BRIEF HISTORY AND SIGNIFICANCE
After many partial settlements in the beginning of the fifth century AD, the main body of Hungarians took possession of the Carpathian Basin as their home, this is described as the Hungarian ‘Conquest in 896. These warriors from the east were introduced to Christianity on their arrival and strengthened under the leadership of Grand Prince Géza, father of Stephen. They converted to Christianity by their king Saint Stephen (997-1038), grew into a strong nation and their country became one of the principal kingdoms of Europe.
St Stephen anticipated moves by the German Reich to establish feudal ties with Hungary, making the country dependent on their Emperor. Stephen however made a brilliant political move by his delegation asking Pope Sylvester the Second, for a Crown; the symbol of an independent Monarchy. In 1000 A.D. Stephen was crowned with this Holy gift and this Crown was destined to become the symbol of the nation’s sovereignty in the centuries to come.
In the beginning, St. Stephen’s Crown only represented an emotional desire of the Kings and the nobles to be used for the crowning of the head of the elected Monarch. Later it became a legal requirement which sealed the election of Kings. At this time, a theory had evolved that the Holy Crown was also a religious object, emanating mystical influence and representing the sovereignty of the land. The members of the Holy Crown were the King and the nobles, unified in the mystical powers of the Crown.
Over nine and a half centuries, the Holy Crown became inextricably interwoven with Hungarian national existence and the roots of its spiritual content reached far into the soul of the Hungarian people.
The Hungarian Crown, also known as the Holy Crown of Hungary, is a symbol of Hungarian sovereignty and a significant artifact in Hungarian history.
According to the Doctrine of the Holy Crown, the Crown itself has a person-hood that is identical to Hungary. The Doctrine holds that Hungary is of the Holy Crown, everything that Hungary is, belongs to the Crown himself. The ruler only rules in the name of the Crown, but he is subordinate to its will — that which is the will of Hungarians. According to the tradition, the Crown is holy because St. Stephen (first king of Hungary, 1000 or 1001-1038) sealed a divine contract with the Virgin Mary, offering the country to her, and gaining divine legitimacy for future Hungarian kings to rule the country. The Doctrine thus signifies that the one wearing the Crown rules by divine right. The Doctrine also allows a right to resist, however — if the king breaks his coronation oath and becomes tyrannical, the nobility can resist the tyrannical king to protect the Holy Crown.
DESCRIPTION OF THE CROWN
The Holy Crown, as it is now constituted, consists of two parts: an upper portion of crossed hoops known as the ‘Latin crown’ and the lower portion known as the ‘Greek crown’. The upper is decorated with enameled pictures of 8 apostles separated by sapphires, rubies, amethysts and pearls with Latin inscriptions and Christ on top transfixed by a golden crooked crucifix. The bottom circular portion is of Byzantine origin with Greek inscriptions on the enamels and decorated with gemstones. The distinctive cross was probably damaged in the 17th century. What is certain is that the cross has been crooked for many centuries and is shown that way in the Hungarian coat of arms. It is suggested by some that the upper part of the Holy Crown refers to God’s heavenly kingdom and the lower the earthly kingdom. The Holy Crown of Hungary is one of the oldest remaining intact crowns in Europe.
GOLDEN TRAIN AND MY MOTHER’S SISTER IBOLYA (DUCI)SOMOGYVÁRI
Duci was the sister of Ilona (Ica/Helen) Török (Láng), a young clerk with the Hungarian Central Bank in 1945. During the closing months of 2ND World War, the bank arranged for a train, since known as the Golden Train, to transport the gold reserves and significant national treasures, including the Holy Crown of Hungary, to Germany for safe keeping from the invading Russians of the USSR. However, the Gold Train faced numerous challenges during its journey. The advancing Russian forces posed a constant threat, as did the Allied bombings and partisan attacks in the region. As a result, the train’s route had to be altered several times to avoid danger.
The train departed Budapest on the 23rd January, 1945 carrying 30-tons of gold reserves. The two trains had 680 bank employees and when the trains were delayed, the officials and their families faced uncertainty and often minus 20 degrees below zero. They had to provide their own food and heating in the face of Allied air raids. The trains arrived in the tiny village of Spital am Pyhrn Germany, now Austria.
After reaching Spital am Pyhrn, the Treasures were transported to the Benedictine Abbey and the monastery building. The bank management handed over the assets to Major Lionel C. Perera, a financial advisor to the US Army, on 13 May 1945 as previously arranged.
Duci and the staff who returned to Hungary were treated by the new Communist, USSR controlled, Government as thieves and found employment an impossibility. They were unable to work again or receive any Government payments. They were supported only by their families. Duci, who had no children, was supported by her husband’s nieces after the death of her husband Dr. László Somogyvári. They were the lucky ones compared to the treatment meted out to the high-ranking officials who tried to return to their homeland.
In 2004, 14 years after the withdrawal of the USSR from Hungary, the Central Bank of Hungary decided that it was time to acknowledge the contribution of the then faithful staff, and their service to the Hungarian Nation. Certificates were awarded as well as a trip to Spital am Pyhrn for those living and their families. A video of the event, with a picture of Duci being interviewed, is included in this website.
Click here to view video of Golden Train