The construction of the temple began in 1227. The church was expanded during the 14th and 15th Centuries. The church tower was erected in 1450, but it was not completed until 1634, when it was elevated and crowned with a Baroque copula made by Jacob van den Blocke after the Teutonic Knights were driven out of the town. The most important date in the tower’s history is the year of 1738, when its interior was equipped with a carillon. In 1555, the church was occupied by the Protestants, who remained in charge of it until 1945, when the building was handed over to the Carmelite order.
On 3 July 1905, a lightning bolt set the church tower on fire. The flames completely destroyed the copula, while the burning fragments falling from above also set fire to the roof below the tower, which was partially destroyed. The fire destroyed the carillon, while the witnesses remembered the great drops of molten metal, referred to as the “bronze tears of St. Catherine”. Some of them were later sold in the process of the collection of funds for the reconstruction of the destroyed copula. The tower was reconstructed and equipped with a new carillon in 1910, which was seized and melted in 1942.
In March 1945, the temple was completely destroyed. Just after the so-called “liberation”, a division of Russian soldiers with gas canisters set fire to the church, killing the defending pastor Friedrich Reimer. In 1989, the Bremen Association funded 3 octaves of the carillon. In 1998, The City of Gdańsk and private sponsors completed the operation by funding the fourth octave and a device for manual playing.
Another great fire took place in the church on 22 May 2006, which collapsed the roof. The roof propped itself up on the vault of the church, thus preventing the temple’s interior from catching fire. The tower, which could have collapsed, was saved, along with most of the historical objects, which were carried out by the police officers and fire fighters from the flooded church to the City Hall and National Museum. The carillon was also preserved. The national, municipal and church authorities announced that the church would be rebuilt regardless of the damage level.
The church is home to the Museum of Tower Clocks – the Department of the Gdańsk Historical Museum. The museum collects and gathers clock mechanisms significant to this profession, which were no longer able to properly function in their place of designation. Many of them were destroyed by wars and fires. In many cases, the tower conditions had changed. The collection may not be complete, but is representative of the entire period of clock making between the 15th and 20th Centuries. The museum personnel also care for several historical clocks in their working locations in all of Poland. Since 2011, they have also been protecting the most precise clock in the world, the pulsar clock.