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The Post-Cistercian Monastery Complex in Gościkowo-Paradyż

The history of the monastery in Paradyż began on 29 January 1230, when Mikołaj Bronisz, Voivode of Greater Poland, donated nine villages and the settlement of Gościkowo on the Paklica River to the Cistercian Order from the Brandenburg Abbey in Lehnin. The monks arrived in the area six years later and gave the settlement the name Paradisus Matris Dei (Paradise of the Mother of God). They erected wooden buildings including a chapel, and around 1250 they started the construction of a brick church, which was completed in 1288. The church, built in Gothic style, was consecrated in 1397.

In the following years, the abbey became an important centre of intellectual life. Many scholars were associated with it, the most renowned of whom was James of Paradyż, later a professor at the Academy of Kraków. The abbey’s location on the western fringes of the country meant that the monastery was also of great political importance. It also contributed to the strengthening of the Polish character of these lands. The monastery’s position was also reflected in its economic development.

At the beginning of the 16th century, the Paradyż estate comprised over 29,000 hectares of land, 4,000 hectares of forests and 21 villages.

The development of the abbey was halted by the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), during which it was raided by the Brandenburg and Swedish armies. The destruction was completed by a fire that broke out on 10 April 1633 and spread to the monastery buildings and church. King Ladislav Vasa, who was associated with Paradyż through his tutor, Abbot Marek Łętowski, contributed to the rebuilding of the monastery. In 1722, another fire consumed a large part of the buildings. The church was rebuilt in a late Baroque style.

After the second partition of Poland, Paradyż found itself within the borders of the Prussian state, whose authorities confiscated the monastery property in 1796 and liquidated the abbey in 1834. Between 1836 and 1926, the buildings housed the Royal Catholic Teachers’ Seminary. After the Second World War, the complex was transferred to the Catholic Church. It is now the seat of the Zielona Góra and Gorzów Seminary and the Sanctuary of Our Lady Carer of Priestly Vocations.

Fr. Dariusz Mazurkiewicz