If you have a look at the scenery from the lake, then the St. Martin-church in Bled looks so small and fragile, almost invisible, near that steep cliff, on which the castle is situated.
But if one comes closer, then one can see, that it isn't so small, that it actually can take more than 1000 people inside. But then it has rather old traditions - the first church on this spot was probably built in the second half of the 10th century. We are certain, that a church in this place is mentioned in writing in the year 1247. By the way, St. Martin is the bishop of Tours in France, who lived in the 4th century.
Today's church is only a little more than 100 years old, its predecessor was demolished in 1903. From that one there is only a stonestatue and two frescoes left, which are to be seen in the National Museum. The Viennese architect Friedrich von Schmidt (Slovenia was at that time part of the Austrian Empire) planned the church in new gothic style. In this area he had a leading influence, which is shown by the City Hall of Vienna, that also was his creation. The building of the church was executed by one of his scholars, Josip Vancaš. Omly two years after the demolation of the old church, the new was inaugurated.
The fifteen narrow glass-windows were sponsered by members of the parish, that is the reason, why their names are remembered in the lower part of the windows. All windows show images of Saints. In the photo to the right you see John the Baptist, who is portrayed in the central window of the southern chapel. The windows over the main altar show in the middle St. Martin, flanked by the apostels Peter and Paul.
The main altar was designed by Josip Vancaš. It consists of five niches, of which the central one of course is the tabernacle. (A tabernacle is a shrine, in which the wafer of the sacrament of the Communion is kept.) On each side of it there is first a praying angel, while in the outer niches the Saints Cyril and Methodius are shown. The latter ones also are the patrons of the archdiocese of Ljubljana.
The altars in the side-chapels have a similar construction with niches, so as the main altar. In the northern chapel is an altar of the Holy Heart, while the southern one is dedicated to the Madonna with the Rosary. There is also the baptismal font.
The organ was built in 1910 by Ivan Milavec from Ljubljana. It is placed at the rear wall above the entrance. It has thirtytwo stops and two manuals. The giant chandelier in the middle of the church was made by Ivan Pengov Jr.
The many big frecoes of the church are as well outstanding. They were painted from the year 1932 onwards by Slavko Pengov, a brother of Ivan Jr. Many of the frescoes are scenes, taken from the life of St. Martin. The image to the right shows, when he, after his death, is taken up into heaven. On the left one, over the pulpit, the apostle Paul talks to the Athenians.
The frescoes in the chapels show symbolically The Lord's Prayer.
To the right of the entrance, on the southern side of the church, was a new chapel built in 1940, which is dedicated to Therese from Lisieux. The city architect Danilo Fürst conceived the plan for it. The two pillars show old christian symbols and the walls are covered by terracotta bricks. A guilded treestatue of the Saint stands above the altar and the frescoes - also those painted by Slavko Pengov - show scenes from her short life.

Copyright Bernhard Kauntz, Wolvertem 2012

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last update: 3.6.2012 by