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Honourable patronage:

Bogdan Zdrojewski
Minister Kultury
i Dziedzictwa Narodowego

Międzynarodowa Rada
Ochrony Zabytków

Fot. Piotr Namiota
VOIVODESHIP: pomorskie
COMMUNE: Pelplin
DIOCESE: pelplińska
FOUNDATION: Pogódki (1258) - Pelplin (1278)

History of the abbey

Prince Sambor II, who was in conflict with the Cistercians from Oliwa wanted to establish a new abbey which was supposed to be a part of the cloister in Doberan. The new cloister was to be built in Pogódki village in June 1258. Sambor's efforts were supported by the Bishop of Wrocław Wolimir, who in 1261 turned to the General Capitulary in Citeaux with the formal petition and consecrated cloistral cemetery in Pogódki in 1263.
As a result of the later political maelstrom, the power in the abandoned district of Tczew was taken over by Mściwoj II, Sambor's nephew. On 2nd January, he wrote out a document that granted the Cistercians enormous property complex where Pelplin was situated.
Mściwoj's donation was accepted by the Cistercians from Pogódek, who finally on 27 October 1276 moved to Pelplin. Their new place of residence was in the Teutonic Order's country. When the whole Gdańsk Pomerania was seized by the Teutonic knights (1308-1309) the Cistercians of Pelpin gained the confirmation of the rights and properties from the Grand Master Karol of Trewir in 1312-1314.
The beginning of the 15th century brought the stabilization of the abbey's wealth. Most of their properties concentrated around two big complexes-Pelplin and Pogódek. Apart from that there were five more villages that belonged to the abbey; they were situated around Wisła, Tczew, Gdańsk and three big lakes in Kaszuby Lake District.
The first foundation privilege was from 1302 for Nowa Cerkiew and was given by the abbot Henryk of Hadersleben (1293-1305)
The decline of the 14th century, the first thirty years of the 15th century, that is, the long-lasting rule of Piotr Honigfeld (1402-1436) was the time of Pelplin's magnificence. Previously accomplished order in the numerous villages, as well as donations and legateships obtained mainly from the middle class of the Teutonic county that was getting rich contributed to the visible material increase of the abbey.
It was also a moment of the vivacious cloister's scriptorium. Next to the liturgical books and collections of sermons, they wrote books of deceased, the catalogue of brothers and converses, the books of customs (liber uduuni) and two books of privileges-the first one with texts of economic documents made by the Cistercians for the cloistral properties, and the second one-copies of the privileges that the cloister was given. The cloistral library grew rich with masterpieces that came from numerous gifts and were bought in France.
The following years were extremely unfavourable for the cloister. In 1433, when the Bohemian Hussites in the company of the Polish army invaded Pomerania, the cloister was plundered and kindled, and many of the villages were harried. Further damages were caused by the Thirteen Years War (1454-1466), when the units of the fighting men pillaged the cloister and its properties.
In 1464 king Kazimierz Jagiellończyk took the abbey under his care, confirmed all the privileges and supported the abbey with a financial donation.
After the war and devastation, in 1474 great plague killed almost the whole convent.
At the end of the 16th century, after a great crisis that was a result of the reformation, a clear revival could be observed in the life in Pelplin's cloister. It was initiated by the abbot Mikołaj Kostka (1592-1610) who started it by regulating all the material issues. He brought back cloistral obedience that was ordered by the observance. Similar activity was continued by the following abbots.
The longtime rule of Leonard Rembowski was a period of a renewed magnificence of the abbey in Pelplin. His contribution can be seen among many others in the final division of the properties into abbey's and convent's goods, new baroque decoration of the interior of the cloistral church. A famous organ tablature, which shows the level of monks' musical interests comes from his times, as well as, a great part of cloister's chronicle which is the most comprehensive historiographic work made in the 17th century on Gdańsk Pomerania.
The reforms from the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries were the beginning of a new period in the history of the abbey which lasted to the First Partition of Poland in 1772. It was the time when Pelplin was one of the most significant abbeys in the province of Poland and at the same time it was a mainstay of Catholicism in Royal Prussia. Apart from that, the abbots of Pelplin were perceived as the most outstanding personalities of the Church in Poland.
Two Polish-Swedish Wars (1617-1629 and 1655-1660, Great Northern War (1700-1721), contribution, crops failure and a great plague (1709-1711), as well as the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), had a negative impact on the economic situation of the cloister and monks' lives. However, quite quickly they managed with the destruction and difficulties they brought.
Only after 1772 a real risk for the abbey appeared. Prussian King Fryderyk II after he had taken over Gdańk Pomerania secularised the lands of the cloister. The next half of a century was vegetation. It brought a complete separation from the Polish Cistercian province and gradually more and more restrictions as far as novitiates' addmissions to the cloister were concerned, and finally in 1810 a ban of admitting new novitiates. The last 16 monks were given lifelong pensions. In 1823 the cloister was liquidated.
Thus after 547 years the abbey of Pelplin did not exist.
In 1842 Pelplin became the capital of Chełm diocese, and the post-Cisterican temple became a cathedral. The cloister became a Seminary and Collegium Marianum for bishops, and finally, in 1836 male Catholic High School.
During World War II the cathedral was closed. Various restoration works took place there, the high altar was renovated, and in 1971 a new zone of liturgy was organised on the crossing of a nave with a transept. From 1965 the cathedral is referred to as Minor Basilica, and was given this title by Pope Paul IV.

