Medieval Protestant Churches are an incredible legacy of the past, definitely worth visiting. To make the decision easier let us introduce you to the hidden secrets of a particularly beautiful one: The Reformed Church in Bögöz.
One of the biggest achievements of the Principality of Transylvania is that in 1568, freedom of religion established through law was first proclaimed here in the entire World. To tell the full story we have to mention that this freedom was only given to the four established religions: Catholic, Reformed, Lutheran, Unitarian churches.
The rich heritage of this freedom can still be admired today. In this article you can get to know typical and valuable Protestant churches from Transylvania.
There is a common theme shared by multiple medieval churches: the myth of St. Ladislaus, the Saint king of Hungary. Several churches across the Hungarian Kingdom were decorated by fresqoes commemorating his adventures, conquers and heroic acts. St. Ladislaus was a beloved king of the first Árpád dynasty.
churches decorated with beautiful coffered ceilings and frescoes by St. Ladislaus. The denominational affiliation of churches often changes, serving the community along ages and trends, in line with current values. This is especially true of the churches in Udvarhelyszék, of which I now highlight the Reformed Church in Bögöz. In terms of their characteristics and history, these churches are similar to each other, so it is worth taking any of them:
- Székelyderzsi Unitarian Church
- Gidófalva Reformed Church
- Reformed church in Csengersima
- Reformed Church of Abaújvár
The Reformed Church in Bögöz
Bögöz is a small settlement along Nagy-Küküllő, (Mugeni in Romanian, Bekesen in German), with about 1,000 inhabitants and 500 enthusiastic Reformed congregations. His church can be reached off the main road and visited when the Reverend Lord is at home, who can be visited by entering his house next to the church. In addition to opening the gate, the spiritual leader is also very good at asking questions, be prepared for a Szekler reception:
Who are you, where do you come from, what do you do, what flight, why would you visit the church?
If you answer well, your tongue will harden… and I have had a more uplifting experience than this.
From the outside, the Bögöz church is surrounded by a small, small circular church garden, built as is customary from the time of the fortified churches. The building itself has undergone several alterations and expansions, but the very first and oldest part is dated to the 13th century. Entering the church garden, bypassing to the right, you can see the old entrance, which has since been walled up and new layers have been erected to reinforce the walls.
The most valuable motifs of the church are the frescoes, which were made in the times when the buildings still belonged to the Catholic denomination. The church was originally used by the Catholic denomination, traces of which can also be found in the frescoes. Different ages, different style trends appear on the decoration.
Fortunately, the Reformation did not destroy Europe in this part, it only obscured it, so after the Reformed denomination began to use the church, the walls were deceptively painted white, which simplicity characterized the Reformation itself. Now the white-painted walls have been restored with traces of old times.
In this part, in three registers (bottom, middle, top), you see three different stories, in frames painted with horizontal lines: these were made at different times, the stylistic differences are striking.
The top and oldest register shows a fragmentary remnant of the legend of St. Ladislaus. The first frame of the legend depicts St. Ladislaus on a white horse as he bids farewell to those who remained in the castle of Oradea to set out to confront the Cumans. The pictorial world and scenes are much the same as the other frescoes of St. Ladislaus in the region, for example, the persecution of the kun is also a common element that has remained entirely in the derby church.
The Reverend recounted that the eternal message conveyed to individuals by a picture is much more important to him. St. Ladislaus’s white horse can symbolize the good in us, while the kun, on a dark horse, the evil with which we fight day by day, trusting that the good will prevail, just like in the picture lines.
In the second register, in the middle, is the legend of St. Margaret of Antioch.
Stylistically, in a much clearer stream of images, the creator recounts the ordeals of a 15-year-old holy virgin as she tried to persuade her from the hair, tortured with hot iron, to deny her faith.
In the lower register, the Last Judgment comes to life.
Perhaps this is where most of the issues lie: mystical representation, confusion, noise, and uncertainty. His storytelling is not linear either, but in contrast to the two upper series of images, the gates of the saints and heaven appear in a central element, and to his right and left the various events of Judgment Day.
In addition to the decorative elements of the church from Catholic times, the elements left behind by the Reformed denomination have also survived: the cassettes on the ceiling.
Our age is also represented, with flags, weaves and embroidered tablecloths adorning the table, the area around the table and the pulpit in the church.
The interesting thing about the frescoes is that the day that broke through the old windows was projected differently at different times of the year, thus also sending a message to the faithful. This explains why the murals appeared only on the left, as only sunlight was projected on it. The old window was much smaller, today it was cut during the Reformation, with which they wanted to let more light into the interior of the church. Unfortunately, with the widening of the window eye, the frescoes running there were also damaged.
After the lateral communication of Catholicism, the Reformation also brought about a change of attitude, one of the elements of which was the upward, direct communication with God, as highlighted by the reverend of the church. At the same time, the decoration and the light guide also moved to the ceiling: this is when the cassettes were made, and then the window eye was enlarged to a larger size.
The motifs of the cassettes on the ceiling are built from the system of motifs from the conquest, decorated with flowers, crosses and in some places quotes.
The Reverend drew attention to the fact that, unfortunately, the artist wasted time and copied one cassette in a hurry, so the same motif, in the same form, appears on several cassettes, which is not characteristic of this style trend, because as light travels and time it takes a different message.
I think the most interesting question remains: What do you see in the details?
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