9 Jan 2020
Posted in Architecture, Culture

Go into the chapel.

When in the wonderful city of Budapest, Hungary, be sure to visit Matthias Church, originally called the Cathedral of St. Mary. It stands in the old Castle District, and its history stretches back to the 13th century.

We are particularly taken by the Loreto Chapel within and the story behind one of its most interesting statues.

By the mid-1500s, the Ottomans, under Grand Vizier Suleyman Pasha, occupied much of Eastern Europe, including Budapest. Under his rule, Matthias Church was stripped of its Christian ornamentation and transformed into a mosque. Early in the occupation, the Christians were said to have hidden a votive statue of the Madonna inside a wall of the church.

In 1686, the Holy League, an alliance of European countries, fought to retake the territory from the Ottomans. During the Siege of Buda, cannon fire destroyed a wall of the church, exposing the old statue. As the sculpture of the Virgin Mary appeared before the praying Muslims, the morale of the Ottoman garrison collapsed, and they surrendered to the Christian army without a fight.

Today, you can see the “Virgin Mary with Christ” statue in Loreto Chapel. Some historians claim this is the original work; others believe it was created to replace the original medieval sculpture.

Interested in heading to Hungary and beyond? Contact our European expert, Mariana Tosic, at mtosic@rcrusoe.com or call 888-490-8008.

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