Palacký University

Corpus Christi Chapel

The Chapel virtual tour

The Chapel virtual tour

From the 15th century onwards, the site of the old Jewish quarter and synagogue was built upon with burgher houses, neighbouring the renaissance Konvikt building of Olomouc University. The university, established by the Jesuits in 1573, was the first in Moravia and the second in the Czech lands. Later, between 1660 and 1668, the Jesuit Society built the “Old Konvikt” on the site of the purchased houses, as accommodation to house noble and patrician students, with a northern additional structure before 1674, which was added to between 1721 and 1724, evidently on the site of the old synagogue, by the “New Konvikt”. It also incorporated the late gothic Jewish gate to the city (“Judenpfördl”) and the new oval Corpus Christi Chapel on the site of the gothic chapel of the same consecration.

The baroque chapel was designed and built by the Olomouc architect Jan Jakub Kniebandl (approx. 1670–1730). The architecture is striking in its interior design, the model for which was the cross-sectional oval church of the Jesuit novitiates Sant'Andrea al Quirinale in Rome (1658–1670), designed by the distinguished Roman architect, sculptor and painter Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680). Corpus Christi chapel stands on lengthwise oval ground plan, with an evident Eucharistic reference to the figure of the host, the Body of Christ. The form of the main altar, flanked by identical pillars bearing a forked fronton and with multiple pilasters, is derived from the main altar of the church in Rome. The Bernini inspired sculptural and stucco decoration of the chapel, with a triangle of female statues at the apex and on the flanks of the main altar, personifying the main Christian virtues of Faith, Hope and Love, together with the angels above the main altar and on the frames of the bye-altars, is the work of the Olomouc sculptor Filip Sattler (1695–1738). The apical female figure above the altar retable is reminiscent in its location and gesture of the figure of St. Andrew above the main altar in Bernini's church. The vaulting of the chapel, through its continuous ceiling painting depicting the legendary, historically undocumented victory of Jaroslav of Šternberk over the Tatars by Olomouc, reportedly on 24 June 1241 (1253), opens out into the glorification of the Body of Christ. It was painted in 1728 by the foremost Olomouc painter Jan Kryštof Handke (1694–1774), together with the Eucharistic altar painting The Supper at Emmaus. The vaulting in the open heavens depicts the Holy Trinity – God the Father, the dove of the Holy Spirit and Christ represented by a lamb on the cross, residing in the heavenly sphere. Our Lady of the Victories shows the Trinity a shining eight-point star of the house of Šternberk in the arms of an angel above a model of the Olomouc church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, where Jaroslav of Šternberk took communion from the hands of a priest (scene above the altar), bringing about his miraculous victory over the Tatars. The angels, led by the archangel St. Michael, advance with flames and flaming swords in their hands to the night camp of the Tatars on the opposite side of the vaulting, prepared to intervene in favour of the approaching Šternberk army. The depiction of the alarmed Tatars in Turkish turbans updates the persistent danger of Turkish wars with a reminder of bygone distinctions of the population of Olomouc in defending Christendom, and with a hopeful reminder of the last victory of prince Eugene of Savoy over the Turks at the conquest of Belgrade (1717).

In 2002, the restored and uniquely preserved Corpus Christi Chapel, which was virtually unaffected by the subsequent two hundred years of use of the Jesuit Konvikt for military purposes, became a concert, conference and social function room of the Arts Centre of Palacký University in Olomouc.

Aktuální konference, kongresy a sympozia na UP

Palacký University Art Centre
Univerzitní 3
771 80 Olomouc

Contact Person:
Mgr. Jana Koulová, manager
tel: +420 585 633 099

Last update: 03. 02. 2016, Daniel Agnew