The turbulent decades of the Cave Church
Nestled into the south-eastern side of the Gellért Hill in Buda, the story of the Cave Church (also known as The Rock Church of Our Lady of Hungary) began almost a century ago. Half natural formation, half man-made, the concept of this church found its inspiration in the cave in Lourdes (France) in the 1920s: legend has it that the Holy Virgin appeared to a teenage French girl a number of times there. The altar there was visited by a group of Hungarian pilgrims, who then came up with the idea of constructing the Cave Chapel.
The construction of the church was completed in 1931. Three years later, they also built a neo-Romanesque style monastery for the Pauline monks, who had returned to Hungary around that time after having spent hundreds of years in exile. They were also granted the Cave Church, which has remained in the possession of the Pauline order ever since, albeit with some interruptions.
The peaceful years following the completion of the Cave Chapel gave way to a time of turbulence: in the 1950s, the Communist regime in Hungary abolished all monastic orders. The monks were forced to abandon the Cave Church, its entrance was walled off with concrete, and the cross above the entrance was torn down. The place was no longer permitted to function as a church until the 1990s, when finally the concrete wall blocking the entrance was demolished. A piece of the wall remains preserved on the right side of the entrance, serving as a reminder of the communist dictatorship to visitors.