Contact form

Visitors counter:


Honourable patronage:

Bogdan Zdrojewski
Minister Kultury
i Dziedzictwa Narodowego

Międzynarodowa Rada
Ochrony Zabytków
VOIVODESHIP: kujawsko-pomorskie
DISTRICT: chełmiński
COMMUNE: Chełmno
DIOCESE: toruńska
FOUNDATION: Czyste przed 1265r. od ok. 1265r. w Chełmnie

History of the abbey
             The beginnings of the foundation of the Cistercian nuns in Chełmno are not known. According to the legend the Prussian Mission Bishop, Chrystian was supposed to bring the nuns in 1230, which were to come from Trzebnica. Scientists believe it was about 1265.
      It seems that the first reliable information about the Cistercian nuns was from 1266 and concerns the convent which had already existed. In this year, Bertold from Czysty and his wife, Krystyna, gave the Cistercian nuns their properties at the same time maintaining the right to use them until their death. This grant was confirmed in 1285 by the Bishop of Chełmno, Fryderyk von Hausen.
      One year after the donation of Bertold, at the request of Bishop Fryderyk and master of the Teutonic Order, Ludwik von Baldescheim, the mayor and the city council of Chełmno granted the Cistercian nuns four building lots with a gate in the north-east part of the town which previously belonged to Konrad of Papow.
      The nuns had however one condition, they had to maintain guards in this part of the town, had to pay for maintenance of the town's embankments, and in future they were obliged to build defensive walls. Apart from that, they were given one fief and 39200 sq meters of farmland upon Fryba River.
      In 1275 Prince of Pomerania, Sambor II gave them the patronage over the Church of the Holy Cross in Toruń, stream and a mill near Tczew and four villages. In the document he enumerates the first abbess of Chełmno, Zofia.
      The convent in Chełmno was quite important and in 1282 Pope Martin IV gave them a protective bull for the cloister, its properties and income.
      In 1295 Mikołaj of Rutek gave them his properties. The next grant was in 1312 and was an act of gratitude of the Teutonic Master Konrad from Trewir for the defeat of the Lithuanians. The convent gained a village of Grabowo near Świecie.
      About 1388 the convent of Chełmno was joined with the convent from Toruń. As a consequence, in 1417, the Grand Master Michał Kuchmeister granted them a part of an income from the pilgrimage chapel in Zamartem near Chojnice; twenty years later the chapel became their property.
      The following grants and properties were not the only ones of the convent of Chełmno. In the middle of the17th century they had patronages over a few churches, money, 29 villages near Chełmno and Świecie.
      It is worth mentioning that in 1249 Grand Master of the Teutonic Order founded in Królewiec a branch of Chełmno's cloister. Nuns from Chełmno and Toruń settled in it.
      The convent from Chełmno distinguished from other ones by the fact that it was not subordinate to the Diocesan Bishop and did not have a male parent monastery. As a result of this, it was independent and self-sufficient. This allowed them to adopt less strict observance of the Benedictines in about 1439.
      In the first half of the 16th century the Reformation reached Pomerania. The situation worsened due to the plague. As a result, there were only two nuns left in the convent. The mother superior was in favour of the Reformation and wanted to dissolve the convent. She was not admitting novitiates, and was giving away and selling the cloistral goods and properties. In order to save the convent two Bernadine nuns and one from the order of St. Claire were brought. It resulted in the conflict with Benedictines and despite the fact that Mother Lubodzierska came back to Catholicism it did not save the convent. The novitiates that were admitted did not stay there long. In this situation, a new Bishop of Chełmno, Piotr Kostka, decided in 1574, after the death of the last nuns, to hand over the convent to the Jesuits. When on 25th November 1578 the last of the Benedictines, Agnieszka Plewięcka, died and there was only Zofia Izbieńska left it seemed that the situation of the cloister was determined. However, it was not true.
      At the end of December 1579, a niece of Bishop Kostka, Magdalena Mortęska, with her friends joined the convent in Chełmno. In the same year she was chosen an abbess and started to renovate and improve the congregation. The personality of a young, 24-year old abbess was so strong that more and more postulants were coming.
      In 1580-1601 about 100 novitiates came to the convent from all over the Polish Republic. Among them there were young townswomen, noblewomen, and great ladies.
      The abbess Mortęska emphasised education of the nuns. Each of the nuns that was joining the convent had to learn to read in Polish and Latin during one year. She also attached importance to the development of music in the convent, especially polyphonic choral singing, which thanks to her, was introduced in the liturgies in 1589. Due to her initiative a large library was set up and the convent itself became a very important centre of culture and arts. Magdalena Mortęska also had a great impact on education. It is because of her that next to the congregation a recognized and the most modern school for young ladies from the noble and bourgeois families was established. They were taught how to read, write, sing, count and embroider.
      All students, no master of their social class, were treated alike. The alumnae received not only education but they were also inculcated great faith and devotion.
      The period of the rules of abbess Mortęska was the best in the history of this cloister. The church gained new accessories; cloistral buildings were renovated and rebuilt. Twenty new convents were established which were mainly settled by the nuns from Chełmno. All of the new cloisters were equipped by the mother convent with books, clerical garbs, and liturgical gear.
      During the Swedish Wars the convent suffered a lot. Nuns left the convent and went to Bydgoszcz which was the result of bad economic situation. After abbess Mortęska death in 1631, the cloister was not that important any more. At the end of the 17th century her beatification process started, however it was stopped by bad political situation and until these days it has not been finished.
      It is worth noting, that in the later history of the convent one of the mother superiors was Mikołaj Kopernik's sister, Warmia's canon.
      As a result of the First Partition of Poland, Chełmno found itself within Prussia. New authorities took over the cloistral properties and the nuns were moved to the convent in Bysławek.
      On 24th 1821 Prussian King Fryderyk Wilhelm III handed over the buildings with previous goods of the Benedictines to the Sisters of Charity which were there from 1694. Almost right away they organized a hospital here, and in 1845 an elementary school for girls and an orphanage. In 1845 they opened a boarding school for 12 students. This girls' boarding school, as well as the elementary school and the orphanage endured only to the year 1875 when it was liquidated by the Prussian authorities.
      The broadening of the convent's activities resulted in the growth of the number. It was partially connected with the fact that in 1863 the headquarters of the Central House of the Monastic Province and novitiate was moved here from Poznań. Three years later, in 1866, the area of the cloister started to be expanded.
      When the Sisters of Charity took their rights to run school they concentrated their activity (apart from the foreign missions) on running a hospital which was enlarged. Currently, they run a specialist institution for the mentally and physically disabled women and the only in Poland Specialist Children's Home.    

