Szombathelyi Egyházmegye

Birthplace of St. Martin of Tours


St. Martin ChurchIn honour of St. Martin of Tours a church has been erected in the east part of Szombathely. There was an antique Savaria’s eastern graveyard existing in the Roman times next to the road to Arrabona (today’s Győr). The early christian graveyard was established in the 4th century.  St. Quirinus sisciai (Sziszek) the then bishop was buried here in the year 303.

 

A church was erected in this area during the 9th century. Probably it was consecrated in honour of St. Martin. It was the first liturgical building of Pannonia, which had St. Martin the bishop as its patron, who was born in Savaria!

 

St. Martin ChurchThe church was continuously rebuilt and expanded in the later years. In the 17th century, the Dominicans looked after the church. A monastery was built besides the church and with the financial help of Count Erszébet Batthyány they rebuilt the church in Baroque style.

 

The new building in Baroque style is portrayed in the transitional form between the naves and the three aisles inside. The present interior outlook of the church originates mostly from the middle of the 18th century. It got its current outlook after the rearrangement of a crypt under the nave and modification of the inside view of the church. During the alteration the title of the church also was changed from St. Martin to The Holy Trinity, as the new main altar picture depicts.

 

A new oratory was constructed in 1942. The church was expanded in such a way that the west transept was built in addition. It was at this time, the church got the final shape along with the monastery. The monastic life came to an end in 1950. Since then the diocesan priests of Szombathely take care of the parish.

St. Martin ChurchChapel of St. Martin

Although the chapel is one of the newest parts of St. Martin’s church, its history takes its root from distant past.  According to legend it was built on the birth house of St. Martin. The inscription above the entrance propogates: „Hic natus est S. Martinus” – which is translated in English thus: „St. Martin was born here.” The foundation of the holy tradition originates from an early christian burial building, which was raised above the original tomb of St. Quirinus sisciai, bishop and martyr. This evidence has been proved by Charles the Great and his mates as they identified the St. Martin’s birthplace during the Avar invasion and pilgrimage in 791. Based on the archaeological and architectural experimentations it was declared that closer to the chapel’s north walls they started to bury the dead since the begining of the 16th century. The altar was placed inside the whitewashed inner room and St. Martin’s statue was erected over the altar in which the relic of the saint is kept for veneration.

 

The altar which potrays the 18th century forms has a cabin. During this time they prepared and placed the holy bishop’s standing statue with the goose in the cabin. They have the custom of keeping the St. Márton’s finger bones in a fancy reliquary on 11th november. On the southern wall of the chapel there is a 17th century oil painting, which depicts the St. Martin’s cloak sharing scene.  Originally it was intended for the main altar image of the church. The unknown master fittingly used the clothing customs of the then hungarian dressing fashion of the century.

 

The tomb of Erzsébet Batthyány (1619-1674), the builder of the church had been moved from the chapel of the Rosary to the north wall of the church during the renovation in 1930. 

Translated by Palatin Bence, Brenner János Hostel