In 1701, the Hungarian palatine Pavol Esterházy (1653 - 1713) introduced Franciscans to Žilina. From 1723 – 1730, they built the Church of St. Barbara and a monastery. At that time, the church was situated on the edge of town. In this way the Franciscans wanted to indicate their scloeness to the simple people. On the right side of the church is the individual Loreta Chapel, constructed between 1731 - 1732. The Church of St. Barbara is the first baroque sacral building in the town of Žilina. The church has valuable interior baroque furnishings and adornments. All the altars are baroque with original statues, but without the original altar painting. They date from the late 19th century and are the work of a Franciscan Konrad Švestka (1833 - 1907), who was a painter, woodcarver and restorer. The main altar was built in 1730 by a landowner Juraj Erdödy. In the paintings of St. Barbara, the patroness of the church, is also depicted the donjon of the Budatín Castle which was at that time still unroofed. The Moravian countess Katarína Barbora Schidinská donated 7 000 gold coins and ciborium for improvement of the Fransiscan Church and The Monastery in Žilina. This fact probably led to the choice of patroness.
Exceptional baroque interior
The church organ is worthy of notice. It consists of a pair of instruments. The large organ was finished in 1734 and the small one was finished after 1740. Both were made by the important organ–builder Peregrín Werner who worked in the Monastery. The Church of St. Barbara with its underground crypts was used for the burials of Franciscans, secular priests, laity and important burghers on request. A crypt under the main altar, another under the Loreta Chapel, and other allocated places for direct internment served this purpose. For example, in front of the altar of St. Francis was buried the executioner of Žilina František (1738). In the crypt of the Franciscan church of St. Barbara is buried a Polish count Peter Sapiegha, who took shelter in Žilina after riots in Poland and died here in 1771.
The construction of the Monastery began in 1730. Numerous prominent personalities studied in the Fransiscan Church of Žilina: Hugolín Gavlovič (1712 – 1787), the famous Slovak baroque writer, the composer Edmund Pascha (1714 – 1772) and others. Among the prominent graduates of the Franciscan grammar school belongs a native of Žilina, writer and educator Juraj Tvrdý (1780 - 1865), as well as a leading figure of the Slovak national movement in the mid-19th century Eugen Gerometta (1819 - 1887) and his younger brother Ján Miroslav Gerometta (1823 - 1900). The building of the monastery had originally only one floor. The second floor was built in 1924. The building served the theological purposes. Currently, the monastery premises are not in use.
Source: TIO Žilina (researched from academic literature).
It can be visited
■ Saturdays, Sundays: before worship, church hall is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. except of worship.
■ exterior during a guided tour of TIO Žilina.