THE FUNERAL Guild of St Anthony of Padua meets every year in January in the eastern-Slovak municipality of Kurima. Found 300 years ago, the guild usually meets on the Catholic holiday of Epiphany, and the meeting is traditionally attended only by men.
Guild master Tomáš Bolišinga told the TASR newswire that the annual meeting begins with a greeting (members address each other as “brethren”), a prayer and Christmas carols. The guild then discusses year-round activities and matters surrounding the local church. Part of their prayer gives thanks to St Anthony of Padua, the guild’s patron saint, for his support and help in the funeral services of deceased brethren and sisters.
The funeral guild was founded by members of other guilds - masons, shoemakers and cabinet-makers - to relieve the duties of the bereaved and to help organise dignified funeral ceremonies for late guild members and their relatives.
However, many craft guilds and associations, with histories dating back centuries, gradually waned in importance and most of them ceased to exist. Many of those that have remained are now merely a cultural symbol, but the funeral guild is still active.
“This association was founded in 1690 and the spontaneous impetus was, undoubtedly, to help the families of friends and neighbours in dire moments whose loved ones die. Thus, the relatives were able to focus on prayers and spiritual consolation,” Bošilinga explained.
Apart from the old seal, the guild has its own flag, annals and statutes. The guild’s chronicler, Adam Dziacky, summed up that the guild’s main role is defined in the second and third statutes: to bear their members to the grave and to bury them. Dziacky added that the statutes are written in Slovak and in the local Šariš dialect. The guild is financed solely through an annual contribution fee paid by each member.
3. Mar 2014 at 0:00 | Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská