The Pauline Monks belong to the Monastic Order of St. Paul the First Hermit – which was founded in 1215 in Hungary.
The founder was Blessed Eusebius. It was through his efforts that the saintly hermits of Hungary were united in monasteries under the patronage of St Paul the Hermit who had lived the solitary life some 870 years earlier.
If you go to Budapest and walk your way up to the Gellert Statue, you can see a cave along with a glass door advertising the entry to the Pauline Church. The church in the cave, while hidden away from public, is still one of the main attractions in the Pest part of Budapest.
The Church is called the Rock Temple when it is actually a cave temple.
In old times, when this temple was first created and named, it was just a cave mouth, with the church sanctuary and the nave out in the open. So hence the name to the Rock Church.
“It was something amazing when they opened the Rock Temple, the whole country knew about it.”
The Order spread rapidly throughout Hungary and then into Croatia, Germany, Poland, Austria and Bohemia. There was a time when there were over 5000 Pauline monks in Hungary alone.
A highlight in the Order’s history took place in 1382 when they became the custodians of the miraculous picture of Our Lady, believed to be painted by St Luke the Evangelist. The Icon was brought to Poland by Ladislaus, Duke of Opole, from a castle at Belz, in modern day Ukraine. He invited the monks to come from Hungary into Poland to safeguard the holy picture. The monks established a Shrine for the venerable image of the Blessed Mother in the small town of Czestochowa (pronounced as chen-sto-hova). Today this Shrine is the Mother house of the Order, and is also the largest monastery, with over 100 Fathers and Brothers, belonging to the monks of St Paul the First Hermit. It is seen as the spiritual capital of Polish Catholics and is visited by more than 2 million pilgrims each year from all over the world.
The first modern entrance for the caves was constructed in the 1920s by a group of Pauline monks who have been inspired by similar rock constructions during a pilgrimage in Lourdes, France. Kálmán Lux, professor at the Budapest University of Technology was the architect in charge. After its consecration in 1926, it served as a chapel and monastery until 1951. During this time, it also served as a field hospital for the army of Nazi Germany during World War II. (Wikipedia)
In 1945, the Soviet Red Army captured Budapest. For six years, the cave continued its religious functions, but in 1951, the State Protection Authority raided the chapel as part of increasing action against the Catholic Church. As a result of the raid, the cave was sealed, the monastery’s superior, Ferenc Vezér, was condemned to death, and the remaining brothers were imprisoned for upwards of ten years.
As the Iron Curtain disintegrated, the chapel reopened on 27 August 1989 with the destruction of the thick concrete wall that had sealed the cave. By 1992, the Chapel had been restored and the Pauline Order had returned to the cave. Today, the monks continue to perform religious functions within, though the cave is also a common tourist attraction.
The church is complemented by a mysterious monastery carved into the rock and decorated with striking neo-gothic turrets. The walls of the cave is formed of all-natural living rock. The church features many rooms, worthy of attention is the one in which all the ornaments have been carved in hardwood by a faithful follower of the Pauline Order. The terrace in front of the entrance is proudly guarded by the statue of Saint Stephen standing besides his horse.
My Favourite Story: Elisabeth of Hungary
Miracle of the Roses
A statue showing the miracle of the roses in the rose garden in front of the neo-Gothic church dedicated to her at Roses’ Square (Rózsák tere), Budapest.
Elizabeth was the daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary and Gertrude of Merania. Her mother’s sister was St. Hedwig of Andechs, wife of Duke Heinrich I of Silesia. Her ancestry included many notable figures of European royalty, going back as far as Vladimir the Great of Kievan Rus. According to tradition, she was born in the castle of Sárospatak, Kingdom of Hungary, on 7 July 1207. According to a different tradition she was born in Pozsony, Kingdom of Hungary (modern-day Bratislava, Slovakia), where she lived in the Castle of Posonium until the age of four. (Wikipedia)
Elizabeth is perhaps best known for her miracle of the roses which says that whilst she was taking bread to the poor in secret, she met her husband Ludwig on a hunting party, who, in order to quell suspicions of the gentry that she was stealing treasure from the castle, asked her to reveal what was hidden under her cloak. In that moment, her cloak fell open and a vision of white and red roses could be seen, which proved to Ludwig that God’s protecting hand was at work.
Her husband, according to the vitae, was never troubled by her charity and always supported it. In some versions of this story, it is her brother in law, Heinrich Raspe, who questions her. Hers is the first of many miracles that associate Christian saints with roses, and is the most frequently depicted in the saint’s iconography.