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Honourable patronage:

Bogdan Zdrojewski
Minister Kultury
i Dziedzictwa Narodowego

Międzynarodowa Rada
Ochrony Zabytków

Fot. Piotr Namiota
VOIVODESHIP: świętokrzyskie
DISTRICT: starachowicki
COMMUNE: Wąchock
DIOCESE: sandomierska
DECANATE: Starachowice
FOUNDATION: pocz. 1179 r.

History of the abbey

The beginnings of the Cistercians in Wąchock date back to the end of the 12th century. The year of 1179 is believed to be the year of its foundation, when the final phase of its realisation took place. It is probably the time when monks came here from Morimond. It is also assumed that the bishop of Kraków, Gadko was the founder of this cloister.
The monks received a number of villages and immunities. These grants were the starting point for the economic development. Most of the cloister's fortune was multiplied quite soon as the priory had a protection of those who ruled the country (Leszek Biały, Bolesław Wstydliwy) as well as generosity of the Little Poland's knights.
As a result of this wealth the abbey got a new church and some cloistral buildings.The church was build and consecrated before the Tatar Invasion in 1241. In connection with these enterprises the cloister gained in the first half of the 13th century a permission to mint coins.
Mongol invasions, especially the second one (1259-1260), brought great destruction of the cloistral properties.
The cloister had salterns in Bochnia given to them by Bolesław Wstydliwy. Along with the salterns in 1249 the cloister was given a privilege to search and exploit silver, gold, lead, copper and tin.
On its premises the cloister had granges, seats of the village council chair, tavern, at least 6 mills, 8 ponds and 2 stillworks. Their income came from manufacturing companies, granges, trade and salterns. In the 15th century the cloister developed a town centre in Wierzbica and Kazimierz. They entered the modern times as an economically well developed institution.
The priory had in their care parish churches in Wąchock, Mniszek and Skarżysko Kościelne.
The 17th and 18th centuries brought two unfavourable phenomena: Swedish Invasion and Rakoczy's army invasion, which in 1656 plundered and burnt down the cloister. Cloister's archives and a part of is monuments were destroyed. In 1696 the cloister was finally rebuilt.
After the congress of Vienna (1815) the cloister was in the Polish Kingdom. In 1819 the cloister was suppressed and the church changed into a parish. The buildings were taken over by the Mining Management of the Polish Kingdom, and the government included metallurgic plant (furnaces and forges): Bzin, Marcinkowo, Rojów, Starachowice, Wąchock and Węgłów. 2438 books, mostly liturgical and theological, were also taken over from the library.
In the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century the church was under diocesan clergy and in 1997 the parish gained the rest of the cloistral buildings. In 1951, after one and a half century of absence, the cloistral complex was again taken over by the Cistercians who came from Mogiła. A conventual priorare was established and in 1964 developed into an abbey.

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The Abbey today

The abbey today

The Cistercians came again to Wąchock in 1951 from Mogiła. The conventual priorate became an abbey in 1964. The cloistral complex is well preserved and is one of the most beautiful examples of Roman architecture in Poland. The southern and eastern wings are from the 13th century, western wing is from the end of the 13th century.
Inside the buildings there are many examples of epitaphs and commemorative plaques.


In the eastern wing there is a vestry from the 13th century, chapterhouse (one of the oldest Cistercian relics in Poland), on the first floor there is a dormitorium from the 12th century and a thirteen-century fraternity which was supposed to be a living room for the monks.
In the southern wing a refectory from the 13th century is the most important. There are three stained-glass windows presenting: "Miraculous multiplication of the loaves", a monk writing a book, Cistercian blazons, and St. Bernard. Architectonical details are richly decorated with floral ornaments.
In lapidarium there are loosely situated Roman architectonic elements (bases, shafts, capitals, segments of vault ribs) and former tombstones.
Roman galleries make the oldest part of Wąchock Abbey; they were rebuilt in the 17th century.
In the 16th century an abbot house with a small viridary was built on to the eastern part of the cloistral building.
In the garden there is St. Bernard's monument -a patron saint of the Cistercians.
In 1991 there was a museum of the Cistercian Fathers opened on the cloister's premises. It presents and commemorates important for the Cistercians moments from the abbey's history, the history of museum, the resistance movement and liberation war. The museum was set up on the basis of the collections of priest Walenty Ślusarczyk, a provost from Nowa Sól.


Cloistral church of Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Florien was built before 1241. Many architectural elements are covered with bas-relief decorations. Equipment is baroque.
On the left side of the entrance of the church a Stone Escutcheon is put up.It is an escutcheon of the bishop of Kraków, Gadka, a founder of the abbey in Wąchock.
Famous organs built by cloistral workshops are from the 2nd half of the 17th century and are believed to one of the most valuable in Poland. Woodcarving is rich here.
Above the Little choir from the 17th century there is keystone-the only in the abbey. On the floor there are fragments of old ceramic tiles.
In the church there are 12 baroque and rococo altars. The high altar is neo-roman, built in 1894 with a painting of the patron of the Cistercians: Mother of Jesus of Mercy with St Bernard and St. Florien (1st half of the 18th century).
Other places are also worth noting: the Chapel of Blessed Wincenty Kadłubek from the 17th century where in the altar there is a painting showing Wincenty Kadłubek the author of Polish Chronicle and a bishop of Kraków as well as his relics; the chapel of Crucifixion and the Chapel of St. Anna Samotrzeć in which there is a baptismal font from the 16th century and on the wall a painting showing the scene of taking over the abbey by the Cistercians.
There are also a rococo pulpit with a rich sculptural decoration and stalls on the both sides of presbytery.

Opactwo OO.Cystersów
ul. Kościelna 14
27- 215 Wąchock k/Starachowic
tel.: 0048 041 271 50 66

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