History of St Catherine’s Monastery

  • First third of 15th century – Gothic chapel made of stone on the site in the woods of Malé Karpaty Mountains on rocky hill above Dubovský stream
  • Late 1500s – Supposed apparitions of St Catherine to a shepherd, who built here a small chapel into a cave
  • 1617 – Recorded apparition of St Catherine to a ploughman Ján Manca, inhabitant of Dechtice. Noble young man Ján Apponyi, the son of a rich count from Jablonica, had come to live here as a hermit in the cave. When his noble family got angry and forced him to return home, he died of sorrow the next day. He is said to be hallowed.
  • 1618 – 21st December – Count Krištof Erdödi, the domain owner, issued the foundation document establishing a Franciscan monastery on this site

Hypotetical reconstruction (Author: Petra Gojdičová)

  • 1619 – The new monastery had first twelve inhabitants
  • 1645 – St Catherine`s monastery was plundered and set on fire during an armed rebellion of Hungarian nobility (Juraj Rákoci I.)
  • 1646 – Reconstruction and rebuilding of the site led by the founder`s son Gabriel Erdödi with his wife Judita Amade. The church was substantially rebuilt to incorporate the original small one from 1618 as the chancel of the new one.
  • Around 1650 – The Chordigers – members of layman Franciscan Order – started their caring for the sick and the poor here. Emperor Joseph II. abolished this fellowship in 1782.
  • 1663 – Monastery was attacked first by the Turks, later on by emperor`s army. The soldiers killed noblemen who were seeking refuge from persecution at St Catherine`s
  • 1683 – Another raid carried out on the monastery by the troops of Imrich Tökoly
  • 1697 – At the pilgrimage attended by a huge number of people – some soldiers tried to recruit young boys into the army with the use of violence. The crowd of pilgrims pushed the soldiers in the church and one soldier was lynched in this accident.
  • 1701 – 9th January – The church tainted by murder was consecrated again. Juraj and Krištof II. Erdödi issued a deed of gift of 500 ducats for the church`s maintenance
  • 1710 – 9th September – During a cholera epidemic very famous Franciscan monk Benignus Smrtník (1650-1710) died. He was the author of various religious books in Slovak, e.g. Kunšt dobre umríti (The Art of a Good Death).
  • In 18th century – Numerous donors – mainly nobility but villagers as well – gave large gifts to the monastery. Families of noble origin built their crypts on this site (e.g. Erdödi, Apponyi, and Labšanskí)
  • 1782 – Juraj Fándly, the parish priest in Naháč, complained about his worshippers. Most of them preferred St Catherine`s church to the parish one. More to be read in his well-known book Dúwerná zmlúva mezi mníchom a diáblom, 1789.
  • 1786 – 22nd July – Joseph II. Emperor`s decree abolished St Catherine`s monastery as “useless”, together with 738 monasteries in the empire, which did not take care of the poor or educate the youth.
  • 1787 – 22nd January – Monastery was transferred to state control. Valuable equipment and inventory were step by step moved to surrounding churches and monasteries, many of these were spontaneously stolen or lost forever…
  • 1788 – 1792 – Seven disabled former soldiers from Trnava lived in and looked after the deserted monastery
  • 1793 – Church crypts were plundered by three thieves
  • 1797 – Neglected objects of the former monastery were bought by Jozef Erdödi, as a tribute to his ancestors buried in the crypts. However, gradually the objects went to ruins.
  • 1811 – Calvary statuary, originally from St Catherine`s monastery, was brought by Erdödi family to Dechtice, the nearby village.
  • 1835 – The last official mention of „guardian of St Catherine“– that time it was Jozef Kollár from Dechtice
  • 1869, 1891 – The first historical publications dealing with St Catherine`s monastery appeared: authors such as Balázsovits or Jedlicska
  • 1905 – Four above-standard sandstone sculptures of Franciscans, situated on the top corners of St Catherine`s church tower were moved to Pálffi`s burial crypt in Smolenice churchyard.
  • The 1930s – Scouts` camps and Franciscan novices` trips to St Catherine`s
  • 2nd half of 20th century – The communist state lost interest in the site, only historians – Hadrián Radváni and mainly Jozef Šimončič- took up interest in the place
  • 1995 – 3rd July – Picturesque ruins came to life again thanks to youth’s activity and their “Katarínka Order – the preservationists”

Extended history

Notable personalities