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Honourable patronage:

Bogdan Zdrojewski
Minister Kultury
i Dziedzictwa Narodowego

Międzynarodowa Rada
Ochrony Zabytków
VOIVODESHIP: wielkopolskie
DISTRICT: Wągrowiec
COMMUNE: Wągrowiec
DIOCESE: gnieźnieńska
DECANATE: Wągrowiec
FOUNDATION: 1143(?)-1153 r.od ok. 1392/96 - 1493 r. w Wągrowcu

History of the abbey

The cloister in Łekno was founded by Zbylut from Paluków family in 1153. According to the latest research the cloister in Łekno is the oldest abbey located on the Polish lands. The Cistercians came here from Altenberg near Cologne.
The initial endowment enlarged quite fast by grants, purchases and exchanges. They usually bought lands, lakes, woods, meadows, and watermills. They had quite a significant income from tithes in about 40 villages, and these were complemented by economic and judicial immunities, and regalia.
Apart from the lands, in the 14th century they also had temporal or constant right to fish in lakes or sea, mint coins and had incomes from butchers. About the 2nd half of the 14th century it was of the richest abbey in Poland.
The economy of the Cistercians from Łekno and Wągrowiec was based on agriculture, breeding, and fishery. They grew oat, rye, wheat, barley, hemp, grape-vine (Wągrowiec). They bred horn cattle, swine, horses and domestic fowl. They had mills in Łęgowo, Turza, Wągrowiec, Krotoszynek, Bartodzieje, Łęghniszewo and a windmill in Kamienica. Their craftsmanship was well developed. They had various workshops: shoemaker's, potter's, carpenter's, bricklaying, baker's, looms, and linen. On the basis of archeological research it was stated that in Łekno there also were smith's and glazier's workshops. The Cistercians from Łekno were patrons of the churches in Zoń, Łęgowo, Wągrowiec and Tarnów Pałucki.
The cloister in Łekno founded two branches in Ląd (about 1175? or after 1186-1195?) and in Obra (1231-1238 to 1240 (?)). It was supposed to be the creator of the branch in Prussia, this foundation, however, did not succeed.
From about 1205 they started to Christianise Prussia.
In 1258 they introduced in their cloister the Cult of Saint Ursula.
In 1370 King Kazimierz Wielki gave them the magdeburgian right and the right to have markets on Tuesdays in Tarnowo Pałuckie.
The abbey in Łekno was functioning only until the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries. By the decision of the Abbot Tylman it was gradually moved from Łekno to Wągrowiec. This process lasted for about 100 years until 1493. At the place of the old abbey they decided to create a graveyard. Most of the endowment was taken to the new abbey and the rest was given to church in Tarnów Pałucki. At the present moment there is nothing left after the original buildings and from 1982 archeological-architectural research has been done.
The area of the location of the new cloister was the property of the Cistercians from Łekno in 1319. It was bought by Abbot Gotszalk, and until the end of the 15th century it was Łekno's grange. In 1451 Wągrowiec became a cloistral town and its history interlaced with the history of the abbey.
Each abbot had the suzerainty over the town. The land which he gave the citizens belonged to him. The townspeople and craftspeople were obliged to pay tithes to the cloister.
During the translocation the cloistral discipline loosened and various ethnic and property rights conflicts appeared (patronage over the church in Tarnów Pałucki-finally settled to the Cistercians advantage)
At the end of the 15th century a long-lasting process of polonisation started, it lasted until the 2nd half of the 16th century.
The abbot Andrzej Dżierżanowski, four years after he took power, that is, in 1557, set up a so-called a high school for boys, sons of the nobility. Here, as a boy, Jakub Wujek (1541-1597) was educated. He was born in Wągrowiec, and was the future Jesuit priest and an interpreter of the Bible into the Polish language. Professed monk Adam of Wągrowiec was an outstanding personality. He was an organist and a composer. There are about 27 different notations that enrich the knowledge of the Baroque music in Poland.
During the rule of the abbot Andrzej Dżierżanowski there were at least two meetings of the General Capitulary in Wągrowiec; in 1560, and in 1580. During the session in 1580 Statuta Reformationi monasteriorum Cisteraensu Ordmis instUutae was written down and approved, next it was published in Kraków in 1581. The Province of the Polish Cistercians was appointed and the following male monasteries were included in it: Wągrowiec, Koronowo, Oliwa, Pelplin, Bledzew, Przemęt, Obra, Paradyż, Ląd, Sulejów, Jędrzejów, Koprzywnica, Szczyrzyc, Mogiła and the flowing women convents that were under the jurisdiction of the cloister: Chełmno, Ołobok, Owińska, Żarnowiec and Toruń. According to the rules compiled here all the cloisters of the Polish Province were subordinate to the rule of one abbot chosen by the gathering of the all abbots or their delegates.
In 1565-1579 there were abort 30 villages belonging to the cloister of Wągrowiec. About 1598 their properties were divided into abbatial and conventual ones.
From the 16th century the town was descended upon by various plagues which decimated its citizens.
In 1655-1656 the Swiss who stationed in Wągrowiec wreaked havoc. They put tribute as a result of which the monks had to pledge among other things church's silverware.
In 1699 at the General Capitulary's session in Wągrowiec a decision was made concerning the creation of seminaries for the Cistercians. The monks from Łekno-Wągrowiec studied at the University of Kraków. After the appointment of the General College in Mogiła, in 1718-1798, the monks from Węgrowiec (Andrzej Elertowski, Alberyk Arend, Odo Stocki, Paweł Kurzyński) lectured theology, philosophy, canon law, history and rhetoric
In 1708 and 1717 the town was destroyed by the army of Moscow.
In 1739 a command was introduced in the cloister. Cloistral properties were divided into the ones belonging to the abbot, who was chosen by the secular authorities, superior, and to convent.
In 1747 during the ceremony of the Ascension Day the cloister and all its buildings burnt down as a result of the fire that was started in the brewery.
There was a change in the formal functioning of the cloister. At that time the cloister in Wągrowiec was no longer the owner of the town. The city of Wągrowiec became the royal town. As a result of the decision made by the Prussian authorities on 28th July 1796 all the properties were taken over by the country. In 1816 it was forbidden to admit new novitiates. At the turn of 1835/1836 the cloister was secularized and its properties were confiscated.
After the suppression, the abbey was adapted to the new needs. A district court and a prison were located in the southern wing. The church was changed into a parish church. The library with over 1940 volumes was liquidated. In 1920 the Archbishop Convent School was established.
During the World War II the church and the cloister were closed. The Germans had there a storeroom for sanitary equipment and medicines. In 1945, the church and all the buildings were set on fire by the escaping Germans. They were restored in 1946-68. In 1968-97 in the post-cloistral buildings there was Dom Zasłużonego Kapłana Archidiecezji Gnieźnieńskiej im. Jakuba Wujka.

