Founded in 1168, the building of the Santa María de Gradefes Church, according to an engraving on the northern lower wall, began on March 1st, 1177 under the patronage of the woman who became its Abbess -Teresa Pérez, widow of García Pérez, a knight of Alfonso VII. The first community was made up of Cistercian nuns who came from the monastery of Tulebras, Navarra. It became an important and privileged female monastery.
It is the only example in Spain of a female monastery having an ambulatory. In the church are the tombs with statues of the founding couple, a polychromatic work from the late 13th century. Kept in the monastery rooms are the polychromatic wooden carvings of a 12th century Virgin and a Gothic Christ, formerly part of a Calvary from the 14th century.
Valuable sculptures from the twelfth century. Fourteenth century tombs. Virgen de las Angustias (sixteenth century). Chalices, crucifixes and lignum crucis (largest section of the cross).
In monastic dependencies are kept polychrome carvings of a Virgin of the XII century and a Gothic Christ which was part of a Calvary of the XIV. Garments and shoes belonging to the founder are also kept.References:
Tyniec Benedictine abbey was founded by King Casimir the Restorer probably around 1044. Casimir decided to rebuild the newly established Kingdom of Poland, after a Pagan rebellion and a disastrous Czech raid of Duke Bretislaus I (1039). The Benedictines, invited to Tyniec by the King, were tasked with restoring order as well as cementing the position of the State and the Church. First Tyniec Abbot was Aaron, who became the Bishop of Kraków. Since there is no conclusive evidence to support the foundation date as 1040, some historians claim that the abbey was founded by Casimir the Restorer’ son, King Boleslaw II the Generous.
In the second half of the 11th century, a complex of Romanesque buildings was completed, consisting of a basilica and the abbey. In the 14th century, it was destroyed in Tatar and Czech raids, and in the 15th century it was rebuilt in Gothic style. Further remodelings took place in the 17th and 18th centuries, first in Baroque, then in Rococo style. The abbey was partly destroyed in the Swedish invasion of Poland, and soon afterwards was rebuilt, with a new library. Further destruction took place during the Bar Confederation, when Polish rebels turned the abbey into their fortress.
In 1816, Austrian authorities liquidated the abbey, and in 1821-1826, it was the seat of the Bishop of Tyniec, Grzegorz Tomasz Ziegler. The monks, however, did not return to the abbey until 1939, and in 1947, remodelling of the neglected complex was initiated. In 1968, the Church of St. Peter and Paul was once again named the seat of the abbot. The church itself consists of a Gothic presbytery and a Baroque main nave. Several altars were created by an 18th-century Italian sculptor Francesco Placidi. The church also has a late Baroque pulpit by Franciszek Jozef Mangoldt.