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History of the Diocese Banská Bystrica
Church organisation in the area of the Diocese Banská Bystrica is very old. 62 parishies of the bishopric were created already in the 13th and 14th century. The area of present bishopric was originally a part of a complex Archbishopric of Esztergom. Because of the need of a better spiritual administration, the new Bishopric of Banská Bystrica was founded, thanks to the Empress Mary Therese. Pope Pius VI. approved it, together with the bishoprics of Spiš and Rožňava on March 13, 1776 by the bull „Regalium principum“.

The Empress Mary Therese granted the newfounded bishopric a former Church mansion in Svätý Kríž nad Hronom (present Žiar nad Hronom) and she named a former Jesuit Church in Banská Bystrica to be its cathedral. So St. Francis Xavier, patron of the cathedral, became patron of the bishopric. However, the Empress did not manage to take care for the priestly seminary. Up to now, the  Bishopric of Banská Bystrica has had 15 bishops.

1. Bishop František BERCHTOLD, baron of Ungerschütz, (1776-1793) was the first bishop of Banská Bystrica, who made all organisation works at the beginning of the newfounded bishopric. He founded many parishes and took care for their material subsidy. He founded a new bishop´s residence in Banská Bystrica with great difficulties. He saved the bishopric thanks to his perseverence and by the grants from his own noble family. He did not accept a  much richer bishopric in Györ and protested against the connexion with the bishoprics of Spiš or Rožňava. He died in 1793 and after his death this poor bishopric remained empty for all 7 years.

2. Bishop Gabriel ZERDAHELY (1800 – 1813) built with immense troubles one-floor building of the diocesan seminary, consecrated it in 1807 and organised education and formation of future diocesan priests there. He also built a bishop crypt in Sv. Kríž nad Hronom. He was an outstanding preacher and literary active theologian.

3. Bishop Anton MAKAY (1819-1823) was a dedicated pastor of the God´s people, therefore he was considered as one of the best bishops of the former Ungaria in his age. His greatest deed was a support of the Diocesan synod in November 1821 in Banská Bystrica, where 43 prominent priests took part.

4. Bishop Jozef BELANSKÝ (1823-1843) entered the history as a bishop of „golden heart“ and great benefactor of the poor. He founded a pension fund for old priests, handicapped people and old teachers of Catholic schools. Thanks to his funds, many poor peasants and young handcraft men from the diocese and his native land of Kysucké Nové Mesto could study. After his death he let one third of his left estate to the poor of the diocese and one third he granted for the reconstruction and renovation of the cathedral.
5. Bishop Jozef RUDNYÁNSZKY (1844-1850). He was very generouse and good-hearted, so he enjoyed love and respect of his priests and believers. During 1848 – 1849 his diocese also suffered the blood revolution. After its suppresion bishop Rudnyánszky was convicted of supposed treason and because of the harassment of the state power he had to give up the episcopate. In 1850 he formally abdicated by the archbishop of Esztergom and Apostolic See. Then he retired and died in 1859 in Bratislava.

6. Bishop Štefan MOYSES (1850-1869). He was one of the best bishops of the age of  former Ungaria. When he started his mission, the diocese was in a very poor spiritual and material condition. In a short time he managed to reorganise the spiritual activities in all parishes. His credits for building  Catholic schools with Slovak teaching language are invaluable. He was a conscious Slovak and a man of high moral quialities.
In 1863 he organised a pompous celebreations of the 1000th anniversary of the coming of missionaries SS. Cyril and Metodius to our ancestors. Bishop Moyses stood at the birth of an important Slovak institution, Matica slovenská, and was its first chairman. In his age he was considered a Father of the nation with great authority and respect by Slovak Catholics as well as Evangelicals. He died unexpectedly on July 5, 1869 and is buried in a bishop crypt of the Church of the Holy Cross.

7. Bishop Žigmund SZUPPAN (1870-1871) was appointed a bishop, but he gave up the service even prior to his consecration.

8. Bishop Arnold IPOLYI-STUMMER (1872-1886) was a great benefactor of Church schools, poor students and a sponsor of culture. From the diocesan point of view, his most valueable deed was a publication of a historical work, „Schematizmus historicus dioecesis Neosoliensis . The schematism was compiled on the 100th anniversary of the bishopric in 1876 by a Slovak historian, priest and patriot, František Sasik.

