch in his teeth (still on the roof of the pulpit), occurring in the church five more times. According to the sources, the mother of St. Dominic's had s dream of seeing a dog carrying a torched torch. The interpretation of the dream was such that her son, through his scholarship and preaching service carried the light of the Gospel throughout Europe, as if the dog carried a torched torch.

The heart of every church is the tabernacle of the Blessed Sacrament. On the sides there are Cherubins in extra size. Above the sanctuary a beautiful copy of the painting of Roman painter Quid Reni – how St. Archangel Michael squeezes Satan into the infernal abyss. This whole mighty altar is an illustration of Chapter 12 of the book of Revelation (the last book of the Bible). It begins with the words: "There was a great sign in the sky, a sun-dressed woman with a moon beneath her feet and a crown of twelve stars around her head" this is portrayed at the top of the altar, then another paragraph begins with the words: And a battle in the sky began. Michael and his angels fought with the dragon. Dragon and his angels fought, but did not win, and there was no place for them in heaven. "(Picture of St. Michael) Below this scene at the tabernacle There is a little lamb, lying on a book with seven seals as a symbol of Christ, the only Lord over human history. On the sides of the picture of St. Michael are four gilded statues in the life-size of the great Western teachers: Gregory the Great, St. Augustine, St. Ambrož and St. Jerome.

We cross the corridor to the gothic bell tower to see a set of new bells. 75 stairs lead to them, in two places there is a reduced space.

Just below the bells, there is a network of massive beams that have to carry 7 tons, swinging over our heads. The bells give the church a voice. They ring 3 times a day to invite to worship. At the weddings they become bridal bells, at the funerals they accompany you on your last journey. The bells had one great "disadvantage", they were from the same material from which the cannon guns were mainly made. The bell group was destroyed in wartime requisitions (for the first time in 1917, then in 1926 and in 1943.The current bell file is the third one, after the church was 64 years without bells, unless we count 40 kg of the material lying in the lantern of the bell tower.

In 2007, at the anniversary of 300 years of sanctification of the church, the smallest bell (600 kg - St. Jan Sarkander) was paid by Mr. Březina, the governor of the Olomouc Region. At the dedication of this bell it was announced that if a donor of CZK 10,000 or more was found for the second bell (850 kg - St. Zdislava, family patron), his family's name would be cast on the bell. In 2 months CZK 530,000 was collected, and the second bell arrived. This offer was also made with the next bell. In 4 months CZK 1,000,000 was gathered and the third bell arrived (2,000 kg - St. Archangel Michael), and then CZK 2,5 million and the 4th bell arrived (3,000 kg - the Virgin Mary - the Defender of Unborn Life). The names of all donor families are listed on bells. Bells can also be seen while ringing. During the casting of the last bell, three smaller missing bells were made: 2 for St. Catherine church 100 kg and 50 kg, and one 38 kg for the Chapel of St. Jana Sarkandr. All the bells were cast in Mrs. Leticie Dytrychova - Vranova's bell workshop in Brodek near Přerov.

The bell ringing system works on a so-called linear motor, a powerful electromagnet that imparts a pulse to the metal core associated with the bell, the bell swings, the electronics then wait until the bell returns to the starting position and again gives the impulse in the same direction. The bell will then toll, and this system can be programmed for the whole week.


St. Michal´s temple, formerly the monastery church of the Dominicans, is one of the most important Olomouc shrines and distinct dominant features of the city panorama. In its history, which is associated with the order of the Dominicans, it has undergone a number of structural changes.

The beginnings of the permanent establishment of the Dominicans in Olomouc are most likely to be put between the years 1238-1240. The site of the monastery was laid in the southeastern part of the locality, between the top of the hill above the town markets and the city wall. According to archaeological research, the intensive settlement of the Michalský hill can be demonstrated around 200 years ago.

The oldest used monastery building, which was donated to the Dominicans together with the land by King Wenceslas I, was the chapel of St. Michal. Its appearance and the precise location are not known. The original monastic buildings from the 13th century were preserved in just fragments , found in the vaults in a Baroque vestry, window and part of the chapter hall portal and secondary architectural elements used in masonry of the Virgin Mary Visitation Chapel (now St. Alexia) and the nave of the church.

