ST. ELISABETH ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

Farnosť sv. Alžbety v Bratislave

A short history

In the year 1907, 700 years have passed from the time of birth of St. Elisabeth (born 1207 as the daughter of Hungarian King Ondrej I.), The St. Elisabeth-celebrations were supposed to be crowned with the construction of the new church in Bratislava, which was consecrated to her.

Next to the railway bridge via Danube and near the New City railway Station a new Bratislava city district was emerging. There was a new royal catholic grammar school being built in this district, where a chapel for students should have been built. Although a chapel of smaller measurement was being planned, it would have nevertheless taken up the room of two or three classrooms and the yard would have been made smaller, too. Apart from that the chapel would have been inaccessible to the faithful from the new city district. The head of autonomous Church Union at that time, Teodor Kumlik and the director of the grammar school Karol Polikett offered the case related to the grammar school, chapel and the church to the Bishop Dr. Medard Kohl. He should have asked the Hungarian Primas cardinal Vaszary to arrange at the Ministry of Cult and Schooling, with the minister count Albert Apponyi, an approval for the construction of the new church, which would solve the problems of the grammar school as well as those of the faithful inhabitants of the new city district. The greatest activity was shown by the countess Gabriele Maria Szapary, widow of Bela Szapary, who arranged the construction of the church in a private way. She was a very respectable countess, who had the confidence and broad acquaintances in high society circles. Her achievement for the church was great.

After the official negotiations the Ministry gave a permission (Nr. 80720/1909) for the construction of the new church in Bratislava, and so did the Hungarian Primas (Nr. 4584/1909). The church was to be built near the grammar school and was to be consecrated to St. Elisabeth. In this way a really honourable crown was given to the 700th anniversary of the birth of St. Elisabeth.

The document for the first construction stone was set up by the professor of the grammar school Jozef Volker.

On a specially prepared piece of leather there is in the middle a picture of St. Elisabeth, on the right side a plan of the new church, on the left side a picture of the grammar school and in the back surroundings a Silhouette of the Coronation Dome of St. Martin. Above the pictures lies an ornament with the words: “Lay down your hat, mortal man, for the place where you stand, is holy.” There are also two symbols pictured there – the city symbol and the Hungarian one. The introductionary words of the document are: “I am the church named after St. Elisabeth from Arpad family. I was ordered to be built by the royal Ministry of Cult and Schooling, thanks to the sacrifice of the inhabitants of the free royal city of Bratislava, in the neighbourhood of the newly built royal catholic grammar school ... ”

Architectonic solutions and plans for the church were prepared by the Budapest architect Edmund Lechner. The Bratislava constructor Anton Duray was made responsible for the construction. The supervision of the construction was performed by the head engineer of the state constructions Jan Florian. The first building stone was laid ceremonially on 23. August 1909 by the representative of Esztergom Erzibishop Dr. Simon Valo.

On 4. November 1909 there has been a delegation of representatives of the church in Vienna by the Emperor Franz Joseph I., who approved the construction plan of the church and promised his help. He immediately appointed the famous Bratislava sculptor Alois Rigele with the creation of a marble relief of Queen Elisabeth, which was then placed on the left hand side of the church (nowadays the relief is in the parish office building). It is made of white carrara marble and represents the praying Queen Elisabeth (the wife of the Emperor Franz Joseph I.).

After this visit, a commission for the construction of the church was named, which attended its first meeting on 12th November 1909. The commission was made up of: the chairman countess Szapary, her daughter Helena, Dr. Viktor Kereszty – a canonicus of Bratislava, Theodor Kumlik – head of the Religious Union, Dr. Karol Polikett – director of the grammar school, Ing. Jan Florian construction supervisor, Anton Durvay constructor and Dr. Emil Szybilla – professor of religion at the grammar school. The secretary was Dr. Simon Valo – representative of the Erzbishop of Esztergom. The commission managed to draw the highest circles into the construction of the church (even the pope Pius X, who presented the church a precious cup with good wish).

On 26. June 1910 the church cross was ceremonially erected, blessed by Dr. Simon Valo. On 14. May 1911 the bells were installed, which were on 27. June 1911 blessed by Bishop Dr. Medard Kohl. By appointment of her sick mother, the countess Helena gave over on 6. February 1912 the reliquien of St. Elisabeth to the city pastor Edmund Zandt. They were presented by the Viennese cardinal primas Franz Nagl from the parish of Elisabeth sisters in Vienna. The reliquien are kept, together with the remainders of St. Clement the Roman, St. Vincent and St. Theodora in the altar of the church. The presentation of the relics was the last pleasure of the countess Gabriela Maria Szapary, who died on 26. April 1912. In the autumn 1913 the construction of the church was terminated.

