The oldest existing religious building in Bratislava’s Old Town is Kostol Zvestovania Pána, a Franciscan church constructed in the 13th century and consecrated by King Andrew III of Hungary. Originally built in the Gothic style, in the 17th century it was transformed into a Renaissance church and into a Baroque church in the 18th century.
This church is home to a rare relic – the torso of Saint Reparat who lays in what looks like a glass coffin. His skeleton is dressed in the most beautiful red velvet embroidered cloth pulled tightly over his bones. He was a deacon and a Christian martyr who died in the 4th century and is known as the patron saint of those wanting to change their life for the better.
On the opposite side of this glass coffin is a stone passageway that leads into the adjacent Chapel of Saint John the Evangelist. Built in the late 14th century, this chapel is considered to be one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in Bratislava. On its back wall hangs a monumental oil painting called The Queen of Angels. It was painted in the late Baroque period and it’s not original to the church. As was the practice at the time, it was painted by a group of master painters but what church or monastery it was meant for still remains a mystery.
The iconography of the painting is striking. It displays a combination of themes and various layers of religious meaning, the main focus being the Mother of God enthroned in clouds and assisting in the work of salvation.
The church also has a lovely sunny courtyard hidden away from the street where visitors can rest. When I visited I was a little surprised to find all the doors to the various parts of the church open. It must have been a special day. Usually the doors are closed unless you are attending mass so it is best to check ahead.
The torso of Saint Reparat
Chapel of Saint John the Evangelist
The Queen of Angels painted in 1730.
The crypt beneath the Chapel of Saint John the Evangelist
Fish swimming the courtyard garden.