Szombathelyi Egyházmegye

History

János SzilyThe catholic diocese of Szombathely was established by Mária Terézia in 1777 from the uprooted areas of Győr, Zágráb and Veszprém. The territory of the diocese forms an unit with wild forests of Vas region, the chains of Alps mountains in Kőszeg, the fertile ground of Kemeneshát, the Őrség which was once the border of countryside and the hills of Zala. The rivers flow in the diocesan regions are the Rába, Mura and Répce.

 

The first bishop of the diocese of Szombathely was His Grace Most Rev. János Szily who was appointed by the emperor. He indeed proved to be a good choice because of his erudite theological and philosophical scholarship, wisdom, broad-mindedness, skillfulness and highly energetic personality.

 

CathedralUntil today his great contributions help in flourishing the diocese after its foundation. The development of episcopal center which is closely connected with large-scale construction projects stand out as advancement of his significant works. Since 2006, His Grace Most Rev. Dr. András Veres leads the diocese and he is the 15th bishop of Szombathely.

 

The center of the diocese is Szombathely. There are also some important towns which are attached to the diocese such as Zalaegerszeg, Kőszeg, Körmend, Sárvár, Vasvár, Celldömölk, Lenti, Letenye, and Zalalövő. At present there are 10 dean-districts in the diocese and 67 parishes are given pastoral care by deans/vicars forane and priests.

 

pilgrimsThe diocese of Szombathely offers countless sights and interesting things to the arriving pilgrims. First of all there are two big catholic pilgrimage sites head across the diocese’s area. One of them is the Saint Martin European cultural path, which connects the continents of St. Martin related settlements and temples. Of course the starting point is Szombathely where he was born. The end point is Tours, where he was the bishop and where his tomb is located. The second pilgrimage is Marian path which connects the Central European Marian shrines and the places of pilgrimage from Mariazell basilica (Austria) to the shrine of Csíksomlyó (Şumuleu Ciuc, Romania), from the shrine of Black Madonna of Częstochowa (Poland) to the shrine of Our Lady of Medjugorje (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

 

St. Martin's ChurchSzombathely, as the center of the diocese stands out both architecturally and historically from the perspective of art and culture. St. Martin’s church locates the birthplace of Saint Martin of Tours. The pilgrims can get insights about the life of St. Martin, cult and the early periods of his Christian lifestyle at the St. Martin visitor center. The Cathedral, the Bishop’s Palace and the diocesan seminary create a special atmosphere not just due to ecclesiastical center, but also due to Baroque architecture beautiful creations. It indeed deserves the pilgrim’s special attention and high regards. One can pay a visit to the country’s first Lapidary and the Sala Terrana in the Bishop’s Palace’s ground floor. Interestingly the walls not just show the ancient Rome’s skyline, but also it exhibits the rocks, which were found during the large construction in the late 18th century.  Those rocks are placed out for exhibition in the Lapidary. The other interesting things which draw the viewer’s attention in the Bishop’s Palace are the Diocesan Museum and Treasury. The Seminary is exciting not only because of the St. Martin’s portrayal but also because of the Diocesan Library. The Library treasures not only a number of rare books but also it has number of collections of interesting documents from the past centuries. For instance, in the years of 1799-1800, one of the votes in the election of Pope in Venice which should have been destroyed has been preserved in the library.

JákHungary’s most beautiful Romanesque church is located in south of Szombathely which was once the Benedictine abbey in Ják. It was built in 13th Century. The main gate stands out as the building’s monumentality and Romanesque architecture where one can admire at Supreme Judge Jesus Christ along with the apostles. The side gate astonishes all the pilgrims as it presents the Lamb of God in a magnificent manner. 

Likely there is also another beautiful Romanesque church in Velemér. A small-secluded town in the Őrseg with its place of worship gives lots of excitement. When the church was built they had taken into account the direction of sunshine in such way that in given time of the year the sun shines through the windows to illuminate the paintings on the walls. 

VasvárThere are also many places of pilgrimage in the diocese such as Vasvár and Celldömölk which always welcome the people who want to show their honour to our blessed mother. But the pilgrims could explore also the small places like Pusztacsatár in Zala region or Gencsapáti in Vas region. 

There are plenty of hiking opportunities and also a spiritual renewal spots available for the visitors as they make the Stations of the Cross.  One of the outstanding sightseeings is climbing the mountains in Kőszeg and viewing the amazing scenery.  

pilgrims in SzombathelyMany of the diocese’s towns and parishes have apt infrastructures for the pilgrims to stay and make spiritual retreats or recollections. The central location is the Martineum: Adult Educational Academy in Szombathely where besides accommodation, meals are also provided.  They can accommodate 50 people in single/double/triple cot bed rooms, with bathrooms. Besides there is an easy access to St. Martin pilgrim Office which could help in organizing sacred and cultural programs. The parish in Gérce which has the Saly László Community House in Sitke can accommodate pilgrims. The loft-designed house which was modified from a stable can offer place for more than 50 people to stay. The Assumption church of virgin Mary in Celldömölk can look after pilgrims with resting rooms too. 

János BrennerThe diocese is blessed with lots of saintly people who professed their faith even at the cause of their life. Brenner János who was born in Szombathely and died martyr’s death in January, 1958 at Zsida. His memorial exhibition can be found in the Diocesan Museum. There is a church built in his honour in the place of his martyrdom. One of the most popular personalities of the 20th century in the history of the Hungarian Church is Mindszenty József.  The Prince PrimateArchbishop of Esztergomcardinal, and leader of the Catholic Church in Hungary was born is Csehimindszent. The house where he was born has been modified as a Memorial Museum today. There is also a pilgrim house in the parish campus where the pilgrims can stay. Count László Battyhány-Strattman was called the poor people’s doctor. He lived and worked in Körmend which falls in the territory of the diocese of Szombathely. 

 

Translated by Palatin Bence, Brenner János Hostel