Our Lady of Hungary… Votive Church of Szeged is the only church, which was built in Hungary in the 20th century and the symbol of Szeged. The church serves as the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Szeged-Csanád.
Snaking its way some 600km across the Great Plain is the Tisza, Hungary’s longest river. The worst flood to wash through Szeged occurred in March 1879. The river burst its banks, leaving only 300 houses, out of an estimated 6300, standing. The construction of the Votive Church was started in 1913 after the 1879 flood (but it was consecrated only in 1930 due to the outbreak of the First World War).
The Commissioner of the King was looking for a place where the church will be, the place they found was an old church, the St Demeter Church. (This church was the oldest building in Szeged. The foundation was most probably laid during the 11th century, while the lower part was built from the 12th century, and the upper part from the 13th century). They invited 35 entries for a competition. No First place. 2nd (Aigner & Rainer) and 3rd (Foerk & Sandy). The foundation stone was placed on the 21st of June 1914 and the construction started (Stopped due to the First World War).
The opening celebration was on October 24th of 1930. Blessed by archbishops and bishops. The next day we heard the first time the Szeged Mass by Erno Dohnanyi (Hungarian conductor, composer and pianist).
The Votive Church is situated in Dom Square, which is exactly the same size as Saint Mark Square in Venice, Italy. It is the fourth largest building in Hungary.
- Width: 51.00metres
- The dome diameter / outer: 53.60metres
- The dome diameter / inner: 33.00metres
- The spire height: 81metres
- Bells: 5 (built in 1921, 2003, 1996, 1927, 1927)
- Tenor bell weight 250kg, 580kg, 1020kg, 2669kg, 8537kg
You can see a lot of magnificent artwork throughout the church.
On the front you can see a Grecian cross, below a rose windows, on the right and left the Hungarian crest.
In the middle of the façade, front of the golden mosaic tiles, under the marble baldachin, there is a 3 meters high statue of the Madonna. She is the patron of this votive church and also the protector of Hungary since Stephen I. Next to the statue are the 12 apostles (St. Bartholomew, St. Philip, St. Matthew, St. Andrew, St. Jude, St. Peter, St. Simon, Jnr St. Jacob, St. John, St. Thomas, St Jacob)
The church side entrances, the right one is the gate of the “Peace” / “Venite adoremus”, the left one is the gate of the “War”/ “ Vae victis”.
Inside of the church you can see these amazing colorful frescos… Our Lady of Hungary is on the main altar’s fresco. On her head the Hungarian crown, on her shoulder St Stephen’s coronation mantle, in her right hand the mace in her left is the orb and in her arm sitting Jesus as a child. Above you can see the “Madonna in Fur of Szöged” – an amazing artwork. Ferenc Marton’s work, He shows the Madonna in a stylized Hungarian Folk dress (fur coat, pump of Szeged, traditional folk dress…).
On the left transept you can find the Altar of St. Gerard, which was built from “Ruszkica” marble. In the middle bay stand St. Gerard; in the side bays stands St. Stephen with the cross and the orb in his hand and Gisella of Hungary (the first queen consort of Hungary as the spouse of St Stephen)
On the right transept is the Altar of the St Cross.
Dome’s beautiful fresco was painted by Laszlo Patay (who won a Munkacsy Award) in 2000. Amazing work, main topic is about the procession of the Holy Ghost. You can find St. Stephen, St. Elisabeth, St. Leslie, and St. Margaret too in the artwork.
In the main transept stands altar’s of St. Anthony and Heart of Jesus. Between the towers and the transepts are the altar’s of the side-chapels, which was built in honour of St Leslie, St. Elizabeth, St. Stephen and St Margaret.
You can find one of the biggest organ in Europe (has 9740pipes and 134tones).
On the upper circle you can see the rose window. In the middle you can see the Arm of Szeged, and the rose petals symbolize the dominant Hungarian houses.
The Votive Church has 4 Bells. The Passing Bell (1921, 250kg, D73cm, C2 tuning), Saint Theresa (2003, 580kg, D98cm, A1), Lady of Hungary (1996, 1020kg, D120cm, F1) and Saint Emeric (1927, 2669kg, D165cm, C1).
The Dome biggest bell is the Heroes bell (or Saint Gerard), (1927, 8537kg, D245, F0). She is the only bell, who lives in the side tower of Tisza. Because her huge size, you can hear it only seven times / year: at Xmas, Easter, Whitsun, Thanksgiving, Celebration Day of St Stephen, Jubilee of the Szeged flood, and on the Jubilee of the war-heroes day.