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The history and description

The CALVARY of Bansk√° ҆tiavnica(1744 – 1751)

In the mid-18th century Bansk√° ҆tiavnica ranked among the largest and most important free royal towns of the Hungarian Kingdom. The town¬īs mining enabled its golden age, and favorable economic conditions allowed for an unprecedented cultural development of the city and the transformation of its external appearance, including the emergence of new artistic values‚Äč‚Äč. One of them was the construction of a¬†unique Calvary.

This impressive Baroque sacral monument, which overlooks the town from a¬†dominant position, ranks among the most beautiful of its kind in Europe. A¬†perfectly thought – out interplay of architecture, sculptural works, painting and crafts in unity with the natural environment literally immerses visitors in the story of Jesus’ last journey.

 
HISTORY…

The initiator of the construction of Calvary was Father Francis Perger (1700 Р1771) from the local community of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). With remarkable zeal, the public of the town embraced his idea to build a Calvary on nearby Scharffenberg (Sharp Hill) ) wich belonged to family Fritz von Friedenlieb. Previously, in the turbulent times of Turkish conquests, the hill was occupied by a warning tower designed to give advance notice of enemy invasion.

Father Perger enthusiastically presented this idea to the representatives of Banska Stiavnica, who took over the building under his guidance. The project was approved by the church on May 22, and on September 14 the foundation stone of the Upper Church, the first finished building of the complex, was laid. The entire project was carried out under the direct leadership of priest Perger, and numerous masons, carpenters and stonemasons, as well as painters and woodcarvers were employed. Exactly seven years from the commencement of works, on September 14, 1751, the entire complex was completed and solemnly consecrated.

Although the Calvary was created at the height of the baroque epoque, the architecture of the buildings is sober and moderate in its decorative aspect, which allows pilgrims to concentrate on the emotional and spiritual elements of the Passion. This effect is magnified by the power of the realistic portrayal of scenes in the form of large reliefs and dramatically escalated the final scene of the Crucifixion, which is made ‚Äč‚Äčup of life-sized statues and figurative painting in the background.

The complex of sacral buildings on the steep Scharffenberg hill was financed by donations of the rich miners and dignitaries, as well as contributions from simple mining families. Some donors are represented by coats of arms on the front of each station.

 

Important dates:

-November 19, 1649 – Founding of the Jesuit mission in Bansk√° ҆tiavnica

-March 13, 1744 – Magistrate agrees with the proposal of priest Perger SJ to built the Calvary and gives him the first financial support in the amount of 300 gold coins.

-May 22, 1744 – Perger asks the ecclesiastical authority for permission to build Calvary according to plans submitted and for the patronage of the city. At the time, the Archbishop of Esztergom (based in Trnava) was Imrich Esterh√°zy (1725-1745).

-August 13, 1744 – Archbishop receives an acceptable plan; ecclesiastical approval follows.

Meanwhile, Father Perger continues gathering material and money. Landscaping and delivery of material to the top has started, with the assistance of both city officials and groups of workers and believers.

– September 14, 1744 – The foundation stone is solemnly blessed in the presence of a large number of believers and the priesthood on the Feast of Exaltation of the Cross. The first building completed was the “Upper Church”.

– September 14, 1745 ‚ÄďThe Upper Church is blessed and the first Mass is celebrated, attended by a¬†flag-bearing procession from the town. The sanctification was carried out by the Vicar General, Bishop Michael Frivais and Mass was served by superior of the Jesuits Filip Pez. A¬†Slovak homily was delivered by Michal Huńćekovińć, pastor from Chrenovec and a¬†German sermon was preached by George J. Herczeg, pastor of Handlova.

-1746 ‚Äď Regular Processions to the Calvary begin.

-1751 – On the feast of the Holy Trinity distinguished guests, among them the Emperor Francis of Lorraine, visited the Calvary.

– 1748 ‚Äď Francis P.Perger SJ, the man behind the Calvary, previously authored several religious works. Later he wrote and published a¬†book, written in Slovak language, which contained lessons and prayers, worship schedules for the feasts of Finding and Exaltation of the Cross, indulgence connected with the Calvary, prayers to the Passion of Christ the Lord, in honor of the Sacred Heart, prayers to twelve hours of the day, etc.

