ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE „ASSUMPTION”- LIPOVENI
The neighborhood on the northern side of the city center, the old center of 18th century city, is named Lipoveni. Here is the place were „Assumption of the Virgin Mary” was build, in the first decades of the eighteenth century, when the hearth of Alba Iulia was moved by the Austrian authorities on the eastern side of the fortress. In this century other Romanian churches were also built, in the Maieri neighborhood, situated outside the city fortress as well.
However, in the niche above the entrance of the church, the years 1690-1691 are inscribed, but the mention appeared in a subsequent creed, less credible. Moreover, the church, as well as other important buildings, did not appear on the detailed map of the city, made by the architect of the city, Giovanni Morando Visconti, in 1711. However, it appears in cartographic representations since 1752, but the date of its inauguration must be drawn slightly below.
The church also constituted the scene of different disputes between Orthodox and Greek Catholics. Here is the place, where on February 14-18, 1761, the Orthodox Synod of Transylvania took place, convened by Sofronie from Cioara, who started in those years a movement for the revival the Orthodoxy, who had lost ground in favor of Greek Catholicism. For this reason, a monk’s bust is in the courtyard of the church, being recently inaugurated. In fact, the Alba Iulia synod was convened towards the end of Sofronie’s movement, shortly afterwards the monk fled to Wallachia. The authorities’ responde to the rebellion were tough against the Orthodox institutions and believers, who refused religious union, then the armies of General Adolf von Buccow, were sent to „correct” the effects of Sofronie’s movement.
However, the church was a Greco-Catholic church until 1948, after that it became Orthodox, immediately after the dissolution of this confession which was made by the communist authorities.
The original appearance of the church was transformed since the eighteenth century due to several rebuilds: the walls were raised, the vaults were rebuilt, the narthex was united with the nave, and a massive bell-tower was added, contrasting with the body of the church. The painting visible today is of more recent date, from 1957 to 1958.
The church patrimony includes, among other things, a spectacular silver candle dated from 1736 and one from 1766, engraved with the name and coat of Ion Dragoş from Thurna, an interesting character ennobled by Empress Maria Theresa back in 1742, he was the main sponsor in raising the edifice. Also, in the courtyard of the church there are old funerary monuments, with Cyrillic inscriptions, from the eighteenth century. Another feature is the presence on the outer wall of a picture, a rare occurrence in the Orthodox churches of the period.
Another brilliant monument recently added to the church’s yard, besides the one dedicated to Sofronie from Cioara, reminds of the Romanians who fell during the Revolution of 1848-1849.
Scientific consultant: Tudor Roșu, PhD historian
Translation made by: Ciprian Dobra, PR expert
The northern district of the XVIII century city centre is named Lipoveni. In the first decades of this century, the Assumption Church was erected here. The years 1690-1691 are inscribed above the entrance into the church, but the inscription is considered unlikely by historians. The place of worship is not listed among a detailed map of the city from 1711. It only appears in the cartographic representations from 1752.
The main contributor to the edifice was Ioan Dragoş de Thurna, an interesting character ennobled by Empress Maria Theresa in 1742. His name and coat of arms are engraved on two silver votive candles from 1736 and 1766 respectively.
Several rebuilds have transformed the Church since the eighteenth century: the walls were raised, the vaults were rebuilt, the nave was united with the narthex, a counter-tower was built, and a massive bell-tower that contrasts with the body church was added. The interior painting still visible today is from 1957-1958.
One peculiarity of the place of worship is a painting on an outer wall, an occurrence seldom seen in the Orthodox churches.
The church was also the scene of disputes between Orthodox and Greek Catholics. It was the place where Sofronie from Cioara held the Holy Synod of Orthodox Christians in Transylvania on February 14-18, 1761. The monk led a revival movement of Orthodoxy, which had lost ground in favour of Greek Catholicism. In fact, the Holy Synod of Alba Iulia was assembled towards the end of Sofronie’s movement, who fled to Wallachia soon afterwards. The presence of Sofronie from Cioara in the church of Lipoveni is marked by a bust in the yard of the edifice. The church was Greco-Catholic until 1948, when it became an Orthodox, with the dissolution of this confession by the communist authorities.
The courtyard includes old funerary monuments with inscriptions in Cyrillic since the century when it was built. Here is also an earlier monument built in remembrance of Romanians fallen during the Revolution of 1848-1849.