he Monastery of Discalced Carmelites in Zagórz was founded by the Voivode of Volhynia Jan Franciszek Stadnicki coat-of-arms
Śreniawa (d. 1713), allegedly as a votive offering for the defense of Lesko against the Swedish army during their invasion of 1655-60. We do not know the foundation act, but based on historical records we can assume that construction work on this project began at the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, possibly as early as 1700, and was continued intermittently over the next three decades. Just before his death Stadnicki bequeathed to the Carmelites a permanent fund for the maintenance of 12 soldiers of noble birth in the monastery hospital, and a year later the first monks arrived here, initially occupying five cells. Then, on August 24, 1714, the solemn introduction of the Discalced Carmelites to new foundation took place by the Bishop of Przemyśl, Jan Kazimierz de Alten Bokum, who also laid the cornerstone of the church.
NORTHERN ELEVATION OF THE CHURCH, IN FRONT OF THE ENTRANCE THERE IS A MARIAN OBELISK
The old term hospital may be misleading to contemporaries because today the word poorhouse would be more appropriate to the nature of this place. The veterans of the memorable battle with the Turkish army, which took place near Vienna in 1683, were the first to find shelter there. Twelve poor invalids of noble origin were chosen by the Lesko inheritor, but at the beginning of the 19th century thier number was limited to five for financial reasons. Their livelihood was provided by fixed fund sums, including Viennese bonds, leases from the Krosne and Nowotaniec estates, and one-time or periodic donations from the local nobility.
The monastery stopped serving as a protective institution in 1831 with its liquidation. Documents with the names of some of its last residents have survived. In 1823 the following stayed here: Mikołaj Salon, Antoni Swarecki, Tomasz Bernacki, Jan Podsobiński oraz Stanisław Bazański.
RUINY KLASZTORU KARMELITÓW W ZAGÓRZU, DRAWING BY MACIEJ BOGUSZ STĘCZYŃSKI FROM CA. 1880
hile the construction costs of the monastery complex were covered by Jan Franciszek Stadnicki, decoration and furnishing of the church were largely the result of financial efforts made by his daughter Anna Stadnicka. The temple was probably completed in 1733, but already seven years earlier Zagórz was raised to the rank of priory. Parallel to the construction of the church and monastery, farm buildings were built, and after 1730 - the defensive walls with fortifications. At that time, the convent was inhabited by a dozen or so fathers and brothers who, although few in number, live an exemplary life, work diligently to complete the monastery and take care to decorate the church and sacristy. In the context of this information it is surprising, that less than a decade later it was necessary to thoroughly renovate the entire complex, including the restoration of roofs, monastery outbuildings, floors in the church, refectory and corridors, which was scrupulously noted by the provincial visiting Zagórz in 1748.
VIEW FROM THE CHURCH TOWER OVER THE RUINS OF THE MONASTERY AND THE OSŁAWA RIVER
he period of splendor of the Carmelite monastery in Zagórz lasted until the first partition of Poland in 1772. During the Bar Confederation the insurgents took refuge there, and on November 29, 1772 they were fired upon by the Russians, which led to fires and destruction of some buildings. Although with a common effort the monks managed to raise them from ruins, under the new (imperial) authority and as a result of its policies, monastic life deteriorated over the next few decades. The Austrians treated religious congregations with disfavor. They showed this by sending local friars and fathers to work in other parishes, and bringing in friars from large cities, including Przemyśl and Lvov, who often treated such a change as banishment. As a result, the loosening of the monastic rule progressed, the crisis of faith deepened, financial problems grew, and the economic situation of the entire congregation worsened. The problems faced by the inhabitants of the monastery at that time are illustrated by an excerpt from a memorandum of firar Wawrzyniec Sommer, addressed to the the Religious Office in Sanok in 1810. It showed that:
1. The church, convent, hospital and outbuildings are badly damaged. The walls are disintegrating.
2. Monks often go hungry. They have no bread. They have to try to get food from nearby villages. They have no warm clothing for the winter.
