The Mysterious Řeznovice Church of St. Peter and St. Paul

This weekend, I was able to visit several sites around Brno. The first was the church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Řeznovice that I had noticed passing by on a recce trip to the Templstejn area in the Jihlava valley south of Brno. I stopped at the church because it simply doesn’t look like a Czech church. Pulling up to the church this time, I was again struck by how different the church is to the average church in the region. Excitedly, I rushed up to the door only to be disappointed by the fact it was locked. Oh well, at least I could look around the outside of it I thought when a woman’s head popped around the back of the church and said “Je to otevrene” (It is open!). It seems the entrance was actually around the corner!

 

 

 

Once inside, I began an exploration of the church. Czech churches generally are fairly modern inside having been rebuilt at some point in the recent past and some work had taken place here – so no green men or that kind of thing peering at you unfortunately, but plenty of mystery. To be honest, I did not detect any unusual energies in the church but it was certainly intriguing. The visit was a little rushed as the woman was cleaning and preparing the church for a service it seemed. A man was vacuuming while the woman was preparing the seating. I was told the church would be closed when they were done and I asked for ‘5 minutes’. They smiled and said ‘no problem.’ The church must be visited a lot as when I signed the visitor’s book, we skimmed through the many entries from people from all around the world.

 

 

St. Peter and St. Paul – Reznovice

The church is really very different and is celebrated as the only example of a romanesque church in Moravia. There are a couple of other examples in and around Prague it seems. Part of the church was demolished in the 16th Century to add a new rectangular nave according to archeological investigations. The central part of the church consists of a square nave with a 5.16 meter long planar edge with three apses. The octagonal tower formation, topped by a pyramid, rises above this part of the church. Strangely, the floor is said to have been made 70 cm higher than it was originally and the church at one time was a two story structure!

 

 

 

 

From what I can discover – and I am sure I will get better information over time, the court of a nobleman was established there in the 12th Century and the Church was a part of the construction. No one though seems quite sure of its origins which are shrouded in the mystery of time but it may have been founded as early as the early 1100’s. The castle or court in Řeznovice was first mentioned in 1373 when it was owned by one Bohuslav of Víckov. It was destroyed during the Czech-Hungarian wars and in its place was built first a yard and then the rectory of the church.

It seems that a nearby hill fort known as Rokytná came to some sort of grief and the nobleman set up in Řeznovice instead and the church was a private chapel for the nobleman. When the nobleman’s line came to an end, the structures changed hands several times and in 1259 it belonged to the Oslavany monastery and later probably to the Templar comanderie in Jamolice and Templstejn. After 1312, it was acquired by the Lords of Lipá, who granted it as a fief. From 1538, it belonged to the Oslavany family, was abandoned in the 30-years war and 1784 became a parish.

In the 14th Century, a religious text was written into the northern apse and paintings added around the middle of the 16th century. Some of the paintings remain and these were rediscovered in 1947 when the church was reworked and are said to represent St. Andrew and John the Evangelist. Above them are half-figures of angels with inscription strips, and part of the mandorla belongs to a missing figure of Christ. In the lower part of the southern apse is a six-line inscription made on a stone. In one of the side altars that was demolished in 1791, it is said that evidence was found attesting to the consecration of the church on 26 October 1483 in honor of St. Peter, Paul and Andrew.

 

St. Andrew?

 

John?

 

Top of the remaining fresco

Inside, there are figurative tombstones of Markéta Hadburková of Žarošice (+1584) and Kateřina, daughter of Petr Ried (+1584) and heraldic tombstones of Hrubý stonemason Petr Ried (+ 1575) and Ctibor Hostakovský of Arklebice (+ 1603). There is also an interesting stone bearing Kuman inscriptions (Kumans were a nomadic Turkic people) from the early 14th century. The inscription was not deciphered until 1952 by Prague orientalist dr. Pavel Poucha. It is a font similar to Uighur and mentions Marqusz – it is a name on the tombstone of a Kuman warrior who died in Hungarian service. There is also another stone bearing a Templar cross. Both of the latter certainly caught my attention and during later googling, threw up some interesting mysteries as follows.

 

Tombstone

 

Tombstone detail

At the beginning of the fourteenth century, the  nearby town of Ivančice was apparently burned down the troops of Duke Albrecht I of Habsburg. His auxiliary troops were largely composed of the Kumans, a Turkish nomadic ethnicity. The Kumans originated from an area that gradually extended from the Black Sea to the borders of present-day Mongolia. However, Tartar and Mongolian expansion eventually pushed them deeper into the center of Europe. Here a certain proportion of the Kuman population found a new home in the territory of Hungary, where it subsequently adopted Christianity and became part of the Hungarian nation. Dr. Poucha deciphered the inscription on the stone as “MARQUSZ”,  which corresponds to the Christian name Markus, or Mark. The stone may be a fragment of a tombstone of a Kuman that was buried there. However, why was the traditional script used?

 

The mysterious Kuman stone

But the mystery deepens as on the outskirts of Ivančice, there is said to be a small hill, still called Kumán. According to legend, it is a burial mound, built by the Kumans above the grave of their late chief. The story is reminiscent of the legend of the last resting place of the legendary Atilla the hun and a golden treasure of immense value. In the first half of the 20th century, amateur archaeological surveys were conducted here, but they did not support the theory as the base of the hill seems to be made of natural rock.

Interestingly, the name of the village is also translated in German to Regensberg and the church is also often associated with Regensburg, in Germany and with the Romanesque Chapel of All Saints there. Perhaps the link is that the builders of the Regensburg church came to build this one too? Some have remarked on the similarity of the Kuman stone to old Germanic runes and the stone has eight and a half identifiable characters. We can know that it is not a forgery as the famed Bohuslav Balbín in his Epitomae of 1677, speaks of a “church that is paved with tombstones of the Kumans.” While he doesn’t mention the exact location of the church, its location is given between Ivančice and Oslavany near Brno, and must surely be this church.  So, germanic runes or Kuman text? Who knows!

Next to the Kumán stone, is a stone marked with a Templar cross. The Templars first founded a commandery in nearby Jamolice and later moved it to a more strategic headland watching over the Jihlava River – Templštejn. The ruins of the castle are also surrounded by many legends one of which tells of a secret underground passage from Templštejn to the church and in some legends, a castle near Brno many miles away.  According to some sources, the grave of the last Templštejn Commander may be hidden by the church.

 

Templar Cross

The bell tower contains three bells once of which dates back to 1483 – though it is no longer rung as two newer bells were added in the 1950’s. Until 1793 there was a cemetery around the church . Next to the church is a Rococo cross from the 18th century.

The church can also be purchased as a paper model I discovered!

For me, exploring the land in an esoteric fashion often brings with it remarkable coincidences and events. These little magical happenings are often of great import to the person experiencing them but may seem less than magical to an outsider. In each of these blogs, I will finish by mentioning such instances and let you be the judge.

On this trip, I was accompanied by my rather bemused girlfriend who, while enjoying the history and the trip was always a bit suspicious of the underlying intent. Strange then that the first visit should be to a Czech church with a Hungarian mystery as my girlfriend is Hungarian and lives in Budapest! The second little bit of magic was the connection of this remarkable church to the Templars as we will see, the Templars were a major feature of the weekend trip.

 

Chapel Interior

 

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