Bernardine monastery complex, Zamarte
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Bernardine monastery complex



An intriguing example of a Bernardine monastic complex, consisting of a large monastery, a hall church with galleries in its side aisles, a group of utility buildings and a garden. The church itself, erected by Bohemian architects, is strongly reminiscent of a group of similar buildings located in Greater Poland and Bavaria. Its unique painted decorations are the work of brother Paschalis Wołos, while the exquisite church pews, adorned with marquetry, were crafted by brother Paschalis Kleszczyński.


The settlement of Zamarte (Jacobsdorf) was first mentioned in written sources in 1354 as the property of the local knights. A masonry chapel was erected there somewhere around the year 1415 at the initiative of Jobst von Hohenkirche, the commander of the Teutonic Order based in the town of Człuchów, who made this decision in order to ensure a proper place wherein the miraculous statue of the Virgin Mary, which had already been attracting a steady flow of pilgrims at the time. In 1417, Michael Küchmeister von Sternberg, he Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, donated the proceeds generated by the chapel to the Cistercian convents in Toruń and Chełmno.

Until the mid-16th century, the chapel remained under monastic administration. During the Counter-Reformation period, the local Marian cult has greatly increased in ardour and intensity. In 1617, the local place of worship became a filial chapel of the Ogorzeliny parish. The Bernardine monks have established a presence in Zamarte following an invitation by brothers Jan Michał Goetzendorf-Grabowski, the castellan of Elbląg and chamberlain (podkomorzy) of Pomerania, and Adam Stanisław, the bishop of Warmia (Ermland). The act of foundation of the monastery, issued in 1744, was subsequently approved by Raffaello a Lugagnano, General Superior of the Bernardine Order, in June of the following year. The permission for the construction of the monastery was granted by primate Stanisław Szembe in 1747, after the benefactor of the monastery paid a compensation to the parish priest in Ogorzeliny in exchange for the takeover of the filial chapel in Zamarte.

The monastery was constructed in the years 1752 - 59, under the direction of brother Michał Mastewicz. The overall design of the Zamarte monastery followed the general principles present in typical Bernardine monastic complexes, consisting of a tripartite monastery with a central garth accompanied by a church positioned north of the monastic buildings. The construction of the northern wing was completed in 1755. In years 1756-57, the eastern wing and the sacristy was erected, followed by the western wing in 1759. The interior layout was formed in accordance with the rules of monastic life, with the refectory, kitchen, pantry, storerooms and other utility spaces being located on the ground floor, while the dormitories, infirmary and pharmacy were found on the first floor. The basement served as the place of solitary confinement. From 1767 onwards, the monastery interiors were graced by frescos which portrayed various Biblical scenes. During the same year, the construction of various utility buildings which accompanied the monastery - the bakery, the house for apprentices, the brewery, the brick water well, the pigsties and the stables - was finally completed. In 1766, the cornerstone for the construction of the church was laid. In the same year, the existing Gothic chapel was demolished. In 1769, the cornerstone was laid once again, and the construction of the church could finally begin, starting with the subterranean crypt. In 1772, the team of brickmasons completed the work on the main body and the chancel. The tower was erected in the years 1776-79. In 1783, it received its cupola, clad with sheet metal. The new church was consecrated in 1780 by bishop Franciszek Piaskowski, the suffragan of Chełmno. In 1784, a library was established on the first floor of the tower. The interior décor was completed in the years 1777-78, with the walls of the church now adorned with Rococo frescos by brother Paschalis Wołos.

In 1810, brothers Franciszek and Wojciech Kalicki carried out the necessary repairs of the tower roof, which posed a risk of collapse. The works were funded by chamberlain Jan von Osten-Sacken and his wife Anna von Osten-Sacken née Pruszak.

In 1826, the Prussian authorities dissolved the monastery and confiscated all of its property. Somewhere around the year 1835, some of the interiors of the former monastery were redesigned and adapted to serve as a retirement home for elderly and sickly priests from the Chełmno diocese, which was finally opened in 1842. The retirement home remained open until 1994 (with a short interval between 1870 and 1884), when it was finally reclaimed by the Bernardine monks. From 1994 onwards, the monastery has served as the Novitiate of the Warsaw Province of Discalced Carmelites. In 2011, the church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary was given the status of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Scapular, which was announced by Jan Szlaga, the bishop of Pelplin.


The monastery complex is located in the middle of the village, on the western side of the national road no. 25. Its north-western part stands alongside the slope of the hill. The entire site is surrounded by a cobblestone wall from the east and the south, with the entrance gate being located in the southern section of the wall. The cemetery church lies south-east of the monastery, while the utility yard surrounded by a number of buildings stretches to the west. The cemetery is separated from the monastery grounds by a wall. A terraced garden established in the 18th century and subsequently redesigned in the 19th century lies north-west of the monastery.

The monastery and the church are both designed on a rectangular plan. The church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a three-nave hall church with galleries in its side aisles, oriented towards the east, featuring a single tower on the western side. Three monastery wings surrounding a rectangular garth adjoin the northern side of the church. The most prominent feature of the silhouette of the complex is its three-storey tower. The main body of the church is topped with a tall gable roof. The peripheral walls of the chancel are of the same height as those of the main body; however, the roof of the chancel is much lower than that of the nave. The eastern section of the chancel takes the form of a pronounced, polygonal avant-corps with its own, separate three-sided roof. The wings of the monastery are all two-storey structures with a garret and a basement. All sections of the building are covered with gable roofs with dormers, with the roof ridge of the monastery wings reaching up to the level of the crowning cornice of the church.

