Wrocław – abbey of St Vincent in Ołbin


   The abbey founded in the thirties of the twelfth century the magnate Peter Wlostowic. The first written mention comes from 1139, when the abbot Radulf received St. Michael’s church from the bishop of Wrocław, situated not far from the monastery. In 1145, the founder offered the abbey relic of St. Vincent, received from the German king Konrad III. Soon prince Boleslaw IV Curlew gave the monks chapel of St. Martin in Wrocław and the chapel of St. Benedict in Legnica with a salary, market and tavern in Wrocław and a market in Kostomłoty. The donation was to be paid to Piotr Włostowic, who spoke on behalf of the younger brothers against Władysław the Exileer and by the will of the senior lost the goods. In 1149 the monastery church was consecrated with dedication of The Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Vincent, whose Marian apparition soon disappeared.
In the second half of the 12th century a monastery was built north of the church. In 1193, due to the loosening of the Benedictine monastic discipline, monks were removed from Ołbin and Norbertans were brought in their place. They raised monastic buildings south of the monastery church. First, the eastern wing was built with the chapter house and chapel of the Holy Trinity. After the demolition of the old monastery at the end of the 13th century, cloisters with southern and western wings were formed. The church was also rebuilt. In 1319 a new choir and new chapels were built.
In the 15th century, the abbey suffered from the Hussite wars and the war for the Czech Crown. Faced with the threat of Turkish invasion in 1529, the abrupt demolition of the abbey began, as feared monastery could become the suport of the invaders. The material obtained from the demolition was used, among others, to pave the way of New Market in Wrocław and to build the house of Heinrich Rybisch. Sculptures in 1529 were built in the facade of the hospital All Saints and the tower of Nicholas Gate. In 1546, the abbey portal was placed in the south facade of the St.  Mary Magdalene cathedral in Wrocław.


   The abbey was erected on a hill between the Oder backwaters, on its right bank. They were connected by a levee with the road to Milicz and located near the ferry and the market square, which was originally part of the monastery’s salary. St. Vincent abbey church (originally St. Mary) was a three-aisle basilica with a side aislse length of about 55 meters. It had at least six bays covered with a flat timber ceiling and a four-sided tower on the west side.
   Monastery buildings were located south of the church, and another built up courtyard was south of it. North-west of the abbey church was the church of St. Michael, and on the eastern side the church of All Saints. The church St. Michael was a single-nave building with a west tower and an apse on the opposite side. In total, the Ołbin Abbey included 3 churches, 48 vaulted buildings and 7 courtyards.

Current state

   The abbey has not survived to modern times. The remaining, few Ołbin monuments are currently located in the National Museum in Wrocław and the Museum of Architecture in Wrocław. They come from two phases. The first Benedictine phase from the 2nd quarter of the twelfth century consisted of 5 column heads, 2 busts of saints and the foundation tympanum. The second, the Norbertan phase from the end of the twelfth century include: a portal built in the facade of the St. Mary Magdalene cathedral, two archivolts from this portal and a tympanum depicting the cross.

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Świechowski Z., Architektura na Śląsku do połowy XIII wieku, Warszawa 1955.
Świechowski Z., Sztuka romańska w Polsce, Warszawa 1990.

Website wikipedia.org, Opactwo św. Wincentego na Ołbinie.