3. In winter, the monks have no firewood.
4. The monastery lost all its horses, cows, and oxen.
5. The Convent is 30,000 fl. in debt.
6. The superiors are running a robbery economy. They have lost loans and income. They have leased out property without the chapter's permission.
VIEW OF THE MONASTERY CHURCH FROM THE NORTH, 1900
ommer also asked the Bishop of Przemyśl for help, but the latter ignored the monk's request. The Austrian authorities appointed a commission to examine the actual condition of the monastery, which after a three-year investigation confirmed the dire situation in the convent. The result of its work was a decree issued in 1814 ordering the renewal of spiritual life in the monastery. The content of this document, however, was very general and did not cause a dramatic change in the attitude of the brothers, mostly elderly and decrepit, so that after the end of the commission's work not much changed in Zagórze. The decree ordered, among other things:
1. To avoid idleness, which is a source of wickedness, in addition to their daily activities and duties, monks should engage themselves in the study of spiritual reading.
2. The monastic enclosure must be strictly respected.
3. Since poverty and excesses are a misfortune for religious life, the prior must take care of sufficient food and clothing for the fathers and brothers. To avoid all quarrels and misunderstandings, one should abstain from of alcohol. Only in case of illness, alcohol may be given as a remedy, but in very limited quantities.
4. Subordinates should respect and obey the superior. In case of contempt for the superior, they are to be severely punished. And in case of resistance they were to be sent under gendarmerie guard to the prison in Przemyśl.
5. Mutual love and peace are to be observed in the monastery.
THE MONASTERY ON POSTCARDS FROM THE BEGINNING OF 20TH CENTURY
n 1816, by the decision of bishop Gołaszewski, a reformatory for priests was established at the monastery, and it was located in the apartments of military veterans. Three years later the prior, Fr. Józef Karinijewski, died, leaving his convent in a very poor condition: The monastery was in debt, the church without a roof. The cloister and other buildings were in disrepair, and the cattle were skinny. There was not even a cart to bring wood from the forest. The situation of the church furnishings was only slightly better; according to the 1816 inventory, only the monstrance, two chalices, and two candlesticks remained from among the silver objects. The new prior, Fr. Leonard Umański, energetically began to put in order the organizational, economic and financial affairs of the congregation. He also managed to repair some roofs and build a blacksmith shop. However, all his efforts were soon in vain when, in November 1822, fire destroyed the roof and much of the furnishings of the church, convent, and reformatory: On that unfortunate day when at two o'clock in the afternoon the convent, church and reformatory house were turned to dust. The immediate cause of the fire was a fight between Fr. Umański and the Superior of the reformatory, Fr. Jan Włodzimierski, who was regarded by the other monks as a very quarrelsome person, being in opposition to the rest of the congregation. He was recognized as the perpetrator of the accident, arrested by the Austrian authorities and taken to prison in Lvov, where he was to plead guilty to the charge.
NORTH ELEVATION OF THE MONASTERY CHURCH IN 1905 AND TODAY
fter the fire was extinguished, the monks moved to private peasant cottages, although according to the relations of the then heir of the village, the monastery was not so badly damaged that it could not be inhabited. Apart from a few unbroken cells, a spacious refectory, which could accommodate several people, remained in good condition. The church equipment and paintings that survived the fire were placed in the parish church in Zagórz and in several neighboring churches. Lack of funds made it impossible to rebuild the monastery complex soon, so Bishop Gołaszewski appealed to the emperor to cancel the convent and assign its property to the chapter. His proposal was accepted by the Austrians, but only to the extent of abolishing the monastery. The cloister was liquidated in 1831, but the lands belonging to it did not increase the property of the chapter, but were partly transferred to the state treasury and partly came to the religious fund. The few friars were transferred to other monastic institutions, and the residents of the reformatory were sent to Przeworsk. From then on, the monastery complex stood empty and rapidly deteriorated, gradually falling into complete ruin. The vaults of the buildings collapsed, and their walls and towers were overgrown with vegetation.
