LUTHERAN CHURCH IN
Hronsek is a small village about 4
miles south of Banska Bystrica. You won't be able to find it marked on the
regular auto map. Many years ago, the previous regime had made Hronsek a
part of Banska Bystrica, but as of January 1993 they are independent self
governed village. I have very found memories of Hronsek, since it is also
close to Zvolen, about 10 miles, where my family is from. In 1948 all my
fathers' businesses were nationalized and eventually our family was run
out of town. This all happened soon after my birth in 1949. We had lost
our home and everything, but not the family and friends. One of the best
family friends was also then Bishop Dr. Ludovit Katina at the Lutheran A.V.
Church in Hronsek. During my childhood years I had spent many summers at
the parish, playing with his two daughters Elenka and Ludka, jumping to
the river Hron from the rope on a willow tree and then swimming down the
river all the way to the church's property, watching the storks nesting on
the tall chimney of the manor house, getting into lots of mischief's, as
ringing the bells at the bell tower and everyone taught, Hronsek was on
fire, trying to smoke a cigarette butt in the hay stack, chasing ducks,
chickens geese etc., as every young boy of my age would.
I have returned here for the first time
in 1987, the village was Past recognition as many houses were built all
over and the church was barely visible from the road. One familiar scene
was left unchanged, the long forgotten storks were nesting at the same
place as many years ago, the manor house's unused chimney, and all the
feelings I always had about Honsek, were back.
Bishop Katina passed away many years
ago, his ill and frail wife lives in the spa town Sliac with her daughter
and family and I visit her during my summer travels. Another good friend
of my family aunt Margita Hroncokova lives in Hronsek too. She is over 80
years old, but you couldn't tell by her appearance. She looks great, she
is fast and still active in the church, her garden and makes lots of good
home currant wine, cooks and bakes a lot. Does not drink tap water, but
only water from near by natural springs from spa at Sliac.
This summer I rang the bell at Father Sovc
rectory, next to the one of the few remaining wooden churches in Slovakia,
and this is what he told me:
Same events and conditions preceded
building of this church as the one Paludza. The site, then a little island in
the middle of the river Hron, was selected by the officials of the ruling
Habsburghs. This is the only wooden church in Slovakia with elements of
Scandinavian architecture. Nobody knows how did the elements of the
Scandinavian architecture got to Hronsek. Perhaps in the same way as the
Tinkers of Kysuce or the Oil sellers from Turiec got to the Islands of
Japan and South America, Central Slovakia's carpenters went to the world
too and some of them may have ended in Scandinavia and on their return
brought with them vast experience. The foundation of the church is in the
form of a cross and the balcony seats are placed as in amphitheatre and it
has a seating capacity of 1100. You wouldn't guess it from the outside. It
has four main entrances and one additional entrance. The light from
outside gets in by 30 equally placed windows. The roof is wooden shingles
decorated with three oak crosses and on the frontal side with a rooster,
symbol of Christian watchfulness. In front of the church, there are two
linden trees, as old as the church. The church has six altar paintings
that are changed according to the church holidays of the year. The Organ
was made 1764 by craftsman Martin Podkonicky from Banska Bystrica. We
should mention that the altar and the pulpit's style are something foreign
in this church. It is revolutionary interference with the traditional
church architecture and design. In the classical church build in the form
of a ship, the people sit in rows behind each other and the bow of the
ship is entering the altar, that is elevated above the rest.
The system of hierarchy is stressed:
"all of you there below should listen to the one up there." This
style is non existent in this church. If they would take down the altar's
painting, all the people are sitting around the altar. The craftsmen that
built this church wanted to leave a message. All of you, are sitting here
are as one family that is sitting around one family table. The reform was
stressing association and the place where the priest stands is in the same
level as the people on the benches.
We may say that there is a connection
between the spa at Sliac, village of Hronsek and the greatest Slovak poet
from the school of Stur- Andrej Braxatoris Sladkovic.
Sladkovic's family roots are around the
banks of the river Hron.
Sladkovic studied in Hale, Germany,
where also the most of the generation of Sturovcov studied. After his
studies he became an educator in Rybare, today's Sliac. This was the
highest period of his poet's activity. Here he wrote the last parts of his
most beautiful poem "Marina." He started the "Marina"
while in Hale, but the essential parts were written during his strolls
around the river Hron. That's why, the Hron as a river is sung about in
most beautiful way, in the Sladkovic's poem "Marina." He wrote
also the "Detvan" here, together with other well-known poems.
In Hronsek he also found his wife to
be. He married at the church on September 15, 1847, Antonia Julia Sekovic.
He used to call her Tonka. At that time he was the priest at Hrochot,
close by. From there he was transferred to Radvan in 1856 (now Banska
Bystrica) where in 1872 he passed away.
On August 14 of this year in the
presence of the Bishop, commemorating plaque was unveiled with text: Here
lived and served the nation Jan Simonides 1690-1695, Josef Meltzer
1834-1854 and Ladislav Horislav Krcmery 1854-1874. All of them were
Jan Simonides belongs to older Slovak
writers. In 1982, in time of totalitarian regime Tatran publishing house
published his beautiful book: The imprisonment, persecution and
unbelievable liberation of Jan Simonides and his companion Tobias Masnik.
Jozef Meltzer was a hymn writer and he
also contributed to the song creations of Slovak Lutherans to their hymn
book, published in 1842. Who knows if he wasn't the first Slovak
dissident, because Jozef Meltzner through he had Hungarian upbringing as a
son of a teacher in Ostra Luka, he woke up nationally under the influence
of Karol Kuzmany and wrote "The first defense." These are
writings, written against Hungarian exploitation of Slovaks. For his
revolutionary thinking he was demoted from priesthood for some time, but What's
interesting he predicted the disintegration of the
Austro-Hungarian Empire due to chauvinism of the Hungarians.
August Horislav Krcmery was known as
publicist and a musical composer. He also composed polkas. His family
descendants are very well known personalities in the Slovak history.
Stefan Krcmery was a great poet and cultural activist and a secretary of
Matica Slovenska 1919-1933. Sladkovic was a frequent guest at the rectory
and during one of his visits, together they composed one of the most
beautiful national songs:
"O God, how it hurts, when the
youth scatters around the world wide field."
I am thankful to father Sovc for his
time he spent with me and thus made it possible to write about Hronsek
Church. I have learned that as of November 1, 1993 father Sovc was
transferred to Banska Stiavnica. I did visit him in the summer 1994.
TO LUTHERAN CHURCHES
Published in the Slovak Heritage Live
newsletter Volume 1, No. 4, Winter 1993
Copyright © Vladimir Linder 1993
3804 Yale Street, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5C 1P6
The above article and photographs may not be copied,
reproduced, republished, or redistributed by any means including electronic,
without the express written permission of Vladimir