Mariabesnyő pilgrimage site
Turkish and Tatar invasions left the settlement of Máriabesnyő devastated a lot of times during history. The settlement, the present of King Béla IV, was an estate of the Premonstrant Church in Hatvan (Hungarian small town close to Gödöllő) from 1214 for almost 300 years until the Turkish invasion. The proof for this historical fact is that Antal Grassalkovich I, who became the proprietor of the settlement - a deserted one at the time - in 1737, found the ruins of a Promonstrant church there. Antal Grassalkovich I was a true Catholic. He had a personal license for a travelling altar from the pope at which he took part in a regular church ceremony as he was a prevalent traveller. When his third wife, Therese Klobusiczky got seriously ill, Grassalkovich prayed for her and swore that, in case she got cured, in gratitude for the Holy Virgin, he will have a church built. His wish was fulfilled, his wife got well, but because Grassalkovich was waiting for a sign for the site of the church, the building process was delayed. In 1758 during his travel from Hatvan to Gödöllő, his horses became wild in Máriabesnyő at the ruins of the Premonstrant church and he took this as a heavenly sign. It was rich noblemen's habit to build a Loreto chapel (one that is the duplicate of the original in Loreto, Italy) and have a Virgin Mary statue (one that is touched by the original one in Loreto) erected in the chapel. The cedar statue for the altar in Máriabesnyő was transported on foot to the site by two Capuchin monks in 1759. János Fidler, a mason from Gödöllő, had a dream about a small bone statuette under the ruins of the church, which he eventually found on 19 April. The statue probably dates back to the 12th century and it portrays the Virgin Mary with the little Jesus in her arms. It is 11cm tall and 4cm wide. The circumstances of the miraculous rediscovery of the statue were certified by Count Kristóf Migazzi, Archbishop of Vác. The ornaments on the crown and belt were made by 23 diamonds of the Grassalkovich family jewellery. The statue in a silver case with a crystal window was then placed in the castle church in Gödöllő and the duplicate statue from Loreto with a silver crown was placed in Máriabesnyő chapel that was consecrated in 15 August 1761. Following the miraculous happenings in Máriabesnyő - the crippled hand of a butcher from Gödöllő got cured - and the adherent pilgrimage torrents to Máriabesnyő, Grassalkovich decided to enlarge the church to welcome the pilgrims. Because the church was built on a hill, the architect, András Mayerhoffer decided for a special multilevel architectural solution. First he built the crypt of the Grassalkovich family and the lower church, and then the Loreto chapel, the upper church, which currently functions as a sanctuary. The church was consecrated on 17 March 1771. Inside there is the altar facing the auditorium.
Máriabesnyő Basilica Minor
The two storey baroque church with the two altars and the Virgin Mary Statues is a unique site in Hungary that attracts thousands of pilgrims every year. The high altar, erected in 1917, is where Hungary's smallest, 11cm high and 4cm wide, miraculously found bone statue is placed. The altar behind is home to the Loreto Statue brought by two Capuchin monks on foot to Máriabesnyő. The church was built in 10 years (1761-71). It is one of the most frequented Marian pilgrimage sites among the 33 churches built or reconstructed by Antal Grassalkovich I and his wife. The lower church is home to one of the most beautiful baroque shrines in Hungary. The enormous marble sarcophagus in which Natal Grassalkovich I and his wife lies is the work of art of Georg Dorfmeister.
The side altars are decorated with paintings by Norbert Baumgartner, Capuchin monk from Vienna (dating back to around 1770) and the inside walls are the frescoes and windows of Lajos Márton. The golden confessionals date back to the 18th century. The side altars are also decorated by Norbert Baumgartner's works, the frescoes and windows by Lajos Márton.
Written documents mentioning the settlement as Máriabesnyő date back to the 19th century. The church was renovated and the two churches (upper and lower) were merged. In 1963 the church was declared an independent parish. The church ordained in honor of the Holy Virgin was voted and proclaimed a basilica minor by Pope Benedict XVI on 15 August 2008.
Opening schedules: the church can be visited outside scheduled mass times (for more information on mass times please visit: www.mariabesnyo.hu) upon previous registration and in groups of at least 3 visitors.http://www.mariabesnyo.hu/. Groups are offered a guided tour. (See: Thematic itineraries)
The Capuchin's traditional cross with Christ's crucifiction motifs can be seen beside the church. The statue of Saint Konrad stands in the court between the church and the monastic quarters. It is the work of Ludvig Krausz.
Cardinal Migazzi had one of the most beautiful baroque shrines of Hungary built for his friend Count Antal Grassalkovich I and his wife in 1772. The red and black marble sarcophagus decorated with family armors is the work of art of Georg Dorfmeister. The crypt opens from the lower church where, on the left and right of Antal Grassalkovich I and his wife's shrines, there are the shrines of Antal Grassalkovich II and his wife, Esterházy Anna Mária with their copper coffins, and Antal Grassalkovich III and his wife, Esterházy Leopoldina.
