The Bernardine monastery church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Rataje
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The Bernardine monastery church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary



Górka Klasztorna (literally, “Monastic Mountain”) is the oldest Marian sanctuary in Poland and one of the most renowned places of religious cult in the northern part of Greater Poland. The Baroque church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary forms an interesting example of a plain, single-nave church built in the 17th century for the Bernardine order. Its interior features surviving period fittings in the Rococo and Baroque style. The church is surrounded by a courtyard, beyond which spreads the extensive parkland and forest area known as “Gaj Górecki” (literally “the Grove upon the Mountain”).


According to the 17th-century chronicle of the Bernardine convent in Górka, known as the “Kronika Górecka”, in 1079 a shepherd experienced a Marian apparition on exactly the same spot where the church now stands. A wooden church was built in the early 12th century in the place where this miracle was believed to have occurred. From 1404 onwards, the sanctuary remained under the care of the Augustinians, who were brought here by Arnold Wałdowski, the owner of the nearby town of Łobżenica. In 1550, the subsequent owner, Urszula Krotowska née Ostroróg (who was a Protestant) had the monks banished from the sanctuary; shortly afterwards, the sanctuary itself has been destroyed. In 1638, the Bernardine order took over the duties of caretakers, having been invited by Zygmunt Raczyński, the tenant of the Łobżenica estate, on the basis of a decree dated 1636. Even before the monks arrived, Raczyński had the church rebuilt and ordered a wooden monastery to be erected. Shortly afterwards, the complex was extended even further. In 1649, Z. Raczyński founded a brick and stone chancel, while the construction of a brick monastery began in 1654. The construction, however, was interrupted due to the Swedish invasion. In 1675, the Łakiński family made successful efforts to erect a nave; works on the monastery were also continued. The main part of the works was completed in the 1680s, followed by the installation of the interior fittings. In 1711, Jan Korzbok Łącki donated the nearby grove to the monastery. In 1728, the church was consecrated; it would now be known as the Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (formerly the church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary). In 1741, Jan Wałdowski provided funds for the construction of a steeple which would now rise above the roof ridge. In years 1776-80, the church underwent a comprehensive restoration. In 1829, the order was disbanded. The liquidation of the monastery took place in years 1836-42. Most of the monastery buildings were torn down in years 1844-48. The church, meanwhile, became a filial church of the Łobżenica parish. In years 1855-57, a number of renovation works were performed at the church. A subsequent restoration was performed in 1907, following a fire. In 1923, the sanctuary in Górka (which was now referred to as Górka Klasztorna) came under the administration of the Missionaries of the Holy Family . Soon after their arrival, the Missionaries returned the neglected church to its proper shape, with more substantial renovation works being performed in the 1930s. of the twentieth century. After World War II, the Missionaries of the Holy Family returned to the sanctuary. In the 1950s, a number of renovation works were performed, allowing the sanctuary to regain its former glory. In years 1976-78 extensive alteration works were performed on the surviving part of the monastery, while in years 1978-79 the interior of the church was restored. The new wall painting was designed by Zygmunt Klaryska from Toruń. From 1984 onwards, Passion Plays are staged at the sanctuary, attended by thousands of people.


The parish church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is located approximately 2 kilometres to the north-west of Łobżenica. Two wings of the monastery adjoin the church from the north. On the southern side of the church there is a courtyard, originating from the 18th century and surrounded by a wall. The chapel of the miraculous well, dating back to the 19th century and rebuilt following a fire which damaged it in 1985, as well as two Gothic Revival chapels are located inside the courtyard. Further away from the church, beyond a Baroque gate, one can see a forested park known as the Grove, with an alley positioned on its axis and a great number of ancient trees. In 2000, a stone circle - believed to have been the site of the cult of Svetovid - was recreated in the southern section of the park.

The Baroque church is a single-nave building with a slightly lower chancel in the east, terminating in a three-sided back section, and a rectangular porch in the west. Both the nave and the slightly lower chancel are covered with tall gable roofs, while the western porch features a shed roof. A steeple crowned with a bulbous cupola with a lantern is perched atop the nave roof ridge on the eastern side of the church.

The church is a brick building with plaster-covered walls. The roofs are clad with ceramic roof tiles, while the roofs of the porch and the steeple are both covered with sheet metal. The interiors of the nave and chancel feature a barrel vault with lunettes and plafonds of varying shapes. The porch features three bays with sail vaults supported by arches.

The facades of the church were once graced by simple pilasters supporting the frieze and crowning cornice; the pilasters have subsequently been removed. The eastern and western facades of the church are crowned with triangular gables. The western gable, once graced by multiple pinnacles, currently features a convexo-concave design. The windows of the nave are topped with semicircular arches, while the chancel windows feature segmental arches. The main entrance to the church, framed by a simple, Baroque Revival portal, is located in the southern wall of the porch. A number of epitaph plaques are affixed inside niches topped with segmental arches, piercing the lower section of the chancel walls.

Inside, the walls of the church are partitioned by double pilasters supporting sections of the cornice. The barrel vault flows seamlessly into the walls. The chancel opens up towards the nave with a wide, semi-circular rood arch. A gallery with a balcony, opening towards the interior with a semi-circular arch, can be seen on the northern side of the chancel, above the passage leading into the monastery. The western bay of the nave features a brick organ gallery with an undulating parapet, supported by a colonnaded arcade. The interior is adorned by a wall painting executed in years 1978-79.

The interior fittings of the church include a Rococo main altarpiece (built after 1770 and recreated following its destruction by fire in 1907), two Baroque side altarpieces by the rood arch (built sometime around the year 1700) and two Rococo side altarpieces in the nave (build about 1770). The main altarpiece incorporates a painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Child (known as the “Virgin Mary of the Mountain” (“Matka Boża Górecka”), believed to possess miraculous qualities; it is in fact a copy of the original painting, made after 1907.

The church is open to visitors. More information on the sanctuary is available at

compiled by Krzysztof Jodłowski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Poznan, 14-10-2014.


  • Barokowe kościoły Wielkopolski, koncepcja, teksty i wybór ilustracji P. Maluśkiewicz, Poznań 2006, s. 66-69.
  • Friedrich A., Historye cudownych obrazów Najświętszej Marii Panny w Polsce, t. 1, Kraków 1903, s. 31-36.
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, t. XI, z. 20: Wyrzysk, Nakło i okolice, Warszawa 1980, s. 6-10.
  • Kohte J., Verzeichnis der Kunstdenkmaeler der Provinz Posen, Bd. IV, Berlin 1898, s. 168.
  • Pałat Z., Górka Klasztorna : studium historyczno-architektoniczne, Poznań 1986 [mpis NID OT Poznań]
  • Zabytkowe klasztory w Wielkopolsce, koncepcja, opracowanie tekstów i wybór fotografii P. Maluśkiewicz, Poznań 2006, s. 62-69.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1649-1687
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Rataje
  • Location: Voivodeship wielkopolskie, district pilski, commune Łobżenica - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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