At the beginning of the 20th century this part of the Zugló district was a rather sparsely populated city quarter. Most of the people settling here lived from gardening. Faithful belonged to the parish of the district called Elisabeth town. However, due to the significant distance, the Dominican Fathers started to celebrate Holy Masses in the Zugló area that quickly became popular. At first, these Holy Masses were held in a teacher’s apartment, then in the school building at the “Angol” street. After 1903 a restaurant was converted into a chapel. Later on, a land in Zugló had been designated as parish territory by Prince Primate János Csernoch, upon which a church of bauxite concrete was built in 1923 in the present Bosnyák square, with a capacity of five hundred. Very soon, this small church, drafted by architect Ernő Balázs, was overgrown by the increasing number of the community.
Saving the church
Shortly afterwards Sándor Barkóczy, parish priest, initiated to build a new church. Architect Gyula Rimanóczy constructed a 3 nave, neo-Romanesque style church. The founding stone was blessed on December 14, 1941 by Zoltán Meszlényi, Auxiliary Bishop. On August 18, 1946 the semi-finished church building was consecrated by Prince Primate József Mindszenty. The new church, with a capacity of 3000, a length of 49 metres, a width of 22 metres, and with its 14.5 metres height has become one of the largest churches of Budapest. The reason for the pre-time or early consecration served to avoid its conversion into a market hall, since at that time the Bosnyák square market operated right next to the church building. However, the license to put the building into service was granted in 1948 only.
The incomplete tower
Though architect Rimanóczy drafted a peaked tower, during the communism era there was no chance at all to complete the 19.5 high unfinished tower, thus it remained incomplete for some decades. The 58 metres high bell tower was finished by 2014, giving home to four bells. Over this period the little church was used by the Greek Catholics, until its demolition in 1957.
The original white walls of the sanctuary were embellished by artist Béla Kontuly’s frescoes, depicting some chapters from the life of St. Anthony of Padua. The reliefs of the Stations of the Cross are the works of sculptor Aurélia Németh. The rose window of the main façade, inspired by “The Canticle of the Sun” of St. Francis of Assisi, was finished in 1982, upon the design of Mária Németh Erdélyiné.
The gigantic organ
The church organ is a fascinating rarity. The first pipe organ was planned by Ferenc Gergely, Lajos Schmidthauer and Lajos Szalay. The instrument was designed to perfectly match the size of church with its 4 manuals and 66 registers, still finally only a 14 registers organ was built, more precisely, the sound was reduced to one fifth of the planned pipes. Expansion and renovation works took place in 1975. This time an organ house was set up, which was fully built into the balustrade and covered the entire width of the gallery, on top, 25 registers were already in operation. The organ was renovated in 1984-1991, and was enlarged to an 80 registers instrument, thus it has been developed to the second largest organ, ranked behind that of the Music Academy’s, of the capital city of Hungary.
The church is going to serve as one of the venues of the International Eucharistic Congress. On September 8, 2021 in the frame of ‘Programs of the Parishes’, a Holy Mass in Polish will be celebrated here at 17.00.
Sources: bosihirado.net, esztergomi-ersekseg.hu, Wikipedia
Photo: egykor.hu, fortepan, Fővárosi Levéltár, bosihirado.net, esztergomi-ersekseg