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.

Working season in 2019

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.

Night of Castles and Ruins 2019

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.

Winter tower opening – 6th of January 2019

On Sunday, 6th of January 2019, we made the tower available to the public during the winter season for the first time ever. Big thanks to every volunteer who helped to make it possible.


In total, nearly three hundred tourists came to see Katarínka.

As the event was pretty successful, we are already looking forward to repeat it next winter as well!

Nearest tower opening will be on sunday 28.04.2019 at the end of Octave of Easter pilgrimage.