Opening hours: only guided tours (for more information please see Thematic itineraries)
To be of service to the pilgrims and the church, Antal Grassalkovich I relocated the Capuchin monks from Hatvan to Máriabesnyő with the help of Cardinal Kristóf Migazzi. Seven serf families were also settled there to serve the monks who led their lives according to Capuchin rules: in extreme austerity, simplicity and poverty. The citizens in Hétház street of Máriabesnyő boarded pilgrims. The Capuchin Order renovated the church twice, in 1912 and 1947. When the order was dissolved in 1950, the Capuchins were forced to leave the church and the retreat centre which was secularized. The Catholic presbytery could use the monastery and the rest of the buildings were allotted for use by the former Agrarian University, now Szent István University. The Capuchin Order came into ownership again after the end of the communist regime in 1989 and a reconstruction period started which ended in 1993. Capuchin monks lived in the clausura of the monastery until 2002. The clausura was then, for an indefinite time and because of the small number of the monks, emptied. The Catholic community in Máriabesnyő now works under the supervision of the Catholic Episcopate of Vác.
The Salvatore Nunnery (Sorores Divini Salvatoris)
The novitiate in Máriabesnyő was founded in 1917 in three village houses. Later, a nunnery was built on the hill facing the church in 1933. The main role of the Sorores Divini Salvatoris (SDS) is teaching and social activities. The female branch was founded in Rome on 8 December 1888 by Johann Baptist Jordan, founder of the Societas Divini Salvatoris and Countess Therese von Wüllenweber, cofounder of the Blessed Mary of the Apostles. In 1899 the first two Salvator sisters of German origins arrived to Hungary from Rome. Following the dissolution of the order, the monastic quarters housed Török Ignác Secondary Grammar School between 1955 and1988. From the year 1975 kindergarten teachers were also educated here.
Until 2007 they lived in the building which today is home to the Mater Salvatoris Retreat House and Conference Centre, a three star pilgrimage hotel and conference centre, under the surveillance of the Catholic Episcopate of Vác.
Mater Salvatoris Retreat House and Conference Centre
The Retreat House and Conference Centre, a three star pilgrimage hotel, is placed in a large peaceful park next to the Basilica Minor of Máriabesnyő. The recently renovated building welcomes pilgrims as well as tourists with double bed rooms with a shower and all inclusive services. Year round conferences are organized for pilgrims in various retreat topics.
For more information and booking please visit: www.matersalvatoris.hu
Hungary is the Virgin Mary's country because it was offered to the Holy Mother by King Stephen and as a result, the Hungarians have honored the Holy Virgin in a communion for 1000 years. Starting from the 19th century several attempts have been made to create a religious public collection that gives an overall picture of the Marian cult in Hungary: Arnold Ipolyi (1823-1886) and Béla Czobor (1852-1904), Sándor Bálint (1904-1980) and Zsuzsanna Erdélyi have made huge efforts but the museum was not realized. Priests of Marian shrines in Andocs, Celldömölk, Gyöngyös, Gyula, Kislőd, Therese have made small exhibitions in their churches and parishes.
The first Marian Museum of Hungary, a year round exhibition on the Marian Cult in Hungary was opened in Máriabesnyő on 15 August 2008, on the 150th commemorative occasion of the Marian Apparition of Lourdes and the Feast of the Assumption. The museum was placed in the subterranean building behind the Basilica. The special placement of the museum was the idea of a chief Capuchin monk, László Tamás Nagy (1955-2000) who designed this setting to evoke two most important sites of the Virgin Mary's life: her birthplace in Nazareth and the Cave in Bethlehem, Jesus Christ's birthplace. Most of the relics of the museum were collected by Géza Kátai, Roman Catholic priest in Petőfiszállás, and a lot by Father Tamás who later received the collection in Máriabesnyő. The large collection of the museum was first housed by the cells in the monastery. Later on, when László Tamás Nagy died, the collection became unattended. In 2007, with the help of the Catholic Parish in Máriabesnyő and the Delegate of the Hungarian Capuchin Church, a group of professionals from the Research Institute for Art History of the Hungarian Scientific Academy (MTA) and museologists from Gödöllő Town Museum (Terézia Kerny, Eszter Kerényi B and Balázs Fábián) who designed a new exhibition based on eight topics. The names of the eight topics are given by the prayers for the Virgin Mary, forms of the Marian Litany of Loreto: "House of Gold, Mystical Rose, Powerful Advocate of Hungarians" and titles of older exhibitions and monographs.
Parts of the exhibition:
• Ordo Fratrum Minorum Capuccinorum
• Venerabilis familia Máriabesnyőensis
• House of Gold - Mystical Rose
• Powerful Advocate of Hungarians
• Honor of the Holy Virgin in Eastern Christianity
• Souvenirs of the indulgence tour
• Devotion and decoration
To be visited only upon previous registration
Basilica Minor Máriabesnyő Gödöllő 2100, 1 Kapucinusok square.
Phone: +36-28-414 425, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cave of Bethlehem, which was created and decorated by Father Tamás himself, can be visited in Advent.
For more information visit: www.mariabesnyo.hu
The unique baroque philagory dating from the 18th century, built by Antal Grassalkovich I and originally placed on Antal Hill is under reconstruction. Plans are to place the philagory in a new site, by the entrance of the lower church where the neighbouring area will also be transformed into a park.
A nice path from the Basilica leads to the cemetery, where the visitor can see the grave of Count Pál Teleki, the first Chief Scout in Hungary, organizer of the 1933 Jamboree in Gödöllő and Prime Minister of Hungary. You can also visit the grave of a colonel of the Hungarian War of Independence of 1848-49, Member of the Hungarian Parliament from 1861, Ivánka Imre (1818-1896).