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  • Teracota Medias c Stefan Vartolomei

Orthodox Churches

A little bit of history

The Romanian people was born Christian and the 14th century donarium from Biertan bearing the inscription Ego Zenovius votum posui stands as a proof of Christianity in these parts of Transylvania.

After the Great Schism of 1054 the territory of today’s Romania became orthodox and Romanians - including the ones in Transylvania embraced the new religion with all its traditions. The Transylvanian orthodox have lived through some very wicked times under the Austro-Hungarian domination when they were forced to give up their faith and join the Church United with Rome. In the 18th century priests, monks or plain believers from Sibiel, Sălişte, Galeş and Sadu ended up in the prison from Kufstein (Austria) because they dared to go all the way to Empress Maria Teresa to ask for their right to freedom of belief.

It was with great difficulties that Romanians managed to build their small wooden churches in the 18th century. Few of these have lasted till present times because the Austro-Hungarian authorities set them on fire and ravaged them. Among the few left in the county of Sibiu we should mention the ones from Presaca, Broşteni, Sadu, Şura Mare, Ilimbav, Netuş, The Hermitage from Păltiniş, Poiana Sibiului. Another beautiful church is the one from Apoldu de Jos built from fir wood beams at Ocna Sibiului. They say that the locals brought it to Apoldu at night in great secrecy, using big oxen-drawn carriages.

In the 18th and 19th century (between 1780 and 1873) a new phenomenon emerged in the villages from Hârtibaci Valley and Ţara Oltului: the ecclesiastical paintings of the Grecu family of painters. Coming from Săsăuş, their painting style is defined by the strong colours they use. In their paintings, religious themes are reproduced with a sarcastic note.

The Grecu brothers painted 13 churches built in the byzantine style as Romanesque basilicas with a gothic tower and influences from the Brâncovenesc style.

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