On 11. October 1913 the church was ceremonially consecrated and given into use. There was an official document issued by the Hungarian primas cardinal Jan Csernoch on the consecration of the church.

 

 

The Church

The church was being built by the company Pittel and Brausewetter and a specially preferred material of those times was used – concrete. The church has one lobe. Its length is 30,94 m, width 10,90 m, height 12,60 m. On the front side above the main entrance there is an Italian mosaic picturing the patroness of the church St. Elisabeth – it is a gift of the Esztergom archbishop Klaudius Vaszary. Above the mosaic there is a symbol of Eucharistic sacrifice – cup with hostia. The gates of the church and those of the grammar school are practically the same. The tower of the church is 36,80 m high, has a round roof ended up with Apostolic Cross (double cross). The tower clock was produced by company Schmidt and it was payed for out of the donations of the faithful. Architect Edmund Lechner has built the church in the style of Budapest secession. When finishing the exterior, he used in order to increase the decorativeness, tiny ceramic plates of blue colour. For this reason the Church of St. Elisabeth was named by people “The blue chapel”. This name was enhanced also by the blue cover plates of the roof. Lechner knew well the legend about the Saint (St. Elisabeth) and the roses and according to this story he used very often the motifs of the rose when decorating the church.

 

Interior of the Church

The altar picture shows the patroness of the church St. Elisabeth, who under the Castle Wartburg shows her generosity to the poor (she is the patron of the Christian charity). The picture is a monofigural oilpainting on a linen and its author was painter Julius Tury from Budapest. In the face of St. Elisabeth there is grace, but also deep compassion with the poor. The altar picture harmonises in colour with the painting of the interior. The gold plated frame was designed by architect Edmund Lechner himself.

In the back part of the church there is a choir place built on columns with Dorean heads. The architect situated 6 pictures in the interior. On the triumphal round there is a picture of lamb with flag, lying on a book sealed with seven seals (according to the Apokalypse). On the round back in the church there is a second picture representing a pelican (symbol of sacrifice). Further there are pictures of four Saints from the Arpad family – St. Stephan, St. Ladislav, St. Imrich and St. Margita. The pictures were painted by Budapest painters Beszedes and Zsille and placed in a form of a four-leaves clover. In the paints of the interior, blue and yellow colours have the majority and the ornaments of the flowers are used in decorations.

At the back, at right hand side from the main entrance, there is a small relief from carrara marble representing the count Peter Szapary (died young), the son of countess Gabriela Maria Szapary (the greatest donor of the church). Out of the values he left behind, a new double-manual organ as well as some church service objects were bought. The relief is work of sculptor M. Drobil. It was placed here as a sign of thanks towards him, but especially towards his mother.

In the entree there are two more green-coloured memorial boards with the names of the main donors and good doers to the church.

The organ was built by company Schonhoffer from Bratislava.

In the interior of the church there are only two statues. At the back on the left side there is in a niche a statue of St. Antonius from Padova made of white Tirolean marble. It is a work of Alois Rigele. The second statue is at the front, on left hand side placed on a stone foot. It is the statue of the Holy Heart Jesu: there are three other copy-statues, but they are not separate statues on their own and they possess only a decorative character. One of them is placed above the preach cabin and two other are above large copper candelabras, which are placed next to the altar picture. All three represent angels with hands joined together for prayer.

 

The main altar

It is made up of the Sutto marble. It has got a pyramidally arranged footstep with a tabernacle on mensa. The doors of tabernacle are silver and gold plated and decorated with eleven gold plated heads of angels with a triangle and an eye (symbol of the Holy Trinity). Above the tabernacle there is a throne for placing the Holy Altar Host. There is a small statue of a lamb lying on a book placed there. Behind the throne there is a niche filled up with a silver coloured mosaic glass and surrounded by a golden frame. On the pyramidal footstep, on the stairs, six stylish one-arm candelabras with ordinary candles are placed. The altar mensa stands on four columns without heads. On the top of the altar a styled silver cross is placed. Next to the altar there are two tall wooden blue candelabras. From the robust footstep, which is formed by four columns, six arms with electric lights are coming  out. The candelabras are decorated with wooden roses. They were made by art carpenter Jozef Dorosinyi from Bratislava.

In 1973 a new altar “versus populum” was built in the sanctuary.

 

The side altar

It is placed in the inside hall of the church opposite the side entrance on the place, where previously hung the relief of the Queen Elisabeth. The altar is consecrated to St. Theresa from Lisieux. It is work by Alois Rigele.

 

In the year 1980 there was a general restoration of the church performed on its exterior.