Penalty for a kill - the „Goat Church” of Sopron
According to the story a citizen of Sopron, Henrik Gaissel in 1396 killed another citizen, named János Büki. Nobody knows, what was the real reason of the quarrel, anyway, the culprit refuged to the neighbouring Austria. As it was not enough to kill also his conscience, he offered as penalty all his fortune – three houses with grounds – to the church.
This is how the history of Sopron’s „Goat Church” is told today, but actually there was a Fransiscan church here already in 1280. What the Gaissel family added was the tower, and the coat of arms of the Gaissels with the famous-famed goat.
The church was built continously up to 1410, but what we saw here today is a result of reconstruction. In 1787 Emperor Joseph II dissoluted the orders in Hungary, and monks returned here only in 1802. By this time the building was int he hand of the Benedictine order, and was really in need of restoration. Restoration works were made by Ferenc Storno (lived actually int he opppsite side of the square, where the church stands) between 1884 and 1894 in enchantin neogothic style.
The church witnessed numerous historical events. From his pulpit János Kapisztrán, the heroic archbishop roused Hungarians for resistance against the conquering Ottoman empire (1456). Coronations of Hungarian queens (in 1622, 1625 and 1681) were held here, and gave place for 5 parliaments (in 1533, 1622, 1625, 1634 and 1681) as well. The crypt houses ashes of the members of Eszterházy and Széchenyi families for centuries. Above the main enctrance is not only the „goat-arm” can be seen, Mary the Virgin wraps blessingly all the Hungary in his mantle.