Parafia Św. Małgorzaty i Św. Augustyna w Witowie



The St. Margaret and the ancient Premonstratensian abbey in Witów

The Premonstratensian Abbey in Witów was established in 1179 by Vitus, a bishop from Płock. In 1240 the complex of two orders, one of monks and one of nuns, was destroyed by the Tartars. After that cruel, crushing defeat only the monks returned and occupied the abbey. In that same era the worship of the martyred nuns, murdered by the invaders, was born and became widespread later in the Catholic Church.

Not long after, that close neighborhood of the Cistercian monastery in Sulejów became the reason for property conflicts which continued until the second half of the 18th century. The wealth of the Witów abbey was becoming more known and it was close to Piotrków, where the royal court often resided.

About the year 1470 the abbey was fortified and it was in that time that the still-standing watch tower of the defensive complex was built. In the years 1613 to 1737 abbot nominations were made by a king. They were mostly received by his followers as recompense of their merits of the country. In the year 1657, during the Swedish army invasion, King Charles Gustavus resided in Witów with its garrison. In the year 1677 the ancient temple was reconstructed. During the epidemic in Piotrków in 1710 the abbey was a site of the Coronal Tribunal which acted as a gentleman’s court.

At the end of the 1730’s the reconstruction of the whole abbey was begun. The work was done by the workers from Silesia. To our times the Baroque interior decorations (altars, confessionals, organs) in the temple are preserved. It is assumed that they are works of a Silesian sculptor Francis Urbański, to whom the accomplishment of stucco decorations on the church walls and ceiling of a presbytery are attribute as well.

The exceptional importance of the Witów abbey in the times of the ancient Polish Republic was very influential on Polish architecture. The frequent presence of the Polish kings and other dignitaries in the abbey in Witów contributed to the glory of the place. Thanks to the distinct style the new, Baroque site of the Premonstratensians became an architectonical model for many central Poland parish churches, erected in the second half of the 18th century.

Nowadays the temple in Witów may be proud of the painting of the Annunciation of the Saint Virgin Mary, which was recognized by church authorities in 1735 as a miraculous one. In 1819 the congregation of the Premonstratensians in Witów was dissolved. About 1860 part of the monastery buildings, first devastated by Russian invaders, was demolished. At that time in the place of the extensive abbey, a parish in Witów was established. In 1902 the church towers were raised by a one tier. In that form the building has survived to our times performing the role of a parish church.

Translation: Stanisław Samborski