Today, the Church of Bernards in Tarnów is a beautiful baroque temple, located to the South from the city centre. However, originally, monks lived in a different building.

The origins of Bernards in Tarnów go back to 1459. The occasion, on which the Bernards were relocated to Tarnów, were negotiations between the owner of Tarnów, Jan Amor Tarnowski and an Italian Franciscan, Jan of Kapistran (later became a saint), who came to Kraków with other monks from his monastery in order to discuss the crusade agains the Turks, who endangered Europe. After receiving a positive answer from Jan Kapistran, Jan Tarnowski begun to build a wooden church and a monastery on his land, outside the city (to the East). It was finished in 1459 and it was then, when Bernards settled in the monastery near the Church of st. Mary Major (Our Lady of the Snows).

In 1468, due to cautionary measures, a new church and monastery were built from brick. The church was done in gothic style, with one nave, more narrow then the nave presbytery and closed with three-wall apse, turned to the East.

In 1550 Jan Tarnowski, a great crown hetman, built a wooden monastery for Bernadine Sisters, among who was his own sister. At the beginning the nuns led lives based on the third rule of St. Francis of Assisi, meant for believers, living on earth. In 1614 a fire destroyed the monastery. Further damage was caused by the Swedes in 1655. Almost everything was taken by them, so that the nuns had to leave the monastery for the Winter. That is why, soon after those events, the patrons of Bernadine sisters ordered a new, bigger monastery. It was build in rectangle shape, with a garth and a bastion in each corner. The construction was finished around 1680, a date suggested by a carved sigh on a log, holding up the ceiling in the refectory. In 1747 the head of the monastery, nun Helena Nikelsówna, initiated the construction of a stone church. Built though the years 1752-1776, the church now bears the name of St. Barbara.

About the further fate of the 21 nuns still living in the monastery, decided Jozef II Habsburg’s decree of liquidation on December 12 1781. The whole estate was taken by the Religious Fund and the buildings were empty until 1789.

On the 5th of August 1789 the monastery and the church were taken by Bernadine Fathers, because they were removed from their own monastery by the emperor’s decree on May 20 1789. The existing Bernardine church was deprived of the previous sacred look, it was turned into a three-storey building intended for the use of the city.

Renovations, adaptations, investments, small changes and improvements to both the church and the monastery lasted throughout the XIX and XX century. The first necessity was the need to turn the function of the church into a pastoral facility. After a renovation and internal improvements, in 1827 the church was consecrated by Tarnów’s bishop Grzegorz Tomasz Ziegler, and called the Church of the Triumph of the Cross.


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