THE HISTORY OF THE MORTĘGI PALACE
Mortęgi was a gentry village organised under Polish law in the 14th century. Back in those times, the village and the lands straddling the River Drwęcą and River Wel were inhabited by the Sasin tribe. Mortęgi at the time had a surface area of 66 lans (an old unit of measurement). At the end of the 14th century, the village was owned by Knight Ludwig (I) von Mortangen – Castellan and Governor of Chełmno. It was from him that the famous family holding many important offices and dignities in Poland’s history derives from. In 1388, the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order – Dietrich von Altenburg, gave the estate to the Mortęski family, from which the village took its name. Several notable persons came from this family, including two governors of Chełmno.
A distinguished member of the family was Ludwik (II) von Mortagen (son of Ludwik (I) and Anna), married to Elżbieta of Dąbrówka, Chamberlain of Chełmno, Castellan of Gdańsk and Elbląg and Prefect of Pokrzywno. His son – Melchior, was no lesser than his father, assuming the office of Pomeranian and Malbork Chamberlain. Elżbieta of Kostków was the wife of Melchior, cousin of the Bishop of Chełmno, Piotr Kostka, who was the Canon of Varmia and the Secretary of Sigismund II Augustus (the King of Poland at the time and the Grand Duke of Lithuania). Melchior and Elżbieta of Kostków had four children – the son of Ludwik (III) and three daughters (Anna, Elżbieta and Magdalena).
Magdalena Mortęska (born in 1554), abbess and reformer of the Benedictine Convent and patroness of the Palace. She lost her right eye as a child. She entered the convent in Chełmno in 1578 only to become its abbess a year later. She carried out a comprehensive reform of the Benedictine Order which received the approval of the Holy See in 1605.
Several dozen letters have remained after Magdalena
Mortęska as well as an extensive legal and educational text
commenting the Rule of St Benedict as well as a collection of
teachings presented to the nuns.
In the years 1615-1630 the Żaliński family assumed ownership of the estate. In 1667, the village belonged to Stanisław Narzymski. Apart from the village, there was also a manor farm with twelve homesteads in 1789. In1885, the village and manor farm had 338 inhabitants. The school was built before 1885. There was also an inn and a brewery in Mortęgi in the 19th century.
The greatest changes took place after 1800 when the knight’s manor house was transformed into a beautiful neoclassical edifice. In the years 1880-1945, the Mortęgi was owned by the family of Geiger, who were executed by the Red Army, which entered this territory. After the estate was parcelled out in 1945, the Palace remained empty. From 1947-50, it contained the People’s University, after which it was the seat of the “Future” (Polish: Przyszłość) Agricultural Production Cooperation, a primary school and a nursery.
The estate came into the hands of Alina and Jan Szynak in 2013, who made the restoration of this centuries-old Palace and its adjoining buildings their point of honour. In spring 2016, the new proprietors restored the Chapel, which currently houses a bell with the image of Mother Magdalena Mortęska embossed on its surface. Thanks to the diligence of Mr and Mrs Szynak, the Palace and its grounds have returned to their former glory. You are greatly welcome visit us – This is where history truly come alive!
The Mortęgi Palace Hotel & SPA**** is a revitalised, historic complex, comprised of: the Palace building, manor farm buildings dating back to the 14th century and a late 19th century English-style park. It is located in the small village of Mortęgi, not far from the Town of Lubawa in the Varmian-Masurian Voivodship.
The facility offers 50 rooms and suites, some of which are located in the stylish Palace while others, with an equally ambient atmosphere, are situated in the remaining facilities - the Manor House and Outbuilding.
The Palace section houses the Orangery, bar, library and conference and banquet halls. The Mortęgi Palace is the perfect place to organise prestigious company events and meetings, unforgettable weddings and receptions as well as other special events and parties for the most demanding guests. For those wanting to organise wedding ceremonies in a unique and ambient setting, we recommend the finely restored historic Chapel adjacent to the Palace. Tucked away in the Palace basement is a luxury pool, jacuzzi, dry, wet and infrared saunas, and boutique SPA with 3 treatment rooms.
