Capuchins Settle in Brno

The Capuchins came to Brno at the invitation of the Olomouc bishop and cardinal František of Dietrichstein. The monastery, whose cornerstone was laid in 1604, was located on the eastern outskirts. This became fatal for it in 1645 when Brno was besieged by the Swedes. The military commander of the city, Raduit de Souches, ordered all the houses outside the walls to be leveled to prevent the Swedish forces from finding support there.

For their second monastery, the Capuchins chose a location inside the walls, at the Coal Market (today's Capuchin Square). Since the construction was accompanied by significant technical and financial difficulties, the work stretched out for a full eight years. Only on May 7, 1656, could the construction effort be definitively completed with the ceremonial consecration of the church.

The monastery with the church bears the characteristics of a simple Flemish-Belgian architectural style, typical for the Capuchin order at that time. During the 18th century, the entire complex underwent significant construction changes, transforming it into its present form. The monks lived here continuously until April 1950 when the communist regime expelled them and confiscated their property. They were only able to return after forty years.

Church of the Finding of the Holy Cross

However, even the simple Capuchin church hides its artistic gem. It is the main altar painting, the Finding of the Holy Cross, from 1655 by the renowned German master Joachim von Sandrart. The fascinating motif of the Baroque painting refers to the ancient legend of Empress Helena, who searched for the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified at Golgotha.

The reason why the Capuchins dedicated their temple to this event is likely due to the extraordinary gift from Princess Polyxena of Lobkowicz in 1636. This very generous benefactor donated the relics of that cross from Golgotha to the brothers, which are still preserved in the monastery in a silver shrine adorned with embroidery and river pearls.

Also noteworthy is the impressive depiction of the stigmatization of Saint Francis of Assisi and the image of Our Lady of Passau on the side altar of Saint Fidel. It is very likely a work mentioned in the Capuchin chronicle as a "miraculous painting". However, the oldest piece is the Gothic statue of the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus placed in the front part of the church. This version of the famous Madonna of Kłodzko dates back to the first quarter of the 15th century.

You can find the regular liturgical program on the website of the Brno monastery.

Trenck Wing with Library

The construction, which began in 1763, was actually a reconstruction and extension of an older rectangular monastery wing. Among other things, a new, splendid library was built within it, quite lavish by Capuchin standards.

The centerpiece of the largest hall is a ceiling fresco by the eminent Central European painter Josef Stern. It depicts a conversation between two of the greatest theologians of the 13th century: Saint Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican, and Saint Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, a Franciscan – the latter pointing to the crucified Christ as the source of true wisdom.

However, the traditionally handed down name of the monastery wing is somewhat misleading. Baron Trenck did indeed bequeath 4000 gold coins to the order, but there is no evidence that the Capuchins built the building with this money. Trenck's gift was deposited in the Vienna bank Banco del Giro, which paid the Capuchins forty gold coins every quarter.

During the First Republic, the Capuchins had the ground floor of the Trenck Wing rebuilt into commercial spaces, which they rented out. There was, for example, a confectionery, a pottery shop, and a store selling colonial goods. Today, you can find a shop selling liturgical items and a restaurant with a café there.

Capuchin Gardens beneath Petrov Hill

Originally, the monastery garden extended all the way to the bishop's buildings and was covered with vineyards, fruit trees, and plots of vegetables or flowers for decorating the church. The current park-like appearance dates back to the 1970s when the area belonged to the state. Due to a sewage system failure, caused in part by the consequences of poorly executed construction of the underground civil defense shelter, the gardens were closed in the 1990s, and the city of Brno initiated necessary repairs.

In 2014, the provincial of the Capuchin order reached an agreement with the City Council of Brno on the free lease and further use of the terraces. After a two-year reconstruction, the gardens were ceremoniously opened on April 23, 2019. In the same year, the fourth terrace was adorned with a bench dedicated to Václav Havel, created by the renowned artist Bořek Šípek.

The new planting on the second and third terraces aims to closely resemble the utilitarian monastery garden. Therefore, you can find apple trees, medlars, grapevines, various ornamental flowers, and herbs suitable for cooking. The gardens are open from March to October, always from 7 am to 6 pm.