Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church - Baciu
The Romanian Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church in Baciu was built on the highest hill in Săcele, Brasov, between 1776 and 1808, next to the ancient wooden church, where the funeral hall is currently located. Where the altar of the former wooden church once used to sit, the funeral hall now hosts a vault and mural paintings, whereas on the site of the ancient communion table a beautiful carved stone triptych was erected in 1808, on the expense of devout Ioan Buzatu and of his wife, Maria.
The new church stands out through its architecture and adornments and it was erected under the pastorate of priest Eremia Irimie, on whose side stood the first churchwarden and founder, devout Urs Gâlă. He is said to have sold a flock of more than 800 sheep and donated the proceeds for the building of the church. From amongst the important founders of the church, we also mention Christians Ion Manolie, Stoica Cârstoloveanu, David Samur, Radu Chițu, Vasile Tibără, Stan Voicu Săcăreanu and others, whose names are carved in the rotive above the church porch door. The church was built in the shape of a cross, surrounded by an almost circular yard, which serves as the parish cemetery and has a length of 29.74m, a maximum width from the side apses of 16.11m, and a height to the cornice of 14m. Due to the position where the 32m high tower is located, the church bell sound can be heard from as far as Tara Barsei planes. From the height of this tower, one can grasp a view of all Brasov Town, farther, towards the right, a view of Sfântu Gheorghe Town and Harghita Mountains, and towards the left a view of Timisului Valley, Piatra Mare and Postăvarul Mountains. The facade of the church has the specific architecture of the early 19th century southern Transylvanian churches, with baroque or empire adornments. A row of paired Corinthian pilasters divide the facades into vertical registers. These pilasters are also present on the tower, overlapping from bottom to top. The tower of elegant proportions is adorned with elements of baroque origin. The carved stone frame between the porch and the narthex, as well as the two tables in the holy altar, the holy communion table and proscomidiar should also be mentioned, each made of a monolithic stone block and adorned with relief carved floral decorations, the sun, the moon and vine branch. All these three pieces bear the year 1776 relief carved. The year 1823 is written on the cemetery wall gate, the year when the holy church was surrounded with a thick brick and stone wall.
Two metal crosses with wood insertions are placed on the holy table, one dating since 1799, and the other somewhat newer. The church also preserves several old wooden icons dating since the 19th century, silver votive lights from the same period, as well as an icon of the patron saint, made of silver-framed wood, and belonging to Saint Nicholas, which is said to be older than the church and to have been donated by Voivode Michael the Brave. The church preserves an Act of the Apostles printed in 1851, the short Hymn Book, printed in 1855, David’s Psalter, printed in 1857, as well as a Prayer Book dating since 1893.
The iconostasis, dating since 1814, is the work of Petru Mit, carved in leaf gold-coated lime wood. It was painted by Iacob Pop, probably the father of the famous church painter Mișu Pop, and it is very valuable. On the lower right hand-side of this iconostasis one can read the following words: “This holy work was done by my hand, the humble and unworthy servant of God, Iacob Pop, painter, paid by the parish in Bacfalu, whose bodies shall rest in the graves, and this holy work shall endure for their eternal remembrance. Amen. 1814 December 25”. The iconostasis painting is specific to the 19th century Russian painting. In the opinion of professor Nicolae Iorga who visited the church in 1924, “it is the most beautiful and valuable iconostasis in Tara Bârsii”, an opinion that is actually resumed in Brasov County’s Monograph, page 260, published in 1938. The following words are written on the large candelabrum: “This candelabrum is a gift from Radu, Stanca and Maria to the holy church patronized by St. Nicholas” 30 March 1821. The wooden porch door has the year 1850 written on it, because the old door was torn down by Hungarian revolutionaries in 1848. The church was sanctified in 1811, by Bishop Vasile Moga. The following words were written on the anciend wooden church pall: “The godly and holy altar of Lord Jesus Christ, sanctified with the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Life-Giver, through my hand and with my blessing, Saint Kir Gedeon Nichitici Pravoslavnic Bishop of the wide Principality of Transylvania, to serve for the Holy Mass, under the patronage of Saint Nicholas, in Bacifalău, through the will and on the expense of the aforementioned bishop, in year 1784 AD
The name of Father Victor Marin, who pastured the church for more than fifty year, is connected to quite a number of achievements: between 1934 and 1936, an iconographic register was painted on the outer wall, beneath the eaves, on the entire length, an iconographic register that was fairly well preserved to our days. During the same period, the renowned Bucharest painter Constantin Nitulescu painted the whole interior of the church using the fresco technique, with the help of two painters, apprentices of painter Iosif Keber in Târgu-Jiu.
