The Collegiate Church of Corpus Christi (originally St Johns) in Jarosław is nowadays the oldest Jesuit Church in Poland. It was established in the years 1580-1594 thanks to the foundation of Zofia née Odrowąż Kostka and her second husband, Jan of Sztemberg Kostka (the first was Jan Krzysztof Tarnowski, deceased in 1567). Father Piotr Skarga strongly advocated attracting the Jesuits and creating the Jesuit Collegiate . He argued that, ‘Jarosław has the air healthy, the river San serving vessels to Gdańsk and Prussia; there are a lot of merchants entertaining here. It is so famous for its fairs so that there is no similar place in this respect throughout the kingdom.’ The Jesuits came to Jarosław in 1573, after the death of Zofia and Jan Kostka, a great protector of the College was their daughter Anna Ostrogska, and their granddaughter, Anna Alojza Chodkiewicz.
The Society of Jesus, commonly called the Jesuits expanded a wide pastoral, preaching, theological, educational and scientific activity. Initially, their goal was to defend Catholicism, fight with stranger theological doctrines in times of the Reformation. The Jarosław college directed by religious educators was at a high level. Teaching included a lower grammatical and rhetorical course, liberal sciences course, and over time also the highest - theological, designed exclusively for the clergy. At the second Jesuit church in Jarosław: of Our Lady of Sorrows ‘On the field’ a music school was created. The two monasteries also included residence halls, both monasteries had rich libraries – one of the richest in Poland. The libraries after liquidation of the order were passed to Lviv.
In the year 1600 a great fire broke out , as a result of which the college and to a lesser extent the church suffered. The college was rebuilt in the years 1605-1609, and at the same time new buildings were erected. In 1611, a clock tower was erected from contributions of townspeople. In 1625, another fire ravaged the town, the church and the College. Thanks to the generosity of benefactors of the monastery in 1628 the temple was raised from the ruins. In 1773, there the monastery was dissolved. The College was turned into military barracks, and the assets were sold at auction. Another fire, in which the temple was almost completely burnt down was in 1862. After the reconstruction and re-consecration it received the call of Corpus Christi.
A gallery of sculptures depicting Saint Johns (the patron saints of the temple) and Jesuit Saints is located in front of the Jesuit church. At the moment these are fair copies, while the originals, made by a fine sculptor - Thomas Hutter, for fear of vandalism, can be found in the lapidary.
The author of the polychrome in the Jarosław Collegiate is a Leonard Winterowski, an artist from Lviv; the polychrome dates from 1912. Special attention should be paid to the scene in the left aisle which presents a tribute to all the states of our Lady Queen of Poland. Winterowski portrayed prominent Jarosław personalities in the scene, such as Father Fus, mayor Adolf Dietzius, chemist Rohm, the bishop of Przemyśl Pelczar or engineer Kopystyński.
A monumental double leaf door (Millennium Door) , designed by a Jarosław artist-sculptor, Stanisław Lenar, lead to the church interior. They are covered with cast bronze reliefs depicting sixteen scenes from the history of Poland and Jarosław.
The body of the owner of Jarosław, Duchess Anna Ostrogska who died on November 6, 1635 was buried in the Jesuit church. The heart and entrails of the deceased, put into a tin coffin, were placed in the basement of the Church of the Benedictine Sisters.
In 1620, in the Jarosław College a daughter of Anna Ostrogska, Anna Alojza, got married. Her spouse was hetman (commander in chief) Karol Chodkiewicz. At the time of the wedding, Anna Alojza was 20 years old, while Chodkiewicz 60. Hetman straight from the wedding went to Warsaw, and then to the war with Turkey. He died during the defence of Chocim. After nine months of marriage, Anna Alojza was left a widow and in widowhood remained for the rest of her life.
The Jesuit church houses a magnificent monstrance (once in the Collegiate Church of all Saints). This monstrance, a gift from Duchess Anna Ostrogska is a masterpiece of the goldsmiths art, has more than a meter high and is inlaid with precious jewels. It was seized by the Austrian government, and then bought by Jarosław townspeople for 2,000 ducats.
According to certain sources, the Jarosław Jesuit College was attended by Bohdan Chmielnicki - the leader of a Cossack uprising of 1648. However, historians contest this assertion because the alleged teacher of Chmielnicki - Father Andrzej Mokrski was at that time younger from his student.
In the post-Jesuit church in Jarosław, in the main altar there is an image of Our Lady of the Snows, the Queen of Families. This image wonderfully survived the fire of the temple in 1862. It is a 16th-century copy of an image that is located in Rome in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. The name ‘Our Lady of Snows’ derives, according to the tradition, from the event that took place in Rome in August, 352. People say that Mary revealed at that time in a dream of one of the inhabitants of Rome and Pope Liberius announcing that in the place where snow would occur in mid-summer, she wanted to have Her place of worship.