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Hronsky Benadik

    Garamszentbenedek oltár

Only about 80 km from Banska Bystrica, near the R1 expressway - where coming from southern Slovakia we leave the plains and reach the narrow valley of the river Hron, where mountains dominate the landscape, in an area called Slovak Gate - in the village Hronský Beňadik there is one of the most beautiful gothic monuments in Slovakia - the monastery church of the former Benedictine abbey.

From historical sources it is assumed that the first Benedictine monks arrived in the territory of Hronský Beňadik before the year 1075, i.e. monastery existed probably before founding charter in 1075.  Among the monks were also experts in mining, metallurgy, engineering and sacred buildings. In a document from 1075 king Geza I. from Árpád dynasty endowed the monastery in Hronský Beňadik with extensive property rights. The property of the monastery grew by other donations too. The extensive property of the monastery was also confirmed in 1209 in a document from Pope Innocent III.

Convent fulfilled the function of a credible place (loca credibilia)- i.e. in his competence belonged issuance of almost all types of written documents, confirmation and authentication of documents, the Convent served as an assistant in a formal proceeding, was a place to deposit valuables and archives, led own archive etc.

Originally it was Romanesque monastic complex. However, we know about its architecture little. Under the floor of the present Gothic church were found foundations of a Romanesque three-nave-basilica – basilica was 30 m long and 14.5 m wide.

During the reign of Louis I. of the House of Anjou in the first half of the 14th (1346) started construction of a new Gothic church and of the east wing of the monastery. Beautiful main portal of the church dates from 1380.

The Gothic reconstruction of the monastery had been started at the beginning of the 15th century. From this period dates partly preserved cloister. In 1423  monks let paint the walls in the left part of the church with frescoes painting - the legend of Saint George. Unfortunately, 1435 the monastery was burnt down.

After rebuilding the church was consecrated in 1483. On this occasion, Abbey got probably  from king Matthias Corvinus a valuable gift –  Relic of the Holy Blood (a piece of cloth with drops of the blood of Christ, it should be a part of Veil of Veronica). Matthias Corvinus got it probably from Pope Paul II in gratitude for his help in the battles against the Ottomans. For this Christ relic was a separate chapel built - the Holy Blood Chapel. The chapel was consecrated by Bishop Gregory of Nitra on March 26th 1489.

Chapel received in 1510 a new altar, which is currently located in Esztergom. One of the last Gothic buildings that were built to the monastery was so called wing for abbots, partly already in the Renaissance style. Construction of this wing was completed in 1508. After the year 1508 was the church equipped with several altars and sacred objects. Unfortunately only few remain until now.

1526 Ottoman Sultan Suleiman I defeated at the Battle of Mohács the Hungarian king, Louis II. from the House of Jagiellon died and the way to Hungary was for Ottomans free. For this reason the monastery was 1530 rebuilt into a fortress with corner bastions with cannons. The monastery became the property of the archdiocese of Esztergom. 1565 - 1588 was church rebuilt on multi-storey bastion with cannons and the reconstruction lasted until 1665. Several buildings were built too – bastions, military barracks, storehouse etc.

The baroque wing of monastery dates from 18th century, when the monastery was rebuilt for the purposes of the Archdiocese.

In 1882 according to the plans of architects F. and K. Storno and under the supervision of experts - professors I. Henszlmann and I. Steindl was the monastery complex  restored in neo-Gothic style.

Church is today administrated by Pallotins.

Several works originally from Hronský Beňadik we can today admire in the Christian Museum in Esztergom – e.g. Passion Altar (Triptych - three-sections altar is unique jewel of the museum - Altar paintings belong to the highest quality European works of the first half of the 15th century. The painter is Thomas of Cluj-Napoca (Transylvania) and altar was ordered by prelate Nicolaus from the Benedictine monastery in Hronský Beňadik, whose idea was also the iconography, well-thought out down to the last detail. Holy Sepulchre – a unique Gothic work, allegedly one of four such works, which have been preserved in Europe and superbly restored - is also in the Christian Museum in Esztergom. There is in Hronský Beňadik only copy, but without statues and reliefs but with an original sculpture of Christ with arms that are movable and can be moved to the body to descent Jesus from the cross and carry him to the tomb.

However, church and monastery in Hronský Beňadik are worth a visit.

There is also another church in the village Hronský Beňadik  - St. Giles Church, built in 1674. Interesting is the Baroque gallery with pictures of the apostles and in the gallery the valuable organ casing of a baroque organ from 1714, made by Master Zorkovský from Kremnica.


Picture see  Impresie Hronský Beňadik

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