“NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST” ORTHODOX CHURCH -TURCHES II

“Nativity of Saint John the Baptist” Church, also referred to as the “new church”, was built in 1866. The document found in the iron globe underneath the cross on the church dome recounts as follows: “The light found its way to the minds of people who, seeing the large number of men attending the old holy church in Turcheș […] set their hearts on building a new church”. Thus, in April 1855, the cornerstone of this church was laid, in the presence of the priests officiating here. The works started in March 1865, in exchange for the amount of 15,000 Florins. By September 13th of the same year, the church was almost completed, in the core and shell stage. After they also mounted two layers of sheet, on a rainy Monday, the masons stopped the works. The works leader came to the church, inspected it, and when he exited, the whole church fell in and only the doorframe was left standing. The parish Christians did not lose hope, but, instead, they decided to resume the works, seeing this event as a proof of love from the Lord, because, if it hadn’t been for the rain to cast the 30-40 workers who were there away, many of them would have died. Thus on July 30th 1866, in the presence of the priests, the cross was laid on the church dome. The church was sanctified by Saint Andrei Șaguna in 1872, when all works had been completed.

In 1936, the loft was added and renovation works were performed, such as: the black and white mosaic, the carved oak lecterns, the work of carver Ioan Benedek in Brașov, the metal loft ladder, as well as the wall in front of the church and the one in the North of the cemetery.

The church is made of stone and brick, in the Byzantine style, with Romanesque and Oriental elements, with Greek cross plan, with semicircular altar apses, and the side apses rectangular-shaped, with large windows, similar to the ones in the Judaic synagogues. The walls are supported by eight hexagon-shaped pillars (butresses), similar to minarets. The church is 24m high, and the central dome has an inner opening of eight meters. The belfry, under which lies the church and cemetery entrance gate, was separately built in 1919, by merchant Bucur Bunescu, who also purchased a new bell, because the old one had been seized by the Hungarian governance. Since, because of the financial difficulties, the church was initially left unpainted, through the efforts of the same Bucur Bunescu, the grandson of the initial founder, the painting works were initiated in the summer of 1935, by painter Iosif Keber in Bucharest, alongside a team of artists, including Gheorghe Hermeneanu and Constantin Nițulescu. The painting was completed in 1936, being performed in matte oil, in Byzantine style, and it includes large New Testament scenes.

The iconostasis is made of wood, with applied carvings, the work of carver Florescu in Bucharest, gilded and painted by Iosif Keber and his team. The painting was sanctified by the vicar archbishop Teodor Scorobeț on October 4th 1948.

A set of holy silver vessels donated by archimandrite Ghenadie Pârvulescu from Sinaia monastery in 1867. The holy calyx glass includes three medallions: Jesus Christ, Mother Mary and St. John the Baptizer, whereas the stem includes the medallions of the four evangelists. The Holy Tray has the Infant engraved between two angels, with the inscription “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth, yet who of his generation protested?” The patrimony of the church also includes a Holy Bible dating since 1859 with red velvet covers and silver medallions, the text being written in Romanian, with Cyrillic letters.

The list of parish priests: Priest Ioan Odor, son of priest Alexandru Odor, university-educated, officiant between 1866 and 1877; priest Ioan Pascu between 1866 and 1910; priest Nicolae Soiu, sent by metropolitan Andrei Șaguna, officiated between 1866 and 1916 alongside the above, by rotation, in the two churches in Turcheș; priest Ioan Pascu – the son, who first worked as a teacher, officiating as a priest between the years 1910 and 1929; priest Daniil Purcăroiu, whose name is associated to remarkable achievements, who served at this altar and at the old church altar at the same time, between 1930 and 1947, building one single administrative unit; priest Virgil Dancu between 1947 and 1949; priest Alexe Antimir, parish son, who came here from Aradului eparchy, and during whose pastorate the parish was closed down because it was unable to sustain itself from own means. He officiated between 1947 and 1955, and on October 26th he was transferred to the town of Predeal; priest Petru Balint who came on March 1st 1956, as an extra-budgetary priest and who manage to reestablish the parish, where he officiated until 1989; he also was the one to build the parish house between 1960 and 1968; the parish house was fully renovated between 2014 and 2015; priest Remus Faust between 1990 and 2014 and priest Mihail Iustin Mitrea – starting 2014.

The cemetery was established at the same time as the church, hosting approximately 100 graves. The measures to extend the cemetery were initiated in 2014, to which end the adjacent garden was purchased. It was also in 2014 that the funeral hall construction works were completed.