Work in the 2020 season

During the 2020 season, we continued working on the archeology exploration, and monastery conservation started the previous year. Despite the pandemic, work progressed at a good pace.

Archeological research was carried out in three excavation sites. We uncovered the cloister garth’s SE and SW corner and continued exposing the monastery garden’s fencing wall.

We mostly worked on the conservation of the SE corner of the monastery. We mortar pointed the masonry, reattached the original, partially detached plasters, masoned the top part of the walls, and then laid a grass layer on them. We added three window niches for the wall stability and continued with the original static system’s reconstruction. We inserted hand-hewn oak beams into the places where they originally were in the perimeter walls. We contracted the cloister wings with iron rods, which used to reduce strain on the walls under the vaults’ load.

We have made a presentation of the tomb shaft situated on the floor in the crypt. For the safety of our visitors, we’ve also added a railing around the crypt’s entrance.

Work planned for 2020

In the working season 2020, we plan to focus mainly on the monastery.

Four archaeologic test pits will be made in the monastery. Two of them will focus on uncovering of the monastery garden enclosure wall and they follow the wall restoration works from previous years. Archaeologic research will be followed by conservation and masonry work. The other two test pits will research the corners of the big quad on the monastery side and the entrance from monastery to the quad.

We will continue with the conservation and reconstruction of the southeast part of the standing monastery wing with the aim to conserve and statically stabilize the ruin. We will restore the fallen window arch and insert the hand-carved oak beams into the walls to extend and restore the original wooden-metallic stabilizing wall system.

In the church nave, we plan to place the crypt entrance cover and add a safety railing around it. Afterwards, the “big crypt” can be made accessible to tourists.

Katarína Monastery during the coronavirus pandemic

Update at June 29, 2020:

  • The Open Doors Day event on 5.7.2020 will not take place
  • The tower will be open in July and August, but in connection with the coronavirus in limited mode (more information in the Tower section); land tourist escorts will also take place in a restricted mode
  • Summer parties will take place, but the number of participants is already full (you can only register as a substitute)

Original text:

We fully respect all quarantine measures regarding the occurrence of a new coronavirus.

For this reason, the tower will be closed until further notice and no public events or tourist accompanying will take place in the church and monastery grounds until further notice.

As the health and safety is important for us, we strongly urge you to limit visits at this time, so that groups of tourists do not gather around and thus increase the risk of infection.

We will be happy to welcome you at Katarína after the quarantine measures are over.

Oldest photo of Katarínka found

In 2018, a real gem for our organization was discovered. In the Slovak National Archive in Bratislava, the oldest surviving photograph (so far) of Katarínka, dated 1904, was discovered. The photo is located in the photo album of the Pálffy family, who are probably also present in the photo itself. It is an irreplaceable source of information for our organization, as the photograph provided us with new, previously unknown facts about Katarínka. This photograph was first presented internally to members and associates of our organization O.Z. Katarínka, during the celebrations of the 400th anniversary of Katarínka. But now we are making it available to the general public for the first time.

katarinka_1904_foto

The timing of the photo (1904) is really fortunate for us. This is because only a year later after the photo was taken, in 1905, the four statues which were originally placed at the top of the tower, were thrown down from the top of the tower into piles of wood and hay and then transported to the vicinity of the Pálffy tomb at the cemetery in Smolenice, where they still can be found to this very day. So thanks to this photo, we can now see that the statues were not on the corners of the tower, as originally thought, but were located in the middle of its walls instead.

These three interesting parts of Katarínka can be seen on the photo, which are not standing anymore:

  • Brick roof of the tower with holes and decorative volutes on the edges.
  • Gable of the presbytery on the far left of the photo and the eastern wall of the presbytery with the imprint of the monastery roof. Today, nothing of them stands.
  • The northern wall of the monastery (to which wooden stables are added on the photo) – only a 1 meter high wall remains.
Detail on the original roof of the tower and the statues which were placed there originally.

