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Honourable patronage:

Bogdan Zdrojewski
Minister Kultury
i Dziedzictwa Narodowego

Międzynarodowa Rada
Ochrony Zabytków

Fot. Piotr Namiota
VOIVODESHIP: małopolskie
DISTRICT: Limanowa
COMMUNE: Jodłownik
DIOCESE: tarnowska
FOUNDATION: 1231-1234/38-1242 od ok. 1245 w Szczyrzycu
ABOLISHMENT DATE: istnieje nieprzerwanie do dziś

History of the abbey

The foundation process connected with the settlement of the Cistercians in Podhale dates back to 1231-1243. The first place of residence was in Ludźmierz. The province governor of Cracow, Teodor of Gryfitów made an effort to bring the Cistercians to this town.
The foundation in Ludźmierz was probably established in 1231-1234 or 1238-1242. It is not sure which town was the mother abbey of the Ludźmierz abbey. It is said that it may be cloister in Sulejów or Jędrzejów. The monks who came here were from Jędrzejów. About 1238 first Cistercians already were in Ludźmierz, it is not know, however, how the original buildings looked like. The first endowment consisted of properties donated by Teodor and gathered before his death about 1237.
The reasons of the foundation were complicated; these were devotional reasons, private initiative of Teodor Grafita, political reasons, social-economic, colonization process, and economic activation of the Carpathian lands.
The Cistercian foundation, the same as the foundation of the nuns of the Order of St. Clare from Sącz, took part in unprecedented colonization of Podhale.
Difficult climate conditions, flooding, highland robbers' attacks, these are the reasons which made the monks move to the Valley of Stradomka. Finally, after the Tartar Invasion in 1241 the cloister was translocated to Szczyrzyc. Part of the convent left Ludźmierz between 1239 and 1243.
The original endowment was organised in distant domains and the location of the abbey was in an inhospitable, secluded, and harsh land. These conditions made it difficult to foster new urban system based on integrated and well organized manors.
The oldest authentic document that mentions Szczyrzyc and the Cistercian monks is from 1238. The resumption of the foundation was connected with the confirmation of all the donations of the already dead founder and aggregation of the goods and properties.
In 1251 Bolesław Wstydliwy confirmed the privilege from 1234 concerning the foundation of villages in Podhale. Szczyrzyc's estate included a greater part of western Podhale and spread itself towards east, to Ostrówsko and Dębno.
The process of Podhale's colonization by the Cistercians was quite slow. The real colonization started when the convent was moved to Szczyrzyc.
A document from 1254 enumerates their properties, and among them there were fields and meadows of the following villages: Dębno, Długopole, Ludźmierz, Ostrowiec, Ostrówsko and Wilczepole. They constituted germs of the oldest settlements: Dębno, Długopole, Ludźmierz, Nowy Targ, Ostrowsk and Waksmund. In 1308 Władysław Łokietek give the cloister a privilege to found villages on a so-called German law. King Kazimierz Wielki confirmed this privilege in 1333.
In the 2nd quarter of the 14th century Nowy Targ was mentioned as a town belonging to the Cistercian cloister in Szczyrzyc. On the basis of information that we have, it seems that the first foundation of the town of Nowy Targ was probably made on the law of średzko, and then there was another foundation in a different place on a magdeburgian law-and in this situation the Cistercians lost their right to the town.
When the King took over Podhale, Cistercian properties were confiscated between 1335 and 1338. Only the villages of Ludźmierz and Krauszów and a place were they founded a village of Rogoźnik were theirs.
In the 15th century the cloister concentrated on putting all the properties in one demesne of Szczyrzyc and it was the time when they gained a number of new properties.
The 16th century was the period of constant problems with managing landed properties, trails with neighbours, disputes over property rights and powers in particular estates. Many of them lasted for years and were quite boisterous.
In 1580 Abbot Edmund ? Cruce visited the Abbey and noted that all the buildings but the church, were wooden and too old. The church and the convent needed equipment and he emphasized that there were only five priests and only three of them were local.
The Cistercians from Szczyrzyc studied at Krakow Academy.
The 17th and 18th centuries are the time of wars, march-pasts, plunders, and prosperity during the rule of abbot Drohojowski who started baroque rebuilding of the abbey in 1610 and which was finished by his successor Remigiusz Łukowski about 1640. The cloister kept all its properties until 1794, that is, the moment when the last abbot Remigiusz Grzymisławski died.
After the first partition of Poland and an attempt to suppress the cloister in 1795 Austrian government confiscated a bigger part of the possessions. Szczyrzyc's properties were exchanged for Saliny in Kałusz with Count Dzieduszycki. In 1843 Czech monks came here. Without avail they tried to get back their properties. After they came back to the Czech Republic, the Polish Cistercians returned in 1848.
In 1868 the cloister repurchased a part of their properties from the hand of Countess Dzieduszycka. In 1918 Pope Benedict XV gave them back the status of an abbey. During World War II secret middle school courses took place in Szczyrzyc, and after the war there was a cloistral middle school which was closed in 1955.

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The Abbey today

The abbey today

The abbey of Szczyrzyc was not suppressed, but in 1794 it lost its position of an abbey and was changed into a priorate. In 1918 Pope Benedict XV once again created an abbey there.


The present building was erected in the 17th century. Numerous Gothic, Gothic-renaissance and Renaissance architectonical details confirm its past.
In the gallery there are antique paintings, for example The Last Supper (2nd half of the 16th century), Christ-Flemish school (17th century), Pieta-Spanish school (16th century) and a sculpture - Christ Crucified -Gothic sculpture from 1440.
A granary from the 17th century is also a part of the cloistral complex. Now there is a museum which has archives, works of art, armory, liturgical vessels and vestments, coins, Old Polish clocks, regional and folk section, a section devoted to Władysław Orkan and a collection of parchment manuscripts, Krzyż Dobrej Drogi from the 15th century, bas-relief vote for saving the cloister, a collection of chalices, swords, and stones (more than 4 thousand including a piece of meteorite). The most precious is a section with paintings. A 19th reproduction of the map of the world from the 13th century made by the Benedictines in Epsdorff is also very valuable. It is the only copy in Poland.
There is also the oldest brewery in Poland. It was set up during the reign of Abbot Stanisław Drohojowski. The history of brewing beer is shown in one of the halls of the cloistral museum as well as a collection of szczyrzyc beer labels.


The present church of the Assumption and St. Stanisław the Bishop was built in about 1620 thanks to the Stanisław Korczak Drohojowski's foundation.
A brilliantly carved door leads to the temple. The door is suspended in a gothic portal and was made by a local monk in the middle of the 17th century.
The inside is covered with a polychromy made by Jan Łukowski in 1913. The interior is baroque and rococo.
A few things are worth mentioning: a baroque high altar with a painting showing Holy Mother Assumpted from abbot Remigiusz Łukowski's foundation (beginning of the 17th century); Miraculous painting of Mother of Jesus of Szczyrzyc from the 16th century; a rococo pulpit from the 2nd half of the 18th century showing St. Stanisław the Bishop on a canopy; a crucifix from the 1st half of the 16th century; a stone stoup with four bas-relief pictures showing Christ's suffering from the end of the 16th century.
The interior is supplemented with epitaphs from the 17th and 18th centuries of abbots Stanisław Drohojowski, Remigiusz Łukowski and Gerard Pastoriusz. In the church there are also chalices from the 17th and 18th centuries.


Opactwo OO.Cystersów
34-623 Szczyrzyc 1
tel. 0048 018 332 00 04

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