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The Abbey today

Today of the abbey


In the post-Cistercian building there is Collegium Marianum Liceum Katolickie im. Jana Pawła II and a Seminary. The way it looks now is from the time of its renovation and rebuilding in 1859-1868. The biggest changes were introduced in the western wing.
In the southern wing there is the original refectory. It is the oldest part of the cloister (13th century). In modern times galleries gained a lot of woodcarving and painting works of art. In 1864 the chapterhouse was changed into the Collegium Marianum Chapel of the Holy Cross.
Library's collections were taken over by the still existing Seminar Library. There are about 200 thousand manuscripts, old prints, and incunabulums, e.g. beautifully illuminated parchment Psalter (beginning of the 14th century), parchment gradual (14th century), a few hundred of codexes, liturgical-musical compositions e.g. 6-volume tablatures from Pelplin from 1595-1649. Many valuable exhibits of cultural heritage of Pomerania is in a Diocesan Museum: Madonny Szafkowe (12th and 13th century), sculptures, paintings, liturgical vestments, sacral vessels and Gutenberg's Bible-one of the most valuable relics of literature which is one of 47 copies that have survived in the world.

Collegium Marianum
al. Cystersów 2
83-130 Pelplin
tel. +48 58 536 49 32
fax +48 58 536 49 35

Muzeum Diecezjalne w Pelplinie
ul. Biskupa Dominika 11
83-130 Pelplin
tel.: +48 58 536 12 21
fax: +48 58 536 16 99


Post-Cistercian Basilica in Pelplin is the second biggest after the Church of Blessed Virgin Mary in Gdańsk object in Poland. This church is recognized as one of the most monumental sacral buildings of brick Gothic.
The oldest equipment of the church is from the 15th century, previous had not survived.
Oak stalls are also of great importance as far as woodcarving art is concerned. They were made in 1433 and they have 42 seats. Apart from that there are 22 abbot seat stalls with passion scenes that are artistically on the highest level. 22-seat prior's stall is less important artistically. 3-seat celebrant stall is also significant.
Another woodcarving and painting work of art is a complex of more than 20 altars mainly from the 17th century (about 1620-1670) . Three of them are made of marble, two of stucco, and the rest of wood. They are decorated with paintings by Herman Han. The most magnificent is multi-storey, decorated with numerous sculptures high altar from 1623/24.
The interior is complemented by: baroque pulpit from 1682, richly decorated baroque organs, 2 almost two-metre high bronze candlesticks from the beginning of the 18th century, rococo confessionals and benches from about 1760 ad a few epitaphial tombstones. Moreover, there is a lot of liturgical vestments, liturgical objects from the 17th and 18th century, and a chalice from the 2nd half of the 14th century. Antique goldsmith's products are kept in a vestry, cathedral strong room or Diocesan Museum in Pelplin.

Parafia Katedralna Wniebowzięcia NMP Bazylika Mniejsza
83-130 Pelplin,
Plac Mariacki 2
tel. 0048 58 536 15 64

Sightseeing only with a guide


The Church of Corpus Christi from the 1st half of the 14th century with cemetery. In the church there is an early-gothic marble Baptismal font, baroque altar of Holy Angels and rococo altars: high altar, altar of the Holy Family from the half of the 19th century. Gate building from the 15th century in which now there is a library. Former converses' dormitorium from the 1st half of the 14th century- appearance from 1850. It functions as a cultural object. In the so-called fire-place room there are music and poetic evenings.

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