The eerie remains of Žofia Bosniak's body are remarkably well-preserved.
Inside the Loretan Chapel on a pedestal lies a glass covered coffin. Approaching the coffin there is that special feeling somewhere in the throat as solemnly, people come closer to look at the body of the late Žofia Bosniak. She died in 1644 and her body though not embalmed lies perfectly silent, still well-preserved.
Žofia Bosniak descended from an aristocratic family. Her ancestors came to Hungary in the 16th century from Bosnia. The Bosniak family settled in Bratislava owners of sizeable land and a manor house. Later they obtained property in Šurany too, where Žofia Bosniak was born June 2, 1609.
Her parents, Maria Kenderessy and Tomáš Bosniak had an additional six other children. When Žofia was 17, she married Michal Serenyi. The Serenyi family, descending from Sedmohradsko owned several estates in Moravia. The just married young couple came to live in Svetlo castle in 1626. Their happiness did not last long. A few months after marriage; Michal Serenyi became ill and died afterwards. The young widow Žofia then returned back to Šurany.
One day, her father, who at the time was the captain of Fil'akovo, introduced her to a handsome young man just finishing his studies at the Trnava Jesuit college. After several meetings, the young couple fell in love and 25 year-old František Wesselenyi proposed to Žofia.
Immediately after marriage in 1630, Žofia left for Teplička nad Vahom to stay at the Wesselenyi residence. It was in this manor-house she lived most of her life. Teplička nad Váhom became a seat of the landlord Mikuláš Dersffy and a center of the locality at the time of. He and his wife Barbara Perényi built a big manor house in the town from their own money in 1583-1589 and rebuilt an originally gothic church into renaissance style. The castle at Strečno, which was previously the center of the estate, remained a safe residence for landlords and their families in war time.
Žofia Bosniak was famous for her kind deeds and beauty.
Anyone struck with poverty could come regardless of rank or origin. Žofia organized at first a simple foundation in the amount of "1000 Goldens," the name for money at the time. Money was used sometimes for loans which gained interest that they then used to help orphans.
Žofia generously promoted the parish also financing some needs of the churches belonging to the estate. In the turbulent months during the rebellion of Juraj Rákoczi in 1644, the Wesselenyi family lived at Strečno castle. Legend says that when chased, Weselenyi troops needed to cross the Váh River under Strečno castle to escape, Žofia raised her finger and the flow of the river stopped.
She was much beloved. People all over cried and prayed for her when she died on April 28, 1644. She was buried in a crypt under the Strečno castle chapel.
After her death, Žofia's husband married the widow of the late Štefan Bethlen, Maria Széchy in August 1644. As the Hungarian viceroy, František Wesselenyi became entangled in a conspiracy against the policy of emperor Leopold I. He died in 1667 and was buried in Muran castle. All his property was confiscated and the emperor's captain destroyed Strečno castle in 1674.
Jan Jakub Löwensburg and his brother Fridrich in 1683 obtained Wesselenyi's property including Teplička manor and Strečno castle. While searching the ruins of the castle, they discovered under the destroyed chapel the coffin with the intact body of Žofia Bosniak. Sometime between 1698 and 1728 the coffin was transferred to the crypt of the church in Teplička nad Váhom. Based on an agreement between Nitra's Bishop Council, Löwensburg was allowed to place Žofia's body into a specially built chapel in 1729. She is still there.
"Žofia Bosniak is dressed the same way she used to be hundreds of years ago," said the sexton of the church who knows many interesting stories about Žofia's life. "While the body still contains some moisture, dress tends to deteriorate quickly. The last time nuns changed her is ten years ago," he said.
The solid stone houses, where Žofia lived, suffered the merciless tooth of time, but her body resisted. Perhaps her beauty still preserved sends a message to us today, that a good heart is what people will remember and the true value of a human being's life.
The village people wish Žofia to be declared a saint. The look on her face and the strange feeling in the throat make us meditate about her secret of life.
S&S Travel Tips
By car- From Bratislava, take the Route E 75 north to Zilina, then E 50 to Ružomberok, Liptovská Mara and Liptovský Mikuláš (280 km) or from Bratislava E 571 north-east to Zvolen, then E 77 north to Ružomberok, following E 50 to Liptovská Mara and Liptovský Mikuláš (271 km).
By train- nearly every two hours a direct train goes from Bratislava to Košice via Liptovský Mikuláš. Travel time takes less than four hours.
Hotel Bobrovník- Jamajka - Liptovská Sielnica, tel. 0849/931 31. Prices double room: 600-900 Sk for foreigners, 380 Sk for Slovaks, price without breakfast. Hotel facing the dam Liptovská Mara in quiet locality with panorama of Low Tatras. Hotel also has tennis courts and can rent sport equipment.
ATC Hôrka- Liptovský Trnovec, tel. 0849J 937 00. Wooden bungalows on the bank of Liptovská Mara. for 3 people 600 Sk, for 4 people 800 Sk, both Slovaks and foreigners. Open since June till September 30.
Pol'ovnicky dom Hubertus- Likavka. tel. 0848/220 23. Stylish hunting lodge offers venison specialities. Nice collection of hunter's trophies.
Salaš Dechtáre- on the highway few kilometers in front of Liptovský Mikuláš. Locally wcll known wooden chalet, where people usually come to taste a typical Slovak meal "bryndzové halušky."
17. Jul 1997 at 0:00 | Ľubica Sokolíková