↑ Top

The Abbey today

Today of the abbey

Since the 19th century the cloistral complex together with the Church of John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist is in the hands of Sisters of Mercy of St. Wincenty ? Paulo where they work in charities. Within the complex there are hospital and cloistral buildings, gardens and a church. Quite big rebuilding and development of the complex took place at the end of the 19th century.


A part of the buildings is now occupied by the Public Assistance Home for Children and Adults (Dom Pomocy Społecznej dla Dzieci i Dorosłych).
On the ground floor there are so called "Teutonic galleries" and rooms for women.
On the first floor there are rehabilitative rooms and rooms for children.
Former infectious diseases ward of the Cistercian hospital now is a part of the Home for men and the floor is changed into children's ward.
Extension in the neo-gothic style is now one of the farm rooms of the Home.
The Tower of Mściwój (Mestwina) borders the cloistral building on the north-west side. The tower is from the beginning of the 13th century and it is a part of the former Teutonic Stronghold. Buildings between the Tower and a church have various functions: Public Assistance Home's rooms, Sisters' apartments, warehouse and administrative rooms.

Zgromadzenie Sióstr św.Wincentego a Paulo
Prowincja Chełmińsko-Poznańska
ul. Dominikańska 40
86-200 Chełmno
tel. 0048 56 691 22 00
fax. 0048 56 691 12 60


The Post -Cistercian Church of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist is from the half of the 13th century. The interior has two storeys. The lower part of the church is for lay people, whereas, the upper part, called the inner gallery, is available only for the nuns. The interior is richly decorated. The entrance portal from 1619 rivets attention. The way the inner gallery looks now is from the 19th century. It is decorated with: a portrait of Abbess Mortęska (painted after her death in 1658), gothic wall polychromies in the form of a narrow sill frieze which is composed of 44 scenes. Paintings are linear and devoid of intensity. They are from about 1330.
Apart from that, there are other objects worth noting: High altar with rich woodcarving and sculptural decoration (18th century); painting 'Pieta' adored by angels from the 17th century; gothic tombstone of Arnold Lischoren from the end of the 13th century which is the oldest tombstone in Pomerania and is built into a wall in the Mary Magdalene's Chapel; epitaph dedicated to the dead nuns founded by Abbess Magdalena Mortęska in 1599, in its centre there is a scene of Resurrection of Lazarus; pulpit from the end of the 16th century; gothic sculpture of Christ (side chapel), life-sized, made of wood from about 1300 it show Christ in the Tomb.
There are also: organ prospectus - one of the oldest manneristic prospects in Poland; stalls from 1597-1598 and paintings of the Stations of the Cross.

↑ Top

Display count: 198468