The polygonal end section of the two-bay chancel belies its interior layout, designed on a rectangular plan with truncated corners. The eastern bay, separated by the altarpiece from the rest of the chancel interior, is narrower than the western one and performs the function of the sacristy, above which rises the monastic choir gallery. A passage on the northern side of the western bay leads into the monastery wing and the small annex containing the staircase leading up into the galleries above. The two-bay main body features a row of side chapels accessible via passages leading across the pillars. Galleries are situated directly above the side chapels. Small annexes designed on a square floor plan form an extension of the side aisles. The southern annex contains the staircase leading up into the organ gallery and the side galleries. The tower, adjoining the nave to the west, was designed on a square floor plan, its ground-floor section serving as the vestibule facilitating access to both the nave and the western wing of the monastery. The organ gallery and the former library are located on the first floor of the tower. A series of burial chambers arranged in an enfilade layout are concealed beneath the floor of the church. The nave, the side aisles and the chancel feature sail vaults supported by structural arches, with a dual arrangement of arches used for the spaces between the individual bays of the nave.

The exterior walls of the church feature a pronounced socle and crowning cornice. The dominant feature of the front façade is the tower, flanked by the triangular side sections of the nave gable wall. On the northern side of the tower, the main body façade corresponds to the width of the side aisle within and is adorned with a pair of Ionic pilasters with impost blocks, supporting a profiled crowning cornice.

The tower façade is divided into two distinct sections with a profiled string course which continues alongside the walls of the main body in the form of the crowning cornice. The corners of each of these two distinct areas of the tower’s façade are flanked with paired pilasters. The upper section of the tower is topped with a crowning cornice which forms a bell arch in the middle. The façades of the tower follow a single-axial layout. A pair of stacked, segment-headed windows framed with plasterwork surrounds with keystones is positioned in the lower section of the western façade of the tower. The lower window is roughly square-shaped and provides illumination for the vestibule inside; the upper window is much taller than the lower one and was designed to illuminate the interior of the former library. In the lower section of the northern façade there is a portal topped with a basket-handle arch, flanked by a pair of pilasters. A broad frieze surmounted by a second, decorative basket-handle arch flanked by a pair of lesenes is positioned above the entrance door. The side sections of the plasterwork surround which adorns the segment-headed window above the portal reach all the way down to the upper cornice of the frieze. The upper sections of the tower walls are pierced with tall, segment-headed bell openings.

The northern façade of the church follows a four-axial layout. Two rows of stacked, axially positioned segment-headed windows framed with plasterwork surrounds with keystones punctuate the wall of the church. The ground-floor windows are surrounded by panels framed with additional surrounds. The spaces between the windows is occupied by pilasters, with a dual arrangement of pilasters applied to the western edge of the façade.

The northern façade of the chancel is accentuated with three pilasters. In its western section there is a tall, segment-headed window framed with a decorative surround with keystone. The eastern façade of the chancel features a pronounced, single-axial, polygonal avant-corps reaching all the way to the crowning cornice above. The above the avant-corps rises a curvilinear gable with a segment-headed pediment. A pair of stacked, segment-headed windows framed with plasterwork surrounds are positioned on the middle axis of the avant-corps, the lower one small and roughly square-shaped, while the upper one is much larger and takes the form of an elongated rectangle.

The monastery consists of three wings, each of them following a one-and-a-half-bay layout, with a hallway positioned alongside the garth. In the corner of the northern wing there is a rectangular refectory, positioned right next to the kitchen. In the eastern wing, next to the chancel, there is a chamber which used to serve as the treasury. Most of the ground-floor rooms feature vaulted ceilings of the sail type, supported by arches. The first-floor interiors feature flat ceilings. All façades of the monastery are topped with a crowning cornice. The individual storeys are separated by a flat string course. The number of axes varies from façade to façade, with the eastern, northern and western façades following a seven-axial, eleven-axial and six-axial layout respectively. The window openings are roughly square-shaped and framed with plasterwork surrounds which extend downwards below the window sills, forming distinct, rectangular panels below the windows. The façade of the western wing incorporates an entrance portal positioned on the third axis (counting from the north), with a doorway topped with a basket-handle arch framed with a plasterwork surround with keystone. The door opening is flanked by a pair of pilasters supporting the cornice above.

In the southern part of the courtyard lies a single-storey utility building from 1760, originally designed as a bakery and brewery and featuring a mixed structure, with masonry supplemented by timber framing. The building was designed on a rectangular floor plan. Its façade follows a five-axial layout, while the interior features a vestibule reaching from one end of the building to the other. A doorway topped with a basket-handle arch and flanked by a pair of pilasters is positioned in the northern façade. The remaining axes of this façade feature ordinary window openings at all levels. The building is topped with a half-hip roof. Semi-circular windows pierce the gable walls of the structure.

The monument is partially open to visitors. The interiors are accessible before and after church service and other religious ceremonies. The building can be viewed from the outside. The crypts may be explored upon prior appointment. The monastery has two rooms serving as guest accommodation for the pilgrims.

compiled by Mirella Korzus, Historical Monument and National Heritage Documentation and Popularisation Department of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Cultural Centre in Bydgoszcz, 10-12-2014 - 19-12-2014.


  • Halman J., Sanktuarium Maryjne w Zamartem, Borowy Młyn 2008.
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, vol. XI: Dawne województwo bydgoskie, issue 5: Chojnice, Czersk i okolice, T. Chrzanowski, M. Kornecki (eds.), Warsaw 1979, pp. 72-82.

General information

  • Type: monastery
  • Chronology: 1752-1759 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Klasztorna 2, Zamarte
  • Location: Voivodeship kujawsko-pomorskie, district sępoleński, commune Kamień Krajeński - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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