The Church of the Assumption of the Buda Castle (Hungarian: Nagyboldogasszony-templom), more commonly known as the Matthias Church (Hungarian: Mátyás-templom), more rarely the Coronation Church of Buda, is a Roman Catholic church located in the Holy Trinity Square, Budapest, Hungary, in front of the Fisherman's Bastion at the heart of Buda's Castle District. According to church tradition, it was originally built in Romanesque style in 1015, although few references exist. The current building was constructed in the florid late Gothic style in the second half of the 14th century and was extensively restored in the late 19th century. It was the second largest church of medieval Buda and the seventh largest church of the medieval Hungarian Kingdom.
|Church of Our Lady of Buda|
Hungarian: Budavári Nagyboldogasszony-templom
|Founder(s)||Saint Stephen of Hungary|
|Years built||11th century|
15th century (rebuilt)
|Number of towers||1|
It is a historic building with an important history. Two Kings of Hungary were crowned within its walls: Franz Joseph I of Hungary and Elisabeth, and Charles IV of Hungary and Zita of Bourbon-Parma.
The church was also the location of the "Mary-wonder." In 1686 during the siege of Buda city by the Holy League a wall of the church collapsed due to cannon fire. It turned out that an old votive Madonna statue was hidden behind the wall. As the sculpture of the Virgin Mary appeared before the praying Muslims, the morale of the muslim garrison collapsed and the city fell on the same day.
According to the tradition, the first church on the site was founded by Saint Stephen, King of Hungary, in 1015, this is based on an inscription erected in 1690 and burned in 1748, inside the church, which some previous references seem to confirm. However, there is no clear evidence of the foundation of St. Stephen. This building was destroyed in 1241 by the Mongols; the current building was constructed in the latter half of the 13th century. Originally named after the Virgin Mary, taking names such as "The Church of Mary" and "The Church of Our Lady," Matthias Church was named after King Matthias in the 19th Century, who ordered the transformation of its original southern tower.
Re-foundation in the 13th CenturyEdit
King Béla IV of Hungary after the Mongol invasion, between 1255 and 1269, replaced the older, smaller church with a towering three-nave basilica. During the first phase of construction (1255–1260), the main shrine and auxiliary shrines were built, under the direction of Villard de Honnecourt. The first stage of the construction of the main church of Buda is closest relative to the Lyon Cathedral. The group of masters consisted of the builders of the Cistercian Monastery of Tišnov, Czech Republic, who during the master migration after the Mongol invasion the cousin of king Béla IV, Agnes of Bohemia, traveled to Hungary. The reasons for its disintegration around 1260 are unknown.
The complete construction of the church took place during its second phase of construction, between 1260 and 1269. The work of the second group of masters was already influenced by Northern French religious architecture through German mediation. Other works of this workshop are the Franciscan Kecske Church in Sopron, Hungary, and the Monastery of Klosterneuburg, Austria, probably related to the Dominican monastery of Margaret Island, Budapest, which was the home of a daughter of Béla IV, St Margaret of the Árpád House. The king, due to his daughter, donated the piety to built this monastery in Buda for a while.
The Church of the Assumption of the Buda Castle became the earliest and most complete Hungarian work of classical Gothic church architecture, which gives a complete picture about the architectural schools of Béla's era.
14th century: Gothic Hall churchEdit
In the second half of the 14th century was rebuilt into a Gothic Hall church. The whole building was remodeled in a mature Gothic style. In 1370 king Louis I of Hungary began with the construction of the iconic Maria Gate at the southwest. The closest parallel to this representative two-door gate is the portal of St. Lorenz Church in Nuremberg, built fifteen years earlier. During the reign of Louis, a complete redesign of the church basilica space was begun in the spirit of mature Gothic architecture. The arches of the side naves were raised to the height of the main nave, and huge windows with rich stone lattice were placed on the high walls, thus creating a bright, airy hall. During the reign of king Sigismund, the side shrines were extended and provided with an octagonal Gothic closure. In the final phase of the construction, the masters of the Prague Parler workshop also worked on the building. Between 1412–1433 they ordered the burial chapel of the aristocratic Garai family beside the north side sanctuary at the request of Nicholas II Garai. The closest relative of the newly formed Hall church is the Abbey of Hronský Beňadik, current Slovakia.
