Ląd Abbey

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Ląd Abbey is a former Cistercian monastery in Ląd, Poland. It currently houses a seminary, the Wyższe Seminarium Duchowne Towarzystwa Salezjańskiego, run by the Salesian order. On 1 July 2009, Ląd Abbey was designated an official Polish Historic Monument.



According to tradition, the Cistercian monastery of Ląd was founded around 1145 and was one of the seven daughter houses of Altenberg Abbey near Cologne. Monks continued to be recruited from the Rhineland into the sixteenth century. Around 1300, the monastery possessed 30 villages. In 1331 the monastery was sacked by the Teutonic Knights, perhaps in retaliation for the abbey's support of Poland in the conflict between them and the Order. The monastery grew through the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and by 1500 possessed 52 villages and 3 towns, including Zagórów. In 1511 a ruling in the Sejm allowed Polish monks to enter the abbey. By 1538, the rules required the abbot to come from a Polish noble family. After the election of the Polish monk Jan Wysocki to the abbacy, the German Cistercians left the abbey for Henryków Abbey in Silesia. In 1651, Abbot Jan Zapolski initiated a Baroque rebuilding of the church, which is the structure that remains to this day. The abbey flourished in 1697–1750 under the abbacy of Antoni Mikołaj Łukomski, a philosopher and patron of art and learning. However, the abbey began to decline at the turn of the eighteenth century. Many possessions were sold off, and in 1796, the abbey saw most of its land holdings confiscated for an annual cash payment by the government of the Prussian partition. Shifting borders saw Ląd come under the Russian partition, which dissolved the monastery in 1819. The last monks remained at the abbey until 1848.


In 1822 the monastery was acquired by Count Wacław Gutakowski, who arranged for the abbey to pass to Capuchins from Warsaw and for the restoration and furnishing of both the church and cloister. The Capuchin cloister was closed by the Tsar in 1864 as part of the retribution after the January Uprising.


Since 1921 Ląd Abbey has been operated and maintained by the Salesian order and houses a seminary of that order. During the occupation of Poland in World War II, the Salesians were forced to evacuate the cloister and the church was shuttered. From 1939-1941, the abbey was used as a transitional prison for priests, primarily from the Diocese of Włocławek. After the prison was closed, the cloister served for a time as a camp for the Hitlerjugend. The Salesians returned after the war and reopened the seminary. In 1952, the Communist government forced the closing of the lower seminary, and Ląd became the home of a high seminary, the Wyższego Seminarium Duchownego Towarzystwa Salezjańskiego. In 1972, a major program of renovation and reconstruction was begun. In 2009, the former Cistercian monastery was added to the List of Historical Monuments in Poland.
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