The Cistercian monastery in Jędrzejów was founded in 1140 by the powerful family of Jaksa-Gryfit, who brought monks from Morimond in Burgundy. The new foundation was given the name Morimondus Minor, or Morimond Smaller. When the Cistercians organized a settlement for the population, it was later named Jędrzejów after the name of the patron of the east St. Andrew the Apostle. It was the first Cistercian convent in Poland. Initially, the monks used a small church that existed in the village from around 1108. The solemn consecration of the new monastery church was made in 1210 by the bishop of Kraków and the chronicler Wincenty Kadłubek.
In 1447, the abbot was Mikołaj Odrowąż from Rembieszyce. He set out a plan for a thorough reconstruction of the church and the monastery with cloisters. He introduced a gothic to a romanesque church, and built a separate building of abbots with a hospice. He invited famous masters to artistic works at the abbey, including Wit Stwosz and Kraków goldsmiths: Mikołaj Kregler and Mikołaj Breimer.
The Swedish Deluge contributed to the economic ruin of the monastery, during which the abbey was robbed, and fires in 1726 and in 1800. In the first of the fires the church burnt down, the walls were weakened and the vault was destroyed. After the reconstruction, the church has already gained a late baroque appearance. The second fire proved to be worse in the consequences for the monastery itself, because the archive and the library burned down. In 1819, the Cistercian Order was suppressed on the territory of Poland, and a few decades later, a Russian male teacher’s seminar was established in the monastery walls.
The pre-Cistercian church from the 12th century was built of limestone cubes using sandstone in structural elements and in foundations. A single nave building on the west side had an apse divided into two floors. The upper one was a gallery extended into the nave and supported on a pillar. Above the apse there was a tower with an unusual seven-sided cross-section. The decoration was made of corner pilaster strips and an arcaded frieze under the cornice. The eastern part of the church was also ended with an apse, thanks to which it was very similar to the romanesque temple in Prandocin.
The medieval monastery church was, according to the Cistercian scheme, a three-nave basilica with a transept and a straight ended, two-span chancel, flanked by a pair of chapels. It was erected from large, perfectly processed sandstone blocks with faces decorated with delicate cuts. It is not known what the church façades originally looked like. The vaults were probably cross-ribbed, supported by ancillary columns. It were one of the earliest rib vaults in Poland. On the south and west side of the church, there were monastery buildings, surrounding the cloisters. In the eastern wing there was a chapter house with an interior on a square plan consisting of nine spans based on four pillars, supporting rib vaults.
The entire monastery was heavily rebuilt in the 18th century by adding a two-tower, baroque façade to the chancel, the addition of chapels from the north, and a complete change of the church’s interior and furnishing. From the Middle Ages a semi-circular stone tower in the central part of the monastery and a fragment of the old façade, still from the pre-cistercian church from before 1118, are preserved. Next to it is a romanesque portal and a small window from the early 13th century. There are also gothic cloisters with rib vaults.
Jarzewicz J., Kościoły romańskie w Polsce, Kraków 2014.
Sztuka polska przedromańska i romańska do schyłku XIII wieku, red. M. Walicki, Warszawa 1971.
Webpage wikipedia.org, Archiopactwo Cystersów w Jędrzejowie.