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2012 | 20 | 75-90

Article title

Okoliczności i motywy sakralnych fundacji sapieżyńskich w XVII wieku

Title variants

Circumstances and motifs of the sacral Sapieha Foundations in the 17th century

Languages of publication



Te reasons for the establishment of Sapieha Foundations were widely understood religious motifs, which were to prove the benefactor’s piety and fervor of faith. Te Sapiehas were guided by the desire to multiply and spread God’s glory. Te Sapieha Foundations were established mainly within the territory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It was a religiously and culturally diversified area and, due to this, the character of the foundations was also a kind of manifestation of the fight against the Orthodox and Protestant Churches, being, at the same time, competitive to these rites. Moreover, foundation acts were votive offerings made by the benefactor for achieved victories. Religious zeal, a will to help the needy and widely understood religious motifs are not the only reasons for establishing sacral foundations. They were also accompanied by the will to show one’s grandeur and prestige. Apart from church foundations, the Sapiehas also initiated secular ones: hospitals, dowries for poor maidens and schools. Establishing a foundation, laymen were apparently guided by the will to do something good or useful and to support the poor. What is more, such activity manifested the need to care about social issues. In many cases, just through foundations, the Sapiehas thus designated themselves burial places even though the deceased’s will was not always fulfilled. Trough a number of sacral foundations, their size and location in the state and city, the Sapiehas tried to strengthen the family’s prestige. For the Sapiehas, the founded object became an important source of prestige, a proof of wealth and a visible symbol of power, which was an indispensable determinant of a social position and status. Founding sacral objects was becoming a certain kind of social obligation among the magnates. It was one of the most important ways of maintaining one’s own social status.







Physical description


  • Białystok, POLAND


Document Type

Publication order reference


YADDA identifier

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