Although we do not have many papers about the form of the Gothic Convent, we can safely reconstruct its ground plan. It was probably a partially arched three-lane with a transversally rectangular or polygonally finished presbytery in the east, corresponding by its width to the main nave. The sacristy and the monastery buildings were adjacent to the south side of the temple, the facade of the church and the monastery was oriented to the gradually emerging square. At the end of the 14th century they continued to build the monastery near the rebuilt the chapter house founded probably by Václav of Doloplazy around 1380 , later replaced by Virgin Mary Visitation chapel (after 1740 St. Alexia). From the original building still preserved were the entrance portal and pentagonally ended presbytery. As well there was a cloister constructed in whose eastern flank fragments of late Gothic paintings were preserved. At the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries, the monastery suffered two devastating fires, first in 1398, second in 1404. Numerous collections, gifts and bequests, however, soon managed to repair the damage caused. During the 15th century the cloister and the convent church were completed and modified. The existing three-lane flats were replaced by the vault of both main and two side naves. From 1482 there also is a detached prismatic tower - a bell tower - situated between the southwest corner of the church and the west wing of the cloister.

At the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century there was an extensive reconstruction of the church and monastery in the style of early Baroque. The author of the project of the reconstruction of the temple, which took place in the years 1676 - 1699, was Giovanni Pietro Tencalla imperial architect and engineer in Vienna, whose drafts were probably modified by another Italian architect working in Moravia - Domenico Martinelli. The construction works continued until 1703 and the interior adjustment lasted until the consecration of the temple in 1707. The original Gothic structure was raised and slightly extended in the West and the East. Although the basic floor plan was kept, its meaning was changed.The longitudinal orientation of the Gothic hall three-lanes was replaced. They built an indoor space with approximately three square fields of the nave, which are designed as static entities defined by oblique turning of the fillet pilasters and arched domes on octagonal tambours, where middle one slightly exceeds the neighbor one. The side naves were converted to shallow, mutually isolated chapels, connected only by narrow passages. The chapel was essentially the same as the first area of the nave, followed by a deep monk choir (the connection between the two only occurred in 1894). The new convent church was consecrated on May 9, 1707 by the Olomouc bishop František Julius of Braida. In 17th century, this building was exceptional compare to the Central European architecture and the first dome building of the Northern Italian type in Moravia. We can only regret that its main facade remained either unfinished or later changed.

Soon after the ordination of the new church, a great fire broke out in Olomouc (21 July 1709), which also hit the Dominican monastery. Subsequent repairs and alterations of the interior of the church continued for at least the next twenty years. In 1711 new tiles, church benches and organs were bought. At this time appear the altar of the Virgin Mary Čenstochovská and the statues of the twelve apostles on the pillars between the side chapels. In 1723, under Prior Bedřich Majer, the new baroque altars in the nave were purchased, and a year later also the choir stalls, which the Dominicans after 1784 transferred to their new location, to the Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. In 1730, under Prior Tomas Pleiner, a new main altar was acquired. From the altar of 1707, probably only a canteen covered with artificial marble was used. Today's shape of the altar is, however, the result of modifications from the end of the 19th century.

The Josephine reforms have affected the further development of the Dominican convent in Olomouc. By the court decree of July 26, 1784, the monastery was abolished. However, thanks to the intervention of Archbishop Antonín Theodor, Colloredo-Waldsee (1777-1811) , the covent of Dominicans could be relocated to the abolished Bernardine monastery with the Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary at Olomouc Bělidla. By the same decree the Church of St. Michal was declared as a parish, and the Archbishop's seminary took over the building of the Dominican convent, part of the newly built parish in the immediate neighborhood of the church was taken over by the newly built rectory.
At that time the facade of the church also acquired two Baroque sculptures from the abolished Church of the Virgin Mary in Předhradí (from the cemetery wall), the work of Ondřej Zahner from the 1930s.

Over the next decade the monastery's object has undergone significant structural modifications. The first of these was initiated by the Archbishop of Olomouc, Cardinal Maxmilián Josef, the free lord of Somerau-Beeck (1837-1853). The rebuilding was entrusted to Archbishop's architect Antonín Archem, whose design, which was executed in 1835-1842, also changed the urban plan of the square.
Originally the two-storey building was raised by another floor, and a distinctive classicist layout was also introduced to a new staircase solution in front of the western façade with the attached portico. At the beginning of the 20th century, from the initiative of Archbishop Franz Bauer (1904-1915), there was another building extension of the seminar, based on the project of Jaroslav Kovář st., under which the area of the former baroque monastery court definitively disappeared. From the original layout of the monastery, only the ambit with the chapel and adjacent spaces on its eastern and western sides and the construction of earthly states remained preserved, alongside the core of the church.

