Memorial museum for Hungarian churches destroyed or in ruins

A unique heritage site is being planned by the Reformed Parish in Hegyközszentmiklós (Sânnicolau de Munte), in the western county of Bihar (Bihor). The place will be a church museum, a memorial site for all the Hungarian Christian churches that have been destroyed around the world, lie in ruin, or have changed their function. As Pastor Csongor László Árus told the maszol.ro news portal, the idea came about last November. The plan is to erect a round chapel in which stones, bricks, tiles or other remains from the former churches would be exhibited, accompanied by a short history of the respective buildings and their congregations.

The Reformed congregation in Hegyközszentmiklós approached both the local mayor and the chief notary of the Kiráyhágómellék Diocese of the Transylvanian Reformed Church with the idea, and both found it feasible. The Reformed Parish plans to acquire a six-hectare plot that stretches up the hillside next to the thermal bath in Hegyközszentmiklós. “We have imagined this round chapel up there on the hilltop, and negotiations are currently underway with the owners, who live in Canada, to buy the lot,” explained the pastor.

The collected objects, remains from the former Hungarian Christian churches, will be exhibited on both the inner and outer wall of the planned chapel, even in its basement. Larger pieces could also be placed next to the sidewalk with a suitable description. “Every stone, every item displayed will tell its own story: visitors will be able to find out where the remains came from, when the church they belonged to was built, who used it and for how long, and what state the building is in at the moment.”

“We have not heard of such a collection anywhere else in the world,” the pastor stressed. He also noted that the Society for Monument Preservation and Memorial Sites of the Partium and Banat region undertook the task of organizing future offerings and writing the short historical descriptions accurately, clearly and professionally.

The choice of location is also symbolic: The settlement called Szentjobb (Sâniob, Sancta Dextra), where the relic (the right hand) of the first Hungarian king, Saint Stephen, was kept for a long time, is only a few kilometers away.

The other neighboring settlement, Hegyközszentimre (Sântimreu), was the place where – according to the legend – Prince Emeric, the son of Saint Stephen, lost his life in a hunting accident. It is said that the king had a monastery built there in memory of his son; some ruins were still visible until the 1980s, but the remaining stones were taken away by the end of the Ceauşescu era, said the pastor. The local Reformed Parish has recently built the Saint Emeric Millennial Memorial Chapel in the village, maszol.ro noted.

“We call on everyone to embrace our initiative and send stones, bricks, window tiles, photographs, paintings, drawings and a brief historical description of the destroyed or derelict churches in their area. The objects donated can also be brought in person,” the organizers state on their website (korkapolna.eu).

As maszol.ro learned from Csongor László Árus, the first brick has already arrived — from the ruins of the medieval church of Tamáshida (Tămaşda) in South Bihar County. “We have approached all denominations with our project, as this place is not going to be just a memorial site of the Reformed Church: Everyone who comes here should feel the spirit of this place,” the pastor told Maszol.

Title image: The cover photo shows the ruins of the medieval church of Tamáshida (Tămaşda), from where the first memorial brick for the collection of the future church museum was sent.

Source: Tamáshidai Református Egyházközség/Facebook



Author: Éva Zay