|HISTORY OF THE
The name of Rajhrad
Great Moravian site of walled in settlement
Cyril and Method, the Slavonic missionaries
Site change - Establishment of a village
Duke Bretislav I. - Establishment of the Monastery
Importance of Benedictines
Findings of the oldest settlement originate from the Younger Stone Age (neolith, 4500 – 2000 B.C.) and are located near the today´s railway station (area of malt house).
The name probably originated as a composition of the words “rajati” (i.e. sacred dance) and “hrad” (sacrificial place). Accrording to P. J. Safarik, in the world of old Slavonians, the word “rajhrad” meant a walled settlement and a place od cultus.
The Great Moravian site of walled in settlement was set gradually at the place of this heathenish Old Slavonian settlement. A stone statuette of idol of sun called Svarog is a remainder from this period.
After 863, when the Christ doctrine started to be spread by Constantine and Method, the Slavonic missionaries, the heathen cultus has been replaced by Cristianity. The establishment of small Christian chapel and perhaps also the presence of Constantine (Cyril) and Method supposingly fall into these times. The later fall of the Great Moravian Empire (903 – 907) had a fatal influence on the local pupils´ lives of Cyril and Method.
The local environment made the settlers to leave the this walled in site built up on swamps. They were looking for a more secure place, unthreatened by floods and, at the end, only a small monastery of a poor existence remained here.
The Rajhrad village was established on the route from Pravlov to Menin in the place of the actual square (Mestecko) along with the leaving of the walled in settlement towards the end of the 10th or at the beginning of 11th centuries at the latest.
Duke Bretislav I., Establishment of the Monastery
Coming back as the winner from a battle with Hungarians, about in 1028, Bretislav I (duke between 1034 and 1055) found the outlasting Slavonic liturgy here and he supported it. Later, in 1045, he donated Rajhrad to Brevnov monastery. Three years later, along with the entry of Brevnov Benedictines, Bretislav I founded his own Benedictine monastery here (the first monastery in Moravia). Both, the church and the monastery were consecrated by Sebir, the Prague bishop. This event was attended by the duke, his son Spytihnev and numerous representatives of nobility. Maurus was the first provost and vicar.
Bretislav I. donated the monastery the villages Rajhrad, Popovice, Opatovice, Domasov with its environs, Rajhradice, Loucka and a place called Hranice (Hranice in Moravia). Later the list of villages was widened and contained also Holasice, Celadice, Rebesovice, Rudka, Horni and Dolni Ricky, Hluboke, Javurek and Ricany. The villages Radosov, Pribyslavice at Velka Bites and Otmarov, founded in 18th century, were a part of the parish too.back
Significant development of the monastery occurred in the first half of the 13 th century, but after the invasion of Tatars (1241 – 1242), the monastery was devastated. It was consecrated again in 1246. Next damage, despoilment and even killing of monks took place in 1253, in course of Hungarian-Kuman invasion during the war between Premysl Otakar II and Bella IV, the Hungarian ruler . Disasters for monastery and for surrounding villages culminated due to the results of the battle on Marchfeld (1278), when the troops of Rudolph Habsburg marched through this region. 1281 a burglarious knight Gerhard of Obrany settled in the destroyed monastery. When the king Vaclav II ensured an order in Bohemia, Gerhard surrended and his robberies were disarmed. The monastery lived in peace towards the end of the 13th century. Due to strong anti-catholic actions at the beginning of the 17th century the monastery was temporary abolished.
The first greater reconstruction of the church took place about 1691. After the alteration was interrupted, the provost, Antonin Pirmus, ordered the project of alteration of the monastery to well known architect, Giovanni Santini Aichel. The adjustment of building site started in 1721, foundation stone was laid the next year and after seventeen years, on June 7, 1739, Jacob Ernst Lichtenstein, the bishop of Olomouc consecrated the church. Towers built in 1691 were left, but it was necessary to support them with supporive pillars. The building was engineered by a master builder, Frantisek Klicnik, who came from Brno.
The abbot temple is decorated with frescos of Brno’s craftsman, Jan Jiri Etgens, the statues were made by Ignac Lengelacher, Ondrej Schweigel, Josef Brenek, Benedict Egele, Tomola and by woodcutter Ignac Bergman who came from Rajhrad. The pictures were painted by Jan Jiri Etgens, Josef Führich, Frantisek Preis, Matej Stastny and J. L. Sichan. After a restoration of the part of the church, which was damaged as a result of subsidence of the building, the dome above the chancel was altered (1767). The dome was newly decorated by Josef Winterhalter. The main altar, from which the stuke composition of celebration of the Our Lady has been saved, was created by I. Lengelacher. He created also the statues in the organ chest, pulpit, and side altars. The marble alter was created by the sculptor Tomola in 1898. In The alter in Mary chapel with statue of the Our Lady of Rajhrad, dated from 1480, was altered by I. Bergman into the actual appearance in 1891. Marble statue of the founder of the Benedictine monastry – Bretislav I, created by Emanuel Max can be found at the chapel entrance. Next decoration being the precious font from 1550 was created by a bell-founder, Jan Benesovsky. Statues of the Benedictine saints – St. Vojtech and the blessed Vintir (Günther) - created by sculptor Josef Brenek, decorate the front of the chappel since the half of the last century. The mosaic illustrating the Mary´s Inocent Conceive dates from 1895.
