Jozef Špirko

on Wednesday, 30 July 2014.

Jozef Špirko

(born 02/04/1896 in Spisske Podhradie – died 30/10/1954 in Presov)

He was born as one of seven siblings and his father worked as chapter´s woodman. Young Jozef attended Roman-catholic folk school in the native town – Spisske Podhradie, later he attended grammar school in Levoca where he started considering priesthood. Consequently, Spirko began his study in a small seminary in the town of Roznava and in 1917-1918 he continued studying in the Spis Chapter House. He was sent by diocesan bishop Jan Vojtassak to study more thoroughly in Vienna. After his studies Jozef Spirko worked as chaplain in the town of Zazriva and in the town of Kezmarok. He established a grammar school here. When he published his rigorous thesis Of Miracles in the New Testament the bishop Vojtassak made him professor of canon law and ecclesiastical history in the Spis Chapter House. The qualified professors´ staff worked here at that time. Jozef Spirko was an enthusiastic guardian of monuments and culture.  Thank to him the first Diocesan Ecclesiastical Museum was established in 1936 but the war destroyed it majorly. He was to stand trial on a charge of protecting the museum and was meant to be executed secretly in a forest. The soldier who should have executed him let him go and the professor was hiding in the village of Uloza until German military force left. Professor Spirko contributed to the magazines Verbum, Spiritual Shepherd and Resurgence. He was an author of several books, namely Artistic-historical Monuments in Spis, Art Monuments in the Spis Chapter House, Spis Historian Jozef Hradsky, Priesthood Education in Spis Diocese etc.

His most important piece of work, the result of his scientific skills is so far the only Slovak manual of ecclesiastic history, double-beam piece of work called Cirkevne dejiny s osobitym zretelom na vyvin cirkevnych dejin Slovenska (Ecclesiastic History with an Individual Aspect on the Development of Ecclesiastic History of Slovakia). In 1950, after the internment of Bishop Jan Vojtassak, Jozef Spirsko was arrested and under the physical and mental pressure he was required to testify against bishop Vojtassak. Spirko did not deny his bishop and that was a reason why he was forbidden by the state institutions to work in Spis diocese. Ill and left with marks the cruel interrogation, he was assigned to the parish in the village of Fricovce that belonged to the Kosice diocese. Strong pains and continuous lung disease forced him to go to the hospital in Presov in 1953 and this significant personality died in October in 1954.

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