At the very end of the 19th century, the interior of the temple was adjusted. The initiator of the restauration was the priest Ignatius Panák (priest 1885-1921).
The works were carried out between 1892-1898 according to the project of architect Richard Völker (he also adapted the interior of the St. Wenceslas Cathedral in Olomouc) and all the time they were monitored by the Vienese Central Commission for Research and Preservation of Monuments. Their form can be characterized as a certain compromise between the purist historizing method and the conservative concept.

The relatively sober stucco and painting decoration of the original baroque interior of the church with white painted walls was completely different. The pillar faces in the church ship were lined with artificial marbles of red color, the lime-like wall was replaced by the illusory marble shades ranging from light to gray to deep red. The wall paintings have been restored, the more damaged parts were completely repainted, The four Baroque altars originally located in the church ship were removed in purist spirit and moved to the northern wing of the neighboring Gothic cloister. The main altar with a modified decoration and a new sanctuary was moved to the end of the former monastic choir and the entire interior was illuminated by gas lamps. The windows were colored with stained glass.

To the northern outer wall of the church, after 1904, four stone pylons showing the secret of painful rosary from the workshop of sculptor Michael Scherhauf from Olomouc were relocated from their original location by the road at the New Street.

The cross corridor

The original Gothic ambit of the Dominican monastery originated in two construction stages at the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries. The first phase of the construction includes the northern and eastern wing built before 1380 by the dome steelworks.The remaining two wings were completed in the 80s and 90s of the 14th century and modified after the fires in 1398 and 1404. The original Gothic framed windows were replaced in 1723 by Baroque, semicircular finishing. Today‘s adaptation and equipment of the cloister comes from the time of the last historical adjustments at the end of the 19th century.

Chapel of St. Alexius

A separate chapel at the east wing of the cloister was originally dedicated to the Visitation of the Virgin Mary and allegedly founded in 1380 by Václav of Doloplazy. It is a single-sided rectangular space with a pentagon-finished presbytery concealed by a single field of the cross vault, from a ship separated by a fractured arc of victory. From the original structure only its eastern part and the richly profiled portal remain. The outer housing of the presbytery is still procured with the backrests, the gothic angled windows have intact traces.

In the middle of the 19th century, the ship‘s vault collapsed, then in 1845-1852 its new vaulting with a barrel vault and new interior design was completed. The Baroque altar from 1726 was replaced in 1886 by a Neo-Gothic one and the pulpit also comes from the same time. The Baroque side altars of St. Vincence and St. Valentin were not restored after the vault collapsed.

Today‘s patrocinium of the chapel is probably connected with th Brotherhood of St. Alexiusa set up in this chapel. Since 1740 it has been more commonly cited under this name. The older designation of the Czech related to the preaching and afternoon devotions in the Czech language.

Church of St. Kateřina

This church is dedicated to St. Kateřina and it was built in the 14th century in a simple Gothic style between 1360 and 1363. However, the monastery at the church was already mentioned in the papers of Pope Nicholas IV. (1288-1292).

During the Hussite wars the church was badly damaged. When the whole city burnt down in 1455, also the church burnt down. It was repaired but burnt out again in 1513.
During the Thirty Years‘ War, when Olomouc was battered by the Swedish army in the years 1642 - 1650, it suffered many damages, but after the war it was restored again. The church was significantly changed by the baroque style which began after the Swedish occupation, especially in the period after 1701, when the church of St. Catherine burnt out during the big fire, the monastery included. The Baroque style influenced the church and the whole monastery until the second third of the 18th century when a Baroque vault was placed above the ship‘s crown.

Under the church there is a crypt where the Dominican Sisters were buried. This order was here until the abolition in 1782 by Emperor Joseph II. The monastery was then handed over to the nuns who came to Olomouc from Prague in 1697 to devote themselves to the education and teaching of young girls.Until 1782 they lived in Bělidla, in the present Sokolská Street in No. 5, 7, 9 and 11.

In 1800, the church burnt out again, the roof was destroyed, the tower crashed into the sacristy‘s court, the bells fell to the vault where they melted, but they did not break the vault. The church was restored the same year and four Baroque altars were replaced by Gothic. The windows became stained glass.

The church was lightly painted in 1932. The main altar was restored, the sanctuary was gilded, the Baroque sculptures were alabaster, the other polychrome, the walls of the church were lined with wooden boards.

