The relationship between St. Donat and the vineyards of Csopak is a Central European heritage that accompanies the past of our vineyards from the Romans, through the Middle Ages to the Monarchy.
St. Donat and Rome
Our namesake was born in Rome around 140 AD, and his parents raised him in the Christian faith, which was a forbidden / tolerated religion in that age. He enlisted in the Imperial Army at the age of 17 and, through his talent, soon became a member of the bodyguard of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. In the legion his Christian faith was well-known, and he also had followers as a spiritual leader. During the Markomann Wars, his legion was commanded to Pannonia. In the summer of 173, they crossed the Danube and, heading north along the Garam, were trapped by the enemy in a narrow valley. To save the thirsty tired legion, Donat sought the help of the Christian God. Following his supplication, a fierce storm ensued, bringing rain on the side of the legion and a severe hail in the ranks of the enemy. The enemy retreated and the Roman legion escaped. The miracle quickly spread. Imperial propaganda attributed the intervention to the deity Jupiter, but this was not accepted by the Christian Donat. He was executed for his opposition. His followers took his body back to Rome, where he was buried in the catacomb of St. Agnes, built for the early Christian martyrs.
Csopak and Rome
The vineyards of Csopak have been under cultivation since the time of St. Donat. The first capitals were planted by legionary veterans like Donat. Commercial wine production is listed in Annex II. It started in the 16th century, when the patrician Claudius family from northern Italy began land consolidations and established their own villa farm in Balacá, close to Csopak. The large estate included 10,000 hectares of arable land, which covered almost half of the Balaton Uplands. The production of grain, cotton and wine has employed thousands of people. The stone-walled estate center was spread over 9 acres, on which stood large-scale private and farm buildings. The vineyards were located in the vicinity of today’s Csopak and Paloznak. The wine was transported in locally made aphoras within Pannonia and even to legions beyond.
Church of 1000 years
After the Roman era, we will hear about the vineyards of Csopak at the very beginning of the Kingdom of Hungary, when the vineyards of Csopak quickly fell into church hands due to the influence of the Benedictines of Tihany and the bishopric of Veszprém and remained mainly priestly for almost 1000 years. The first known grape donation took place in 1079 in Paloznak. In the surviving charter of this, the childless knight Guden asks his king, St. Ladislaus, before a campaign against the Germans, that in the event of his death his vineyards go not to the king but to the parish of Paloznak. Guden lets him ask the parish for a Mass a year in exchange for the donation for his own spiritual salvation. The last remaining vineyard and cellar of the parish is today located in the Slikker vineyard. One tenth of the wine produced here belongs to the parish, which is the mash wine of the church of Paloznak. For the spiritual salvation of Guden, Mass is held every third Saturday in October.
St. Donat and Csopak
The Roman tomb of St. Donat disappeared over the centuries and remained intact for more than a thousand years. In 1646, however, it was rediscovered. He was consecrated by Pope Ince X, and his relics were donated to the Jesuits of Münsterereifel. His reputation was thus re-established and he became the protector of the vineyards along the Rhine. His cult was brought back to the area of Csopak by the Catholic South German settlers who came to Hungary during the time of Maria Theresa and soon became the patron saint of the local vineyards with the support of the church.
The story revolved around 2000 years, as St. Donat was made famous by a Pannonian miracle and eventually became the protector of the vineyards planted in Csopak by his comrades of his time.