The Roman Catholic church in Hervartov (located 9 kilometers southwest of Bardejov) dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi is one of the oldest and best preserved wooden churches in all of Slovakia. The wooden church was recorded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site together with other seven similar buildings in 2008.

The building dates to the end of the fifteenth century which makes it the oldest wooden church in the territory of present day Slovakia. The gothic style church was built out of red spruce wood and is one of the most precious examples of church architecture in the area.

Unlike other Ruthenian wooden churches in the region which are of eastern (Byzantine) rite the church in Hervartov is distinctly Roman Catholic. The differences are visible in both external and internal architectural features. The gothic church in Hervartov, for example, is composed of a two-part footprint and a high tower – features uncommon to the eastern wooden churches.

The exterior of the church is almost untouched since its original inception. The interior however underwent several changes in decorations – especially during the reformation period.

The interior is adorned by beautiful wall paintings composed of floral ornaments and depictions of various figures.

The inside of the church is dominated by a precious altar dated 1460 – 1480 and dedicated to Virgin Mary, Saint Barbara and Catherine of Alexandria. The altar, restored in the late 1980s, also includes the depictions of King Solomon, David and Prophets Elijah, Habakkuk, Daniel and Jonas.

The inner decorations of the church underwent a major change during the reformation period. The most precious items of the period include a polychrome wooden baptistery, an engraved patronal pew as well as a portrayal of the Last Supper from 1653.

The south wall located in the nave of the church saw restoration of the old as well as the addition of new ornamentation in 1665. It includes precious figural motifs of Adam and Eve in the paradise, Saint George and the Dragon, the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins as well as bible quotations in Latin, early modern Czech and Slovak vernacular.

Baroque decorations were added during the eighteenth century due to the influence of the counter-reformation and in 1805 the church underwent a complete redecoration in late baroque style.

The most precious items in the interior of the church are the Gothic altar paintings as well as the already mentioned wall paintings of 1655 and 1805, which underwent restoration during 1970s. Among the valuables of the church is also an altar painting of the Last Supper dated to 1653.

Additional late gothic relics include the paintings of Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Christopher and Saint Catherine of Siena. The matroneum which contains an organ dated to the turn of twentieth century extends into the lower part of the tower.

Some period artifacts such as the original altar wings, an early sixteenth century portable altar, a wooden tabernacle and a portable altar dated to 1514 are now stored at the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest. A side altar dated to 1524 is at present located in the Šariš Museum in historical town hall of Bardejov.

Mass is held sporadically.



Translated by:
Mgr. Samuel Beňa, M.A.


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