We are used to receiving messages in an instant thanks to the internet and technology that enables users to react to the words or images displayed on the screen of a smartphone, table, or computer. But when a message sent 150 years ago reaches its recipients, it’s something that a certain credit card company would call… priceless. We are tempted to call it priceless, too, as it gives a snapshot of the daily lives of the community populating the area and contains previously unseen documents which survived through two world wars and made it through countless celestial challenges.
The reformed church of Felsőboldogfalva/Feliceni, located just a few kilometers from Székelyudvarhely/Odorheiu Secuiesc, is undergoing a full restoration. Some of the locals have whispered about a possible time capsule hidden somewhere in the building. As the restoration works of the monument progressed, the priceless treasure was found inside the copper sphere that sits on top of the church’s tower.
The church was built in the twelfth century and went through three construction phases: the original church was built before the Tatar invasion (1241), then in the thirteenth century the church’s nave as we see it today was built. It gained its current form in the fifteenth century, a time when the tower was also built.
Reformed priest Radu Moldovan, speaking with Székelyhon, reveals that the community has decided to do everything possible to restore the church to its original condition to preserve the monument. The process was launched in 2015, and a few years later, with the help of the Hungarian government, they have received enough funding to completely restore the church. The restoration works started in October last year and will likely be completed in October 2020.
The restoration works have also revealed a tiny tin box hidden inside the copper sphere containing a message from the Felsőboldogfalva community. The time capsule was created in 1869 when the tower received its final shape and contains eight paper documents, including the Pesti Hírlap newspaper’s annex from February 1867 presenting a picture of the ministers of the Andrássy government. On 17 February 150 years ago, the Emperor of Austria asked Count Gyula Andrássy to form his government and appointed him prime minister. The first responsible Hungarian government after the Compromise was established on 20 February, 1867.)
The small box also contains a yet unseen and unique handwritten text by Pál Bíró about how szeklers living in the Udvarhelyszék area felt about the historic events happening at that time, and how veterans of the Hungarian revolution from 1848–49 remember historical events and their reaction to the Compromise from 1867.
The restored sphere will include a new, cylinder-shaped time capsule which, alongside the messages sent to future generations, will also contain a copy of the documents from 1869, the priest says. The original documents will be preserved and displayed in the local museum.
Title image: the Felsőboldogfalva/Feliceni church. Image credit: Barabás Ákos, Veres Nándor – Székelyhon