Town square gems reflect the history of Trnava

The town has two pillars related to its experience with plague.

The pillar of the Holy TrinityThe pillar of the Holy Trinity (Source: Lenka Štepáneková)

Presenting a town through memorial pillars is a long-standing tradition all over Europe. Slovakia is no exception.

With this guide you’re sure to find that “Little Rome” is larger than life and ready to welcome you with open arms (and mead). With this guide you’re sure to find that “Little Rome” is larger than life and ready to welcome you with open arms (and mead). (Source: Spectacular Slovakia)

The town of Trnava in western Slovakia can boast of two memorial pillars, both commemorating the plague that swept through the country in the Middle Ages. Their construction dates back to Roman Times, the Trnava.sk website reported.

The plague pillars are usually placed in the squares and decorated with the effigies of saints. Their main role is to remind people of surviving epidemics and being protected from them.

The two Trnava pillars

One of the two plague pillars in Trnava is located on St Nicholaus Square. The other on Trojičné Square is not the plague pillar in the usual sense. It is a sculpture of the Holy Trinity, called a "triplet" by the locals, and should protect from the epidemic.

"These historical memorials help attract tourists and promote tourism in the city," said Alexander Prostinák of the Trnava tourism organisation, as quoted by Trnava.sk. "We believe that once the current pandemic is over, the pillars will once again become a tourism favorite and attract tourists as well as locals."

Famous saints

One of the most famous saints depicted on the pillars is St Rochus, a monk who fought against the plague. Another famous saint is Rosalia from Palermo. Other saints also often depicted include St Francis Xaver and Karol Boromejský. The latter introduced hand disinfection with vinegar, which prevented the rapid spreading of diseases.

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The pillar located on St Nicholaus Square is situated in front of a basilica dedicated to the same saint. The pillar itself is consecrated to St Joseph. It was built in 1731 to commemorate the end of the plague epidemic, which affected not only Trnava, but all Europe.

St Joseph tops the pillar. The other saints featured on the pillar include St Rochus, St Rosalia, and St Sebastian. Karol Boromejský and St Nicholas together with St Catherine of Alexandria, who is the patron of the healers, are also featured.

The pillar has a street lamp that served as a place of prayers for people infected by the plague, Trnava.sk wrote.

The second pillar on Trojičné Square should protect people from natural disasters and diseases. It was completed in 1695.

The pillar features the sculptures of St Florian (protecting against fire), St Agatha (protecting against earthquakes), St Anthony of Padua, St Francis Xavier, and St Rosalia. The top of the pillar depicts the Holy Trinity coronating the Virgin Mary.

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