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The Premonstratensian Secondary Grammar School

Excerpt from the Charter of Maria Theresa on the Founding of the Secondary Grammar School of Szombathely Vienna, 1 July 1772 (Translated into English based on the 1932 Hungarian translation of Kálmán Klemm)

The Foundation: 1772

The oldest grammar school of Szombathely, the present-day Saint Norbert Grammar School of the Premonstratensian Order was founded by Maria Theresa (1740-80) in 1772. In the 1770s the Queen devoted careful attention to the modernisation of the education system. Her aim was to make the Habsburg Monarchy function in a more unified and effective way – adhering to the principles of enlightened absolutism. Thus, she pronounced education “politicum”, that is, state interest and she classified it as being among royal prerogatives. Accordingly, not only did she support new schools to be established but she also passed the first Hungarian educational law called “Ratio Educationis” in 1777. Under this rule, schools were committed to training students to become decent citizens, well-prepared and attentive subjects of the Monarchy.

From the 1760s onwards a grammar school was planned to be founded in Szombathely. Three conditions were necessary to ensure this purpose: 1. finances had to be provided with the help of a local fund supporting poor students, 2. the teachers were from the local Franciscan Order and 3. the Bishop of Győr committed himself to helping obtain the royal permission that was needed for the launch of the grammar school and promised to have a new school building built. Once the conditions were fulfilled, Maria Theresa signed the deed of foundation of the grammar school on the 1st of July in 1772.

Consequently, in the autumn of 1772 a grammar-school-level education started in Szombathely. Later in 1773 the new building was completed (currently at 2 Hollán Ernő Street, the building of the present day Smidt Museum). The first schoolmaster and the teachers were all Franciscan Friars. The first institution was a six-grade school with four grammar school (1-4) and two arts school (5-6) grades.

The Premonstratensians: 1808–1948

Based on Jesuit and Piarist tradition the language of education was Latin. Joseph II (1780–1790) nationalized the school in 1789, and from then on most of the teachers were laymen.

The arrival of the Premontratensians induced a great change in the history of the school. In 1802 Emperor Francis I (1792–1835) returned the operation licence (which previously had been restrained by Joseph I) to all the three orders: Cistercian, Franciscan and Premonstratensian on condition that they become teaching orders.

The Premonstratensian Abbey of Csorna pledged to take over the secondary grammar schools of Szombathely and Keszthely. (Initially they had received the Keszthely and Varasd schools. However, in the Croatian speaking Varasd, teaching would have been difficult for the Hungarian priests so they were given the school in Szombathely instead.)

After years of preparation Premonstratensians started teaching both in Keszhely and Szombathely in 1808. In the following one and a half centuries (1808–1948) their work was uninterrupted.

After the Revolution and War of Independence was repressed in the fall of 1849, the so-called Entwurf-decree reorganized the grammar schools. Consequently the school of Szombathely (with the union of the six-year secondary grammar school and the two-year lyceum) became an eight-year secondary grammar school until 1945.

In 1894 the secondary school moved to its current place - to the building found in the garden of the Batthyány-house. The formal opening of the new building was on 18 September 1894. Baron Lóránd Eötvös Minister of Culture participated in the event and in his speech, Adolf Kuncz abbot of Csorna pointed out that they had established a palace for science.

The Premontrei secondary grammar school has bestowed Hungary with a number of great minds, knowledgeable teachers and famous pupils. Some of these teachers include:  the outstanding teacher and priest physicist who later became the abbot of Csorna Adolf Kuncz who repeated the Foucault Pendulum experiment, the physicist Sebő Edelman, the historian Kelemen Kárpáti, the archeologist Vilmos Lipp, the classical scholar Imre Szenczi and the geographer Fidél Kövér. Among the famous pupils are the astronomer László Detre, the lexicographer László Országh, the linguist teacher István Palkó, the psychoanalyst Rudolf Pfitzner, the human biologist Ottó Eiben, the photographer Andor Kraszna-Krausz, bishop József Mindszenty and Blessed János Brenner martyr.

Nationalization and restarting: 1948 and 1994

In 1945, following the Second World War the education system was reorganized. As a result the eight-grade primary school was introduced and the transition to the four-year secondary school was made compulsory. The Premontrei Secondary Grammar School also became a four-year secondary school and its lower grades (5-8) were qualified as primary school classes.

The communist dictatorship in 1948 nationalized all the schools in Hungary and thus banned the Premonstratensians from teaching in Szombathely. The Premontrei and the Faludi Ferenc Secondary Grammar Schools were merged and a new state school called the Nagy Lajos Secondary Grammar School was established. Teaching continued within the walls of Premontrei. Earlier in 1912 the Faludi Ferenc Secondary Grammar School was founded by the local municipium for those students who had not been admitted to Premontrei due to lack of space. This institution was also taken over by Nagy Lajos Secondary School.

Raising awareness in the restarted Premonstratensian Secondary Grammar School

Our aims:

Our famous institution has always had two main targets: to expose our students to Christian and national traditions and continuous rejuvenation, which are the key factors in staying competitive in our changing world. Our goal is to raise students who have strong faith and self-knowledge who can consequently become fully responsible adults passing on  their acquired spiritual and emotional gifts.

The Premonstratensian Grammar School of Szombathely, which is run by the Premonstratensian Order of Csorna has a glorious past of more than two hundred years.  The Christian school, which was reinstated after the fall of the communist regime in 1994, is going to celebrate its 25th anniversary soon.

The school has gone through many changes since then as it is necessary to adjust to the needs of the world.


Currently, our school is attended by over 600 students and the education lasts for four or five years. As foreign language skills are considered to be one of the basic conditions of competitiveness, we insist on ensuring high-quality language teaching. We offer classes specialising in English and German languages both at beginner and advanced levels. We recommend our specialised class in Biology to students interested in the medical profession. Our newly-accredited trainings are the Cadet School connecting the specialisation in the national public service and Policing. Our ICT class is offered together with English language specialisation. Those who want to keep up with the developments of technology in a fast-changing world should extend their knowledge in the world of informatics. As a second foreign language, students have the opportunity to also learn Croatian and Latin.

We provide extra-curricular opportunities for our students to develop their artistic talents to the full which gives our school its enviable reputation. Our special aim is to elaborate our students’ awareness of spiritual and moral values. The corridors of our school are decorated with the mosaics that our students assemble. Moreover, students of the five-year training learn ikon-painting in their first year.

The basis of our work at Premontrei

Our ancestors have trusted us with Premontrei -this strong castle of sciences -with the intent for us to guard the treasures of the past centuries and pass them on to our students. Thereby we contribute to the growth of our students’ physical, mental and psychological state. Our institution is a human institution in the strictest sense where the teachers are the primary intermediaries of values. They are the ones who pass on past legacies therefore it is their moral responsibility to set an example though their teaching and educating of what is human, good and beautiful, in other words what is valuable. We believe that the teachers are the ones who show an example of open mindedness, moral intrigue and the acceptance and process of failure. The staff of the Premontrei Secondary Grammar School consists of teachers who are bent on self-awareness and are consistently training themselves and who are regarded as the indispensable criteria of the teaching profession.

Our goal has always been to raise students who are wise enough to be responsible for their future, have a sense of the true value of things, who have self-awareness and are conscious of the world around them but at the same time are committed to serving God and humanity.


Postacímünk: H-9700 Szombathely, Széchenyi u. 2.;  Tel.: + 36 30 414 6202;  Email: gimnazium @