The church was founded according to a document from 1258 by Budimír from Diviaky, but it probably stood there before 1240. The church, whose patronage gave its name to one of the parts of the village Socovce (Svätá Mara), was considered by several authors as one of the oldest in the region. E. Mályusz even considered it the first Christian church in Turiec.
Socovce lies in the middle of the Turiec basin, on the right bank of the river Turiec, less than 20 km south of Martin. The Roman Catholic Church of the birth of the Virgin Mary stands above the north-western edge of the village, on a smaller plateau of the northern slope of the Stráža hill (534 m above sea level), which dominates the wide surroundings. The plateau forms the edge of an extensive (160 ha) high fortified settlement from the Hallstatt and La Tène periods. According to Š. Janšák’s fortified settlement consisted of 13 gradually built “courtyards”, while the church with the cemetery is located on the south-eastern edge of the 11th “courtyard”. The finding of several shards of medieval pottery suggests a certain use of the Stráža position in this period as well.
The origin of the village dates back to the 11th century, while its name is derived from the name of the possessor of these properties – a certain Soc. The importance of the village in the early Middle Ages was increased by its location at the junction of two important roads leading from Ponitrie to Považie. However, at the end of the 13th century or the beginning of the 14th century, there was a diversion of roads – instead of crossing the river Turiec near Socovce, the ford in the Príbovce began to be used, which gradually decreased the importance of the settlement. The importance of the settlement in the mentioned period is also pointed out by the oldest documented market place in Turiec, located right next to the church.
The stonemason Chtepan worked on its construction, whose sons received four plots of land in Socovce in the mentioned year. The south side nave was added at the beginning of the 16th century, the south vestibule is from the 18th century. The vault of the nave dates from the end of the 18th century.
The church is two-nave with a polygonal end of the presbytery (increased space at the altar for the priest and ministers), which has a cross rib vault. There is a Prussian vault in the main nave. The extension of the side nave is vaulted with a cross rib vault, the sacristy is vaulted with a barrel vault.
A wooden organ choir is built into the west side of the nave. The façade of the church is reinforced with supporting pillars. The original Gothic windows are preserved in the presbytery. On the south façade is a fragment of a 15th century mural depicting St. Christopher carrying the little Jesus on his shoulders. The main altar of the Virgin Mary is late Baroque, dating from the 18th century. It is dominated by a late Gothic statue of the Virgin Mary from around 1500. On the richly decorated Rococo altar plate you can find a simple altar architecture with twisted columns. Along the sides of the Madonna there are late Baroque statues of St. Anne and St. Joachim, the parents of the Virgin Mary.
Photos Mário Veverka, Ján Farský
Source: web obce Socovce, RNDr. Mgr. M. Samuel, PhDr. H. Žažová, PhD. (Výsledky archeologického a archívneho výskumu)