“SAINT NICHOLAS” ORTHODOX CHURCH - CERNATU

According to the census of the Romanians in Transylvania of 1760-1762, copied by Virgil Ciobanu, PhD, from the Vienna war archives, in Cernatu-Săcele there were 91 orthodox families “without a church and a priest”. In his work, starting from the records attesting that on August 23rd 1771 the Government of Sibiu responded to the Magistrate of Braşov saying that the request regarding the repair of the churches in Satulung and Cernatu had been newly submitted with the Royal Court on January 9th 1771, and that they were expecting the results, in his work, Mr. Ştefan Casapu draws the conclusion that in 1770 the Romanians in Cernatu already had a wooden church requiringrepairs probably “built immediately after the 1760-1762 precinct”.

The State Archives in Braşov include documents (nos.4773 and 4876 of 1780) on the dawn of the Orthodox Church “St. Nicholas”, known as the “old church” in Cernatu. The document is a grievance signed by 49 parishioners, on behalf of Cernatu community, sent to the state authorities in Braşov, dated 1779 and drafted in the Cyrillic script. The grievance is addressed to the Magistrate of Braşov and it claims the permission to erect a church “which we do not have” “with the consent of the High Government and of His Honor, the Emperor”.

On September 12th 1780, pursuant to the Imperial High Command the Latin language decree was sent to the authorities in Braşov – the Crown City – , to take the required measures in order to build a church on the expense of the Romanians in Cernatu.

Following this decree, the church building works were started. The land was purchased by the parishioners on 1783, but the way in which the works were performed, the difficulties encountered, the people who worked on it or provided the money for the works, the founders, the donors, etc., remain unknown, because of the lack of information. We were unable to find the church rotive. According to the inscription on the lavabo dish, carved in stone, it is believed that the church was completed in 1783.

The church is made of stone and brick in the shape of a trefoil cross, with two apses. The roof is covered in tiles. The church has a length of 23m, a width of 8.5m and a height of 10 m, from the foundation to the roof the thickness of the walls being of 1m. The interior of the church is divided in three: the altar, the nave and the narthex with a porch. The floor is made of square stone, except for the altar, where the floor is made of fir boards. The brick ceiling vault rests against four arcades, which sustain the middle cylindrical steeple. The church has lancet windows. The nave vault is semi-cylindrical. On the outside, above the windows, there is a brick strap. The altar, cupola-shaped, with alcoves, has a communion table made of stone. Wooden oil-painted icons are placed on the iconostasis, made of painted wood, with gilded decorations. The only capital repairs were performed on the roof in 1973.

The interior painting was remade in 1994. The only locations where the original painting still is visible are the porch and the table of oblation. The Byzantine style of the fresco, which was preserved in its original condition, still is visible nowadays. On the outside, the painting circularly embroiders the church under the eaves, with a strap painted with saints, almost entirely erased by the traces of time. The painters and artisans who worked on this church are unknown. The parish cemetery is located around the church, has an almost square shape and a surface area of 3,000 m2, being fenced by a brick wall.