The Church of St. Stephen the King

The Church of St. Stephen the KingZávodská cesta No. 38

The late-Romanesque Church of St. Stephen the King, located in the district Rudiny, represents the oldest architectural relic in the territory of the town and belongs among the oldest buildings of its type in north-western Slovakia. In written documents (the Žilina Book), the church was mentioned for the first time in 1429.

According to the last archaeological research, its beginnings go back to to the first third of the 13th century. In the surroundings of the church, there were 6-7 smaller medieval settlements known under the name "terra de Selinan" (land of Žiliňany). The Romanesque design of the church persisted without major construction changes until 1762. In this period of time the church was reconstructed in the Baroque style and its design was significantly changed. It is mentioned on a chronostichon placed on the arch of triumph between the sanctuary and the aisle (nave) of the church. Since then until the last archaelogical research in 1995 and 2000, the church was mistakenly supposed to consist of two parts. The sanctuary (the altar part) was believed to be older then the aisle (nave). However, archaelogical research did not prove it. The whole construction was built in the same period. Only the entrace to the church was changed, it was removed from the original southern side to the western one. The original flat ceiling was replaced by a Baroque vault (arch) and big Baroque windows took the place of small Romanesque windows walled up under the today's roof.

The interior of the church is unique in Slovakia. On the southern and northern wall of the sacrarium square there are medieval wall paintings, originating in around 1260. The poise of the apostles indicates a conversation. The paintings were inspired by motives that can be found in incunabulas from the 12th century.

In the middle of the apse (apsis) there are paintings of four Hugarian saints: St. Ladislav, St. Imrich, St. Stephen and St. Elizabeth. These were created later than the paintings of the apostles. On the vault (arch) there are preserved fragments from the scene Maiestas Domini – originally Christ in mandorla, carried by four angels.

In the interior of the church was discovered a small stone foundation (base) of a pulpit and 15 skeleton graves from the 17th - 18th century. All of them were damaged by repeated burying. In the area (premises) of the church, southwards from its sanctuary, was discovered a Gothic Chapel of the Body of Christ from the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th century. It had served as an ossuary (charnel house) until the middle of the 16th century. Around the chapel were found 80 skeleton graves, dating back from the end of the 12th to the end of the 19th century. Some of them were directly under the base (foundation) of the construction and others lay on the outside of the base. A woman was burried in the oldest grave. A unique bronze ring, with a latin inscription consisting of seven letters I – O – A – C – I – V – E, was found next to one of the graves. The shape of the letters corresponds to the period from the 12th to the 13th century. The inscription could have been an abreviation Ioannes cives, which means "citizen Ján (John)".

Several coins were found in the graves. The oldest one is a coin of the king Charles Robert from 1338. A coin of Louis I. (1372 – 1382), a damaged coin of Ferdinand II. and four copper coins of Franz Joseph I. were also found here. The youngest found coin is from 1899.

The church is fenced by a stone wall with an entrance gate and a circular bastion.  The church is National cultural monument.

Source: Jozef Moravčík

It can be visited
the church is available during public worship
outside of the public worships it is necessary to arrange the visit of the church in advance in the Roman Catholic Parish Office of Žilina

Position of the monument on the map: A5
Number of the monument on the map: 14

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