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Come and see the thousand faces of Hungary and the Hungarian culture

The Diocese of Kalocsa in the 19-20th centuries

The erstwhile home of prebend-historian Istvan Katona became the home of the Treasury of the Archbishopric at Kalocsa in 2002. The Treasury’s permanent exhibit introduces the Religious Art relics of the historic Kalocsa Archbishopric, and at the same time, it gives a glimpse into the 1000-year history of the Archdiocese. The artifact anthologies are chronologically displayed in five rooms.


Ecclesiastical zeon and tray. Treasury of the Archbishopric, Kalocsa, Hungary

In the second part of the 19th century, the diocese of Kalocsa experienced a significant increase in population. At the end of WWI, the total population was 977 people, 70% being Catholics. The languages spoken in the congregations were 40% Hungarian, 14% German, and 1-2% Southern Slavic. However, the most common way of ministry involved a parallel use of all three languages. From the 150 parishes only 60 remained within the Hungarian borders after Trianon; 90 parsonages became Yugoslavian. Although Rome approved the autonomy of the Yugoslavian diocese only in 1968, the territory loss was immediate for Kalocsa, when Hungary’s new borders were defined. In 1923, the historic Kalocsa Archdiocese turned into the country’s smallest diocese, with only 3% of Hungary’s Catholic population.

The next consequential change in the Archdiocese’s history occurred only in 1993, with the establishment of the Kalocsa-Kecskemét Archdiocese. Ever since, the diocesal borders coincide with the borders of Bács-Kiskun county. The 1993 reorganization by Pope John Paul II resulted in a significant increase both in territory and in community. The population of the archdiocese doubled, to close to 400 thousand.

Along with the above territorial and political changes, in the 20th century, the role of the archbishops in the public life, and their church administration opportunities dwindled. As a result of the land reform after WWII, the church lost its properties and its institutions, and the thriving religious organizations and fellowships were dissolved. In 1948 church schools were secularized, and in 1950 the monastic operating permits were also withdrawn. Archbishop József Grősz was condemned in a concept lawsuit in 1951, and was incarcerated until 1956.

Freedom of religious operation was restored only after 1989
. During the years of political oppression difficult national responsibilities fell on the Kalocsa archbishops: in lieu of the Esztergom archbishop, they often lead the counsel and proceedings of the Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (Magyar Katolikus Püspöki Kar).

Room 4: 19-20th century

The liturgical objects seen in the display cabinets of room 4 were made of various metal alloys in the second part of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th century. Along precious metals, more and more artifacts were made of copper and its alloys.

King Saint Stephen's reliquary. Treasury of the Archbishopric, Kalocsa, HungaryIn the middle of the room we can see King Saint Stephen’s reliquary, made for the 1896 Millennium Fair by the Barchruch company. Archbishop György Császka purchased the shrine for the Archdiocese in 1900, for 20.000 HUF. Beside the shrine, we can see the documentation of the production and the sale.

The archbishops were surrounded by objects of fine workmanship not only during religious ceremonies, but also in their everyday lives. Examples of this can be seen in the display cabinets by the window. One cabinet showcases a sampler from the collection of fine china from the Archiepiscopal Palace, and the other display case presents objects and relics connected to each archbishop.

In here, we can see short drink barrels, hand and arm head scratchers, archbishop György Császka’s glass—worn around his neck in the wellness bath; archbishop József Grösz’s Bible, which accompanied him during his imprisonment, or archbishop József Ijjas’s unique rosary. Also of special interest in the corner cabinet is the travel Mass set used by archbishop György Császka. The compartments of the wooden case are deerskin lined, and on each piece of the set, we can clearly see the archbishop’s coat of arms.

Address: Kalocsai Érseki Kincstár
  • Permanent exhibit: 6300 Kalocsa, Hunyadi u. 2. (Katona István ház)
  • Office: 6300 Kalocsa, Szentháromság tér 1. (Érseki Palota)
  • All year round.
  • Between April 1 and October 31, from 9.00 to 17.00.
  • The rest of the year please call in and set up an appointment.
  • CLOSED on Monday.
  • 36-78/462-641 (during open hours)
  • 36-78/462-166 (in the winter)
Fax: 36-78/462-166, ext. 130

Images and information courtesy of the Archiepiscopal Treasury, Kalocsa
Translation: Iren Bencze