German Savaria or Sabaria
Croatian Steinamanger
church of Saint Martin

A brief description.

Szombathely  (Steinamanger in Croatian, or Szombathely in Hungarian) is the oldest city in Hungary. It was founded in 45 AD by the name of Colonia Claudia Savariensum (Claudius' Colony of Savarians) and it was the capital of Pannonia Superior province of the Romen Empire. It lay close to the important trade route, the "Amber Road". The city also had an imperial residence, a public bath and an amphitheatre. Septimius Severus was a governor of this province and he was elected Emperor here.

Emperor Constantine the Great visited Savaria several times. He ended the persecution of Christians, which previously claimed the lives of many people in the area, including Bishop St. Quirinus, St. Rutilus and St. Ireneus. The Emperor reorganised the colonies and made Savaria the capital of the province Pannonia Prima. This era was the height of prosperation for Savaria, its population grew, new buildings were erected, among them theatres and churches. Martin of Tours was born here ca.331.

The church of Saint Martin.

Before 2000 years the inhabitants of Savaria buried their dead on the  cemetery that has today this destination. From the 4th century Christians also were buried here and a church was built, added on to a basilica.

441-445: After the death of Emperor Valentianus the Huns invaded Pannonia and Attila's armies occupied Savaria between 441 and 445.

458: The city was destroyed by an earthquake.

6th - 8th century: The city was inhabited by Avar and Slavic tribes.
795: In 795 the Franks defeated them and occupied the city. Even Charlemagne himself visited the city.

860: A new church was built, consecrated by the ArchBishop of Salzburg, Theotmar, in 860, dedicated to Saint Martin. But this church was lost.

875: King Arnulf of the Franks gave the city to the ArchBishop of Salzburg. It is likely that the castle was built around this time, using the stones from the Romen bath. Later Savaria was captured by Moravians, but Moravian rule was short,

900: Around 900 the city was occupied by Hungarians.

1009: The first Christian King, Saint Stephan, gave the city to the newly founded Diocese of Győr. He ordered to be built a new wooden church on the fundaments of the old church, later rebuilt as a brick church.

1042-44: The city suffered a lot between 1042 and 1044 during the war between King Sámuel Aba and Holy Romen Emperor Henry III.

1102: The church was named in the bull of Pope Paschalis II.

1230:The church was enlarged in Romenesque style, an decorated  with frescoes .

1241-1242: Szombathely was destroyed during the Mongol invasion of Hungary but was rebuilt shortly after.

1360: A charter states the well in front of the church. The legend tells that Saint Martin baptized his mother with water of this well.

1407: The city was granted Free royal town status.

15th century: The church was rebuilt in Gothic style.

1578: Szombathely became the capital of Vas comitatus.

1638: The Bishop of Györ (Raab) left  the church and parish in the care of  the Dominicans.

1668-1674:The Dominicans built a large church with three naves supported by gifts of countess Elisabeth Edödy, née Batthyány, after plans of the Italian architect Carlo della Torre.

1710-1716: In June 1710 2000 people lost their lives in a plague, and on May 3, 1716 the city was destroyed by a fire. New settlers came to replace the dead population, most of the were Germans, and the city had a German majority for a long time.

1772-1777: The city began to prosper again, with the support of Ferenc Zichy, the Bishop of Győr a gymnasium was built in 1772, and the Diocese of Szombathely was founded in 1777 by Maria Theresa.

1791: The Bishop of Szombathely, János Szily did much for the city, he had the ruins of the castle demolished and had new buildings to be built, including a cathedral (1791), the episcopal palace complex and a school (opened in 1793.).

Hungary’s biggest baroque church, the two-steeple Bishop’s Cathedral (Templom Square) was built in 1791. The spacious interior is ornamented with frescos, paintings and sculptures created by great artists. The high altar is decorated with a painting of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary with Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine of Siena;  on the front of this altar the statues of four Dominicans.
The masterpieces were heavily damaged in 1945; they are presently being restored.

At the left side the chapel with the Latin inscription above the entrance:

Hic natus est Sanctus Martinus. Here was born Saint Martin.

1809:  Napoleon's armies occupied the city and held it for 110 days, following a short battle on the main square.

1813: In 1813 a cholera epidemic claimed many lives.

1817: 2/3 of the city was destroyed by fire.

1848-1849: During the revolution in 1848-49 Szombathely supported the revolution, but there were no fights in the area, because the city remained under Habsburg rule.

1867: The years after the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 brought prosperity. The railway line reached the city in 1865, and in the 1870s Szombathely became a major railway junction. In 1885 the nearby villages Ó-Perint and Szentmárton were annexed to the city.

1890s : In the 1890s, when Gyula Éhen was the mayor, the city developed a lot. Roads were paved, the city was canalized, the tram line was built between the rail station, the downtown and the Calvary Church. The City Casino, the Great Hotel and the area's first orphanage were built. The population became four times larger under four decades.

11 July 1950: The Dominicans left the priory because of the communist regime.  

Saint Martin (of Tours )
born in Szombathely
around 331-08.11.399?

Martin of Tours was born at Savaria, Pannonia (modern Szombathely, Hungary), around 331. He was named after Mars, god of war, which Sulpicius Severus interpreted as "the brave, the courageous".. His father was a senior officer (tribune) in the Imperial Horse Guard, a unit of the Romen army, and was later stationed at Ticinum, Cisalpine Gaul (modern Pavia, Italy), where Martin grew up.
At the age of ten, he went to the church against the wishes of his parents and became a catechumen or candidate for baptism.
When Martin was fifteen, as the son of a veteran officer, he was required to join a cavalry ala himself and thus, around 334 was stationed at Ambianensium civitas or Samarobriva in Gaul (modern Amiens, France). It is therefore likely that he joined the equites catafractarii Ambianenses, a unit of cataphracti listed in the Notitia Dignitatum.

For the history of his life, see internet.

On 4 July 371/72 he was consecrated Bishop of Tours, France. Martin died on 8 November, 399 (?) in Candes nearby Tours in France.

Source: Data of the church from internet
With thanks to Andrzej Kosticki, O.P., Krystian Tóth, O.P., and Mart Renique.
For he life of Saint Martin, see internet: Catholic Encyclopaedia
or Ökumenisches Heiligenlexikon.

Many churches in Europe are named after Saint Martin, also known as Saint Martin of Tours. He is the patron Saint of Buenos Aires. In the Netherlands he is the patron of the cathedral and city of Utrecht. Sources: Magyarorszá, Hungary Tourism,  and Wikipedia


The first church of Szombathely was a churchyard chapel, perhaps on the place of  the private home, where Saint Martin was born around 331.  Since 1638 the church and parish have been  in care of the Dominicans till 11 July 1950 because of the communist regime.  
There are no stamps of  the church of Saint Martin in Szombathely.

Coronation of Martin as Bishop of Tours on 3 or 4 July 371-372.

Andorra French Administration 1975, Mi 265, Sc 236.  

 Source: Annelese Keilhauer: Ungarn.
              Dumont – Kunst-Reise Führer, Köln 1990, S. 244-248.


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