In May and June 1985, a survey was carried out on the northern facade of the church, and the original Gothic tops of the windows were restored, the zygels of their crowns in the attic were removed, and the missing parts were added.

In the facade of the church there is a striking main portal. It is divided by several rods in a graded lining, externally framed by a so-called vimperk. The outer outline of the vimperk is supplemented with the so-called crabs and the spike with a cross flower. Into the church you enter through a beautifully carved late Renaissance doors from the end of the 16th century.

The interior of the church is decorated with Neo-Gothic lining and Neo-Gothic altar architecture. The altar picture represents the patron of the church saint St. Kateřina Alexandrijská.
On its sides are the paintings of St. Cyril and Methodius, above which are placed statues of St. Peter and Paul. The altar is decorated with a statue of the Virgin Mary, along with the statues of St. Jáchym and Anna, the parents of the Virgin Mary. From the time of the Dominican sisters, four Baroque statues on the main altar were preserved: St. Dominik, St. Kateřina Sienská and St. Růžena of Lima, St.Tomáš Akvinský.

On the left hand side there is the altar of the Virgin Mary Lourdes in the presbytery with smaller statues of St. Joseph and St. Jan Evangelista. On the altar there is a box with the relics of St. Klement, the martyr.

In the middle on the left there is the altar of the Divine Heart of the Lord; above the statue of the Lord Jesus is the image of St. Voršila, patron of the Order, above it is the statue of St. Archangel Michael. On the sides are the statues of St. Filomena and sv.Barbora.

The pulpit carries the image of Jesus - the Good Shepherd; over the roof is the statue of God the Father.

On the opposite side there is an altar with a statue of the Child Jesus, above it is a large picture of St. Angela, the founder of the order of the vortices. Above this is the statue of St. Josef, on the sides statues of St. Augustine and St. Karel Boromejský.

In front of the entrance of the gallery there is a cross chapel with the statues of Zacharias and the prophet Jeremiah. In the chapel a large cross with the statues of the Virgin Mary and St. Jan.

Against the cross chapel is the altar of the Virgin Mary with the statue of St. Jan Nepomucký. On the sides the statue of St. Ignác, St. František Xaverský, St. Hyacint and blessed Česlav. Under the gallery are the pictures of St. Tadeus, St. Alois, St. Jan Nepomucký, St. archangel Rafael with Tobias and St. Voršila.


Commentary on the St. Michael’s Church

Stopover - indoors beneath the central dome

We have entered into one of the most beautiful Baroque churches in Olomouc. But what is the history of this place? Already at the beginning of the 13th century, there used to be a chapel here, dedicated to Saint Michael, the Archangel. Wenceslaus I, King of Bohemia, donated the chapel to a group of Dominicans who had stopped in Olomouc on their way from Italy to Poland. Their arrival dates back to 1230. Dominicans did very well and soon they were able to build a large Gothic church instead of an insufficient chapel. The church was completed and consecrated in 1251. The church suffered damage during the Thirty Years' War and Antonín Peretius, prior of the monastery, decided to pull it down. On its foundations, using a large part of its peripheral walls, a new Baroque church was built. Construction began in 1676 and the new church was completed and consecrated by Julius of Braid, the bishop of Olomouc, on May 12th, 1707. However, the Dominicans did not enjoy the beautiful new church for a long time. Emperor Josef II abolished the Dominican monastery as well as a number of other monasteries and churches by a court decree in 1784. To save the church, it was turned into a parish church. The monastery turned into a presbytery and a seminary, later extended into a large building complex by Archbishops of Olomouc.

A few words on the architecture. The church is considered the first domed structure of the northern Italian type in Moravia. Giovanni Pietro Tencala, imperial architect and the builder of the church, designed a number of other buildings in Moravia, including the Basilica of the Virgin Mary on Svatý Kopeček. Construction of the church was finished by Domenico Martinelli, another Italian architect. These two men gave the building a unique character, so that another similar church can be found as far as somewhere near Naples, according to sources. Our church is special in its three domes on the church axis which illustrate the truth that God is love and lives in relationships within the Holy Trinity. In the first dome from the altar, the ceiling fresco shows God the Father as Creator and in the last one (at the organ) God the Son with the victorious Cross. In the middle dome, there is God the Father depicted symbolically as a dove, as the love between the Father and the Son, as the third divine person, the Holy Spirit. Three domes - one church; three persons - one God, the God who is love and who lives within these relationships.

