OUR LADY OF SORROWS' CHAPEL
"If anyone wants to come after me, take up his cross and follow me"
A little village in Nógrád county
where high culture awakens
The village is located in Nógrád county, 4km to the north from Szécsény, in the direction of Salgótarján, on road 22. Geographical coordinates: Latitude 48°06′14’’ N; Longitude 19°33′45’’ E. The once-autonomous village, located along the Megyer creek, was annexed to Szécsény in 1963. Today it has a population of 205. Its name used to be Dolány until 1927. It was renamed to its current name in honour of the famous Hungarian painter Gyula Benczúr, who lived and died here. The village may gain new significance by preserving the legacy of Gyula Benczúr, or thanks to the spiritual life that is gaining momentum here.
Benczúrfalva is well-known for its beauty – it is one of the most beautiful settlements of Nógrád county. It is a very calm place where one can experience nature, silence and beauty, as well as the close connection to God. Sometimes it seems that time has stopped in Benczúrfalva; it is good news because here one cannot feel “progress” – there are no signs of the fast-moving world, there is no information overload and no virtual world. However, the true and high culture slowly awakens in Benczúrfalva as well.
The village got its name in honour of Gyula Benczúr, a historic figure of Hungarian painting, permanent member of the Hungarian House of Magnates, honorary member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He already proved his exceptional talent as a child. Since there was no tertiary education for artists in Hungary at that time, he developed his technique in Munich. He was already well-known across Europe when he returned to Hungary to the request of Ágoston Trefort, Minister of Religion and Education, to become director of the first master school. He was very successful until his death, receiving many orders, as well as awards. It was his friend, Kálmán Mikszáth, who told him to buy the Wattay mansion and some land in Dolány. He built a studio and worked here between 1910 and 1920. He won many awards and prizes during his career. He depicted the greatest events of Hungarian history with a sense of historic solemnity. In his portraits, he painted his contemporary rulers and other prominent people. He set an example not only in his work and talent, but also as a teacher – he let every student find their own style, even if their approach was completely different from what Benczúr represented.
His successors, his four children, such as Dr. Gyula Benczúr told about the memories of those good old times when people loved and trusted each other in the village. László Zsíros, a 100-year-old inhabitant of the village, born in 1907, also remembers this era. He still knows the location of the pool that used to be a spring, and he tells stories about how everybody from the village went there to have fun. In the years of communism, the pool was abandoned and destroyed, just like the Wattay-Benczúr mansion. All its furniture was stolen, its fence destroyed, until the entire building collapsed and members of the Benczúr family scatter all around the globe.
The mansion was once used as a school and cinema, then it became a museum warehouse. Since the wood-carver István Szabó depicted mainly topics of the people and it was approved by the regime, he was allowed to work in the studio, and received a house – that was in absolute disharmony with the area – right next to the mansion. After his death, his son and daughter-in-law continued to work in the studio.
Many of the remaining works of Gyula Banczúr are now on display in the Hungarian National Gallery, where they continue to tell stories of the glorious past. These paintings show the glory that Hungary used to have, and they strengthen the spiritual power of the Hungarian nation.
In 2016, Gyula Benczúr’s mansion was accepted to a restoration programme and its reconstruction works started later that year.
Benczúrfalva is a village currently “asleep”, yet it is a slowly but steadily awakening place of culture, the village of an artist now evolving into the village of artists. Benczúrfalva could become an important place, such as Antwerp because of Rubens, which is visited by thousands of tourists every year due to the house of the great artist, Rubens. The difference is, among many things, the fact, that while cultural continuity has never stopped in the homeland of Rubens, it came to a halt in Benczúrfalva. In the Netherlands, people never ceased to respect Rubens, nobody dared to unfairly criticise his works, as it was done to Gyula Benczúr.
Gyula Benczúr used to be the most important person in Dolány for 10 years. He was honoured so much that the village took his name after his death. While his mortal remains are buried in the area, his soul still lives among the citizens of the village. The relief of his mausoleum was made by Alajos Stróbl.
The Our Lady of Sorrows Chapel is being constructed on the vineyard hill that once belonged to Gyula Benczúr. The 5th station of the St. Anthony's Votive Stations of the Cross was created in honor of the great artist by his great-grandchildren, György Ürmössy and Gábor Benczúr-Ürmössy.
God’s beauty is almost tangible on the slopes of the vineyard – it is no wonder why Gyula Benczúr, the sensitive artist loved this place. He was clearly inspired and he felt why beauty is one of God’s many names. This is a unique gift that can be experienced by every person of good will.
It is a perfect location for the chapel; a sacred place, an atonement for peace where anyone can arrive with an open heart in order to heal their soul, to pray and to come closer to God.
This is why we can rightly say that it is high culture and faith that awaken the sleeping Benczúrfalva.