15th century: Matthias ChurchEdit
The church reached its peak in medieval prosperity during the reign of king Matthias Corvinus. The king built the southwest bell tower, one of the finest pieces of Gothic architecture in Hungary. According to the coat of arms of Matthias, the south tower, which collapsed in 1384, was rebuilt in 1470. Apart from its destroyed helmet, the bell tower still retains its original form, although in the late 19th century a complete replacement of its stone material became inevitable. However, the head of the great arch supporting the choir still preserves its original stone.
Matthias also erected a royal oratory near the southern sanctuary of the church, but it was completely destroyed during the Turkish occupation. At that time, at the end of the 15th century, they began the construction of the northwestern tower, which had already been completed with the exception of the helmet before the Turkish conquest.
16th century: Ottoman invasionEdit
During the first Turkish invasion in 1526, the medieval roof structure and most of its equipment were destroyed. In 1541 the rebuilt Church of the Blessed Virgin was converted into a mosque by the Turks after the final conquest of Buda; in this church the Sultan Suleiman give thanks to Allah for the victory. Its equipment and altars were discarded and painted walls were lowered. While most other churches in Buda were destroyed by the Ottomans, the Church of Mary survived, converted into a mosque and called from this point Büjük (Great), Eszki (Old) or Suleiman khan djam. Of course, destruction could not be completely avoided; the Matthias royal oratory, the north tower, the Garai chapel and the side chapels were demolished to use their stones elsewhere.
17th and 18th centuries: Jesuit churchEdit
After Buda was retaken (1686), the church first became the property of the Franciscans, and then of the Jesuit Order, which restored it in Baroque style. Between 1688–1702, a huge dormitory was built on its north side and a three-story seminary on its south side. Between 1702–1714, the originally free-standing church was made part of a large building complex. Although the scene of great pastoral work, the church lost almost all its medieval ornamentation, rendering its exterior façade insignificant.
In 1690 the Palatine of Hungary Paul I, Prince Esterházy built the new Baroque main altar, and in 1696 built a lobby in front of the main gate. In the same year, Matthias' bell tower was crowned with a Baroque onion dome. The Chapel of Loreto was built in 1707, this received a bell tower in 1719, and soon afterwards its side chapels were erected, and a new sacristy was erected in place of the Bride's Gate.
Baroque transformations were conducted in many medieval elements; only the few windows of the Matthias Bell tower guarded the original character of the church's facade.
After the dissolution of the Jesuit Order in 1773, the council of the city of Buda owned the church.
19th century: Schulek's reconstruction of the churchEdit
Under the leadership of the king Franz Joseph I of Austria, between 1874–1896, a major rebuilding took place, the architect was Frigyes Schulek, which restored to the original image of the building. The stone carving was done by Jakab Kauser, a well-known family of architects from Pest.
The church was restored to its original 13th-century plan, but a number of early original Gothic elements were uncovered. By also adding new motifs of his own (such as the diamond pattern roof tiles and gargoyles laden spire) Schulek ensured that the work, when finished, would be highly controversial.
Schulek freed the church, enclosed in former Jesuit buildings, at the expense of the demolition of adjacent parts, restoring its original, distinctive character. The vault and walls of the building were demolished to the ground in several places to reconstruct the original architectural solutions. In all the church he removed the Baroque joints and sought to restore the ancient ones, but by completely restoring the damaged parts and surfaces. This is how the demigods of Sigismund's side sanctuaries were demolished and the original, simpler closures restored, the Louis I of Hungary opening of the Mary's Gate, the Matthias bell tower – but at the same time replaced almost all the original mastheads with a faithfully re-carved copy. Wherever he could find no clue, he put in his own design parts: he erected a foyer in front of the Gate of Mary, erected the new St Stephen's chapel in place of the destroyed Garai chapel, rebuilt the former Baroque chapel line to the northern nave, It was crowned with today's lavish stone helmet and decorated with a neo-Gothic balcony wreath, the northern tower was equipped with a late Romanesque style boy's helmet, placed a pediment between the two towers, built the two sacristies and a royal oratory connected to the north. The crypt, which was designed in 1780, was also renewed in a free neo-Gothic style.
