Pauline monastery complex, Włodawa
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Pauline monastery complex



The most valuable part of the Pauline monastery complex is the parish and monastic church of St Louis - one of the so-called “Lubartów type” Late Baroque churches designed by the architect Paolo Fontana, featuring a combination of a central and longitudinal plan and representing the most advanced variant of Baroque architecture in the Lublin region; in addition, the church also boasts period sculptural decorations and a complete set of original fixtures and fittings designed by P. Fontana.


The construction of the brick and stone monastery designed by Giuseppe Piola commenced in 1711 and took six years to complete. From 1799 onwards, a part of the monastery was rented out to various tenants, while from 1812 it served as a field hospital for some time. Following the dissolution of the monastery in 1864, the buildings were taken over by the administrative authorities, with the small section of the former monastery being allocated to the local parish. In years 1968-69, the original roof tiles were replaced by sheet metal cladding. After the Pauline monks returned to Włodawa, the roof truss was restored in years 1995-1997, while in 2001-2006 the original spatial layout of the monastery was restored, coupled with the reconstruction of vaulted ceilings, preservation works on the monastery walls as well as the general modernisation of the entire structure.

The construction of the church, designed by G. Piola, began in 1722 but was discontinued shortly thereafter due to the shortage of funds. The construction process resumed in 1739 owing to the support of Jerzy Fleming, with Paolo Fontana, a well-known architect, stepping in as lead designer. Construction works were completed in 1752, although works on the architectural décor were only truly finished in the 1760s. In years 1776-1786 (i.e. before the church was consecrated), the fixtures and fittings and sculptural decorations were completed, with the latter being the work of the workshops of Michał Filewicz (the baptismal font, the organ loft parapet and the interior window surrounds) and Maciej Polejowski (main altarpiece, sculptures inside the nave); the interior painted decorations, on the other hand, were executed in years 1780-1786 by Gabriel Sławiński and the brothers Antoni and Wojciech Dobrzeniewski.

The manor farm building, built in the second half of the 18th century, is traditionally believed to have served as the monastery kitchen. In the 1st half of the 19th century, the building was rented out as a Uniate parish school. During the subsequent period, the structure was converted to serve residential purposes. Initially clad with roof tiles, it subsequently received sheet metal roof cladding in the 1970s or the 1980s. Today, the structure remains disused.


The monastery complex is located at the edge of the escarpment leading alongside the Włodawka and Bug river valley, in the north part of town, at the end of Kościelna street and the intersecting road leading towards the bridge which spans the river (currently known as Mostowa street). Unlike many structures of this kind, the church is not oriented towards the east, its chancel facing north. The monastery building is located on the north-eastern side of the church and connected to the chancel with a short, two-storey connecting section. The square in front of the church is separated from the street by a brick perimeter wall with a gate, built in the early twentieth century. The former Pauline manor farm building (2 Klasztorna street) is located to the north-west of the monastery, at the edge of the escarpment, on the east-west axial line.

The church is a Late Baroque edifice made of brick, its walls covered with plaster; it features a pair of towers and follows a composite layout combining features of a central and longitudinal plan, with a central nave designed on an elongated octagonal floor plan, with arched openings towards the elongated chancel and the shorter bay housing the organ gallery on the longitudinal axis as well as towards two identical transept chapel bays on the transverse axis. This layout is complemented by four smaller, square chapels on the diagonal axes, connected to the larger chapels by means of tunnel-like passages, thereby creating a kind of ambulatory. The chancel is flanked by a pair of two-storey annexes with two sacristies and two founder’s pews on the first-floor level. The organ gallery bay is flanked by a pair of towers designed on a square plan. A characteristic feature of Fontana’s designs is the use of an alternating arrangement of larger and smaller arches resting upon rectangular pillars, with the convex pedestals below the pilasters adorning the said pillars designed to accommodate the sculptures which make up the ideological message inherent in the design; in this case, the sculpted figures are those of the Doctors of the Church as well as of St Constantine, the Roman emperor, and St Stephen, the king of Hungary.