The orientation of the church itself is not accidental as well. Since early Christian times, churches were laid out with their altar to the east (where such a construction was at least somewhat possible). This is because believers in prayer can thus face the rising sun, the clearest symbol of Christ, the Light of the world who rose from the darkness of the tomb.

As the sun comes from the east, again and again, so is He coming, offering his friendship to men, offering to become the light of life. On Sunday morning, two mighty streams of light penetrate the two top windows in the east wall above the altar like two light arms hugging the worshippers.

The church is 60 meters long, 20 meter wide and 41, 2 meters high (from the floor to the top of the middle dome). At the main entrance, there is a huge choir supported by two cherubims. The organ case is Baroque while the organ itself, a concert instrument, was made in the Czech town of Krnov in1960. At the back, there are two side altars of the Virgin Mary in Expectation and of St.Sebastian. In the middle of the church, you will find the side altar of St. Filomena and the altar of St. John Sarkander from 1860 (the year of his beatification). Noteworthy is the Baroque pulpit with a canopy which had a similar function as today’s electronic amplifiers. On the top of the pulpit, there is a sculpture of Virgin Mary giving a rosary to Saint Dominic who spread this form of prayer throughout Europe. Here you can also see a dog with a flaming torch in his mouth, the symbol of the Dominican Order which is to be found at five other spots in the church. The mother of Saint Dominic is said to have a dream in which she saw a dog carrying a lighted torch. The dream's interpretation was that her son with his scholarship and preaching would bear the light of the gospel through Europe like a dog carries a lighted torch.

Stopover - in front of the main altar

The tabernacle with the Blessed Sacrament is the heart of every church. The altar is flanked by two larger-than-life cherubims. Above the tabernacle, there is a beautiful copy of a painting by the Roman painter Guido Reni – St. Michael the Archangel casting Satan into the abyss of hell. This huge altar is an illustration to the chapter 12 of the book of Revelation (the last book of the Bible). It begins: “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” This image can be seen in the upper part of the altar. The next paragraph begins: “Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.”(Painting of St. Michael). Beneath this scene on the tabernacle, there is a lamb lying on a book with seven seals as a symbol of Christ, the sovereign Lord over human history. The painting of St. Michael is flanked by four larger-than-life gilded statues of Western Church Fathers (from the left): Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Augustine, Saint Ambrose and Saint Jerome.

Walking through the cloister you will come to the Gothic bell tower with a set of new bells, accessed via 75 steps. There is a low ceiling at two points, so be careful not to bump your head.

Stopover – a small parish museum just beneath the bells

We are now just beneath the bells. Please pay attention to the network of robust beams which have to bear seven tons swinging over our heads. The bells give the church its voice, calling three times a day for prayer, inviting to worship and turning into wedding or funeral bells when needed. Bells have one large "disadvantage" – they are made of the same material as cannons. Our bells were requisitioned twice, for the first time in 1917. New bells were made in 1926 only to suffer the same fate in 1943. For the next 64 years, the church had no bells, not counting the 40 kg death-knell in the belfry lantern. The current bells are thus the third set already. In 2007, on the anniversary of 300 years of our church’s consecration, Mr. Březina, governor of the Olomouc region, donated the smallest bell (600 kg - St. John Sarkander). When sanctifying it, I announced that the name of anyone who would donate at least CZK 10,000 for another bell would be cast on it. Within two months we collected CZK 530,000 and made the second bell (850 kg - St. Zdislava, the patron saint of families). I repeated the offer and in four months we collected one million CZK and the third bell (2000 kg - St. Michael the Archangel) was cast. For the fourth bell (3000 kg – Virgin Mary - patroness of the unborn) we managed to collect CZK 2.5 million. All donors are mentioned on the bells and it is possible to look at the bells during ringing. Together with the final bell we ordered also another three small missing bells: two for the St. Catherine's Church (100 kg and 50 kg) and one for the Chapel of St. John Sarkander (38 kg).

All the bells were cast at the bell foundry of Mrs. Leticia Dytrychová-Vránová in Brodek u Přerova.

Stopover – at the bells

The bells have a great system of ringing, the so called linear motor, i.e. a strong electromagnet which gives an impulse to the metal clapper inside the bell. The bell swings, the electronics waits until the bell returns to the starting position and the impulse is repeated in the same direction. This way the bell is brought to swinging. The system can be programmed for a whole week ahead.
Thank you for your attention and I wish you all the best. P. Antonín Basler, parish priest