Joy of the Gospel that Saint Martin Transmitted

The Archbishop of Bratislava’s Greeting to the Pope During His Meeting with the Slovak Clergy

Joy of the Gospel
The Pope in his meeting with the Slovak clergy, September 13, 2021 © Vatican Media

The President of the Episcopal Conference and Archbishop of Bratislava, Monsignor Stanislav Zvolensky, talked about the joy of the Gospel transmitted by Saint Martin, Patron of the Cathedral today, ahead of a speech by Pope Francis. As part of the program of his 34th Apostolic Journey to Budapest and Slovakia, the Holy Father met with the Slovak Bishops, priests, seminarians, men religious, and catechists in Saint Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava.

Honor and Emotion

 After giving the Pontiff a warm welcome at the Cathedral, the capital’s Metropolitan Archbishop said it was “a great honor and joy” for all of them to have the Pope visit them, to encourage them with his presence and strengthen them in the Faith: “Our hearts tremble with emotion, as they did when the Supreme Pontiff Saint John Paul II entered this church years ago.”

In this line, Archbishop Zvolensky said that His Holiness’ Apostolic Visit is “very dear,” as it makes them “feel the universality and unity of Mother Church,” and understand better that, “also in our times, the Lord God chooses a Leader of the Apostles and entrusts to him the keys of the Kingdom.”

The Joy of the Gospel

 “Slovaks have always loved and respected the Holy Father. Every day we pray for God’s help to you, praying and also singing. We try to know and understand what Peter says to us today. So I’m very happy you are here with us in person and thus be able to listen to your words attentively. I’m certain that this experience will help us to give better witness of Evangelii Gaudium, of the joy of the Gospel in today’s world,” said the Episcopal President.

“Since this first Apostolic Exhortation that you wrote to all of us, we perceive your love for the poor, for those on the peripheries, for those that stay behind, abandoned, rejected . . . And, precisely in this perspective, we try to think in a new way the examples of our Saints, as Saint Martin, the Patron of this Cathedral, who did not hesitate to share his cloak with a poor man, although he himself didn’t have much to protect him from the cold.”

Episcopal Conference of Slovakia

 The Konferencia Biskupov Slovenska (KBS) is made up of the Bishops of the 11 ecclesiastical circumscriptions (eight of the Latin Rite and three of the Byzantine Rite) and the Military Ordinary. Its current President is Stanislav Zvolensky, Archbishop of Bratislava; the Vice-President is Monsignor Bernard Bober, Metropolitan Archbishop of Košice, and the Secretary-General is Monsignor Marián Chovanec, Bishop of Banska Bystrica.

The KBS is a Member of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE).

Saint Martin’s Cathedral

 It is in the Episcopal See of the Archdiocese of Bratislava, and it is located on the border of the historic center, where the city’s fortified walls were found. The Gothic construction began in the 14th century, on the site of an earlier Romanesque church. Its consecration took place on March 10, 1452, although its construction lasted for centuries.

Many changes were made with the passage of time. From 1563 to 1830, eleven Hungarian Kings were crowned here, including the first King to receive the crown: Maximilian II and Maria Teresa of Austria (June 25, 1741.The 85-meter high bell tower, which was damaged and rebuilt several times, has at the top a gold replica of Saint Stephen’s crown. The interior of the Cathedral has three naves and one polygonal apse.

What can be admired today is the result of several reconstructions and changes and the intervention of architect Jozef Lippert who, in the mid 19th century, removed all the Renaissance and Baroque architecture. The Gothic Baptistery is the oldest item and dates back to 1409. To be noted is the almost imperceptible asymmetry, probably intentional, between the nave and the presbytery, which symbolize, respectively, the body of Christ on the Cross and the inclination of His head.

The Chapels include those in the Gothic style, built in the 15th century and dedicated to Queen Sophia of Bavaria, wife of Wenceslas IV, Queen Sophia of Bavaria and Saint Anne, and the 19th century Baroque Chapel of Saint John the Merciful, by Austrian sculptor Georg Raphael Donner (1693-1741) also the author of the sculptural group of Saint Martin on horseback, represented while cutting his cape with a sword to give half of it to a beggar.

Famous personalities, ecclesiastical dignitaries and members of the city’s most powerful families are buried in the church. The 13th of 1835, Beethoven directed and premiered here the Missa Solemnis, Opus 123. On March 31, 1995, it became the Co-Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Bratislava-Trnava, created as the result of the Slovak Catholic ecclesiastical circumscriptions.

In February of 2008, it became the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Bratislava, erected after the division of the Archdiocese of Bratislava-Trnava, which also gave rise to the Archdiocese of Trnava. The works for the renovation of the building adjacent to the Cathedral (Martineum) began this year. It will serve as the basis for liturgical, pastoral, charitable, cultural, and social activities of this place of worship, and which will begin on November 11, 2021, Liturgical Memorial of Saint Martin.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester