The erstwhile home of prebend-historian Istvan Katona became the home of the Treasury of the Archbishopric at Kalocsa in 2002. The Treasury’s permanent exhibit introduces the Religious Art relics of the historic Kalocsa Archbishopric, and at the same time, it gives a glimpse into the 1000-year history of the Archdiocese. The artifact anthologies are chronologically displayed in five rooms.
Room 1: The Medieval Archbishopric
The Kalocsa diocese
was most likely one of the first episcopates organized in 1002 by the founder of the Christian state of Hungary, Saint Steven
). The first head of the diocese was Asztrik, an erudite, broad-minded prelate, who previously carried out diplomatic duties in the service of Saint Steven. It was Asztrik, who brought the holy crown
from Rome, together with the document containing the papal assent for the organization of the church in Hungary. The Kalocsa diocese soon rose to the rank of archdiocese, and the archiepiscopal territory continued to grow along with the southern expansion of the Hungarian Kingdom.
The Kalocsa-Bacs archbishops
usually studied at prestigious European universities, and once they returned to Hungary, they were entrusted with various responsibilities in the royal court: they served at the chancery, at the royal judiciary, and were even called to be medical doctors. At their seat, they lived in fortresses, often led armies, and many of them died on the battlefield
Kalocsa during the Ottoman occupation
In the 15th century, under the shadow of the invading Ottoman Empire, the archbishops were called upon to insure the defense of the country, fortify the southern borders, and strengthen the existing fortresses. In 1456, Janos Hunyadi’s army, with the help of the crusaders of Saint John Capistrano (Kapisztran Szent Janos
) managed to raise the siege of Belgrade (Nandorfehervar
), which was being blockaded by Mahomet II. However, in 1521, Belgrade fell to the Turks, and in 1526 Kalocsa’s archbishop, Pal Tomori lost his life while leading the Hungarian troops on the Mohacs battlefield, where forces of the Hungarian Kingdom were defeated by the Ottoman army. In 1529, Kalocsa, the seat of the archbishopric, also fell into the hands of the enemy. During the 150-year Ottoman occupation that followed, the population of Hungary was decimated. Many settlements were lost, and the earlier church organization was destroyed.
The small number of the objects displayed in the first room, and their fragmentary nature, reflects the hardships in the history of the archbishopric during this period. The oldest artifact
—found in the display case by the window—is a Procession cross from the beginning of the 12th century
. It is an excellent example of medieval Hungarian brass craftsmanship. It was most likely buried during the time of the Tartar invasion, and it surfaced in 1935, during landscaping work around the cathedral. It may have been one of the liturgical accessories of the first temple. In the 11th century, this building stood on the site of the present basilica, but with a different centerline, oriented on a north-east axis. The old church had a relatively smaller foundation, a simple structure, and it was strongly Paleochristian in style.
The mass and orientation of the three-nave second cathedral built at the beginning of the 13th century was very similar to today’s basilica. Two carved stones from this second cathedral are on view. The so-called "Royal Head from Kalocsa
” (kalocsai kiralyfej
), made of red compact limestone from Gecse, is an important relic of Hungary’s Roman age plastic arts. It stood as decoration of the main church entrance. Directly beneath the "Royal Head”, we see the tombstone of a stonemason who may have worked on the construction of the cathedral. The stone was found in the walls of the building at a later excavation, and its Latin inscription reads, “Martinus Ravesu lapicida iacet hic
”, meaning “Here lies Martinus Ravesu, stone-cutter.”
In the display case on the table in the middle of the room, we can see episcopal tomb artifacts
found in a red marble tomb chest during the 1910 excavations in the cathedral sanctuary. The pontifical findings from the end of the 12th century are remarkably complete. They contain a Mass chalice and paten, along with the symbols of the archbishops’ authority, the pallium pins, pectoral cross, a yellow topaz episcopal ring, and a crozier-top.
The wooden statues in the corner of the room were made in the 15th century, and they once stood in the Saint Anne shrine of Tompa, built as a miniature version of the Matthias Church in Buda. The noble temple-builder most likely purchased the statues abroad, at the beginning of the 20th century.
In the exhibition cabinet near the wooden statues there are several 16th century artifacts from Tompa: chalices, a missal, and a small reliquary, with the depiction of Saint Anne and the Virgin Mary on the top. Saint Anne’s reliquary
was decorated with a special enamel technique.
Images and information courtesy of the Archiepiscopal Treasury, Kalocsa
Translation: Iren Bencze
Kalocsa: 18th Century Reconstruction
In 1686, shortly after the liberation of Buda, Ottoman rule of Kalocsa and the surrounding areas ended
. The freed territories, however, revealed a dismal sight. In place of once inhabited villages, little but ruins, dust and ashes remained: no civil service, and no public safety existed. Reinhabitation and reconstruction took many years, and Kalocsa gained a local archbishop only in 1733
. Thus, the 18th century meant a second conquest for the diocese.
High Priest and Prebendal Insignia
Dominant items in room 3 are the High Priest's jewelry and prebendal insignia
, and the manuscripts
in the display tables tell the story of the chapter. Of special interest among the Empire-style liturgical objects on display is the painting on Chinese silk
: King Saint Ladislas offering the Holy Crown of Hungary to the Virgin Mary.
The Diocese of Kalocsa in the 19-20th centuries
Room 4: 19-20th century
The liturgical objects
seen in the display cabinets of room 4 were made of various metal alloys in the second part of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th century.
Room 5: Liturgical Vestments
In the first few centuries, the priests didn’t wear liturgical vestments. Starting from the era of the Great Migrations, there was a gradual development of liturgical wear, from a choice of classical, antique pieces of clothing
. Thus, the alb and the surplice developed from the shorter and longer undergarment, the tunic; the bell-shaped wide travel overcoat turned into the chasuble; the hooded raincoat became the cope; and the tunic’s more sophisticated, outer garment version grew to be the dalmatic. The stole’s origin can be traced to the face cloth.