Unknown Wrocław: The Piast Mausoleum

The Ursuline convent in Wrocław at pl. Nankiera includes two church interiors. After WW II one of them became a place of eternal rest of the Śląsk royal dynasty of Piast. The mausoleum is located in St. Clara's church.

The convent of the Ursulines of the Roman Union in Wrocław is associated by the residents of Wrocław and tourists mainly from schools that are run by the nuns. "Indeed, many visitors are either our graduates, or their family members who want to see what these walls hide" said sister Klemensa, an Urssuline from Wrocław. But there are those among tourists who are attracted here not by sentiment, but sheer curiosity. "There are also those who like you want just to see the mausoleum" explains our guidess.

First, the St. Jadwiga's

There are two temples hidden inside the monastery. We first enter the souther one - St. Jadwiga's. It used to be a minor chapel of St. Clare's. "Now it is the main church of our monastery, where sisters and our students pray" points out s. Klemensa.

Why was the chapel of St. Jadwiga's made into the main liturgy place of the monastery? "During WW II the main aisle was ruined, so a decision was made to turn it into a mausoleum" explains s. Klemensa.

Among the Baroque décor of St. Jadwiga's, particularly attractive are the paintings by Michał Willmann, a 17/18 c. Baroque painter from Silesia. They demonstrate scenes from life of St. Ursula and St. Francis Xavier. The second painting was the compensation for Ursuline education of the artist's youngest daughter - Helena Regina later joined the convent and became s. Maria Bernarda.

The mausoleum

„Initially, this place was a convent of the Order of Poor Ladies (Clarisses), founded in 1270 by duchess Anna, a widow of St. Henry the Pious, hence the church's patronage of St. Clare's” explains s. Klemensa. As early as in 14 c. the church became a place for eternal rest for Wrocław Piast dynasty members, including their wives and daughters. Nowadays it includes tomb stones of: Henry III The White, Henry V The Heavy, and Henry VI The Good, the last of the Wrocław duchy line, as well as several dukes' daughters, the majority of which were abbesses of the convent. Unfortunately, not all tomb stones were preserved to the day. Some of them were destroyed during the war, and some were used as building material.

The central space of the mausoleum is occupied by the tomb stone of Henry VI, however the remains of the duke dubbed The Good are missing. It is interesting that the image of Henry is presented with open eyes, in full armour.

Above the portico combining both churches is the urn containing a heart of the last Piast woman - the duchess Karolina. In her life she was a Protestant, but because of her husband she converted to Catholicism and after her death (on Christmas Eve 1707), her heart was placed in a silver urn, and her body was put to rest in a Cistercian convent in Trzebnica.

What we have seeing while preparing this material is just a part of things worth seeing in this place. We will definitely return to the convent with our cycle the Unknown Wrocław.

Arkadiusz Cichosz