A hill in Saint Cross Mountains, within the Kadzielnianski Range is located within Kielce City limits, in its South West corner. The very top of the hill houses the church of Saint Charles Boromeo and a monastery, formerly a property of Bernardine Brothers.
The present stewards of the monastery are Pallotine Fathers.
Karczówka’s endower was Cracow’s bishop Marcin Szyszkowski. The monastery was erected between 1624 and 1631 in a late Renaissance and early Baroque style as a votive offering for sparing Kielce from a plague, rampant in 1622. At the beginning of the XVIII century the monastery was rebuilt. On its eastern flank a building, for various farming activities was added and surrounded by a fortification wall with towers and a large entry gate. The architectural style of this monastery reminiscences the monastery in Bielany and Benedictine Brothers’ in Tyniec, as well as Bernardine Brothers’ in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska.
Directly under the main tower of the church the Chapel of Saint Barbara was located, in which a statue of St. Barbara in Rococo XVII century style is placed. The statue was carved in a large galena lead nugget.
The main altar, which is made of local Bolechowice sandstone, is adorned by a painting of Saint Charles Boromeo. On the South side of the church’s main nave a Saint Anthony’s Chapel is attached, which was built at the beginning of the XX century. The altar of Saint Francis of Assisi (a patron of nature lovers) is on the right side of this chapel. At the top of this altar is a rare painting of Saint Bernard from Clairvuax in which, Saint Bernard being nursed by the Holy Mother. On the left is an altar picturing the Holy Mother Immaculate. The prince of Poland Jan Albert the son of Sigmund III, who was a Cracow’s bishop, also enlarged the monastery. During the Swedish invasion of Poland so called “flood” the monastery was totally looted by Swedes. The information about this event is placed at the bottom of a golden box, which was founded by donors and dated May 18, 1656. Further enlargements of the monastery took place between 1720-1730. At that time the main tower and the ave-bell were topped with helmets. The designer was Kacper Bażanka.
During the time when Poland was partitioned, Karczówka was a place, where many uprising impulses took place and the monks were often subjected to repressions. It should be pointed out that it was Karczówka, where the freedom fighters gathered during the night on 22 of January of 1863. Tsar’s authorities dissolved Bernardine Order in 1864. Kielce Division of the Charity Association purchased the entire property for the amount of 300 rubles in gold in the year of 1911. The complex was used for a school and an orphanage.
Karczówka is not only a place to meditate, reflect and pray, it also is a wonderful vista point. Its magnetism has a significant influence on artists, among them was Stefan Żeromski, who visited the place as a young man. It is worth to remember that it was around Karczówka Hill, where the first skirmishes of Polish Legions led by Joseph Pilsudski were fought.
In 1918 the monastery became the property of the Sisters of Jesus’ Heart (Sercanki). Sisters set up a printing shop named after St. Joseph.
A neighboring hill named Brusznia was a site of a gathering of Polish Scouts (Szare Szeregi) in May of 1940. Jan Zawadzki pseudo “Arcy” organized this event. The surrounding forests were also a hideout for the Home Army (AK) soldiers. The monastery allowed soldiers to keep their arms on the grounds. The near the grounds of the monastery was a place where the Nazis executed 10 Poles from Kielce as a retaliation for killing a German soldier. Pallotine fathers have been the owners and priests at Karczówka since 1957.
On the North side of the monastery is a common grave of January 1863 uprising fighters.
… Important dates:
1628 – Ad Mairoem Dei Gloriam – for greater glory to God, bishop of Cracow and a priest erected this temple
The church named after St. Charles Boromeo was erected on a hill (319 meters above sea-level) by the name of Karczówka, as a votive offering for sparing Kielce and its vicinity from a plague rampant in the country. Kielce had 1,500 inhabitants at the time.
1631- the Bishop and the monastery’s founder gave the church to Bernardine Order Brothers, and builds a monastery, which served as a place of recollections in solitude for all spiritual leaders in dioceses.
1655- Swedish invasion , the church and the monastery were totally looted by the troops.
1787- Stanisław August Poniatowski, the king of Poland visited Karczówka’s church and the monastery. The king heard the Holy Mass.
1864- Monks were forcefully chased out from Karczówka as retaliation for participation in January 1863 Uprising. The monastery was also shut down. Father Kolombin Tomaszewski was a guardian and keeper of the monastery until 1914.
1901- A major renovation of the church was done by the people of good will, the chapel o St Anthony and St. Barbara were raised, the tiled floor was lowered by ½ of a meter.
1908- Tsar’s government passes onto the Polish charity Association the entire monastery complex
1918- The Polish Charity Association passes the property onto the Order of Sisters Jesus, Heart Servants, the Order make the most necessary repairs; open a kinder garden, and a school. In 1922 Sisters open St. Joseph’s printing shop.
1957- The monastery was passed into the hands o Catholic Apostolic Association and Palatine Brothers and Priests. They are the providing pastoral services until today.
2007- The 50 th anniversary of pastoral leadership of Palatine Brothers
2010- A new modernization of the monastery began. Project titled “The Palatine Dialog Center, Bringing Up and Promotion-Karczówka” took off. This project is partially financed by the European Union, specifically the European and Regional Development Fund is being used, which is a part of the Operational Program for the Świętokrzyski Region in 2007-2013.