VIEW OF THE MONASTERY RUIN FROM THE SOUTH, SEEN FROM THE HIGH RIVER EMBANKMENT (1930S)
n the interwar period, the ruins of the former priory were owned by local Jews and later by a Polish diplomat and social activist,
Adam Ludwik Gubrynowicz (d. 2000), who in 1935 bequeathed them to the seminary in Przemyśl. However, this did not change much in the situation of the monastery buildings, because they still remained abandoned, undergoing a slow but systematic disintegration. The first years after the war were not favorable to the initiative of rebuilding the foundation, but soon after the fall of Stalinism, the provincial of the Discalced Carmelites, Father
Józef of Mount Carmel, applied to the conservator's office for permission to do the renovation work, and surprisingly, he received such permission. The General Landmark Conservator
Tadeusz Żurowski, who was born in Zagórz, became enthusiastic about this investment, which resulted in promises to provide appropriate funds. At that time, the monastery was also given to the Carmelites by the episcopal curia (1957). To begin with, the church and monastery were cleared of rubble, vegetation was removed from the walls, and the former guardhouse was covered with a roof. The remains of 55 monks whose graves had been vandalized and looted while the monastery was unattended were cleaned up and reburied. The project was actively supported by the inhabitants of Zagórz and Sanok, and the representatives of Polish diaspora from the United States and Canada also contributed financially. However, it was not fully realized, because soon after Fr. Józef died (1962), the provincial authorities revoked the permit for the reconstruction of the monastery, and the Carmelites were evicted from here, accompanied by militia. The abandoned building fell into neglect again. This state of affairs lasted until 2000, when it became the property of the local government, at whose initiative the most urgent work was done to protect it, the gate and the deteriorating defensive wall were restored, and the whole complex was opened for tourism.
THE CENTRAL NAVE AND PRESBYTERY OF THE CHURCH ON ZDZISŁAW BEKSIŃSKI'S PHOTOGRAPH FROM THE 1960S AND PRESENT DAY VIEW
THE ARCHIVAL PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS AN ARCH OF THE NAVE WHICH COLLAPSED IN THE 1970S
In basement of the monastery church lie the remains of: fr. Adam (d. 1722), fr. Piotr (d. 1730), fr. Jerzy (d. 1732), br. Florian (d. 1735), fr. Anioł (d. 1737), br. Kazimierz (d. 1740), br. Jan Nepomucen (d. 1742), br. Marcjalis (d. 1742), fr. Pantaleon (d. 1743), o. Narcyz (d. 1746), o. Aleksander (d. 1746), fr. Justyn (d. 1750), fr. Petroniusz (d. 1751), fr. Jan Kanty (d. 1752), br. Wawrzyniec( d. 1752), fr. Symforian (d. 1753), fr. Dionizy (d. 1754), fr. Makary (d. 1761), br. Józef (d. 1762), br. Jan Kanty (d. 1764), fr. Walenty (d. 1766), fr. Hieronim (d. 1769), fr. Bazyli (d. 1769), fr. Marian (d. 1769), m. Anastazja (d. 1771), br. Kajetan (d. 1774), br. Krzysztof (d. 1774), fr. Kandyd (d. 1778), br. Tadeusz (d. 1778), fr. Eugeniusz (d. 1781), br. Marian (d. 1781), fr. Alojzy (d. 1785), br. Stanisław (d. 1785), br. Gabriel (d. 1785), fr. Karol (d. 1787), br. Paweł (d. 1787), fr. Pankracy (d. 1788), fr. Konstanty (d. 1793), fr. Redempt (d. 1793), br. Gabriel (d. 1793), fr. Remigiusz (d. 1795), br. Jan Chrzciciel (d. 1798), br. Jan (d. 1803), fr. Fidelis (d. 1802), br. Arnold (d. 1803), fr. Wiktor (d. 1806), br. Michał (d. 1807), fr. Marcin (d. 1808), br. Ignacy (d. 1808), fr. Adeodat (d. 1811), fr. Justynian (d. 1814), fr. Albert (d. 1814), br. Maurycy (d. 1814), fr. Józef Kalasanty (d. 1814), fr. Apolinary (d. 1817).