Since the wooden church opened its gates since ancient times, we are not aware of the names of all the priests who served here, but only of those who officiated in the new church, made of brick and stone. An inscription in an old anthology tells us that Bishop Gherasim Adamovici visited the Baciu church on July 6th 1793, found the Christians working on the church and encouraged them to go on with this holy work. Bishop Gherasim found two priests officiating at the wooden church here, who also coordinated the works on the new stone church, father Irimie Eremie, born in 1748, parson of the church between 1793 and 1823, and father Manole Mihail, born in 1769, officiant at Baciu church between 1793 and 1804.” Until 1782 when Dârste dwellers started building their church, Dârste parish was an affiliate of Baciu church, considering that this the church in Baciu existed long before 1782 and Dârste dwellers also came here for spiritual matters. After the pastorate of the two aforementioned priests, the officiants were the son and nephew of father Irimie Eremie, who bore the same name as their grandfather and who covered the last part of the 19th century, alongside a monk named Nicanor. At the beginning of the 20th century, the officiant at Baciu was Aurel Oancea, the one who led in 1918 the delegation of Sacele dwellers to Blaj and where he importantly contributed to the great union to Romania. During World War I, in the summer of 1916, on August 1st, the soldiers of the Habsburg Empire requisitioned the small and medium brass bells, which weighed 200, respectively 500kg, to use them for canon manufacture purposes. Impressed by the weeping women, the Habsburg soldiers left the large bell, weighing 1000kg, in the belfry. This bell was used as such for all church purposes until 1922, when father Oancea took the initiative of the purchase of a new small and one medium bell, of the same sizes as the old ones that had been seized. The following words are written on the old bell: “This bell was rebuilt on the expense of the Romanian parish in Bacifalu village, for the church patronized by St. Nicholas there, in year 1847 December 19 Gegossen von Obert Gottschling in Kronstadt”. The other two bells bear the following words: “Nicolae Ionescu factory, Bucharest. This bell was built on the expense of the Romanian orthodox parish in Bacifalu, for the church patronized by St. Nicholas, in the year 1922, the year of the Great Union”. Dedicated priests followed after father Aurel Oancea’s pastorate, such as Toma Frateş, Petre Cârstocea and Victor Marin. An important number of achievements were obtained during Victor Marin’s pastorate: the painting of the inside and outside of the church, extensive reinforcement and restoration works, the main founder being the merchant from Buzau, born in Sacele, Nicolae Bunescu and his wife, Sevastia Bunescu. The inscription on the church porch mentions the names of the new founders and donors, upon the occasion of the restoration works that took place between 1934 and 1936. After this renovation, the church was sanctified in 1947, by Metropolitan Nicolae Bălan, who appreciated the monthly published cultural and religious paper, as well as the beautiful parish library. According to the documentary evidence, the most remarkable church churchwarden was and still is Urs Gâlă, who also was one of its most important founders. The Parish Council of the church included important figures, such as the Mayor of Baciul Vilage, Mr. Ioan Sulică, colonel Vasile Gomolea, but also the philantropist and scholarly notary, Vasile Chirvase.
The churchyard, almost circular, serves as the parish cemetery. After father Victor Marin, the officiants were fathers Adrian Boghici, between 1977 and 1982; Ioan Roşca, between 1982 and 2001; and starting 2001 and up to the present date, father Virgilius Gabriel Urzică. In the past, the church built a school for the children, where they dived into the secrets of books, faith, Romanian language, customs and history.