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We joined the project The night of churches on the 25th of May.
About 300 visitors and supporters took part in this event. The evening program started with the holy mass.
As the time advanced, the dark and silence settled, what was perfect for The String Quartet ZOE and their chamber concert.
Between the walls of the church, we could hear the well-known pieces, as f. e. Four Seasons from Antonio Vivaldi and other pieces from J. S. Bach.
The program was concluded with a night tourist visit through the Saint Catherine´s church, monastery and its surroundings.
Before the program started, there was an opportunity for tourists to enter the church tower and go on the top. Throughout the program, the visitors could help themselves with tea and snack.
On Friday April 20, we, the volunteers from the civic association Katarínka, received at the Bratislava Castle two nominations and one of the two main ICOMOS Slovakia awards – Heritage for the Future 2017. The national committee ICOMOS Slovakia awarded the main prize in the category Extraordinary Activity Leading to Increasing Awareness of the Monuments Fund Values and Strengthening the Public Awareness of These Values to the hundreds of volunteers from the Katarínka project – for saving the ruins of the Monastery and Church of St. Catherine.
At the ICOMOS award ceremony at the Bratislava Castle, five volunteers from Katarínka, representing various generations – from the founders of the activities from 1994 up to the current hard workers and leaders of the project – received not only the main prize, but also a nomination in the category Renewal of a Monument by Using the Traditional Construction Technologies for their project Reconstruction of the Church Tower of the Franciscan Monastery Katarínka. We see the award and the nomination as evaluation of our long-term selfless work to save the precious and large monument – Monastery of St. Catherine of Alexandria located near Dechtice and Naháč, where hundreds of volunteers every year move to the history without mobile phones, internet, or electricity and this year for the 24th time they will work on conservation and saving of Katarínka. Tower reconstruction, which was also nominated for an award, allowed in 2017 to make the tower accessible to visitors as a sightseeing tower. The floors and stairs in the tower were faithfully reconstructed from the hand-sculpted beams using the traditional techniques.
Sunday 8th April 2018, it is the 19th time that pilgrims and visitors came to the St. Catherine monastery on Octave of Easter. More than 200 people were on the road through the Little-Carpathian woods. They fare forth from the Buková railway station and were awaited by other 300 visitors at Katarínka. There was the bishop Jozef Haľko (from Bratislava archdiocese) who joined the pilgrimage as well.
The newly reestablished Octave of Easter pilgrimage is the traditional event that always takes place one week after the Easter. From 2000, the volunteers out of Katarínka NGO reestablished this tradition after more than 200 years of its inactivity.
The pilgrimage started on with the train arrival to the Buková station and with the organizer’s introduction. The 12km long journey enriched by cast ups filled with the spiritual program, historical facts about the former pilgrimages (that were attended by some thousands of pilgrims) to St. Catherine monastery. The whole journey was held on the beautiful sunshiny day. The climax of the program was the ceremonial Mass that was held in the ruins of the church near Dechtice village. The Mass was attended by more than 500 people. Monsignor Jozef Haľko addressed himself to listeners that they should not be ashamed of their belief and of the belief to Jesus Christ. “Even the most modern-living person longs for nothing more than the love which is spread and given, which comes from within and which makes sense for the whole life.” Altogether with the assistant bishop there were some priests that are enthusiasts for the goal of OZ Katarínka project. The Mass was celebrated by Ondrej Chrvala, Miroslav Kováč, Ľudovít Kubán, Jeusit Martin Halčák, Dominicans Bartolomej Vladimír Hurňanský, Matej Juraj Šulík and Franciscan Zenius Félix-Mária Žiška.
After the Mass the volunteers offered to the visitors the tour with the presentation of historical facts. The outstanding interest was put to the climbing on the tower of the church. Regarding the fact that the tower has its limit the 16 visitor per one visit not all the visitor could see the look-out. The period with every day tour starts at the end of June and will be till September. Until that time, the tower will be opened occasionally on weekends.
Many visitors enjoyed their time together with their kids and families and prepared their lunch by roasting food.
After years of using the access road, rains in the past, and increasing traffic to the parking lot, its condition has deteriorated rapidly.
That’s why we decided in the autumn that despite the fact that the owner (Slovak Republic or Slovak Land Fund) does not have the resources to fix it (and it was impossible to do anything with it), we let someone to fix it.
We decided to repair it “from our own” – from the grants and donations of the sponsors that we managed to gain this year. In 2017 the grants were successful so you can now enjoy considerably better access to the parking lot near the woods.
The work season at Katarínka was finished with completion of almost all planned targets that were outlined in the article with the plan for season 2017.
Due to the fact that at the beginning of the season the tower was made available to public, the work in it was adjusted to avoid disturbing the guided visits. We were pointing windows arches and jambs on the first and second floor of the tower, mainly from the outer side (see picture comparison below).
The head of the pillar in the north-east corner of the church nave was repaired and grassed over. Next to it, there is the last remaining pillar that will be repaired the next season. In both the interior and exterior of the church, plasters were being fixed and holes filled with mortar, including the entry to the tower.
The southern chancel wall was deeply re-pointed from both sides, its top was disassembled and masoned anew. The masonry at the top was covered with a clay layer covered with grass clumps in order to protect the new mortar from frost and other weather conditions (see picture comparison below).
In the monastery, the work was carried out mostly in the last three cells and in the corridor. The work included pointing, fixing of plasters and repairing jambs of doors and windows.
Archaeology was carried out on a large scale; the entrance to Erdődy crypt and its side wall were discovered. During the excavation for lightning conductor, pieces of floor were found in the church nave and the pedestal of big Calvary statue (that was after the monastery dissolution moved to Dechtice) was discovered to the left of the monastery entrance.
In the middle of summer, during the weekend July 21-23, the long awaited lime slaking was done; the lime hole was filled with nine tons of lime. After the season, in autumn, window shutters were installed to protect the 5th tower floor from snow and rain.
On Wednesday, 22 November 2017, a few days before the Feast of St. Catherine, Katarínka Feast took place in the Franciscan monastery in Bratislava. The feast started with a holy mass, whose main celebrant was Branislav (Beren) Popelka, parish priest in Piešťany. The festive preacher was Ondrej (Chesed) Chrvala, secretary for youth of the Slovak Bishops’ Conference. Following the Gospel reading, he invited the participants to have courage to develop the gifts they have been given by God, because God looks more at one‘s effort that at results. He presented an interesting reflection that a servant who incorrectly invests his pound and loses it, would be in better position before his master that the one who fearfully hides his pound.
The holy mass was accompanied by music and songs of the choir consisting of Katarínka volunteers. Shortly before the end of the mass, the lights went off due to electric short circuit. Thanks to this, people in the church could experience the night atmosphere of Katarínka.
The holy mass was followed by a gathering with space for conversations, food (bread slices with pork fat and onion). Participants could also see an exhibition about Katarínka, photos from this year, or support this volunteer project by paying for some souvenirs, for example postcards, pens, pencils, fridge magnets.