COMPOSITION WITH A MONASTERY IN THE BACKGROUND, 1936 (FROM THE COLLECTION OF NAC)
he monastery is situated on a hill surrounded from three sides by the Oslava river, whose banks form relatively steep slopes, thanks to which this place can be considered naturally defensible. It was surrounded by walls with shooting galleries, as it was supposed to be one of the border fortresses protecting Poland against Turkish and Tatar invasions. It should be noted, however, that at the time when the monastery was built, the real threat of war did not exist in this region, and the fortification system were considered obsolete already at the time of its construction. So certainly the monastery walls were not much of an obstacle to an organized army, though they were still a challenge to various bands and local robbers. A stone wall divided the monastery area into two large courtyards: church and monastery courtyard, and a cloister garden for the monks, which in the southern part was protected only by a high river embankment. The defense of the fortifications was strengthened by a gate with shooting galleries, and also by (probably) two towers.
PLAN OF THE MONASTERY RUINS: 1. THE CHURCH, 2. THE MONASTERY BUILDINGS, 3. THE MONASTERY COURTYARD, 4. THE CHURCH COURTYARD, 5. THE GARDEN, 6. THE GUEST HOUSE (FORESTERIUM), 7. GUARDHOUSE, 8. GATE, 9. COACH HOUSE, 10. OUTBUILDINGS, 11. TOWER WITH LATRINE, 12. TOWER (NOT PRESERVED), 13. WELL, 14. HOSPITAL, 15. MARIAN OBELISK (MODERN)
he central part of the monastery complex was occupied by the church of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, built in Baroque style, on a rectangular plan. Its main axis is formed by an octagonal central nave, a rectangular porch and a long four-bay presbytery, while in the transverse axis two shallow chapels were added. These premises were grouped around the central nave and opened to it with semicircular archivolts. The central nave was closed from the top by a flat dome, which was devoid of window openings, so the place was semi-dark. Light entered the church through six large windows located in the walls of the presbytery, the double windows of the chapels and one large window in the porch. Two towers were built into the walls of the presbytery: square in the lower part and octagonal in the upper part, and covered with helmets. The interior was decorated with illusionistic frescoes imitating altars, of which there were seven. The vaults were also covered with frescoes. These ornamentation were made in the 1730s, and although no documents have survived to prove their authorship, it is assumed that they are the creation of an artist who came from Italy.
PLAN OF THE CHURCH: 1.CENTRAL NAVE, 2. PRESBYTERY, 3. PORCH, 4. CHAPELS, 5. NORTHERN FACADE, 6. TOWERS
IN THE CENTRAL NAVE, PRESENT STATE
he monastery house was adjacent to the southern wall of the church, forming a rectangular-shaped courtyard (cloister) with dimensions of 15x10 meters. The monastic cells, of which there were 22, were located on both its floors in the southwest wing and the eastern part of the southeast wing. The rooms of the prior and the recreation hall occupied the southern part of the building, while the refectory, library and kitchen were located on the opposite side of the cloister, near the western church tower. A monastery courtyard, surrounded by a wall on three sides, was situated to the north of the monastery house. A two-story house with six rooms on the ground floor and six on the first floor was built in its northern part. This building, probably the oldest in the entire monastery complex, served as a guest house (foresterium), although the openings preserved in its walls suggest that it could also have been used for defense with firearms. The northern wall also provided support for other buildings: the coach house, the guardhouse and the above-mentioned gate complex. The easternmost building was a two-storey hospital for war veterans, built outside the monastery's walls and additionally separated from it by a moat.
