Mstów – Augustine Monastery


   The genesis of the monastery in Mstów is not sure. One theory is that it was founded in 1218 in relation with the arrival of lateran canons, under the decision of the Cracow bishop of Iwo Odrowąż. Another says that the canons settled in Mstów already before 1145 on the initiative of Piotr Włostowic, with the approval of Władysław Wygnaniec and the Cracow bishop Robert, and the role of Odrowąż was limited only to confirming earlier giving for the monastery and putting parish priesthood under it, which happened in 1220. The monastery until the beginning of the fifteenth century was a branch of the abbey of Wrocław, only later became independent, gaining autonomy, and then also the title of the abbey. At its side, the settlement developed dynamically, which in 1279 received city rights. At the time, Mstów was a frontier center with a ford on the Warta river and a customs chamber. This fact probably contributed to the construction of wooden monastery fortifications.
In the first half of the fifteenth century, a new gothic building was erected on the site of the old church. Several dozen years later, new monastery buildings were added to its northern curtain. During the following years, the monastery building was also used as a parish school and hospital in addition to residential and religious functions. Over the centuries it has repeatedly undergone modifications and transformations.
At the beginning of the 17th century, the previous fortifications of the monastery were replaced with new ones built of stone and brick. However, they did not stop the Swedes, who in 1655 burnt the city and the monastery. Wars with Sweden, as well as changes in the balance of power between regional centers, meant that Mstów lost its economic significance, mainly to Jasna Góra in Częstochowa.
After the church fire in 1702, the local chapter decided to build a new temple, which was completed in 1742. Further destructions in the eighteenth century, left the Russian and Prussian armies and three fires. In 1798, the monastic property was deleted and became the property of the state. In the years 1925-36, the local priest Michał Maniewski restored the devastated objects and reconstructed the defensive circuit, and in 1990 regular canons returned to Mstów.


   The monastery church, the appearance of which is unknown today, was built in the south-western part of the complex. If we assume that the early modern building was erected with the use of old foundations, it was a three-aisle basilica with a transept and a four-sided chancel on the eastern side. A monastery buildings with three wings, made of stone and brick, adjoined the church from the north, of which the oldest southern one, built in the 15th century, was characterized by thick walls with small Gothic windows. On its two floors there were, among others chapter house, library, prison for monks and rooms for the subjects of the monastery. At the beginning of the 17th century, the monastery was surrounded by a stone wall reinforced with 10 towers. The circuit was complemented by a guardhouse and two gates: the main one from the south and the economic one from the east.

Current state

   The original Romanesque church, later Gothic, ceased to exist in the first half of the 18th century, when a new, three-aisle building was erected The present day reconstructed wall with nine towers and remnants of the northern tower, a belfry rebuilt from the south gate, and the converted former guardhouse building, have survived. The monastery building is now used as a vicarage.

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Pilch J., Leksykon zabytków architektury Górnego Śląska, Warszawa 2008.
Website, Mstów, warowny zespół klasztorny.