A two-century old church was reborn from its ashes, rebuilt from ruins in the village of Atyha (Atia) – reported the Székelyhon news portal.
The Roman Catholic church of Atyha was built between 1797–1799 in the saddle of a mountain at an altitude of 700–750 meters. This house of God was struck by lightning three years ago, on the 18th of September 2016, and was quickly gulped by the leaping flames. The church almost totally burned down in the fire, only its sidewalls remained. The disastrous event deeply touched people, the smaller and the much larger community as well, and a whole movement started for the revival of the church.
The village of Atyha has a population of about 200 souls, but civil societies, private donors and Hungarian government institutions helped the community and the parish, and put together the funds needed. The reconstruction works are completely finished by now, and the church will be consecrated on the 20th of July, this Saturday. In front of the freshly rebuilt house of God a new Szekler gate welcomes the visitor – as a symbol of the open-hearted contributions that had really made a difference.
As Imre Adorján, the parish priest has recounted, the disaster had destroyed the church in just about an hour and a half; the thunderbolt that struck was so powerful, that the two lightning-rods could not help, and the roof structure above the sanctuary had immediately caught fire. Fortunately, there were no human casualties, even though the priest and the bell ringer were inside the church when the lightning struck.
They were able to save only the tabernacle, the chalice used during masses and a few liturgical garments. Otherwise, the 18th century church had suffered from calamities before – it had burned down to its bare walls in 1867 as well, and in 1926 a tornado-like windstorm blew down the tower. In the 2016 fire the whole interior furnishings were destroyed; as the flaming beams had fallen from the roof-structure in the church’s nave and sanctuary, the fire consumed the altars, the furniture and the organ (which was made by the famous organ-builder István Kolonics), and the bells melted in the tower. Miraculously though, the mission cross remained intact, and in the sculpture of the Resurrected Christ was as well found in the ashes – related the priest.
The church keeps its base plan and form after the reconstruction, but it is completely renewed in the outside and inside as well. The damage was winded-up step by step, with the help of the generous donations: the pieces of wooden furniture came from a Csíkmindszent (Misentea) joinery, the altars were rebuilt, and the new organ was made in the workshop of the organ-builder Zoltán Pap in Székelyudvarhely (Odorheiu Secuiesc). Three new bells will call the devotees to mass: that smaller one, of 80 kilos was donated by a Hungarian amiable society of doctors that has connections with the village; the middle-sized one was molded by Imre Lázár as a gift, whilst the big bell of 300 kilos was donated by the local council of Korond (Corund).
The contractor managed to put the church under a roof before winter came
The consecration mass on Saturday will be an indulgence event as well, and according to the news portal cited, the mass will be celebrated by the archbishop of Gyulafehérvár (Alba Iulia) György Jakubinyi.
Title image: The church had suffered from several calamities, but it is a great example, that these can be overcome through togetherness