HERBARIUM OF FATHER CYPRIAN
Among the precious collections of the Natural Historical Museum of the Slovak National Museum in Bratislava belongs the oldest preserved herbarium in Slovakia, which contains medical plants from our territory, particularly the Tatras and Pieniny.
The herbarium is a national and cultural monument created by Father Cyprian (1724-1775), a Camadul monk from the Red Monastery. It is interesting not only from the viewpoint of botany, but also linguistics, ethnography, medicine and history.
The Red Monastery is situated in Pieniny on a rocky cliff on the right side of the Dunajec River. It was established in the 14th century by monks of the Carthusian order and was owned subsequently by several proprietors. In 1704 it was bought by Archbishop Maťašovský (Matyasovský) and given to the monks of the Camadul order who lived there from 1711-1782.
The activities of the Camaduls in the Red Monastery contributed significantly to the literary and cultural history of Slovakia. Romuald Hadbavny (1714-78), one of the clergymen of the Red Monastery, translated the Word into Slovak in about 1761. He used the knowledge and principles which he applied in translating the texts in “the Brief Instructions to the Slovak Grammar” and in 1763 in the Latin-Slovak Dictionary. Another important deed was the translation of religious songs by Louis Blosia, a French Benedictine mystic (1506-66) into Slovak by an unknown clergyman. The Camadul monks established a hospital, a chemist’s and a garden in the monastery. Father Cyprian created his remarkable herbarium in that environment.
In 1782 the Red Monastery was closed, and all the documents of the Camadul Archives were transfered to the archives of the Hungarian Royal Chamber. These archives are situated in Országos leveltári near Budapest (Hungary) now. The herbarium was probably not in the monastery at that time; therefore, it stayed on the territory of Slovakia, and now it belongs among the unique groundworks which serve for the knowledge of plants in Slovakia as well as the culture and history of our nation. The herbarium contains a collection of herbs with their names sometimes in five languages, Latin, Greek, German, Polish and Slovak (97 pages), the contemplations of Father Cyprian, his opinions on medical science at that time, diagnoses of illnesses, prescriptions for their cure, experiences from his medical practice, advice and the various modes of therapy as well as certain information about himself and ironic notes on the habits and events in the monastery.