Renovated University Church reopened
Hungarian version of the article: Átadták a megújult Egyetemi templomot
September 7, 2020 at 5:00 PM
The University church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, commonly known as University Church, has been renovated with the help of the Hungarian government – writes the MTI. The baroque church was blessed by Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest on 6 September.
The partial renovation began in May 2019 and included the restoration of the statues in the baroque building, the renovation of the sacristy, new flooring being laid down, the modernisation of the heating and electrical system and repairs to the copper cladding of the spires.
Façade of the University Church (Photo: MTI / Zsolt Szigetváry)
The University Church in the city centre was recently renovated (Photo: MTI / Zsolt Szigetváry)
The church and the adjacent monastery were built by the Pauline Order. Construction began in 1715, and the foundation stone was lain in 1725. Work was overseen by masters Mátyás Drenker, András Mayerhoffer, and Márton Siegl. The first was in the building was celebrated in 1742, and the church towers were completed in 1768 and 1771.
Egyetem Square and the University Church as seen from Királyi Pál Street, photographed by György Klösz in 1898 (Photo: Fortepan)
After the dissolution of the Pauline Order in 1786, the building became the Church of Péter Pázmány University. From 1803 it was shared by the University and the Central Seminary, which operated in the building of the Pauline monastery.
The main altar, created by Antal Lipót Conti, depicts the birth of the Virgin Mary. Above the group statue, four angels hold an image of The Balck Madonna of Czestochowa painted on a copper plate.
The main nave of the renovated University Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Photo: MTI/Zsolt Szigetváry)
Miklós Soltész, Secretary of State for Relations with Churches and Ethnic Minorities within the Prime Minister's Office stated in his address that the University Church and the Central Seminary adjacent to it were symbols of Christianity's desire to survive and show that Christianity is not only a "dusty past", but a mediator of science and creator of beauty.
The Secretary of State reminded those present that after Hungary had been liberated from Ottoman occupation Emperor Leopold I promised to build as many churches as had been destroyed by the Turks. The foundation stone was lain three decades later, and since its construction, the church has "served our faith first as a Pauline, then as a University Church." Mr Soltész added that three decades have passed since the fall of communism in Hungary, and that "following the end of another period of destruction, communism" the church has now been partially renovated.
"Three decades ago we believed that the change would give Christianity great strength," today we see the struggle to preserve Christianity. If there were no young priests, youths devoted to passing on the faith, all our work would be in vain, said Miklós Soltész, adding that values could be preserved, but only the young can continue to pass on Christianity.
Ceiling fresco in the baroque building (Photo: MTI / Zsolt Szigetváry)
The carved gate was also restored, photographed in 2019 (Photograph Dorottya Osváth/pestbuda.hu)
In his sermon, Péter Erdő called the church and the former Pauline monastery next to it the "Hungarian Czestochowa". He said: the main altar of the church is decorated with a copy of the Black Madonna. The icon is a hodegitria, which refers to how Mary "can lead Christian communities back to cities and region, from where they have been expelled. How she can return faith into communities where the truth, love and faith in Christ have been lost from people's hearts."
The cardinal expressed hope that the church, in which great theologians and priests had held speeches would offer renewed strength and renewed grace to all.
Cover photo: The renovated University Church in the 5th District (Photo: MTI/Zsolt Szigetváry)