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176-year-old time capsule recovered from Hungarian Cathedral

J-P Mauro - published on 04/19/21

The documents within the storied time capsule offer a rare connection to the 19th century.

A renovation of Hungary’s largest church, the Esztergom Cathedral, gave workers a rare chance to recover a 176-year-old time capsule. The capsule was protected within the large cross atop the dome, the tallest in Hungary. The sealed copper canister survived the bombings of WWII. 

Reuters reports that the capsule was placed within the cross in 1845 by Archbishop Jozsef Kopacsy and chief architect Jozsef Hild. The cylindrical copper canister bears damage from bombs dropped during WWII, but the contents were thankfully preserved.

Blast from the past

The documents within the capsule are being studied by Csaba Torok, director of the cathedral’s Treasury. Torok explained that the documents hidden within the capsule offer a “rare glimpse” of the time when the cathedral was constructed. He said: 

“Archbishop Kopacsy knew he would not be able to complete the construction in his lifetime, so when the cross was finished he wanted to leave inside an imprint of the memory of the builders and of that era.”

The documents that have been pulled out of time include a timeline of construction milestones and a book containing names of clergy and parishes. 

Torok, with tongue in cheek, noted that there were no 19th-century coins left in the time capsule. This historical memorabilia could have helped fund the cathedral’s renovation. He did however hail the capsule as a valuable connector to the past. 

Cathedral staff would like to place a new time capsule into the cross before it is restored. As the work is progressing quickly, however, they will have to rush to put it together before June 30. They did not specify if they would leave any modern coins that might help fund a future renovation. 

Catholic history
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