Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Reformed Church on Kogalniceanu Street

The Woolf Street, today Kogalniceanu Street, is ruled by the dignified block of the tower less church built in Gothic style. Its enormous gable "is a big A letter, with a compassionate entrance between its sides" (Zoltan Jekely).

The construction of the church began in the year 1486 for the Franciscans on the order of King Matthias. The first document referring to the construction of the church is from September 9, 1486, the judge of the city and the town council gave the area besides the Tailor's Bastion to the Franciscans, on which both the monastery and the church could be built. Before 1516 the church and the monastery built in the honor of Virgin Mary were already finished. The organ was made before 1534.

In 1556, Dominicans and Franciscans had abandon the city and the church on the Wolf Street was left deserted for three and a half decades. Yet, it had visitors. In 1577 somebody scratched on the southern pillars the following taunting poem "Qui non canit in coro/Stat, sicut bos in foro" (Who doesn't sing in the choir, stands like an ox in the market).

In 1581, the monastery received inhabitants once again, Istvan Bathory, the reigning prince of Transylvania granted the ensemble of buildings to the Jesuit order and to their academy which was educating almost 150 young people. In the summer of 1603, the population instigated by the Unitarian preacher chased out the fathers from the city and devastated the church and monastery. The church's arch collapsed and the monastery was used as a quarry and the sanctuary of the church was transformed into a warehouse.

In 1638 Gyorgy Rakoczi I initiated the restoration of the church bringing competent master-builders from Kurland (today Latvia). The restoration and the heightening of the southern bell-tower could be linked with their names.

The hexagonal painted sandstone pulpit with alabaster insertions is the masterpiece of the 17th century Transylvanian  stone-cutting, the work of Elias Nicolai and Benedikt Mueck, masters from Sibiu. Made out of cypress, the painted and gilded pulpit-crown was set up in April 1647. The pews which fill in the intercolumniations are handiwork of joiners from Sighisoara and Bistrita. The renewed church was sanctified on the 30th June 1647.

The southern bell-tower didn't manage to hold for long the weight of the bell, it had to be demolished again and the bells were moved to the belfry which stood in the place where the parish is today. The first organ of the church was assembled in 1765 in the sanctuary's organ-loft made out of wood. The inlaid decorated holy table was made in the 1820s. The new organ made by the Angster company form Pecs was placed in 1913.

The unique collection of the funeral crests and printed crests from the 17th-19th centuries which hang on the pews and walls, was gradually formed and its purpose is to immortalize the memory of the deceased protectors and bereaved. A few gilded funeral crests cherish the memory of the old burial habits. The only reference today to the old funerals of the church are two burial plates and the grave of the reigning prince Mihaly Apafi I.

 Biserica Reformata

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