Szombathely is a station located along Via Sancti Martini, which leads to Tours, France. This pilgrimage road pays tribute to a major saint in European Christianity, St Martin, who was born in Savaria, today’s Szombathely, in either 316 or 317 AD. Martin was passing through this area when he left his hometown to visit first Italy then Gallia. As a soldier he met a beggar at the gates to the city of Amiens, and he tore his cloak in two and gave one half to the beggar to express his sympathy with the poor and the needy. Later he left the army and set out on a route of pilgrimage; he organised Christian communities and founded a monastery. On his return to Savaria he converted his mother to Christianity. In 371 he was elected bishop of Tours. Because of his great kindness, his benevolence to people and the miracles attributed to him he enjoyed a special esteem and respect. He died in 397.

The Saint Martin Historical Walking Route starts from the local Calvary Church and leads to St Martin Church. It has been designed to revisit the venues related to Szombathely’s Early Christian traditions. The works of art presented at each of the stations along the route help us remember particular episodes from St Martin’s or St Quirinus’ life.
Stops along the route:

  1. Calvary Church, Martineum. Tamás Somogyi’s work: “Martin, the catechumen dressing me”. Bronze reliefs on the wall of the former Carmelite chapel depict when Martin shares his cloak and a dream had by St Martin.
  2. On the site of the ancient theatre. “He was flogged in public and driven from the town”. László Koller’s work depicts the death sentence of St Quirinus and St Martin’s flogging.
  3. Bridge over the Perint Brook - St Quirinus memorial. “He was thrown into the fast flowing River Sibaris ...” The memorial plaque was made by sculptor Endre András Tornay, while the work on the rail of the bridge (Bronze Episcopal belt) was made by Gábor Veres to commemorate the martyrdom of St Quirinus. The bishop was thrown into the river on this spot with a millstone at his neck.
  4. Cathedral, Seminary and Bishop’s palace. The first Bishop of the Szombathely Episcopacy, János Szily, chooses St Martin and St Quirinus to be the town’s patron saints. The depictions of both saints are on display in the chapels of the Seminary, in the Cathedral and also in the rooms of the Bishop’s Palace. The Cathedral also boasts St Martin’s relic given to Szombathely by the Archbishop of Tours in 1913.
  5. Savaria Square. “Bishop Martin handed his clothes to a begger” László Koller’s work. The former town gate was in the vicinity. Locals walked through this gate on their way to St Martin’s Church and to the adjacent cemetery.
  6. Savaria Museum. Legend has it that Martin hid himself amidst a gaggle of geese in fear of being elected bishop. He was given away by the cackling and he had no other choice but accept the nomination. Tamás Somogyi’s work. The most precious relics found in ancient Savaria are on display at the lapidary of Savaria Museum. Several exhibits prove the presence of an Early Christian population in the 4th and 5th century AD.
  7. St Martin Church, St Martin Visitor Centre, St Martin Cemetery, St Martin Well. “HIC NATUS EST S. MARTINUS – here was born St Martin”. Beneath the church, there is thought to have been a Roman cultic construction, while the church chapel may have been erected above St Martin’s birthplace. The St Martin Visitors’ Centre is open to the public in the Presbytery next to the church. The well standing in front of Szombathely’s present-day St Martin’s Church depicts when Martin, on his return to Savaria, baptised his mother. St Martin Cemetery is one of Hungary’s oldest cemeteries, which was used as a burial ground for over 2000 years without interruption. During Roman times it was
    the graveyard used by the local early Christian community.

The St. Martin's stations within walking trail following distances:
Szombathely - Szent Márton-forest (9 km) - Church in Ják 14 km
Szombathely - Szent Márton Church 2.5 km

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The St George Abbey of Ják was founded by Marthinus Magnus de Jaak in cca. 1220, and it was consecrated in 1256. Its magnificent recessed doorway is the finest example of Hungary’s Romanesque architecture. The monastery, built adjacent to the church but destroyed in the late 16th century, was the home of Benedictine monks.   .....



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