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Church of the Assumption of Mary

Lesce is considered the earliest Mother Mary pilgrimage destination in the then Carniola. The Lesce parish church is one of the most noteworthy Baroque monuments in the Gorenjska region.

The exterior

On the facade of the church is a preserved Gothic fresco of Mary with Jesus on a throne with the signatures of the painters Nikolaj (Nicholas) and Štefan (Stephen) from Gorizia, who worked at the turn of the 14th and 15th century. This is the oldest signed fresco in Slovenia. On the front facade of the church there is a fresco painted by the academic painter Vinko Tušek in 1995, which replaced the original fresco from the Gothic period.


Of particular interest is the bell tower that is separated from the church, which is unusual in Slovenia. The original bell tower, which was located on the front facade, was destroyed in the earthquake in 1511, and today only remains of the back wall can be seen. Following the earthquake the new bell tower was built separately from the church. It was later enlarged and at the end of the 18th century it was given a partial Baroque appearance. On the standalone bell tower there is a Gothic portal inscribed with the year of origin 1522-23.


The history of the church

The first church stood on this site as far back as Roman times in the 4th century. In the mid-12th century the old church, which was dedicated to Mary and attracted many pilgrims, was demolished and a replacement was built. A wooden chapel was then built by a Brixen priest on his own estate, and later with the permission of the Aquileian patriarch a stone chapel was built in its place. In the 14th century it was a three-nave church with three presbyteries. At the end of the century it was rebuilt in the Gothic style, and in the 17th and 18th centuries it acquired its present-day Baroque appearance. The original wooden ceiling in the nave was replaced by a dome, the three presbyteries were demolished and replaced by a square presbytery, whilst the two side ones were transformed into a vestry.


The interior

In 1736 Franc Jelovšek painted an illusionary portrayal of the Assumption of Mary in the presbytery. The main altar, dedicated to the Mother of God, dates from the 18th century and contains multiple statues by various artists from the 17th and 18th centuries.


Radovljica's Lord Ditrichstein handed over Lesce church to protestants. The image of Jesus's baptism in the River Jordan dates from the 16th century. It is the work of an unknown north Italian artist and is the oldest picture in the church, which also contains high quality paintings by Leopold Layer from 1795.


The church's interior also features the coats-of-arms of noble families. Among them are the coat-of-arms of the Counts of Ortenburg, Celje, the Hapsburgs and the Thurns, as well as the coat-of-arms of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and Slovenia.


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