January 18 is the name-day of Piroska in the Hungarian calendar and we use this occassion to write about Saint Piroska and the Paprika Bell. In our previous post we wrote about how Hungarian princess Saint Piroska became St Eiréné in Constantinapole. 900 years later, in 1921 the people of Szeged Lower Town – which is often called Szeged Paprika Town – chose the same Saint Piroska as Protector of the new bells that they ordered for their old church.
The church had been silent since the war as the old bells were used for war purposes. Three years later Szeged paprika people were ready to celebrate: they raised money for four new bells for their beloved old church. The biggest of the four bells became known as the Paprika Bell, a masterpiece that figures Saint Piroska and is adorned with paprika fruits and plants.
Celebration after war and Versailles Peace Treaty
On 26 May 1921 the new bells arrived in Szeged. Two days later they were consecrated and placed in the church-tower in Szeged Lower Town. The event was not just a Lower Town happening, it was celebrated all over Szeged. Only a year after the dramatic Versailles Treaty that ended World War I, the city was able to enjoy a festive celebration and what a success it was! The local newspaper again published a vivid report:
“The new bells of the Mátyás Church in Lower Town were blessed this morning as part of a rich church service. … After the mass the priests turned to the bells where the bishop was consecrating them. … People were listening with reverence. Every word pointed at the resurrection of our souls and the revival of a beautiful Hungarian future…
At the end of the mass thousands of lips sang the National Anthem. Experts from Budapest tied the smallest bell and placed children next to the ropes. Within only a few minutes the bell was ascending into the tower under applause from the audience. The other three bells would be up soon. The second bell was pulled up by girls in Hungarian folk-costumes, the third by mothers. The fourth bell, the largest and heaviest, was pulled into the tower with great dedication and devotion by a group of men, led by the city mayor Szilveszter Somogyi and local government representative István Kószó.”
Decoration and the afterlife of the Bell
The Paprika Bell and the three smaller bells of Szeged Lower Town were made in 1921 by László Szlezák in Budapest. The biggest Bell got its name from its decoration: rich paprika motifs run around the shoulder of the Bell. This is the prettiest paprika design we’ve ever seen. Below are bunches of grapes and at the very bottom fish face each other. On one side of the Bell placed in central position is the patroness Saint Piroska. The inscription underneath says “Saint Piroska, pray for us”. On the other side of the Bell you can read the names of all the people who donated money for the new bells. They were all pious and hard-working people who respected their town, church and the source of their living: paprika. A beautifule expression of dedication to work.
The Paprika Bell was ringing in the tower for over 80 years. In 2005 it cracked and like before it needed the local community to unite and rescue it. To avoid melting the old Paprika Bell, a fundraising initiative was started by local Ferenc Móra Museum and the Szeged Association for Protecting City Properties and Traditions. PaprikaMolnar also donated money and the intitiative achieved its purpose. From the collected donations a new bell was made that now carries the name of ethnographer Sándor Bálint.
The Paprika Bell ended its service and is on display at the Fransiscan Visitor Center. A fond memory of the past.
Tetszett a cikk? Ha szeretne még paprikás és fűszeres témában, heti rendszerességgel cikket olvasni, hírt kapni az ÚJ paprika elkészültéről, iratkozzon fel hírlevelünkre. Subscribe to our Blog and enjoy our Paprika Poster.