Erection of convent followed the building of the church. In the library hall, in the eastern wing of the convent, there is another precious fresco demonstrating the credits of Benedictines for science, art and education, painted by J. J. Etgens in 1735. An oratory with altar of St. Benedict is adjacant to the presbytery of the chappel, above the sacristy, once decorated by the academic painter Josef Zeleny, who was born in Rajhrad and whose talent was supported by the monastery.
When comparing historic paintings of the monastery from 1689 and 1720, we can get an idea on scope of reconstruction as it was done in accrodance with the project by G. Santini.
This information can be completed by drawing of layouts of the old and new monasetry and lay-out plan from 1774.
Alleys were planted around the monastery in the 70´s of the 18th century. The whole place was built until 1840. Beautiful gardens formed a part of it, the Paradise Garden in the middle of the quadrature and the French Garden eastwards.back
Benedictines were from the very beginning well organised and led to steady hardworking and concurrently meditative live in accordance with the proverb “Ora et labora” – “Prey and work”. This is documented by tenths of important individuals who lived and worked in the monastery and who were raised by it.
Monastery was in possession of very important books. The precious manuscript Martyrologium Adonis from the 9th century, containing Slavonic notes, belongs to the oldest pieces. The first names of friars, representing written works, come from the first half of the 14th century. Let´s mentione e.g. the provost Jan II, expert in bibel and law and the monk Peter, who copied out books and decorated them with beautiful initials. Beautiful antifhonary created by monk Havel of Brevnov, comes from this period too. Important religious discourse from prior Lev, as well as works of other Brevnov monks, who lived in Rajhrad, come from the begining of the 15th century. Adam Benedict Bavorovky wrote the history of the monastery at Slovany and monk Vojtech wrote two chronicles here. Works by provost Celestin Arlet, which were legal in nature, chronicle records by monk Bernard Bruglius and 14 manuscripts by Benno Brancouzsky were created in the 17th century. Important historic works come form the 18th century.
The most important persons were provost Bonaventura Piter, the historiographer who was interested in the history of Moravian monasteries and a historian, Alexius Habrich, whose important work is the history of law.
Musical pieces (symphonies, vespers and services) by Maur Haberhauer are known from that time. Rehor Sazavsky was interested in natural science.
The biggest prosperity of the historic research was reached in the 19th century thanks to Rehor Volny, the author of Ecclesiastic Geography of Moravia in nine volumes and Margraviate of Moravia in six volumes and also thanks to Beda Dudik whose major works were The History of Moravia, Moravian Histrorical Sources, Swedish Research for the History of Moravia and History of Rajhrad Monastery in the Margraviate of Moravia.
He gained recognition in Moravia, after having achieved success in negotiations with Sweden, which resulted in return of numerous old manuscripts that had been carried away from our countries to Sweden during the Thirty-Years War. This deed brought him the title of Hhistoriographer of the Margraviate of Moravia. Other important individuals of that time were Dr. Pavel Vychodil, historian of literature and philosopher, director of the below mentioned printery, interpeter and editor of the Greek philosopher Aristoteles; Maurus Kinter, who was literary active; P. Vojtech Slouk an important mechanician, draftsman and painter, and constructer of well known big automotive globe. He he also constructed, together with watchmaker, Jan Skarda from Rajhrad, the so called World Watch of Rajhrad.
The monastery had its own printery at that time, in which books, literary and cultural magazines were printed. The editor, Karel Stastny, and the poet, Jan Navratil, co-operated at their publishing. This “Pope Printery of Rajhrad Benedictines“ was well known abroad too.
Since 1540 the Rajhrad provosts attended meetings of the Maravian provincial assembly. The resident Benedictines were awarded pontifical priviledge by the pope Innocent IX on October 1, 1687, i.e. the priviledge to wear mitre, crucifix, ring, verge etc.
The emperor, Frank I, promoted the Provostship of Rajhrad to abbacy. P. Augustin Koch was the firt abbot.
1845, the abbot, Victor Schlossar, consecrated the renewed Marian church which was erected from ruins on the sacred Hostyn hill thanks to the Rajhrad Benedictines.
Viticulture was founded here by the monastery in 1465, beer was brewed in Rajhrad in the middle of the 14th century, i.e. in the time, when this activity was a privilege of cities. There were even two breweries for a certain time here – one in the village and another in the monastery. Thanks to it also hop growing was developed here. By the end of the 16th century, beer was brewed in the monastery only.
The Rajhrad Benedictines had also merit for building of hospitals, poorhouses, orphanages and schools. The probost, Jiri Vojtech Kotelik, was the founder of a school in Rajhrad in 1623. The monastery took care of it until World War I, not only from the financial point of view, but also by provision of the equipment of very high standard.back