Founders’ Cloisters, Szczyrzyc Abbey

The first cloister of the monastery building comes from the first half of the 17th century and contains large portraits of Founders of the Cistercian Order: St. Robert, St. Alberic and St. Stephen Harding. The Cistercian Order (Ordo Cisterciensis) was established by St. Robert of Molesme, the first abbot from Citeaux (Lat. Cistercium) in France. St. Alberic (1050–1108) and St. Stephen Harding (1059–1134) were reformers of the monastic life and abbots of the Citeaux monastery. The Cistercian abbey in Szczyrzyc goes back more than 750 years. It was founded by the Krakow Voivode Teodor Cedro who held the coat of arms of Gryf. He gave Cistercians from Jędrzejów vast areas in Podtatrze where the Cistercians established a monastery in Ludźmierz in 1234. The cult of the Mother of God characteristic for the Cistercians first became popular in Ludźmierz where the figurine of the Ludźmierska Mother of God became its symbol, and after that in Szczyrzyc with its Szczyrzycka Mother of God painting. The Cistercians from Ludźmierz and Szczyrzyc established Nowy Targ, built a fortified castle in Szaflary, transformed wild areas into arable fields, engineered the course of rivers, built bridges, mills and breweries, established fruit orchards and apiaries as well as trained young people in crafts, especially those related to agriculture. After the partitioning of Poland, the Cistercians from Szczyrzyc lost their land. Many refugees from various parts of Poland were sheltered in the abbey during the Nazi occupation. The Szczyrzyc abbey was awarded the Virtuti Military Cross for the particular bravery demonstrated during the World War II. After the political transformation in Poland, the Cistercians bought back some of the land on which they continue their agrarian traditions.

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