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St. Augustine & St. John the Baptist
Abbey (Sisters), also known as Zwierzyniec Abbey,
Krakow, Poland


We are grateful to a great friend of our Order,
Dr. Joanna Szczesna of the Catholic University of Lublin, Poland
for her comments below. 
This is the Nuns' cloister in Krakow (Zwierzyniec), Poland, along the Vistula River.

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The original church was completely destroyed during the Tatar invasion of 1241. It was rebuilt of brick between 1255-1259 with the use of square stone masonry, oriented, one-aisled, with four bays and a separated rectangular chancel, which probably used to have a straight closure.


This is another shot of the Abbey, from the opposite direction

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This is a closeup of the abbey.

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This is a closeup view of the main entryway into the Abbey of Krakow.

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The medieval parts of the walls are preserved up to the cornice moulding. In the western fragment of the northern elevation, we can notice part of the late Romanesque masonry from 13th century, with an arched moulding from shaped brick on the first floor. In the northern wall there are two partially mured windows. In the western bay of the northern wall there is a Romanesque portal made of sandstone, which dates back to the 13th century. It is now covered by the vestibule. Only a few fragments have been preserved. The door is flanked by posts with cubic capitals, on which there is an arch of an archivolt with a square cross-section. The set-off portal is protruding from the wall. The semicircular archivolt, which rests on columns (two at each side) with flower bud capitals connected by a common abacus, is profiled accurately to the number of supports. The lower parts with attic bases of the columns are hidden underneath the floor of the vestibule. The church was rebuilt at the beginning of the 17th century.

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The building is a part of a large walled complex of monastic constructions with east-west orientation, which were erected around two courts. The northern wing situated by the first is from the second half of the 13th century and housed the chapter-house, probably the refectory, and the dormitory. In the cellar, we discover a portion of unidentified square stone masonry from the turn of the 12th century. The remaining buildings, which were wooden until the end of the 15th century, were consumed by the fires in 1494 and 1527.
Crucifix: end of the 14th century, polychrome wood, height c. 130cm, now in the cloister chapel.  The arms of Christ are slightly diagonal in relation to the horizontal beam of the cross. The head of Christ is leaning to the right and His eyes are closed. He has a short beard and long, shoulder-length hair. The anatomical details are scrupulously produced. There are spurts of blood running down from His wounds. Short perisonium formed by a draped stripe of cloth is crossed at the front. One of its ends forms a bundle of vertical foldings with scattered tips on the left. His body is ivory, His hair and beard are brown and the perisonium is golden.
Crucifix: c. 1500, polychrome wood, height c. 170 cm, presently in the vestibule of the convent church under the northern tower.  The arms of Christ are horizontal. His head is leaning to the right and His eyes are closed. He has a beard and long, shoulder-length hair. The anatomical details such as tense muscles of his arms, the structure of the ribs and a sunken stomach are scrupulously produced. There are spurts of blood running down from His wounds. A densely draped stripe of cloth forms a short perisonium tied at the front. One of its ends is drawn inside between the thighs. Its right end is scattered. His body is ivory covered in bloody stains, His hair and beard are brown and the perisonium is white.
Statue of The Resurrected Christ: c. 1380, height 100 cm, polychrome wood, now in the cloister.  A statue of a standing Christ with shortened stubby body proportions, he has a big head which is slightly leaning to the right. His hair is long with a part and His short beard is divided in the middle. His neck is bulky and His feet are enlarged. His right arm is bent at the elbow and held up in the act of blessing. In the left hand, which is slightly stretched forward, there is a cross (which was added later). His shoulders are covered with a cloak, which reaches the ground at the back. The draped flap of the cloak which slings from His right forearm, flows from left to right covering his body from the waist to the knees. His torso and shanks are naked. His cloak is red with a blue lining and a golden trimming. His body is ivory and His hair and beard are brown. There are bleeding wounds on his hands and feet and and the lance wound on his right side. 
Panel painting represented The Virgin with the Child: beginning of 16th century, temper on wood, c. 90 x 70 cm, now in the nun’s choir.  A semi-statue of Mary slightly turned to the right wearing dark blue cloak dotted with golden stars with a crimson lining and thick golden trim. In her right hand, she is holding an apple. Her eyes are turned to the left. On her left forearm, there is a Baby Jesus clad in a cinnabar dress with gold trim. His blond head is turned towards Mary. His right arm is held in the act of blessing and the left one supports a closed red book resting oh his lap. Behind the heads of the figures, there are golden nimbuses. The background is golden stamped with stylised acanthus leaves. 

Gradual: 1527, perg., lat., pp. 116, 47,5x35,5, Cloister’s Library and Archive in Kraków (510).  Foundation of the abbess Anna Grabowska. Written down by brother Victorin, a Dominican from Krakow . On the card 1v colophon in Polish: Thy kszągy albo then mszał sp [...] yla panna Anna Grabowska panu Bogu na czescz i na chwałę y yego namyleysey matuchnye pannye Marieyey y Szwyathemu Augustynowi y myley S. Annie Samothrzeczey [...] y ja tesz grzey kaplan brath Victoryn s Krakowa od szwaythey Trójcze zakonu kasnodzeysyego, którim thy kszęgy pyssal.

Eight figural initials made by author of the illuminations in Collectarium from the Wawel Cathedral in Krakow :

16r - A – St. Gregory the Great

91v – P – The Nativity

98r - N – The Resurrected Christ

147r - T – View of the Norbertine nuns’ church(?)

30r - D – St. John the Baptist

43v – G – The Virgin with the Child adored by brother Wiktoryn and abbess Anna Grabowska

165r – C – St. Anne and the Virgin with the Child adored by abbess Anna Grabowska

45v – I – St. John Evangelist and St. Augustinus adored by brother Wiktoryn and abbess Anna Grabowska

Numerous pictorial leafy initials, with tendrils protruding onto the margins.


Antiphonarium: first half of the 16th century, perg., lat., pp. 254, Cloister’s Library and Archive in Krakow (510).

Four figural initials:

19r – E – The Annunciation

57r – The Nativity

185v – The Resurrected Christ

229v – S – Christ as a Man of Sorrows

Numerous pictorial initials with tendrils protruding onto the margins.