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Honourable patronage:

Bogdan Zdrojewski
Minister Kultury
i Dziedzictwa Narodowego

Międzynarodowa Rada
Ochrony Zabytków
VOIVODESHIP: kujawsko-pomorskie
DISTRICT: toruński-grodzki
DIOCESE: toruńska

History of the abbey

It is very difficult to reconstruct the history of the Cistercian convent in Toruń as after the municipal council took St. Jacob's church from the Benedictines and handed it over to the Protestant, it destroyed all the archives.
On the basis of the available documents it may be assumed that the nuns were brought by the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, Hanno von Sangershausen in 1263. They probably lived at St. Jacob's Church.
By the order of Dietrich von Altenburg two convents were joined: Cistercian and Benedictines. It was supposed to help poor Benedictines as the Cistercian nuns were believed to be one of the richest convents in Toruń. Ludwik Konig confirmed this fact and he also handed over the patronage over the school, rectory and St. Jacob's church, and Cistercian properties. From that moment on, the Cistercian nuns from Toruń were ruled by the Benedictine abbess.
In the middle of the 14th century they tried to found a branch of Toruń's convent in Królewiec. The information about sending the nuns to Królewiec is the last one about the Cistercian nuns from Toruń.
In 1392 Benedictine's cloister was consumed by the fire. Then, the nuns moved to the post-Cistercian building near St. Jacob's Church. Thanks to the numerous donations they managed to rebuild the cloister and the church where the nuns came back in 1410. Some of the nuns stayed in a new place, thus creating a branch of the convent. The convent at St. Jacob's church did not exist long. Due to the plague of the 2nd half of the 16th century all the nuns died and in 1579 the Evangelicals took over the cloister.
The Protestants decided to take over deteriorated cloister. As a result of a deceit they took over all the documents connected with the propriety rights. When the nuns could not prove their rights to the buildings, the Protestants took over the church, a part of the cloistral building and other buildings where they created a shelter for the poor Evangelicals.
In October 1652 Dorota Jankowska was chosen abbess of the Benedictines. Her main aim was to get back all the plundered properties, including the church and St. Jacob's cloister. After she had tried all the amicable ways she started a trial with a city council of Toruń.
Her efforts were continued by Agnieszka Wolska. In July 1667 the third royal committee came to Toruń, this time it was supported by an army unit, as a result of this the Protestants gave back the temple and the cloister to the Benedictines. The nuns immediately started to clean up and renovate the cloistral building which the Protestants changed into a granary. On the ground floor a kitchen was organized, on the first floor refectory and on the second floor cells for the nuns. Next to the building they built a school for the secular girls who were supposed to learn in the cloister.
The Benedictines also run a hospital and a shelter for 12 poor women. Once a week, on Sunday, 12 poor people from the town were coming to the nuns for help. They were given food and money. Once a year, probably at church fair, the nuns organized a feast for all the poor from the town.
As a result of the First Partition of Poland Toruń found itself within the Prussia.
In 1733 the partitioners confiscated all the cloistral properties and paid the convent a yearly pension which allowed them to maintain the objects and to live peacefully. They were also supported with food by some pious parishioners.
In 1807 Napoleonic army changed St. Jacob's church into a room for prisoners of war. After Napoleon's defeat, in 1815 Prussian authorities did not allow to admit new novitiates to the convent.
In 1830 the last abbess died. In March 1833 the convent was suppressed and the nuns were made to leave it until 15th April. The nuns tried to appeal to the Prussian king without success. On 15th April they left the convent. Being penniless, they found protection in a shelter for the poor. In November they moved to Żarnowiec which was not suppressed yet by the authorities.
After the liquidation of Toruń's cloister, Prussian authorities established a military prison and next rebuilt the object into flats. The church became a parish temple.

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The Abbey today

Today of the abbey

During the first century of its existence the cloister changed its place for a few times, moving to various churches in Toruń: the Church of the Holy Cross, St. Laurence's Church, St. Jocob's Church and in 1415 to the Church of the Holy Spirit.


St. Jacob's Church is one of three preserved gothic churches in Toruń that have survived until these days. In 1997 this church together with the Old Town was inscribed on UNESCO'S List of World Heritage. It is the only in Toruń temple in the form of a basilica. The church has preserved its original gothic interior and polychromies. In presbytery there is a ceramic frieze from 1311 with an inscription commemorating the moment of laying the first stone for building the new temple.
There is a big baroque altar from 1731 and in its retable there is a painting showing the saint patron of the temple-St. Jacob the Older. In presbytery's basements there is a burial crypt in which the nuns were buried. From the original equipment of this church only wall polychromies have survived (for example, a series of paintings devoted to the Last Judgment from 1350-1360, an illustration St. Maria Magdalene's life from 1380-1390 and images of saints), a few sculptures (a mystical crucifix in the form of Tree of life is the most valuable, apart from that, Madonna with an Infant Jesus from the 14th century, A Black Crucifix believed to be miraculous and a so called Rosary Madonna with an Infant Jesus from the 15th century), as well as, a painting of Passion placed in presbytery. The rest of objects is from the 17th and 18th centuries, and these are among others baroque and rococo altars. A wooden baroque Baptismal font from the half of the 17th century and music inner gallery where in 1611 a richly sculpture organ prospectus was placed.


A hospital building from the 14th century with a preserved gothic crucifix from the 1st half of the 15th century.

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