Marianka - The oldest pilgrimage site in Slovakia
Marianka - it is the oldest pilgrimage site in Slovakia. Its origin and history is partially covered by legends. The site was in an administration of the Pavlines order whose historians recorded down an orally passed legend about a hermit who lived in the hillside of Marianka. He caved a statue of Virgin Mary out from the wood of a pear tree (according to pavlin Louis Kummer it was in 1030). After death of the Hungarian king Stephan during the time of uproar the hermit had to flee from his dwelling, He hid the statue into a tree hollow. It was found a few decades later the way that was also mysterious. The most famous legend says that in the hillside there lived a highwayman whose children were born severely stricken. Remorseful father in sorrow vowed to amend his life and bound himself to a penance. In his dream Divine Mother of God showed him the place where he was to uncover the statue and a spring underneath to cure his children. The dream turned into reality and after that the former looter dedicated his life to God's service.
The pilgrimage site's history was recorded since the visit of the Hungarian king Louis I the Great of Anjou family in 1377. The king set the foundation rock of a church and entrusted the Pavlins order with the administration of the pilgrimage site. After completion of the church the same king solemnly placed the gracious statue onto the high altar.
Originally the church of Virgin Mary's Birth is gothic. The gothic construction is still preserved. At the end of the 17th century the emperor Leopold I let it reconstruct in baroque style. Stuccos, paintings, decorations and side altars located in the vessel of the church are dated from this period. Also the presbytery was rebuilt in baroque style but at the end of the 19th century (1877) its gothic style was restored. Dating from this period is neo/gothic high altar, side altar of Jesus' Divine Heart and stained glass windows. The majority of architectonic sights in the hillside of Marianka come from the baroque period. The Lurdes Cave and the Stations of the Cross were built in the first half of the 20th century.
St Pavlin's order governed the pilgrimage site since 1377 until 1786. They experienced glorious prosperity but also decline and the final end. Since 16th century Marianka became the residence of the order's minister abbot / General Prior as well as the center of theological study.
In 1786 Joseph II abolished the Pavlin's order together with other orders. Consequently for many following years Marianka was governed by a diocesan clergy. Prince Schwarzenberg from Orlik nad Vltavou bought the monastery and rebuilt it into a hunt-lodge castle in classicist style. The monastery became the castle which was owned by several earl families.
From 1927 to 1950 the pilgrimage site was in the administration of the Congregation Fathers Consolers of Getsemani that was established in 1922. In 1936 Fathers had been forcibly liquidated together with other orders in Slovakia in 1950, once again it took the administration of Marianka in 1990. Fathers Consolers reconstructed the church and the former Pavlinian monastery which nowadays serves as a pilgrimage and exertion house. At the present Marianka is the seat of the Congregation's General Prior.