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Diocese of Grosswardein

Diocese in Hungary

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Grosswardein (Hung. NAGY-VARAD), Diocese of (MAGNO-VARADINENSIS), a diocese of the Latin Rite in Hungary, suffragan of Kalocsa-Bats. It includes the whole of the Counties of Bihar and Szilagy, parts of B6kes and Szatmar, and the city of Debreczin. The see is divided into four archidiaconates, that of the cathedral and those of Bekes, Kraszna, and Mittel-Szolnok, and twelve vice-archidiaconates. The diocese includes 1 abbey, 16 titular abbeys, 3 provostships, and 15 titular provostships, 66 parishes, and 193 clergy. Patronage, in the hands of 26 patrons, is exercised over 65 benefices. The training of the clergy takes place in the seminary at Grosswardein and in the central ecclesiastical seminary at Buda-pest. In 1908 the total number of seminarians was 26 theologians, there being also 3 clerics attending the gymnasium. The total population of the diocese is (1908) 1,157,160, of whom 161,293 are Roman Catholics, 165,168 Greek Catholics, 215,710 Orthodox Greeks, 105,439 disciples of Augustine of Bohemia, 453,853 of the Helvetic Confession, 1261 Unitarians, 52,688 Jews, and 1748 professing other creeds. There are 269 Greek Catholic churches and twenty-four convents of men and women, having in all 307 members.

The foundation of the see is ascribed by the historian Georg Pray to St. Stephen; the seat of the diocese, however, was then Byhor (Bihar), whence it was transferred by the saintly King Ladislaus to Grosswardein. However that may be, the statutes of the chapter of 1370 explicitly attribute the founding of the see to St. Ladislaus. The year 1083 is the accepted date of the foundation. The patron of the diocese is the sainted King Ladislaus. Sixtus (1103-1113) is said to have been the first bishop. In 1241, the bishopric and the city were devastated by the Tatars. However, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the diocese developed very considerably, and as early as the fourteenth century embraced six archidiaconates, with over 300 parishes. Bishop Andreas Bathori (1329-1345) rebuilt the cathedral in Gothic style. Jotram (1383-1395) erected the famous equestrian statue of King Ladislaus. From that epoch dates also the Hermes, now preserved at Gyor, which contains the skull of King Ladislaus, and which is a masterpiece of the Hungarian goldsmith’s art. Bishop Johann Vitiz von Zredna (1445-1465) was one of the most distinguished and active promoters of Humanism in Hungary. The political dissolution following the battle of Mohacs in 1526 and the aggressiveness of Protestantism caused the rapid decline of the diocese. After the death of Georg Utiessenovicz-Martinuzzi (1535-1551), the greatest of the bishops of Grosswardein and the partisan of Queen Isabella and King John, the see still deteriorated.

Protestantism continually gained in extent, and even the establishment of the Jesuits at Grosswardein in 1579 could not save the Catholic religion in the diocese from ruin. In 1606 the last Catholic priest left the city of Grosswardein. The old cathedral fell into disrepair, and in 1618 the walls which still stood were torn down by Gabriel Bethlen. In 1660 Grosswardein was conquered by the Turks and ruled by them until 1692. Upon their departure, the reorganization of the diocese was begun under Bishop Gosf Emerich Csaky (1702-1732). The foundation stone of the present cathedral was laid in 1752 by Bishop Gosf Paul Forgach (1747-1757). From that time onwards the condition of the Catholic religion improved.

The Greek Catholic Diocese of Grosswardein was founded in 1777, the faithful of that Rite having been up to that time under the jurisdiction of the Latin bishop. Originally the see was a suffragan of Gran; when, however, in 1853 the Greek Catholic Diocese of Fogaras became the Archdiocese of Fogaras and Alba Julia, the Diocese of Grosswardein was transferred to its jurisdiction. The see is divided into six archidiaconates and nineteen vice-archidiaconates. There are (1906) one hundred and seventy parishes. The right of patronage is exercised in ninety-four parishes by twelve patrons.



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