Originally it was also assumed that the shape of the roof was completely different. One of the assumptions was the so-called pear-shaped roof, like most churches in Trnava have, but these ideas were wrong. Thanks to this photograph, it is possible to update the digital visualizations of what the whole church and monastery might have looked like. The photograph also provides administrative advantages in case of possible reconstruction of these no longer standing parts, as the authorities usually have problems allowing the reconstruction of parts where it is not fully documented how they originally appeared. However, the reconstruction of the roof is not considered at the moment and probably even in the future.

Katarínka thanks Tomáš Haviar for providing the photo.

For extra curious, you can download the photo in full size, here on this link.

Feast of St. Catherine in the Franciscan Church in Bratislava (27 November 2019)

On Wednesday, 27 November 2019, the Feast of St. Catherine took place for the 25th time. The project celebrated the feast of patron saint of the church and monastery that is in the center of the Katarínka project.

The feast started with a holy mass in the Franciscan Church in Bratislava. The main celebrant and festive preacher was the auxiliary bishop and vicar general of the Bratislava Archdiocese, father Jozef Haľko. In his sermon, he focused on the figure of St. Catherine of Alexandria and connected her life story with the first Commandment of the Decalogue which is the source for all other Commandments. The liturgy was accompanied by music and songs of Sv. Katerina Choir which consists of young volunteers from the Katarínka project.

The holy mass was followed by a treat in the refectory of the Franciscan monastery with traditional specialties such as bread slices with pork fat and onion, but also various pies and other snacks. Guests could also see the slide show of photos from the summer volunteer project camps, or choose from the wide variety of souvenirs to support the project.

The feast was participated by about 150 volunteers and project enthusiasts and supporters.

Volunteers are rescuing Katarínka for 25 years

The Katarínka project aimed at restoration and conservation of the St. Catherine of Alexandria Church and Monastery ruins nearby Trnava celebrates 25 years. During these years, 1830 volunteers took turns at Katarínka and helped during the two-week camps to rescue the ruins. The project aims not only to restore the cultural monument, but also to form young people by giving them opportunity to reasonably spend their free time in summer.

In 1994, a group of students went hiking and visited not only the nearby Dobrá Voda Castle ruins, but also Katarínka. The abandoned and desolate place made an impression on the 21-year-old Peter Herceg, who decided to take steps to rescue this place. His friends also liked the idea and supported it and a year later, the first volunteers came to the St. Catherine Church and Monastery.

Peter Herceg, the founder of the Katarínka project, said these words at the 25th anniversary of the project:

“It is a great miracle for me that we have been working to rescue Katarínka for 25 years and even after 25 years there are volunteers willing to help. Hundreds of volunteers and several generations have been involved and today we can see great results. For example, the church tower underwent reconstruction and was awarded the Monument of the Year Prize for 2017. The greatest satisfaction for me are almost 2,000 volunteers who left part of their lives in the walls of Katarínka.”

In the first years of the project existence, volunteers cleared the church interior, built the camp, and improved the surroundings.

In the following years, other works gradually started: masoning, filling of cracks, several tons of lime were slaked, and the first archaeologic works started. In 2010, volunteers started with reconstruction of the hollow church tower. Hand-carved oak beams were added and in 2017 the tower reconstruction was completed and after the final inspection opened for tourists. In 2018, the biggest crypt in the church nave, which had been archaeologically researched, was reconstructed.

This year (2019), volunteers finished the archaeologic research in the church nave: coins were found, as well as the original floor tiling and the foundation of a small altar. The southeast part of monastery was being conserved: hand-carved oak beams were added and the enclosure wall of the monastery garden was completely conserved. In the next working season, the rescue works on the monastery and the archaeologic research will continue. During the summer season, volunteers guided thousands of visitors, as trips to Katarínka have become increasingly popular in the last years and the reconstructed tower attracts many visitors.

During one weekend in November, volunteers celebrated 25 years of the project in Dechtice. The Katarínka project is organized by the Association of Christian Youth Communities and Katarínka NGO with cooperation of Dechtice municipal authority and the Franciscan Order. All generations of volunteers, their friends and supporters participated in the celebration. The celebration included a thanksgiving holy mass in the St. Catherine parish church, cultural program, presentation of 25 years of work, videos, awarding of volunteers, and also a party for almost 250 participants until early morning hours.