Ex-Cistercian Church of St. Nicholas in Łęgowo The Sanctuary of Our Lady from Łęgowo, The Queen of Poland, The Advocate of Reconciliation

Ex-Cistercian Church of St. Nicholas in Łęgowo

The Sanctuary of Our Lady from Łęgowo, The Queen of Poland, The Advocate of Reconciliation




 Our Lady from Łęgowo, The Queen of Poland, The Advocate of Reconciliation

Defend us from the venom of hatred

Lead us to Christ - the Prince of Peace.

Teach us how to respect people of different convictions,

how to talk with brothers who declare themselves to be our friends.

We beseech you, Mother of God,

Grant us your Son's grace of peace and freedom for our brothers and sisters

from East and West, from North and South.

Teach us the real human solidarity.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


(based on the Rokitno Prayer Book, approved by Church authority on 23 April 1994)


1302 - Łęgowo became property of the Cistercians from Oliwa1302 - Łęgowo became property of the Cistercians from Oliwa


               The environs of Łęgowo have been inhabited by humans for about three thousand years. The settlement's vibrant development was fostered by its position on the ancient Amber Road, the trading route from Italy to Samland (near today's Kaliningrad). The vicinity of Pruszcz Gdański (Praust) also contributed to growth of the ancient Łęgowo. Pruszcz Gdański, in the first millenium A.D., was an important seaport, because today's Żuławy area (fens) was under water then. The settlement developed also thanks to the vicinity of Gdańsk.

In 1302 Piotr Święca and his sons donated the village of Łęgowo to the Cistercians from Oliwa.

The Cistercians' presence in Łęgowo will last about 530 years, until 1831 when the monastic community was disbanded and its property confiscated.


               From late 14th century to 1748



               Towards the end of the 14th century the Cistercians built the first chapel, filial to the parish in Kłodawa. Wartime destruction in 1410 left no trace of the chapel.

Soon afterwards a new church was built. In 1436 a historical document mentions the parish priest of Łęgowo, which confirms that there was a church by then, and that the settlement was a parish. The church, built somewhere between 1410 and 1436 was entirely rebuilt in 1748, with only fragments of Gothic walls remaining from the original construction. The gothic bricks preserved in today's walls make it possible to reconstruct the layout of the original church. It was built on a rectangular plan, with a sacristy (non-extant) annexed to the northern wall. A 1604 drawing confirms that the church had a tower then.


               Father Iwo Roweder and refashioning of the church in 1748


               Father Iwo Roweder, the most distinguished parish priest in the parish's history, came to Łęgowo in 1741. (He died 29th May 1765.) The Latin word 'Constructor' on his portrait describes his achievement as patron of construction and refashioning of the church.

Father Roweder accomplished a complete refashioning of the church, and the building has retained its structure almost unmodified since then. Addition of the transept changed the building's plan to Greek cross. A new sacristy was constructed (at the eastern wall), a vestibule, a lateral chapel, and a new tower.

Father Roweder also fostered the construction of the church in Różyny, which was then a filial of Łęgowo parish, and several parish buildings in Łęgowo: the presbytery, a small two-bed hospital, a barn (which stood on the site of today's new presbytery), and the stable.

            Father Iwo Roweder, who was prior of the monastery in Oliwa and parish priest in Łęgowo, transferred a few altars from Oliwa to Łęgowo. The wooden altars in Oliwa were being replaced by stone ones, and Father Iwo Roweder wanted to move the old, very valuable altars to an appropriate new site. Probably at the same time he decided to refashion the church in Łęgowo so that it could accomodate the treasures from Oliwa. This is confirmed by one of the Łęgowo altars, whose original site must have been in today's seminary chapel in Oliwa Cathedral. The chapel used to be simply a lateral chapel of the Cathedral, and its present altar is almost a perfect stone copy of the predecessor, which was transferred to Łęgowo.

         Father Iwo Roweder made Łęgowo a proper place for several treasures from Oliwa, which is the reason why the church is decorated with so many great works of art. The parish priest also employed craftsmen, who did excellent work fitting the new objects into the church interior: the confessionals, the pulpit, the organ case, and new elements in original altars built. Thanks to masterful craftsmanship, the objects from Oliwa blend with the original interior and with subsequently acquired objects.

            There are four altars in the transepts. In the southern transept, apart from the altar of Our Lady of the Rosary, there is a box altar with a feretrum.

