History

Historical blazon returns to Nagyvárad bishop’s residence

Crowning the restoration of the 18th century Roman Catholic episcopal palace of Nagyvárad (Oradea, Großwardein), the coat of arms of former Bishop Ádám Patachich has been recently reconstructed and placed on the main façade of the residence, said the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nagyvárad on its Facebook page.

The building of the imposing late-baroque palace was led by Bishop Ádám Patachich (1759–1776) and designed by the leading architect of the Viennese imperial court, Franz Anton Hillebrandt. According to the architectural tradition of the era, the pediment of the façade’s central projection was decorated with a stone relief of Bishop Patachich’s coat of arms.

The coat of arms remained in place until 1968, but during communism, the palace was nationalized, and state authorities decided to transform the episcopal residence into a county museum. The coat of arms of Bishop Patachich was then torn down and destroyed.

The Roman Catholic Church started the judicial process for the restitution of their episcopal residence back in 1996, but the decision to reinforce the owner’s rights came only after eight years of litigation. Then, it took several years for the museum to move out of the building. The restoration of the palace finally started a couple of years ago, supported financially by the Hungarian government, while the revival of the beautiful park was financed from an EU tender.

As the restoration plans were largely focused on historical accuracy and the professional preservation of a monument, the Roman Catholic Diocese decided to commission the reconstruction of the coat of arms. The huge relief, with a surface of nine square meters, was recreated by visual artist Tibor Fekete, Catholic news portal romkat.ro  wrote.

Fekete sculpted the artwork based on photos taken at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries and other surviving representations of the bishop’s coat of arms, mostly preserved in official documents he had once sent out. Ecclesiastical dignitaries born to noble families, just as Ádám Patachich himself, who had the title of Baron of Zajezda (a village in Croatia), generally had the coat of arms of their family redesigned by adding symbols of their status in Church hierarchy.

The central element of the relief is a shield with curved sides and a pointed base upon which the coat of arms is depicted.

The shield is divided into four fields, with diagonally identical charges: in the upper left and lower right field, an eagle wing is depicted, while the upper right and lower left fields hold a woman’s figure, defined in heraldic taxonomy as “the Virgin,” fluttering her scarf in an arched shape above her head, with a piece of cloth covering her lumbar region.

Originally, in the coat of arms of the Patachich family, the woman was depicted standing on a globe; this charge later changed to an anchor, similar to the one we can see today in the bishop’s blazon. Furthermore, in some older representations of the Patachich coat of arms, there were two eagles placed in the heraldic fields, thus the wings account for a simplified version of representation.

The helmet resting on the upper side of the shield has a crest-coronet with a half eagle wing on top of it as a frontispiece. The seven-pointed coronet of rank, in this case of barony, lies above the shield, just under the base of the helmet. The crosier, or the bishop’s staff above the upper right side of the shield, and the mitre, the head covering of Church dignitaries, on the left are important symbols of ecclesiastical status and power. The wide clerical hat crowning the whole coat of arms has been an obligatory insignia of clerical blazons ever since the second half of the 17th century. The strings of the hat hanging on the sides of the coat of arms are depicted with six tassels each, which are ordained in three rows on each side and denote the office of the diocesan bishop.

Title image: The team of the artist has worked since the end of June to combine the pieces of the reconstructed blazon and to place the relief in its rightful place.

Source: Nagyváradi Római-Katolikus Egyházmegye/Facebook

Author: Éva Zay