MOTHER MAGDALENA MORTĘSKA
The Patroness of the facility is Servant of God Mother Magdalena Mortęska. Born in 1554 in Pokrzywno, a small village near Grudziądz (former German name Graudenz). She came from the Royal Prussia region of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the village of Mortęgi near Lubawa was their family estate. She lost her right eye as a child. She came from a family of senators, her father Melchior Mortęski was the Land Prefect of Pokrzywno and the Chamberlain of Malbork. Mother Elżbieta of Kostków was the sister of Piotr Kostka, the Bishop of Chełmno. Through Mother Magdalena, she was related to the noble Kostków family as well as to St Stanislaus Kostka of Rostkowo. Her other relatives included: Anna Jagiellonka - the wife of Stefan Batory, Abbot Jan Kostka of Oliwa, and Krzysztof Kostka, Governor of the Province of Pomerania. It is also worth mentioning that apart from being related to the Piast ruling dynasty, Magdalena was also allied to the Sapiecha princely family, one of the most powerful magnate families in the in the Crown of Poland territories. Her sister, Anna Ludwika, married Ernest Weiher, from whose family the founders of the town of Wejherowa originated. One of the estates of the Mortęski family was the village of Mortęgi, in the environs of Lubawa.
Around 1560, after her mother’s death, Magdalena was looked after by her aunt, who raised her in a strict and pious atmosphere, teaching her home maintenance and upkeep. At the age of 12, Magdalena made her first profession of the vow of chastity. She was already considering entering the Benedictine monastery, which her father sternly opposed, and sent her to the family estate in Mortęgi. Her father applied strict sanctions like forbidding her to learn to read and write, aimed at preventing her from entering the monastery. Defiling her father, she found a court scribe as a teacher.
She spent her most beautiful, youthful years in Mortęgi, under the watchful eye of the Bishop of Chełmno, Piotr Kostka, who stayed at the Estate of the Bishops of Chełmno in Lubawa. In 1578, against her father’s will, under the pretext of going away on a retreat, she took the veil at the Benedictine monastery in Chełmno.
One year later, she became the Abbess of the monastery. As a devout and God-fearing woman, she took it upon herself to restore monastic life. Thanks to her strong faith and resourcefulness, she led the Benedictine monastery out of a crisis. She reformed the Rule of St Benedict, making learning (reading, writing, mathematics, singing, and craftwork) possible to young women. She greatly emphasised the need for education of the nuns, which from that time on were required to be skilled in reading and writing in Polish and Latin. These actions contributed to a higher level of education among women of noble and burgher descent. In 1589, Magdalena also assumed responsibility for the Cistercian monastery in Żarnowiec, which she transformed to follow the Rule of St Benedict and filled with the nuns from Chełmno. The monastery in Nieśwież also fell into her hands in 1590. She went on to found a monastery in Bysławek in 1603 and another monastery in Lviv was subordinated to her in 1604. Other monasteries, including the monastery in Poznan, Jarosław, Sandomierz, Sierpc and Grudziądz, were established on her initiative in the years 1604–1624. During her lifetime, the Chełmno congregation was comprised of 22 monasteries.
She also established a seminary educating men for the priesthood in Poznań. In 1593, she participated in the foundation of the Jesuit College in Toruń. Several years later, the monasteries in Chełmno and Toruń flourished and grew to the extent that she had to send her nuns to other locations of the Order throughout Poland, so as to implement similar reforms also in these monasteries.
The merits and achievements of Magdalena Mortęska for Poland in the post-Tridentine period are countless. She left a legacy of two works recognised as religious and mystic literature. The first is a commentary of the Scripture called the “Spiritual Teachings”. The second, the “Meditations on the Passion of Christ”, comprise of thoughts on the Passion of Christ ordered under the Rule of St Benedict. A small collection of letters has also remained.
Magdalena Mortęska died on 15 February 1631. She was laid to rest at the Abbey in Chełmno, under the high altar. Her parents and brother were buried in the Chapel near St Anne’s Church in Lubawa. Magadlena was already valued and esteemed by bishops and papal nuncios during her lifetime for her observance of the monastic rule; hence the twice-renewed beatification process. Ultimately, the Bishop of Toruń, Andrzej Suski, issued an edict for the cause of her beatification and canonisation on 18 December 2015.