            In the northern transept, Father Roweder placed two lateral altars: one with a crucifiction altarpiece (with polychrome decoration of the background), and another devoted to St. Bernard.

            Over years, a collection of old liturgical books and implements has been accumulated in the church.

            Several paintings were hung on the walls of the church. Among them there are: 1) St Nicholas on the main altar, 2) Enemies of the Cross in the lateral wall of the presbytery, 3) The Melchisedech (originally hung in the main altar, in the present site of the Picture of Our Lady from Łęgowo), and 4) Nativity of Jesus.

            Deep under the floor there is a vault with 19 coffins. Among the persons burried there at the turn of the 19th century, there are a few monks and several secular persons. Body of a mother with her baby child rests in one of the coffins.

               Father Roweder's accomplishment was not limited to construction of buildings. He was a man of great spirit and of many talents, including literature, theology, music. His spiritual life is imprinted on the interior of the church. It is thanks to Father Roweder that the Miraculous Picture of the Mother of God was brought to Łęgowo. The establishment of the Rosary Fraternity is also Father Roweder's work.

               Soon after Father Roweder's arrival in Łęgowo (which was 24 October 1741) the church chronicles mention (in December 1741) "a new picture of the Mother of God" in the main altar. The picture was placed on the highest tier of the main altar (today it is in the centre of the altar). It was covered with a silver robe. Both the painting and the robe displays the motifs of White Eagle on Mary's heart and the crown on Her head.

The picture was painted a few decades earlier in the Cistercian abbey in Bledzewo. The Bledzewo abbey, mid-way between Poznań and Gorzów, does not exist today.

The painting is a copy of the icon of the Mother of God from Rokitno. After mid-17th century the Cistercians from Bledzewo begain to make numerous copies of the icon. Apart from the painting in Łęgowo, the "family" of copies includes the picture worshiped in the sanctuary in Licheń.

               In 1750 Father Roweder established the Rosary Fraternity which survived until our time. The old register book of the Fraternity has also survived, with the establishing decree copied in it. The painting in the Fraternity's altar was funded to celebrate the establishment.


               Father Urban Müller - parish priest from 1780 to 1799, a distinguished composer



               He was born in 1728 in Pasłęk near Braniewo. In 1749 came to Oliwa, where he was ordained in 1753. He studied philosophy abroad and was awarded the title of Doctor Philosophiæ, but his lifetime passion was music. He was the organist in Oliwa and composed music, some of it in Łęgowo, where he was parish priest for 19 years, until his death. J. Hingelberg's commented in 1785 on the quality of Müller's music: "Urban has composed a few masses, among them a remarkable Requiem in an entirely modern style, full of skill, with serious singing appropriate for the liturgy."


               The continuity and survival of the church in Łęgowo depended on many parishioners and parish priests, many of whom are not even known by their names. Among the parish priests there were: Fr Burchard Badach (+ 6 May 1622: cf. the epitaph), Fr Jacob Lettau (+ 1640, buried in Oliwa), Fr Alexander Dulcius (cf inscription on the bell from 1645), Fr Karol Boryszewski, Fr Iwo Roweder, Fr Pacyfik Werner (+ 12 February 1774: cf. the epitaph).


               From dissolution of the Cistercians (1831) - until 1945


               After dissolution of the Cistercian by Prussian authorities, the priesthood in Łęgowo was carried out by parish priests appointed by the diocese. The church has survived unchanged since the Cistercians left it, with only one exception. In 1862 a thunder caused fire of the tower, and a new tower was built of wood. In 2000, the wooden tower was restored to the original state (from 1862), by removing the plank siding that covered the walls since the 1930s.

               A canopy was brought to the church in 1787. In 2002, when it was renovated, this letter was found under the cloth: "In the name of the Lord. This canopy, was made on April 15th, 1886 in Mr. Hafre's workshop. He is English and lives in London (Camden Town), but his father was German and left for England probably in 1776. I am also a Catholic and I wish all the best to your parish - to your husbands, wives and children, and to your animals. Good luck to you all! Whoever finds this letter, let him think about me as a good friend. Frank. W. Fox."

