The Chapel of the Heart of Jesus in Székelyudvarhely (Odorheiu Secuiesc) reopens to the public, as the restoration has been completed, the Székelyhon.ro news portal reported.
The chapel officially opens its gates on the afternoon of June 11, the Catholic feast day of the Sacred Heart (of Jesus), during a ceremonial mass where attendants will have the possibility of being granted plenary indulgence. The chapel will be consecrated by the auxiliary bishop of Gyulafehérvár (Alba-Iulia) László Kerekes, and the historical monument will soon regain both its sacral and tourist role, the Székelyhon wrote.
The Chapel of the Heart of Jesus was restored thanks to a successful European Union tender: the total value of the four-year project was RON 1.5 million, out of which the European grant was of RON 1 million. The renovation was also partly financed by the Hungarian Government, but many locals have helped as well – mostly in the renovation of the shingled roof, which was in a much-degraded state, so the reparation couldn’t wait until the tender was accepted.
As one enters the chapel, history comes alive in every corner: Now all the inscriptions and wall paintings (some dating from the 18th and 19th centuries) can be admired. Restorers also found the original entrance of the chapel, which had been walled in a long time ago.
In addition to its historical value, the Chapel of the Heart of Jesus still has an important sacral role; after the ceremonial opening, it can be used again as a site of marriage and baptismal ceremonies, and at least once a month, mass will be held in it. A permanent caretaker is also employed, so the chapel can be visited according to a daily schedule.
In the small dwelling next to the stone wall of the chapel, called the hermitage, there will be a permanent exhibition focused on local history; the replicas of the artifacts found during the archaeological research will also be displayed here. In the outer area, walkways have been created and the Szekler Gate, erected in the 1930s, was restored.
The Chapel of the Heart of Jesus is one of the most mentioned and also of one most interesting monuments of Székelyudvarhely. The original construction date of the monument is still debated by art historians: Some are of the opinion that – based on the shape of the floor plan – the chapel was erected in the 13th century, while others say that it was more likely built in the era of the Renaissance, in the 16th century.
The chapel is located along the road leading to Székelykeresztúr (Cristuru Secuiesc), in the area of the former Gyárosfalva, a village that became part of the city of Székelyudvarhely in the 16th century. The chapel is basically an architectural memento of the former village.
Situated in a picturesque valley, the small historical building is referred to as the Chapel of the Heart of Jesus, or the Chapel of Jesus.
Surrounded by a low stone wall with an irregular oval floor plan, the chapel is supported by buttresses. On the northern side, there is a door in the fence, with the date 1830 above the opening and 1771 inscribed in the wooden door frame. The shingled roof follows the floor plan and is topped by a wooden cross.
Initially, two bells were hung on the porch of the hermitage. According to its inscription, one of the bells was made in Segesvár (Sighişora) in the 19th century by M (ichael) MANCHEN SCHAESBURG; unfortunately, one bell was stolen years ago, so the other is being kept in a safe place.
The interior is simple, and the floor is paved with bricks. The coffered ceiling is relatively new, as it was made in the 20th century; the previous one was made in the 19th century, while the oldest coffered ceiling of the chapel dates back to the 17th century. Most of the original decor were floral ornaments.
A valuable ecclesiastical piece of furniture in the chapel is the 18th century Baroque altar in the northern apse. The altarpiece depicts the child Jesus with the Lamb. In the niche of the western apse, the painted wooden statue of Saint John of Nepomuk can be seen, dating from the 18-19th century; the artwork is a rare depiction of the saint, who holds his headwear in his hand.
Title image: The chapel, surrounded by a protective wall, is one of the most interesting monuments of Székelyudvarhely