The nave features a highly unusual vault combining the features of a barrel vault resting upon structural arches (in the middle section) and semi-domical vault in the outermost sections, with the semi-domes themselves being divided by diagonal arches into triangular sections. The design of the roof above the nave is likewise quite unique - a massive, dome-like structure with a flattened, curvilinear outline, crowned with a steeple in the form of a cylindrical lantern topped by a bulbous cupola. The roof rests upon a parapet incorporating four segmental pediments. The two-storey, square towers projecting from the front façade of the church have been extended upwards through the addition of a tall, two-tier, tapering upper structure supporting a cupola at the top of each tower, with the base of each cupola being octagonal in shape. This design decision makes the towers stand out even more in the surrounding landscape, instantly defining the town’s skyline.

The fixtures and fittings originate from the period of construction of the church and are mostly made of wood. The most notable items include the main architectural altarpiece with sculptural decorations, the built-in confessionals, the Rococo surrounds adorning the windows of the founders’ pews and the organ gallery parapet as well as the antique commode in the sacristy.

The walls and ceiling inside the church are covered with painted decorations from the 1780s, including trompe l’œil altarpieces inside the chapels.

The monastery is a two-storey brick building designed on a large, square floor plan, featuring a square garth in the centre. The hallway running around the garth provides access to the outer suite of rooms on the ground floor. Both the ground floor and the first floor feature barrel vaults with lunettes. The two-storey annex situated alongside the south-western corner of the monastery features a gateway leading from one side of the structure to another as well as the first-floor hallway connecting the monastery and the church. The façades are visually partitioned into individual storeys by a string course, with buttresses serving as reinforcement for the eastern and southern walls. The main entrance is adorned with a portal with label stops, incorporating a stone plaque with an inscription referring to the founders of the monastery, which was affixed to the portal in 2006 after a period of absence. The windows on both storeys are adorned with decorative surrounds with label stops. The building is covered with gable roofs clad with sheet metal.

The manor farm building is a single-storey brick structure designed on a rectangular floor plan, featuring two avant-corps positioned along the main axial line on both sides of the building. The main body of the building features a vestibule positioned on the axial line as well as a large room in the rear suite of rooms which might have originally served as the kitchen. The ground floor sections of both avant-corps feature three-sided arcades. Most rooms inside the building feature groin vaults. The façades are partitioned by a series of faux pilasters. The building is covered with a hip roof clad with sheet metal, while the avant-corps feature gable roofs; the gables themselves are covered with weatherboards.

The church is open daily between 10 AM and 6 PM.

compiled by Roman Zwierzchowski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Lublin, 6-10-2014.


  • Record sheet, manor farm building, currently serving as the kitchen/residential building, Włodawa, 2 Klasztorna st., compiled by M. Trzewik, Archive of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Warsaw
  • Record sheet, parish church of St Louis, Włodawa, compiled by B. Stanek-Lebioda, 1988, Archive of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Warsaw
  • Record sheet, former Pauline monastery, currently serving as the Municipal Office, Włodawa, compiled by A. Kuczyńska, 1988, Archive of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Warsaw
  • A. Białkiewicz, Klasztor oo. Paulinów we Włodawie i jego rewitalizacja, “Teka Komisji Architektury, Urbanistyki i Studiów Krajobrazu”, OL PAN 2010, pp. 196-209 -
  • Katalog Zabytków sztuki w Polsce, Vol. VIII, dawne województwo lubelskie, R. Brykowski and E. Smulikowska (eds.), vol. 18: Dawny powiat lubartowski, compiled by R. Brykowski, Warsaw 1976, pp. 56-67
  • Raczyński J., Centralne barokowe kościoły na Lubelszczyźnie, Warsaw 1929
  • Skrabski J., Paolo Fontana. Nadworny architekt Sanguszków, Tarnów 2007

General information

  • Type: monastery
  • Chronology: 1711-1786
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Włodawa
  • Location: Voivodeship lubelskie, district włodawski, commune Włodawa (gm. miejska)
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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