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Honourable patronage:

Bogdan Zdrojewski
Minister Kultury
i Dziedzictwa Narodowego

Międzynarodowa Rada
Ochrony Zabytków
DISTRICT: Międzyrzecz
COMMUNE: Bledzew
DIOCESE: gorzowska
FOUNDATION: 1259-1260-1280/81 r. in Bledzewa 1412-1414-1578 r

Some historians believe that the fact the Cistercians appeared in neighbourhood of Zemsko is connected with Prince Władysław Odoniec's grant given to the Cistercians in Dobryług. The document confirming this grant got lost. However, there is a document of Bolesław Pobożny from 1259 which confirms Odoniec's grant. Somewhere between 1232-1235 the Cistercians got the properties.
The present research shows that the foundation process started about 1260 and lasted to 1280-81, that is, to the incorporation to the Order.
In 1312 brandenburgian margrave, Waldemar, granted the Cistercians from Zemsko a village of Bledzew which at the beginning of the 15th century became their place of residence. This change was probably due to the lack of water and a desire to get closer to the transport and trade routes. Probably, in 1278-1579 the whole convent lived in Bledzew and from 1376 it became a significant economic centre.
To the end of the 16th century the Cistercians from Zemsko-Bledzew were in the possession of lands in a number of villages, had the right to fish in Obra River, had beekeeping rights, a few lakes and mills and some income from a tavern. They had regalia, judicial and economic immunities and tithes. From the 15th century they were the patrons of the parishes in Osiecko, Sokola Dąbrowa, Rokitno and Bledzew.
In 1521 the cloistral goods were burnt down by the Brandenburgian army. The villages and equipment belonging to the abbot and the cloister were plundered.
In 1560 Abbot Piotr Kamiński (1560-1575) gave Stary Dworek to abbot Piotr II from Lwówek which until the 16th century became the residence of the abbots from Bledzew. This mansion burnt down at the beginning of the 18th century which is why in 1705 abbot Józef Bernard Gurowski built there a new one.
During the period of reformation the abbey was in a difficult situation, and the improvement could be seen in the first half of the 17th century. The Jesuits from Poznań helped the Cistercians in establishing Catholicism.
The abbey in Bledzew was numbered among the three smallest ones of the Polish Province of the Cistercians.
During the rule of Abbot Jan Długopolski (1607-1618) the properties were divided into monastic and abbatial on 12th May 1617.
They suffered from quite significant loss during the Thirty Years War and then during the Swedish Deluge.
In 1655 the abbots of Bledzew gained the exemption from military stations. However, it did not protect them from pillages, banditry and devastation. In 1656 there was a plague in Bledzew's properties.
A small economic improvement started in the 70s of the 17th century, however, this period was stopped by the Great Northern War (1700-1721). This difficult situation continued during the Seven years War (1756-1763). Due to the numerous march-pasts the cloister and its goods were often plundered.
In 1778 the command was introduced in the cloister. There was a division of the properties between the abbot chosen by the secular authorities and the convent.
When the Prussians occupied Great Poland and after the Third Partition of Poland the situation of the cloister worsened even more.
In 1796 two royal domains were established: in Stary Dworek and Rokitno. The Cistercians from Bledzew and clergy received salary in perpetuity for the confiscated properties. The confiscation of the properties deprived the cloister of money for finishing the new church which was finally finished in 1802.
The suppression of the cloister in Bledzew was on 4th July 1835. On 11th December 1842 the cloister was intended for the public sale. Cloister's endowment was handed over among many to the parish church in Bledzew and Rokitno. Cloister's collection of books got dispersed. Some were taken to Warsaw (251 works, including multivolume ones). More than 20 works are now in Kórnik. 248 works were taken to the Public Library in Poznań. The rest of the books in 1836 was taken to the royal Library in Berlin (348 books). The rest was transported to Międzyrzecze in 1843.
Now, in the place where the cloister and church were, there are private estates. What survived to this day are a fragment of the first floor part of the northern-western wing of the cloister, water mill with traces of the milling equipment and mill race. From 1996 archeological-architectural research has been taking place.

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The Abbey today

Today of the abbey
Post-Cistercian objects in Zemsko and Bledzew have not survived until these days. In 1842 the church and the cloister were sold and then pulled down. At present, in the place were the cloister stood, there are residential buildings, farm buildings, gardens, fields and meadows.
Numerous souvenirs after the Cistercians from Bledzew can be found in St. Catherine parish church and a church and museum of Mother of Jesus Sanctuary in Rokitno. Original farm buildings have not survived. Objects that belonged to the Cistercians and have survived are: summer residence of the abbots in Stary Dworek, a church in Rokitno with rich equipment of the house and a painting of Matka Boskia Cierpliwie Słuchająca.

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