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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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The working season in 2019 covered works on the monastery and archaeology.
In the church, we completed the filling of cracks in the big crypt and fixed its brick stairs and the brick entrance edge. Ventilation was added to the small crypt. Three archaeologic test pits were made in the church nave – the original floor tiling and foundation of a small altar were discovered in the northeast corner.
In the presbytery, the reveals of the older passage from the monastery were masoned and temporary stairs from wooded beams were built.
The southeast monastery cells were surrounded by a scaffolding and the cracks on the east side were filled. The wall tops were partially taken apart and masoned again, isolated by clay and grassed to prevent their further destruction. Two of the missing window arches were added, east reveals were masoned and two hand-carved oak beams were added to the stabilizing wall system. The work in these cells will continue also in 2020.
In the southern monastery garden, archaelogic research of the enclosure wall was performed. The wall was masoned and cracks were filled; the wall top was fixed and grassed.
Archaeologic research in the southeast corner of the big quad revealed the monastery entrance and the research will continue in 2020.
On Saturday 16 August 2019 in the evening, about 300 people attended the traditional event Night of Castles and Ruins. 25 years ago, first volunteers came to Katarínka, so also this event was a part of celebration of this anniversary.
The program started with a Holy Mass celebrated by Branislav Popelka („Beren“) and the parish priest from Dechtice Miroslav Kováč. Music during the Holy Mass was performed by the volunteer band s. Katerína. After the Mass, the traditional refreshment was offered to the visitors – bread slices with pork grease and onion, as well as tea.
After a short break, when it got already dark, the program continued with a concert of the ZOE chamber orchestra. The orchestra consisted of 8 musicians with mostly bowed string instruments, but also a harpsichord was present. The orchestra played for almost one hour and the concert consisted mainly from baroque pieces.
After the concert, a surprise was awaiting the visitors. For the first time, visitors could enter the biggest crypt in the church with a trained guide. Until last year, archaeologic research with participation of our volunteers was being carried out in the crypt.
In addition, visitors could enjoy the night atmosphere at Katarínka with special night lightning. Young volunteers guided them around the walls and presented them not only the monastery ruin and its history, but also the work of volunteers and their way of life during summer camps.