Bertalan Székely and Károly Lotz directed the Schulek's interior decoration and furnishing, who utilised the remains of the medieval wall paintings. They painted the paintings, made the designs of the Ede Kratzmann colored glass windows, and made the new sculptural decoration by Ferenc Mikula. The altarpieces were painted by Mihály Zichy (St Imre's chapel) and Gyula Aggházy in Loretto chapel, the relief of the main gate depicting the Our Lady of the Hungarians, by Lajos Lontay. The benches and the organ cabinet were designed by Schulek.
The Church was completed in 1893; the Millenary conquest shone, though not in its original forms but in the old light. In 1898 the burials of Béla III of Hungary and his first wife, Agnes of Antioch, they found their final burial place in the chapel of the northern nave of the church, which were unearthed during the excavations carried out on the ruins of the royal basilica in Székesfehérvár in 1848 (basilica destroyed by the Turks).
The Southwest Virgin Mary gate, -which in the tympanum depicts Virgin Mary falling asleep- is one of the few original medieval remains from the beginning of the 15th century. Which, this is a replica of the 13th century main gate. The Loretto Chapel, of medieval origin, beneath the southern tower preserves a Madonna statue from the end of the 17th century. This work of art was created to replace the original medieval sculpture of the Madonna, which was walled in during the Turkish occupation in the church.
As an appreciation of Schulek's rebuilding, he did not appreciate the historic importance of the church, which was in poor condition, but its historical stones, he replaced them largely with careful copies. However, thanks to his scientific depth and precise work of form, we can today see the former state of this church in its facade. Reconstructed faithfully and, to a lesser extent, dreamed up in a small way, the most demanding work and interior decoration of this neo-Gothic church is one of the highest achievements of the Eastern European Art Nouveau.
In 1936, on the 250th anniversary of the recapture of the Buda Castle, a Hungarian and Italian inscription commemorating the Baron Michele d'Aste was placed on the right-hand apse wall. Lieutenant-Colonel D'Aste, who died during the battle, contributed greatly to the success of the action. The inscription reads as follows: "Lieutenant Colonel Michele d'Aste, Italian Colonel, on September 2, 1686, was among the first to sacrifice his life for the liberation of Buda"
In 1927 created the "Chapel of the Knights of Malta" in an oratory in the northern gallery of the church. Around the altar were shields of the then Hungarian Knights of Malta. A restoration was made in 2005, the church authorities and the Maltese order restored the habit of hanging coat of arms. Around the altar there are four noteworthy commemorative shields of the Maltese Chaplain: Jusztinián György Serédi, Primary Duke, Vilmos Apor Martyr Bishop, Antal Nemes and canons. In the foreground you can see the shields of the members from 1925 to 1944, while in the passage from the sacristy to the lower church there are the deceased members who were picked up after 1945. On each Day of the Dead, the Knight's Order, as part of a funeral mass, hangs the coat of arms of the ordained members of the Order who died in the past year.
Before of the World War II, on the initiative of Pál Teleki, a complete renovation of the temple was begun, but the war prevented its completion. During the 1944–1945 Allies Siege of Budapest the building was severely damaged. In its lower church was the German camp kitchen, and in the sanctuary was a Soviet horse stable. The five-manual organ, which had been destroyed during the war, was updated and sanctified in 1984. War damage was repaired by the Hungarian State between 1950 and 1970. In 1984 the last wound of war disappeared from the temple: the restoration of the pipe organ was completed.
