The Cistercians came in 1222 from the monastery in Lubiąż in Lower Silesia. They were brought by the Cracow bishop, Iwon Odrowąż, who originally settled them in Kacice, but after three years they were transferred to the Mogiła near Kraków. It is highly probable that the decision was influenced by disputes in the Odrowąż family and the functioning of the ancient Pagan ritual site associated with the Wanda Mound, the alleged grave of the tribal ruler. The construction of the church and monastery was discontinued in 1241, when it was ravaged by the Mongol invasion. The church was finally consecrated by the bishop of Cracow, Jan Prandota, in the presence of prince Bolesław V the Chaste in 1266. The fourth stage of the 13th century development of the monastery took place in the years 1266-1283, when the construction of the abbey’s monastic buildings was completed. At that time, the most significant extension of the monastery for western and southern wings was to be carried out by the abbot Herman, who “made the monastery considerably expanded and more useful for the whole congregation.” During the reign of king Casimir the Great the church and the monastery were renovated. Later, the temple was repeatedly rebuilt, thus becoming a unique mixture of romanesque and gothic style.
In the fifteenth century, the building was destroyed twice by fire. After the second fire, the abbot, Marcin Matyspasek, began the general rebuilding of the entire abbey. The church was then reinforced with buttresses. In the sixteenth century, a new vault was made, and one of the monks, Stanisław Samostrzelnik, decorated the church and the monastery with paintings. In the 16th century, during the rule of the abbot Erasmus Ciołek, there was a painting and illumination school in the monastery, whose most famous representative was Stanisław Samostrzelnik.
Mogiła was often visited by the rulers: queen Bona, Zygmunt the Old, Zygmunt August, Stefan Batory, and Zygmunt III Waza. In 1655, the Swedes occupied the monastery. A few monks died and the treasury was robbed. In 1657, the allied Austrian army conquered the monastery where king Jan Kazimierz lived with his wife Maria Gonzaga. In 1708 in Mogila a higher theological university was founded, the so-called General Study with the right to award scientific degrees. During the time of the Polish captivity and partitions, the monastery did not dissolve like other Cistercian monasteries, because it lay within the so-called Free Town of Cracow. During the Nazi occupation, the monastery was occupied by the Germans and the monks scattered. In 1946-48, the monastery church was restored, partially restoring its original appearance.
The church was built of brick with the use of sandstone for architectural and decorative details such as ancillary columns, ribs, bosses, pilaster strips and cornices. It is a basilica with a transept and a two-span presbytery flanked by two chapels. The elevation of the church is fragmented with buttresses in the corners and on the span division lines. At the height of the original top, friezes run. The eastern elevation of the presbytery has been distinguished by three large, pointed arch windows with oculus.
In the architecture of the church the early gothic style prevails with the preservation of numerous romanesque elements, in general, there was a smooth transition between this two medieval styles during construction. Unfortunately, in the 18th century, the facade of the church and the interior of the nave gained its early modern character. The presbytery, transept and chapels are covered with a 16th-century polychrome by Stanisław Samostrzelnik.
The monastery buildings were erected on the south side of the church. It consist of three wings that surround the inner patio with cloisters. In the light of the latest research, the eastern wing with the chapter from the first half of the 13th century can be considered the oldest. The southern and western wings were created a little later, in the second half of the 13th century. On the south-eastern side, during the 14th and 15th centuries, the original eastern wing was extended towards the south, where, inter alia, priorat (abbot’s house) was erected.
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