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HISTORY TALKS...

A Catholic island in Spiš

IN THE MIDDLE Ages, the territory of Slovakia was administered by two priories: Bratislava and Spiš. Alongside the priories, chapters operated as advisory bodies. The chapters created special streets in towns or in their residences (for instance, Kapitulská – kapitula means chapter in Slovak – in Bratislava, or Kanonicza – meaning Canonry – Street in Krakow). The chapter’s buildings and temples were often so numerous that in some places they formed whole towns, as happened in Spiš.

IN THE MIDDLE Ages, the territory of Slovakia was administered by two priories: Bratislava and Spiš. Alongside the priories, chapters operated as advisory bodies. The chapters created special streets in towns or in their residences (for instance, Kapitulská – kapitula means chapter in Slovak – in Bratislava, or Kanonicza – meaning Canonry – Street in Krakow). The chapter’s buildings and temples were often so numerous that in some places they formed whole towns, as happened in Spiš.

Today, Spišská Kapitula (The Spiš Chapter) is part of the town of Spišské Podhradie, but for most of its history it was an independent municipality. It is interesting that when Spišské Podhradie was forfeited to Poland, Kapitula remained within Hungary. Also, during the Reformation, Kapitula behaved independently from its neighbour. While in Spišské Podhradie – as in other Spiš towns – Protestantism set down firm roots, Kapitula remained one of the few islands of Catholicism in this region. The fact that town councillors from Spišské Podhradie did not allow students from Kapitula’s secondary school to lodge with families in Spišské Podhradie shows how tense relations were between devotees of both beliefs.

In this postcard from 1943, we see the entrance to the Kapitula complex.

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