The new Church of Mary built by Béla IV of Hungary in 1270 soon became a venue for events of national importance. In 1279 had already held a national council here under the leadership of Lieutenant of the Pope Fülöp Fermói and the Archbishop of Esztergom Lodomer, where they were invited by king Ladislaus IV of Hungary.
In the aftermath of the throne after 1301, the Czech king Wenceslaus III and Bavarian king Otto III were nominated as kings of Hungary here, and then in 1309 at another national council, papal legate cardinal Gentile Portino da Montefiore, and Archbishop of Esztergom Tamás crowned here with a new crown to the Anjou king Charles I of Hungary. The same king was found here between his death in Visegrád and his funeral in Székesfehérvár.
In January 1412 King Sigismund for the first time suspended his victory flags on the walls of the church, which had been rebuilt by then, which he captured in the campaign against Republic of Venice. This gesture later created a tradition of John Hunyadi. In 1424, in the Corpus Christi feast as a guest of the German-Roman Emperor Sigismund and the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos turned between its walls. After the death of Sigismund in 1438 the Hungarian king Albert II of Germany and in 1440 the Hungarian king Władysław III of Poland was introduced in the church after their election. In 1444 Władysław III, after his triumphant campaign, here held his solemn thanksgiving with John Hunyadi.
St John of Capistrano held a recruiting speech here to promote his involvement and recluit troops for the Turkish campaign. In 1455 John Hunyadi received the cross here from the papal legacy of Carvajal and started from here to Belgrade.
In 1456 Pope Callixtus III founded a cathedral chapter near the church. (this was abolished during the Turkish occupation, but the provost title of "Pest-újhegyi", named after the Virgin Mary, has been bestowed by the Hungarian apostolate and from 1920 to the Archbishop of Esztergom.
When Matthias Corvinus ascended the throne, in 1458 the Holy Crown of Hungary was not in Hungary. Therefore, Matthias, returning from his captivity in Prague, solemnly began his reign in the Church of Mary in the form of a "crown without crown": thanking God and Mary, the Grandmother of Hungary, whose inheritance was honored by her father; before the altar he promised to keep the sacred rights, then went to his palace and sat on his throne and began to deal with the affairs of the country.
Matthias held both of his weddings in this church: in 1463 with Catherine of Poděbrady and in 1476 with Beatrice of Naples. The south gate, which is still called the Bride's Gate, reminds us of this. The parish priest of the church at that time was Marcin Bylica, a friend of Matthias, an excellent astronomer, and Regiomontanus.
In 1526 the treasures of the church were fled to Bratislava. The Palatine of Hungary István Werbőczy proclaimed here the covenant of the king John Zápolya with the French, the Pope, Venice and Florence. A few months later, at the feast of King St Stephen, the "counter-king", Habsburg Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor attended the Mass here.
It was used as the main mosque of Buda by the occupying Turks from 1541–1686. Legend has it that Gül Baba, a member of the Bektás Dervish Order in the temple, whose tomb (mausoleum) is still near Margaret Bridge, it is still the northernmost Islamic pilgrimage site in the world.
The victory of the desperate struggle for Buda was attributed by contemporaries to the miracle of the church's statue of Mary, which was not destroyed by the Turks, but simply bricklayed. In 1686, before the last attack of the siege of Vladislaus II. The wall drawn in front of a vow sculpture donated by Vladislaus fell down during a major explosion, and the long-forgotten statue of the Our Lady of the Hungarians appeared in front of the Turks praying in the main mosque (current church of Mary). The triumphant statue of Mary was carried on the streets of Buda in a Thanksgiving procession. Remembering this event, the church is still a place of worship for the image.