9. Bishop Imrich BENDE (1886-1893). He lead the diocese in the intentions of the Pope Leo XIII. He was a zealous defender of a social teaching of this Pope, designed in the encyclical, „Rerum novarum“. For moderation of  misery of his people he granted 60 thousand golden crowns. During his leadership of the diocese the Magyarisation went further considerably.
10. Bishop Karol RIMELY (1893-1904) He renewed the building of the priestly seminary  and at the expense of 60 thousand crowns he built the second floor on it. On various charitable goals he granted almost  400 000 crowns from his own sources and yields of diocesan property. The dark aspect of his era was continuous Magyarisation and disputes with priests whose aim was creation of one slavic nation.

11. Bishop Volfgang RADNAI ((1904-1919). He led the diocese in difficult years of strong national oppression and the Wold War I. He tried to put into practice directions of the Pope X. about frequent Holy Communion and early First communion of children. The negative side of his work was his strong Hungarian opinions, lack of knowledge of Slovak, introduction of Hungarian into magazines and direction to record all parish agenda and registers in Hungarian. After the break-up of Austria-Hungary Bishop Radnai was expelled from his bishopric by the state.

12. Bishop Marián BLÁHA (1921-1943). He was ordained a priest on February 2, 1921 together with the bishops Ján Vojtaššák and Karol Kmeťko, who were the first Slovak bishops of the newfounded Czecho-Slovak Republic. He took over the diocese in a very poor condition. In the difficult after-war time he managed to renew education in the priestly seminary, but at the beginning he had to fight with lack of priests in his diocese. In his cultural and national endeavours he was a worthy successor of the great bishop Moyzes. He is buried in the crypt of the Church of the Holy Cross.

13. Bishop Andrej ŠKRÁBIK (1943-1950). He came to Banská Bystrica as an auxiliar bishop of the bishop Bláha. He managed to transfer the bishop´s residence from Sv. Kríž nad Hronom to the seat of the diocese Banská Bystrica and also consolidate the situation in the diocesan seminary. Thanks to his modesty and good nature he soon won trust of the priests and believers. He was joined with them in suffering the dreads of the war and uprising and never hesitated to help all people. He observed with great distress the coming of the totalitarian communistic power and constant abridgement of the Church rights. However, all his protests against injustice were vain. He died on January 8, 1950 and is buried in a simple ordinary grave in a town cemetery.

After the death of the bishop Škrábik, The Slovak Office for Church Affairs, according to the injust laws about „supervision of the state over churches“, appointed an administrator of the diocese, Ján Dechet, priest of the Apostolic administrative office Trnava. The Apostolic See according to the Church laws excommunicated the priest Ján Dechet, as he accepted a Church office from the state power. Despite this, Ján Dechet administrated the diocese until his death in April 1968.

14. Bishop Jozef FERANEC (1973-1990). He took over the diocese in a bad condition, without seminary and canonry. In spite of hard times, he managed to keep up parish life, undertake many confirmation travels and put into practice the results of the Vatican Council II. in a restricted form. In 1990 the Pope accepted abdication and following retirement of the 80 years old bishop.

15. Bishop Rudolf BALÁŽ (1990 - ). He is the first bishop of Banská Bystrica to be born in the area of this diocese. He is also the first one who accepted bishop consecration in the town of Banská Bystrica. It was on March 19, 1990 from the hands of a Slovak cardinal, Jozef Tomko. At the beginning of his pastoral, apostolic work he renewed the interrupted work of the Diocesan priestly seminary, and started or rebuilt activities of many school and diocesan institutions. He invited Pope John Paul II. for a visitation of the diocese. The Pope celebrated the Holy Mass on September 12, 2003 in Banská Bystrica and opened the Diocesan synod. The bishop Baláž collected and published the statements of the Diocesan synod in 2006 in a document „Stay with us, Lord“. At the present time, the Diocese of Banská Bystrica experiences a time of onward realisation of the statements which regard to various aspects of the life of society and the Church.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 August 2011 15:52