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Honourable patronage:

Bogdan Zdrojewski
Minister Kultury
i Dziedzictwa Narodowego

Międzynarodowa Rada
Ochrony Zabytków

Fot. Piotr Namiota
VOIVODESHIP: wielkopolskie
DISTRICT: Wolsztyn
COMMUNE: Wolsztyn
DIOCESE: poznańska
DECANATE: Wolsztyn
FOUNDATION: 1231-1238

History of the abbey

The moment of the foundation is arguable. Most probably it is the year of 1178. It is commonly acknowledged that the founder of Oliwa Abbey was the Prince of Pomerania Sambor I, however it is not impossible that Świętopełek was the founder.
After its foundation the monks from the convent in Kołbacz appeared in the cloister. The help of a Dutch cloister in Esrom which also helped the cloister in Dargun was necessary. At the beginning of its existence there were mostly Dutch and German monks. The initial endowment was simple, and there were not many lands that belonged to the cloister, apart from that they had the exemptions from duty and tithes. At the same time Oliwa gained new privilege of fishing in the sea and at the sea shore, and the right to trade.
To the end of the 12th century and the beginning of the next century Oliwa was involved in the Prussian mission. From the 20ties of the 13th century there was Dominican-Cistercian rivalry connected with this mission which eliminated Oliwa from the missionary work.
The year of 1308 is important for the abbey's history as it was the time when Gdańsk Pomerania was taken over by the Teutonic Order. In 1242 the Cistercians of Oliwa gained a new act confirming their properties and privileges which averted the longtime argument with the Teutonic Order. After 1466 Oliwa's relations with the Polish kings were lively. Kazimierz Jagielończyk and Zygmunt Stary confirmed the right to all the properties. From the 15th century the Cistercians had a cloister school which was divided into novitiate and secular one.
The Cistercians of Oliwa were temporarily or permanently in the possession of a few lakes. Their main income was from tithes, fishery, beaver's and mining regalities. From 1305 they had the right to collect amber. The same year brought new coastal and probably hunting regalities. The abbey gained also beekeeping rights and probably inn regalities. In 1266 mill regality appears.
The Cistercians also had a lively grange activity. Apart from that the cloister had economic and judicial immunity.
The cloister from Oliwa was an important centre of the intellectual development in Gdańsk Pomerania. In the half of the 14th century Oliwa's Chronicle was created by the abbot Stanisław. From the 15th century Oliwa was known as a centre of artistic carpentry, and their goods could be found in many of Gdańsk's churches.
In 1672-1702 Cistercian a printing house was open. Its initiator was a prior Michał Antoni Hacki. Next to the printing house there were paper mill, bookbindery and fonts' foundry. The printing house was used by the cloister, Jesuit College and the Catholic Church.
The abbey and its domains were many times destroyed as a result of the Prussian invasion, numerous wars and conflicts which took place in Gdańsk Pomerania. Apart from that the cloister suffered from the Teutonic invasion and the Thirteen Years War (1454-1466). In 1577 the Protestants from Gdańsk attacked the cloister and destroyed its church and goods. From 1578 after king's victory the citizens of Gdańsk rebuilt the abbey by paying compensation. As a result of the restoration the church and the cloister changed their architectural appearance.
During the Polish-Swedish conflicts in the 12th century, in 1629, the Abbey was ravaged and the cloister destroyed.
In 1580, Oliwa and also Peplin were included in the province of Polish Cistercians and their internal life was reformed. The abbey was a part of the Polish province until its suppression.
As a result of the First Partition the cloister in Oliwa found itself in the Prussia. It was the moment from which its crisis started. The abbots were mainly top-down appointed lay priests-German Hohenzollerns. They did not care about the abbey. The situation did not change when Gdańk was a free city (1807-1815). The crisis deepened at the beginning of the 19th century when Fryderyk II confiscated Cistercian properties. As a result of the lack of candidates the cloister depopulated. On 1st October 1831, Prussian authorities liquidated the cloister and post-Cistercian church was given to the Catholic parish.
In April 1945 the Cistercians came again to Oliwa. After the suppression, the cloistral church was changed into a cathedral, and in the cloistral buildings there is an Episcopal curia and Diocesan Seminary. The White monks were given the Church of Mother of the Polish Crown.

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The Abbey today

Today of the abbey
          In 1945 Oblates came back to Obra. They are administrators of the post-Cistercian buildings in which in 1946 they resumed the ministry and Seminary of Missionary Oblates of Mary the Immaculate. North of the cloister they erected new buildings, for instance, a library (which became a showcase of the seminary and has more than 70,000 volumes) and a chapel.
          In its building there is a Seminary of Missionary Oblates of Mary the Immaculate.
      In the eastern wing there is a vestry with rococo accessories from about 1761 covered with a polychromy from 1758. Former chapterhouse performs a function of a Theatre Hall, and a refectory of a dining room. The rooms of the western wing were adapted to the Oblates' needs, whereas, in the southern wing there are farm buildings.

Wyższe Seminarium Duchowne Misjonarzy Oblatów
ul. Szkolna 12
64-211 Obra
tel. 0048 68 384-12-97
          Now it performs a function of a parish church of St. Jacob the Higher Apostle. Built in 1722-57, it has baroque and rococo facilities, e.g. high altar from 1775; rococo tabernacle; white rococo stalls made by Augustyn Schöps from Poznań in 1762-65. The vault is decorated with late-baroque polychromy from 1753-54 painted by Poznań's painter Stanisław Brzozowski showing some events from the history of the Cistercian Order or scenes from the life of Bernadine, among other things.
      A rococo pulpit from 1759 complements the interior. This pulpit is a late-classicistic epitaph of Jesuit Father Karol Bołoz-Antoniewicz (died in 1852) who was a preacher and a poet, the author of Marian and Lenten songs, two confessionals, a Baptismal font from the 2nd half of the 18th century and rococo organ prospectus.
      Under the church there are basements available for sightseeing. In the basements there are coffins with the ashes of the Cistercians and lay benefactors of this cloister.

Wyższe Seminarium Duchowne Misjonarzy Oblatów
ul. Szkolna 12
64-211 Obra
tel. 0048 68 384-12-97
          The Church of St. Valentine-a Chapel. The first, brick stone object was built in 1519 however it fell into ruin. The present one was built in 1719. In 1773 its interior was covered with a polychromy. A general conservation of the interior took place in 1964-1966. High altar is from the1st half of the 18th century. There is also a rococo pulpit, two side altars: St. Barbara's and Holy Family's; confessionals, paintings from the 18th century and late-gothic sculptures.

Parafia p.w. św. Jakuba Wyższego Apostoła
ul. Szkolna 12
64-211 Obra
tel. 0048 68 384 05 70

      On the cloister's premises there are also: Abbot's house from about 1724, renovated and rebuilt in 1995 now functioning as a hotel for monks, Organist's house from the 1st half of the 18th century which now is not inhabited. Stone farm buildings from the 2nd quarter of the 18th century.
      A Library of Seminary-built in 1990 as well as the new buildings of the seminary-residential-dietary: built in 1981. There are refectory and a kitchen with back-up facilities, strong room and missionary museum, hall and audio-visual room, and finally auditorium with back-up facilities.

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