               From mid-1914 to mid-1915 Pbr. Bronisław Komorowski was vicar in Łęgowo. He was declared blessed saint by the Pope John Paul 2nd in 1999. His presence in the church is recalled by a modern painting by Kornalia Krzempek (the tower on the painting looks as it was before 2000). Among the parish priests before World War II there were Pbr. Joseph Michalski (+ 5.02.1885), Pbr. Jacob Bialk (+ 3.10.1899), Pbr. Witkowski (priest from 1899 to 1900), Pbr. August Behrendt (parish priest from 1900 to 1929), Pbr. Johannes Ohl (in Łęgowo from 1929 to 1945).


               After 1945


               The parish lived on through the war. Until the last days of the war, Pbr. Johannes Ohl was the parish priest. After the end of World War II, a new population settled in Łęgowo, originating in Poland or ex-Polish eastern territories. Most of the original inhabitants left the parish. The church in Łęgowo remains the "little homeland" for us and for them. It is the place of reconciliation, endowed with the faith and work of the original inhabitants and their priests, whose task was continued by parish priests after the war: Pbr.

Antoni Kohutnicki (from 1945 to 1959), Pbr. Władysław Żywiński (from 1959 to 1968), Pbr. Józef Łyp (from 1968 to 1993), Pbr. Grzegorz Rafiński (from 1993). The parish priests are assisted by vicars. Each of them made some contribution to the church's survival and renovation.

               Restoring the original splendour of the church was really possible only recently, after the fall of communism. Between 1995 and 2005 the presbytery was renovated in accordance with the Second Vatican Council's directions about liturgy: it has a newly levelled floor, a new altar mensa facing the congregation, designed by the artist Marek Sieńkowski, the new lectern, new sedilia, and reconstructed balusters. In 2008 a new entrance to the vault was built. In 1995 the picture of Our Lady from Łęgowo was transferred from the top of the main altar to its main tier (the new frame was made by Iwona Król and Jan Wiśniewski). Votive offerings have been placed around the picture.

               New objects in the interior testify that the church is not merely a museum, but a living place of prayer, where God still gives us signs of His grace. Thus, the Picture of God's Charity and Picture of God's Servant John Paul 2nd have been hung in the church, and the figure of Our Lady of Fatima, brought from the sanctuary city, has been placed on the lateral altar.



               On 15 January 2008 the Metropolitan Bishop of Gdańsk, Pbr. Abp. Tadeusz Gocłowski issued a decree that elevated the church in Łęgowo to the rank of the diocesan Sanctuary of Our Lady from Łęgowo, The Queen of Poland, The Advocate of Reconciliation.


               Relics of the True Cross

               The relics of the True Cross were certified as authentic on 16 July 1736. They are housed in the lateral altar, with Crucified Christ and Mary and St. John standing under the cross, and kneeling Mary Magdalene. The relics add another splendour to the sanctuary where Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, Queen of Poland is worshiped; the painter of the Picture placed instruments of the Passion on Her gilded robe, pointing to Her partaking in Christ's sorrow. The relics also point out to the source of graces obtained by Mary, the Advocate of Reconciliation. The source is God, who reconciliated Himself with us through Christs's cross.


               Madonna of Łęgowo invites us to pray for the grace of reconciliation

               Łęgowo was part of the complicated history of Pomerania. Mieszko I united the province with Poland. From 1308 to 1454 Pomerania was ruled by Teutonic Knights. In 1454 Gdańsk was incorporated with the Kingdom of Poland. In 1772, following the first partition of Poland, Pomerania became part of Prussia. In 1918 Gdańsk became a free city. From 1945 on, Pomerania is a part of Poland.

               Virgin Mary, present in Łęgowo as the miraculous copy of the Picture from Rokitno, looks down from the altar to the diffictult history of this land. Mother of God from Rokitno was endowed with the title of Advocate of Reconciliation in a dramatic moment of Polish history, during the reign of king Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki (1670-71), when she reconciliated two sides of an internal strife. The nobility and the king funded a votive offering for Mary, with an inscription "Da pacem, Domine, diebus nostris" (God, give peace to our days). The Mother of God is the Advocate of Reconciliation for Łęgowo as well. She wants everyone who enters the church in Łęgowo to feel part of Her mission: to reconcile nations and people divided by different religious convictions, to reconcile families, and to reconcile us with ourselves.

               The reconciliation between Poles and Germans from Łęgowo is testified by the return of two bells removed from the church by Germans during World War II. On 14 May 2008 a celebration was held in Łęgowo, when the bell rang in the church's tower for the first time after 66 years. After the war the bell served in Viersen.

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