THE MONASTERY ON THE PHOTOGRAPH FROM INTERWAR PERIOD: 1. RUIN OF THE MONASTERY HOUSE, 2. RUIN OF THE CHURCH, 3. MONASTERY COURTYARD, 4. CHURCH COURTYARD, 5. RUIN OF THE TOWER WITH LATRINE, 6. PLACE OF THE FORMER MONASTERY GARDENS, 7. APPROXIMATE LOCATION OF THE HOSPITAL FOR VETERANS
oday, the former Carmelite monastery is just a picturesque ruin, whose landscape is dominated by the Baroque church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is unfortunately completely devoid of vaults and equipment. Relics of 18th-century decorations are still visible on the walls of the temple, but cannot be seen up close due to the fact that the building is in danger of collapse and entry has been banned (although technically possible, 2019). From the monastery house the external walls have survived up to the height of the second floor, and from the remaining parts of the spatial layout - the relics of the gate building, the ruins of the foresterium (guest house) and coach house, fragments of a two-storey guardhouse, as well as quite large sections of the stone wall, now significantly lowered in relation to the original. The existence of a veterans' hospital in this place is now only confirmed by the debris of stones lying on the eastern side of the hill. The entire complex is open to tourists and can be visited free of charge. A great attraction here is one of the church towers, which after renovation serves as a viewing platform with a beautiful panorama of the Słonne Mountains and the Bukowskie Foothills landscape. Several years ago, a new garden layout, also open to the public, was reconstructed on the site of the former monastic gardens.
VIEW FROM THE TOWER TO THE SOUTH
The ruins are the backdrop for one of the popular books for young people, Pan Samochodzik and the Zagórze Monastery, which focuses on the hidden treasure of three monks and events directly related to the Bar Confederation.
Zagórze was also the location for the shooting of the video of Wielki koniec (the Big End), one of the most important polish punk song of the 1980s. The song was performed by the legendary KSU band.
RUINS OF THE CHURCH, VIEW FROM THE NORTH
fter 2010, restoration of the ruins began anew, as a result of which the defensive wall, the facades of the church and auxiliary buildings were secured, the aforementioned tower was renovated, and the monastery garden was reconstructed. However, the plans for this place go much further and concern the rebuilding of the former foresterium, which will house a tourist information point and exposition rooms with a virtual exhibition about the history of the monastery, as well as catering facilities and art studios. The monastery well is also to be reconstructed.
The monastery can be visited accompanied by a dog. Your dog must be on a leash.
The monastery is surrounded by open space allowing for beautiful bird's eye shots or movies. Ask for permission when you want to fly directly over the ruins.
The monastery is open:
in May: 10-17
June to August: 9-18
in September: 10-16
RECONSTRUCTED MONASTERY GARDEN
HOW TO GET THERE?
agórz is located about 5 km southeast from Sanok, by road 84 leading to Lesko and further to Ustrzyki Dolne. You can get here from Sanok by public bus line 5 and 6, and by train. The train station is about 2.5 km away from the monastery.
The most convenient place to leave your car is the church parking lot at the Sanctuary of Our Lady (Jó­zefa Piłsudskie­go Street) and... this is actually the only alternative, because there are no other parking places nearby. From there, walk along the narrow asphalt road in the eastern direction, following the signposts. The distance from the parking lot to the mo­na­ste­ry is less than one kilometer.
You can reach the monastery by bike. There is a "no-traffic" sign by the road, but it doesn't apply to bicycles. Unfortunately, I don't know if you can enter the courtyard with your bike.
1. Z. Osenkowski: Klasztor Karmelitów Bosych w Zagórzu, Zagórz 1995
2. S. Stefański: Karmel zagórski, Sanok–Zagórz 1993
3. J. B. Wanat: Zakon Karmelitów Bosych w Polsce, Wydawnictwo Karmelitów Bosych, Kraków 1979
THE REMAINS OF A GATE AND A DEFENSIVE WALL...
...AND THE MONASTERY TOMCAT SLEEPING ON IT
Castles nearby: Sanok - the royal castle from XIVth century, 9 km
Lesko - the private castle from 16th century, 10 km
Załuż - the ruin of the Sobień knights' castle from 14th century, 15 km