Diving Into Great Silence

I went to Kartuzy.

I am guiding a tour there soon, so I wanted to “refresh” the place in my memory. I have not visited the town for the past 2 years, or so. Not much has changed.

Kartuzy is a town in Kaszuby region. The town has a unique name in Polish toponymy, strictly referring to the origin of the place.

It was founded, or rather settled, near the monastery. The monks that contributed to the history of the settlement were Carthusians.

They were brought here and settled by Johann, owner of Rusocin (a village not far from Gdańsk). In the Middle Ages, such foundations were made as penance for sins. And history confirms (or should we rather state – historical gossip says) – that Johann of Rusocin (Różęcin, Russotschin), not only invited the monks, but that he really founded a monastery, as an atonement for sin. According to the custom, the foundation had to reflect the “weight” of sin. As that sin was the murder that Johann had committed, the foundation had to be a monastic congregation of a strict regulation.

At that time – 14th century – popular were the Carthusian monks. Following strict regulations written down by their founder St. Bruno of Cologne, they were known (and still are) as Silent Monks.

If ever you will find somewhere in the web – the movie Into Great Silence, please spare nearly 3 hours to watch it. Nothing particular happens there. It is not a movie in a sense, we know. It is rather a perfect study of everyday life of a monastic congregation. It is full of little details, like resting hands, walking feet, sunlight in a window, or a buzz of bees in the garden. It is a study of faces, time lapse, silence, prayers. In this study – important is a hat… A straw hat. Reference to pileus is very distant – in the understanding of freedom. Freedom to talk. 😉

In the 19th century the monastery in Kartuzy was dissolved. Most of the buildings were pulled down, but but some remain until today. The brewery building, the malthouse building, one of more than the dozen hermitages, and the church.

The church is today – one of the most interesting “objects” in the Kaszuby region. Known as the one with the roof looking like coffin lid… But this is not the most important about it. It is a phenomenal collection of woodcarving of exceptional quality, and also an absolutely unique (in the European scale) collection of ornamented painted leather.

You can read the history of the Kartuzy Carthusians here, so I will just concentrate on the photos I took. Enjoy.

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