This page is unusual in that the Augustinian-built church it details still exists, but has not been administered by the Order of St Augustine for about 200 years.
Hungary was most likely one of the "founding nations" of the Order of Saint Augustine in the year 1256. It is believed by many historians that the Augustinian Province of Hungary existed at the time of the General Chapter at Siena in 1295, or else certainly soon after 1308. Whichever the case, Hungary had six Augustinian houses by the year 1300.
The date of the Augustinian foundation at Buda is not certain, yet it enjoyed a long history before its friars were evicted and its buildings destroyed by the invading Turks in 1541.
No drawings are available of this first Augustinian church on the Order’s first site in Buda. As is explained hereunder, this web page deals with the Order’s second and third churches, both of which were built successively on the Order’s second site in Buda.
The first Augustinian monastery to be established in the Hungarian region after the Turks departed was the one in Léka, which now lies in Austria.
The Augustinians there were instrumental in winning the town back to Catholicism after it had become almost completely Lutheran. The monastery was established in Léka in 1655.
The Augustinians did not find it easy to arrange the return to Buda after an absence of 161 years. Franz Joseph I (ruling from 26th July 1678 to 17th April 1711), Holy Roman Emperor, King of Bohemia, King of Hungary, King of the Romans protested that there were already an excessive number of parishes in his kingdom.
He particularly objected to the increased presence of contemplative orders, being of the stated opinion that there were too many "unproductive" religious orders in the empire. The storm-clouds of the forthcoming so-called era of Enlightenment were already appearing on the horizon.
Furthermore, the civic authorities in Buda argued that there were enough religious orders in Buda. It was the high standing of the Order, and the support of influential patrons, that finally won the day for the Augustinians. They had to guarantee, however, that they would not be a financial burden on the populace by begging for money, etc.
The Augustinian friars in 1700 returned to Buda to this different location (see the woodcut of 1740, reproduced on the next page) that most probably was in the same general vicinity as the earlier Augustinian property there. A simple church was soon constructed, including a single wooden steeple, and in use by 1707.
It was only on 24th October 1723 that their St Stephen's Church was given the right to operate as a parish. This right was granted for a period of ten years only. It was renewed again in 1733, and then became a permanent right in 1743. With the appointment of a Prior in 1734, the monastery at Buda became an Augustinian community in a full sense at that time.
The Augustinians had a Jesuit parish on one side (the Vizivárosi) and a diocesan one on the other (Újlaky). The Jesuits were more than happy to work alongside the Augustinians, especially since the Augustinians cared chiefly for the needs of the German-speaking populace in their section of Buda.
(Continued on the next page.)