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Saint Roch`s Chapel

Bandits, Plague and Decay                                   

Saint Roch Chapel

The Dilapidated Saint Roch`s Chapel

With the expulsion of the Ottomans (1687), Eger could have done with a sustained period of calm in which to rebuild, but it was not to be.

Just fifteen years after her liberation, Eger once again faced the prospect of annihilation. Firstly, this small city became the centre of Prince II Rákóczi Ferenc`s struggle to liberate Hungary from Hapsburg influence and secondly, it faced wave after wave of plague, the most devastating being in 1709.

We have, however, the plague (which was probably cholera) to thank for the first Baroque building to go up in Eger, the votive memorial St. Roch`s Chapel.

It was commissioned by the Buttlers, a well-to do family of German origin (you can see their not insubstantial mansion in the centre of town at Kossuth Lajos Street 26) who, having been spared the plague, wished to show their gratitude to God.

Inside the Chapel, a votive picture showing ALL members of the Buttler family giving thanks to St.Roch (Unknown Painter)

The chapel dates from 1715 and is showing signs of age; disused for many years, the wooden statues of St.Roch and St.Rosalia that were in the niches on the facade have long since gone, the cemetery is neglected and the roof requires more than a little bit of attention.

The chapel`s architect was G.B. Carlone, an Italian who settled in Eger and designed a number of Baroque churches and civic buildings in and around the town such as his former home in Széchenyi Street and the Parish church in Felnémet (also a votive memorial and dedicated to St.Rosalia) in the suburbs.

Despite the fact that you can`t actually go into the chapel and see the fine interior, it is worth visiting the cemetery where the grave of Marci Vidróczki can be found.

The grave of Marci Vidróczki, the Hungarian Robin Hood.

He was an infamous bandit (sometimes referred to as the Robin Hood/Dick Turpin of Hungary), who plied his `trade` in the hills of the Matra and Bükk which surround Eger. He is the subject of many folk songs including the following:

marci vidroczki

"When Vidróczki became a highwayman
He bought a linen shirt and a pair of trousers
Slung his shotgun on his shoulder
He had a golden fringe in his trousers’ leg

A bubble smoothly floats on the water
Vidróczky wanders across the meadow
Swings his hatchet into a fir
While coddling the prettiest girl in the village."

Can`t be easy `coddling` a girl while chopping down a conifer.

It does, however, sound much better in Hungarian, but I hope you get the idea.

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