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Honourable patronage:

Bogdan Zdrojewski
Minister Kultury
i Dziedzictwa Narodowego

Międzynarodowa Rada
Ochrony Zabytków

Fot. Maria Przystsz
VOIVODESHIP: dolnośląskie
DISTRICT: Kamienna Góra
COMMUNE: Kamienna Góra
DIOCESE: legnicka
DECANATE: Kamienna Góra
FOUNDATION: przed 1292 r.

History of the abbey

The beginnings of the foundation date back the middle of the 13th century. According to the document from 1242 Princess Anna, Henryk Pobożny's widow, gave a forest estate CreMebor to the Czech Benedictines from Opatów. As far as the secular issues are concerned they were the responsibility of the prince, and the ecclesial issues were the concern of the Bishop of Wrocław. These conditions and impossibility to organize a convent made the Benedictines resign in 1289 from this foundation.
Prince Bolko I bought Krzeszów's properties and then founded the abbey for the Cistercians from Henryków. This abbey was to become the place of the burial of its founder and a necropolis of the following rulers of this principality of Świdnica-Jaworzno. The first monks came there on 9th August 1292.
There were more than 40 places with two towns: Lubawka and Chełmsko that belonged to the abbey, which the same as the principality were under the rule of the Czech kings. The sources state that there was significant devastation of the cloister during the Hussite Wars.
The situation in the cloister was influenced by the religious movements in Silesia. The abbey was at risk at the time of the Reformation. The number of the convent's members lowered. Lutheranism expended in ever-widening circles. The cities close and important for Krzeszów such as Świdnica and Kamienna Góra became very important places for Evangelicals in which Catholics were only the minority.
During the Thirty Years War the cloister was suppressed. In 1622 the unit of Cossacks plundered the cloister, next year the Swedish kindled the cloister. Library with very precious manuscripts burnt down. Evangelicals' victory in the final phase of the Thirty Years War was a blow for Krzeszów.
After the war however, a very influential counterreformation movement started. In 1667 the Abbot of Krzeszów banished 1240 infidels, the inhabitants of the village of Przedwojów. The activity of the abbey shows itself in the establishment of the Brotherhood of Saint Joseph, the development pilgrims' movement and modernization and building new churches. In 1674-1680 Krzeszów's calvary came into being, Loretan Chapel (1678), the Cult of the figurine of Emmanuel which was profaned by the Evangelicals and brought in 1690 from Kłodzko to Krzeszów develops. Numerous pilgrimages to Krzeszów are also proves of its success.
A special passion prayer book with songs of Angelus Silesius, a famous Silesian poet and mystic, was prepared for calvary. Michał Willmann's painting activity was also important in the propaganda of faith in Krzeszów.
The annexation of Silesia by Prussia in 1741 contributed to organisation's breakdown and abbey's economy. The plague of typhus in 1758 paralysed a further construction and artistic activities.
The convent was dismissed on 23 November 1810. Until 1814 the liquidation of the library took place. Most of its collection was taken to Wroclaw; some was given to Legnica and evangelical library in Kamienna Góra.
The cloistral church was changed into a parish church and its parish priest became the last, forty-seventh abbot of Krzeszów's convent. Post-cloistral buildings and works of art that were in there were destroyed and stolen away. This process was stopped in 1919 when the Benedictines from Emaus came.
In 1924 the convent was changed into an abbey. The restoration works started. In 1940 the cloister was commandeered by the Nazi. After the war the cloister was given to the Polish Benedictines who came here from Lvov. The ministry was consigned to the Cistercians care.

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The Abbey today

Today of the abbey

After 156 years the Cistercians came back to Krzeszów. These were three monks from the Abbey in Wąchock. The cloistral church of Blessed Virgin Mary the Gracious with a two-tower façade, Piast Mausoleum and a complex of chapels are the representatives of great, late-baroque art.


The cloister was not finished as the western wing was not built. There is only a fragment of the left wing of the complex preserved with a gothic fraternity from about the half of the 15th century.


The post-Cistercian Church of Blessed Virgin Mary's Grace received a title of Minor Basilica of the Assumption. Two-tower façade of Basilica is fascinating. The towers were built in 1735; high altar, stalls and organ prospectus are connected with the architecture of the temple. The interior is covered with monumental paintings. In the high altar there is a cult, medieval painting Madonna Krzeszowska from the 13th century which witnessed the abbey's founders (it was crowned in 1997 by Pope John Paul II). It is the oldest Marian painting in Poland and one of five oldest in Europe. Its interior is complemented by: stalls made about 1735, pulpit, side altars with Feliks Antoni Scheffler's paintings and Józefa Smisk's sculptures. Frescoes are devoted to specific saints.
Mausoleum of Silesian Piasts is integrated with presbytery. Most of the paintings and frescoes were created in 1741. They were built for the founders and benefactors of Krzeszów's Abbey. There are sarcophaguses of Bolko I and Bolko II. Inside the mausoleum there are monuments of sacral art, sculptures and paintings. Mausoleum's vault is decorated with frescoes presenting the history of the abbey.

Parafia Wniebowzięcia NMP - Bazylika Mniejsza
58-405 Krzeszów
pl. Jana Pawła II 6
Tel. 0048 75 7423325

In the church square there is a historic landmark a so-called borderer. The stones were used to mark cloister's properties.
Cemetery is rich in sacral monuments. It is divided into two parts: lower and upper. In the upper part there are 7 Stations of Krzeszów's Stations of the Cross: the 24th Station (Jesus falls for the third time), the 25th Station(Jesus is closed in the cave while the cross is being prepared), the 26th Station (Jesus is stripped off his garments), the 27th Station (Jesus is nailed to the cross), the 28th Station (Jesus dies on the cross), the 29th Station (Mother with Her Son's body taken off the cross), the 33rd Station (towards resurrection -Jesus in the abyss).

In the lower part of the cemetery we can enter Lord's Tomb situated in the Chapel of Mary Magdalene. There are three remaining stations: the 30th Station (anointing of Jesus), the 31st Station (Jesus is laid in the tomb), the 32nd Station (Lord's Tomb).
The Stations of the Cross is five-kilometre long. Stations and chapels lead from the church to Bethlehem - composed of a beautiful summer Pavilion on the water built by Abbot Rosa, Bethlehem Chapel, and Calvary Chapels. Oil paintings on the inside walls show scenes from the Old Testament. People were coming to Bethlehem to pray and to contemplate the beauty of nature. This house is the 5th Station of the Stations of the Cross. Nearby there is the 6th Station.


St. Joseph's Church was built in 1690-1696. The walls of presbytery and a chapel are full of paintings thus there are no windows. They are covered with a great series of paintings - the only of this type of seventeen-century painting in Silesia. It is the biggest series of painting by Willmann (in cooperation with Krzysztof Liszka and son -Michał). The series is from the final phase of his artistic work (1693-1698). The series is composed of 50 thematically connected however separate compositions.
Abbatial Palace - built in the 30ies of the 18th century on the west side of St. Joseph's Church. Now it is a guest house.

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