– September 13, 1751 ‚Äď ceremonial blessing throughout the Calvary.

– 1894 ‚Äď Some chapels were repaired and restored by architect William Groszmann and J. Kraus, a wood carver from Bansk√° ҆tiavnica.

– 1945 ‚Äď Major damage sustained during the fighting of World War II.

-1948 – Pilgrimages were “regulated” and restricted by the state. However, many believers made non-authorized pilgrimages.

– 1978 ‚Äď 1981 – The most extensive maintenance, renewal and partial restoration works to date were made under the parish priest P.Karol Benovic, SVD. Three lower chapels were gradually moved higher into the calvary area to distance them from recent residential building.

AT PRESENT….

The state of the Calvary in the first decade of the 21st century reflects a¬†lack of public interest in the fate of one of our most precious Baroque monuments. The Calvary has been scarred not only by the ravages of time, but also by human negligence and malice. Some of the moveable artistic decoration was stolen, some has been targeted by vandals. The extent of the cultural and historic losses‚Äč‚Äč in the period 1989-2004 is incalculable. Thanks to the efforts of local activists, in 2007 it was included on the World Monument Fund‚Äôs list of the 100 most endangered monuments in the world. This provided an important catalyst for action to prevent further devastation of the Calvary, and to take steps to restore and rescue the most vulnerable parts of the original.

After the last devastating attack by vandals in the spring of 2004, some original features (wooden reliefs and sculptures) are gradually being relocated to safety, but there was initially no coherent plan for their protection and appropriate presentation. This became the impetus for organizing the exhibition ‚ÄěCalvary in Asylum‚Äú¬† in The Slovak Mining Museum in the Old Castle. The exhibition offers a unique opportunity to view and learn about the entire collection of wooden reliefs from the Calvary chapels, as well as the wooden sculptures from the Upper Church. These works are attributed to the workshop of Dionysus Stanetti (1710 – 1767), a major Baroque sculptor, established in Kremnica. While the Calvary chapels and churches were deprived of some of their original pieces, this was considered a¬†necessary cost for their preservation.

Since 2008, restoration, preservation and revival of The Calvary has been carried out by the civic association known as The Calvary Fund, which after a gap of more than half a century followed the worthy activities of its namesake association, which acted from the Calvary’s inception until it was banned by the Communist regime.

CHAPELS AND CHURCHES

The concept of the churches and chapels of the Calvary goes beyond conventional embodiment of the Cross in the form of the fourteen stations. Structure, spatial distribution and character portrayal scenes symbolize the message of salvation on a genuine, generous and accomplished artistic level.

The story of The Passion is amplified by its dramatic positioning in the scenery of the natural surroundings. The architectural complex consists of 17 Stations, in addition to three churches (the Lower Church, the Holy Stairs and the Upper Church), the Dungeon (Ecce Homo), and the Holy Sepulchre – the only building built on the opposite, eastern side of the hill.

With a typical baroque theatricality each of the chapels depicts by means of wooden relief one of the key moments of the Passion of Christ and other pivotal events of his life.

This particular arrangement of chapels is unusual. Commonly, a¬†Calvary has fourteen Stations, beginning with the condemnation of Christ before Pilate and ending with Jesus‚Äė grave. This Calvary has more Stations, and an unusual composition. It begins in Nazareth, where Jesus goes to publicly began his work of redemption. The uniqueness of this Calvary and its sensitive harmony with the natural environment still causes it to be sought out by not only pilgrims, but also ordinary visitors to the city.

The first three chapels are called the preparatory. The location in which they are placed today is not the original. They were initially placed many tens of meters below, but after urban development, they were crowded between residential buildings. Therefore they were moved to their current locations in the 1970s and 80s. Ascending from the lower church, the path continues to the seventh chapel, then leading to the Middle Church ‚Äď The Holy Stairs – where the serpentine path divides.

The Stations to the left side of the chapel depict the events of Jesus’ condemnation and martyrdom, and culminate in the Upper Church with scenes of the crucifixion. Bypassing the Holy Sepulchure, pilgrims return along the seven chapels depicting the seven sorrows of the Virgin Mary. The journey ends just above the Lower Church at a¬†statue of the Virgin Mary.

Marcelov nakres ENG