In 1686 the church was owned by the Jesuit Order and was a very careful landlord in his own way: the 87-year pastoral flower in the history of the church, marked by the Society of Jesus. The spiritually deprived city was cultivated and re-catholicized by their college. The Order (also in the wake of the Counter-Reformation) was strongly attached to the Habsburg Ruler, and there are hardly any Hungarians among their members, as was the newly settled citizenship, as in the Middle Ages, being German. Yet it is thanks to these monks that the cult of the Our Lady of the Hungarians and the idea of the Regnum Marianum (the Kingdom of Mary) and the reverence of the holy kings, which became one of the pillars of Hungarian identity and the spiritual foundation of national independence aspirations.
In 1867, as culmination of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise, cardinal-Archbishop of Esztergom János Simor crowned here as Hungarian king to the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I and his wife, Elizabeth with the Holy Crown. The Coronation Mass by Franz Liszt was performed for the first time in this important celebration.
In 2000, in the year of the Great Jubilee, remembering the former sending of the crown, the young people of the church made a fresh copy of the Holy Crown of Hungary for Pope John Paul II which him was brought to the Vatican on a walking pilgrimage blessed in Rome and crowned with the statue of Virgin Mary on the main altar at the Assumption of the Pope.
The pulpit of the church was built between 1890 and 1893 during the extensive reconstruction of the building. It was designed by Frigyes Schulek with the help of art historian Béla Czobor who contributed to the draft of the iconographic plan. The statues were carved by Ferenc Mikula, the abat-voix was made by Károly Ruprich.
The pulpit was built of sandstone, and the surfaces are entirely covered with Neo-Romanesque ornamental painting including the statues. There is a wrought-iron rail at the bottom of the steps. The Gothic Revival abat-voix, resembling a medieval tower, was carved of oak and the statue of the Good Shepherd on the top was made of linden. The platform of the pulpit is supported by an outer ring of arches and a massive central pillar. The most interesting part of the structure is the sculptural decoration of the parapet with the statues of the four evangelists and the four Latin doctors of the church standing under the arches of a blind arcade. The sequence of the figures is:
- St John with the eagle
- St Augustine with the boy
- St Luke with the ox
- St Ambrose with the beehive
- St Mark with the lion
- St Gregory the Great with the dove
- St Matthew with the angel
- St Jerome with the lion
The two bishops and the saintly pope are portrayed in the traditional attire of their office, and Jerome is wearing cardinal robes. The parapet is supported by brackets decorated with grotesque heads in medieval style, and framed by two bands of carved vegetal decoration (vine and acanthus leaves).
The first recorded pulpit was erected in 1693 after the reconversion of the building from mosque to church under the ownership of the Jesuits. Nothing is known about its appearance. A new Baroque pulpit was installed in 1769 by Countess Erzsébet Berényi, the owner of the Zichy estate of Óbuda. This was probably made by Károly Bebo, the stewart and sculptor of the estate who made several high-quality Baroque pulpits in the region, including those in the parish church of Óbuda and the Trinitarian church of Kiscell. His work in the Matthias Church was recorded by a lithograph of Gusztáv Zombory (1857) and the only surviving photograph of the interior of the church before its extensive reconstruction.
Bebo's lost work should have been a fine example of Central-European Baroque wood carving. The pulpit itself was decorated with reliefs and two statues of prophets (perhaps Moses and Aaron) and two angels sitting on its ledge. The canopy of the abat-voix was supported by two flying angels. There was a statue of the Risen Christ on the top surrounded with cherubs. The old pulpit was demolished by Frigyes Schulek immediately after the closure of the church in 1876 at the start of the long reconstruction. Only two figures of flying cherubs survived, which were probably parts of the structure, the first one in the Hungarian National Gallery and the other in the collection of the parish church.
Today the church has 7 bells. Six of them are located in the bell tower and the last damaged bell hangs in the cavalry tower. Three of the tower's bells are historic bells (from years 1723, 1724 and 1891). The church got four new bells in 2010, then the Szt. Károly bell sound correction took place.
It is home to the Ecclesiastical Art Museum, which begins in the medieval crypt and leads up to the St. Stephen Chapel. The gallery contains a number of sacred relics and medieval stone carvings, along with replicas of the Hungarian royal crown and coronation jewels.
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