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High Priest and Prebendal Insignia

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.

High Priest and Prebendal Insignia: pectoral cross, episcopal ring, case
Room 3: High Priest and Prebendal Insignia

Dominant items in room 3 are the High Priest's jewelry and prebendal insignia. In the showcase tables we can see pectoral crosses, rings, and crosses of merit, while the exhibition cabinets display croziers and processional crosses. At the consecration of a bishop, he was presented with an episcopal ring which symbolized his betrothal to the Church. Since the 2nd Vatican Synod, the episcopal ring worn by bishops was a plain, precious metal ring, however, earlier pieces were often adorned with gemstones. The pectoral crosses were also ornate pieces of fine workmanship.

The prebendal insignia displayed were made in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. They are artifacts from the archiepiscopal heritage. The pectoral crosses were worn not only by the archbishops, but also by the prebends of the Archiepiscopal Chapter of Kalocsa. The archiepiscopal chapter was the advisory, and supporting body of the archbishops, and up to 1873, it also served as attestation witness at Kalocsa. This was equal with today’s notary public office, meaning that the chapter produced and held legally valid documents and public records.

Treasury of the Kalocsa Archbishopric, Hungary: King Charles III charter, 18th century manuscript
King Charles III charter, 18th century manuscript

In 1738, Archbishop Gábor Patachich reorganized the archiepiscopal chapter, and this ushered in two centuries of even heavier responsibilities upon the prebends’ shoulders. Usually the prebends served in positions like the archbishop’s deputy, magistrate of the holy see, chief school inspector, estate administrator, foundation trustee, and even the archbishop’s suffragan bishop. Some of the prebends built the reputation of the chapter by their works in history, jurisprudence, theology, and linguistics. And when the times were calling, they edited newspapers, or wrote religious literature or youth novels. The manuscripts in the display tables tell the story of the chapter in such documents as the handbook of prebendal nominations and statutes, the notarial and estate seals, King Charles III and Queen Maria Theresa’s charters from the 18th century—authorizing the reorganization of the chapter and attesting to its local authority—as well as records about wearing the distinctive insignia of the prebends, the so-called Toulouse Cross (Crux Tolosana).

The den that opens from room 3 was furnished in the memory of historian-prebend, István Katona, who built the house that now hosts the Treasury of the Archbishopric. The early 19th century Empire-Style Salon evokes the atmosphere of the one-time prebendal house

István Katona was originally a Jesuit monk and university professor. After the dissolution of the monasticism, he arrived to Kalocsa in 1790, and received a prebendal nomination. He had various appointments, including the management of the Archiepiscopal Library, teaching rhetoric at the Great Seminary (Nagyszeminárium), and later becoming director of the institution.

 Treasury of the Kalocsa Archbishopric, Hungary: Silk painting,  King St. Ladislas offering the crown to the Virgin Mary
The Jesuit monks were key figures of 17-18th century history writing. Along with peer György Pray, István Katona can be listed among these significant historians. Keeping historical records in their times meant not only collecting, classifying, and publishing data, but also evaluation of the available sources.

Starting from 1779, Katona published a 42-volume history of the Kingdom of Hungary, in Latin: Historia critica. His study remained a fundamental piece of Hungarian history up until the 19th century, and a significant part of his sources appeared in print only in his treatise. From Kalocsa’s point of view, István Katona’s workmanship is of great merit: in two volumes published in 1800, he documented the history of the Kalocsa Diocese, in Latin, and presented an 800-year history in the order of the prevailing archbishops. Writings about István Katona can be seen in the display case below his portrait.

The Empire-style liturgical objects on display in the cabinet were made in the 19th century. Of special interest among these is the painting on Chinese silk, depicting King Saint Ladislas of Hungary (Szent László) offering the Holy Crown of Hungary to the Virgin Mary.

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