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The Abbey today

Today of the abbey
          There are not any visible remnants of the cloister's buildings in Łekno. Very valuable relics from that cloister are two Bibles. The first one is from the 13th century and the second one from the end of the 14th century. They are kept in Kórnik's PAN Library. On the basis of historical and nature criteria there was the Łekno Settlement Complex assigned. On its premises archeological-architectural research is taking place. The area of the excavation works is made available for sightseeing only during the excavation works (9 a.m. to 2 p.m) in July. In future, open-air ethnological museum is to be opened in the place of the former cloister in Łekno.
 More information on the research can be found on the following websites:
Archeological Museum in Poznań
Archeological Expedition Łekno
Wągrów Association of the Cistercian Order
          Now the northern and western wings of the post-Cistercian cloister in Wągrowiec belong to the post-cloistral parish and the eastern and southern wings are assigned for other purposes.
      The hall leading to solitary confinement is situated in lapidarium - exhibition of architectural details- it is possible to find here tombstones decorated with a motif of a sword, which meant that in such a tombstone lies a crusader. In the galleries there is a permanent exhibition where the history of Łekno-Wągrowiec abbey is presented.
          The church of the Assumption that has survived until our times had previously a very well preserved equipment, however, it was destroyed in the fire in 1945. The interior of the church is baroque despite the fact that the church preserved its original spatial arrangement.
      The oldest frescoes (roman and gothic) have not survived, but original architectural details have, for example, pillar's chapiters, cantilevers, and parts of cornices decorated with floral motifs.
      The present interior is quite simple. Late-gothic sculpture of Madonna with an Infant Jesus from about 1510 is the one of the few elements of the original equipment of the church. High altar built in 1799 was destroyed during the World War II. It was rebuilt in 1960 by Józef Pade on the basis of its former image and relics that left after the fire. A stall brought here in 1970 from the Gniezno Cathedral complements the interior. There are also liturgical vessels- monstrances from the 1st half of the 17th century with sixteenth-century elements, two baroque stoups, silver reliquary of St. Cecily, and silver incense boat from 1718. Apart from that, there is a wooden polychromed sculpture of Christ Vir Dolorum (130 m) from the 1st half of the 16th century which is now kept in the Archdiocesan Museum in Gniezno.

Parafia Poklasztorna Wniebowzięcia N.M.P.
ul. Klasztorna 21
62-100 Wągrowiec

      Regional museum is situated in an antique building from the end of the 18th century, in the so-called Abbot's house, a former place of residence of the abbots of Wągrowiec. Permanent exhibition- historical exhibition concerns the history of Wągrowiec and the area. Its most important exhibit is, among many, the first edition of the Wujek's Bible from 1599; they also show the outfit the Cistercians wore and a banner with Wągrowiec's blazon. Apart from that, documents, photographs and material objects that document events which took place starting in the 17th century to the World War II.
      Sightseeing: normal ticket- 3zl, discount ticket- 2zl. Sundays-free. We invite you to visit the website of the Regional Museum in Wagrowiec
          Wooden church of St. Nicolas in Tarnów Pałucki has been under the auspices of the Cistercians from Łekno-Wągrowiec. It is the oldest in Poland wooden church which has survived in its original form. It is decorated with a polychromy from the 30ies of the 17th century. In future, the church together with a nearby cemetery is to be an open-air ethnographical museum of sacral architecture.

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