HOLY ARCHANGELS MICHAEL AND GABRIEL ORTHODOX CHURCH - SATULUNG

Documents attest the existence of a wooden church in Satulung - Săcele, ever since the 17th century. It is said that priest serving at this church - Stan - was asked by Constantin Brâncoveanu to officiate at the church he founded in Făgăraş, at the end of the 18th century.

The existing edifice was built on the site of the former wooden church, with the contribution of the devout shepherds, between 1794 and 1799. “Even though the times were hard and Romanians were not allowed to build churches, because the shepherds in Satulung had the approval to do so ever since the reign of Empress Maria Tereza, they all contributed towards this great goal. Thus, in the spring of 1799, the church had been erected, and the Romanian school was built next to it. In the summer of the same year, the church was sanctified in the presence of archpriest Radu Verzea. Hence, without the support of the Austrian government, and relying only on the drive and efforts of the shepherds and especially of Eremia Târcă, as also shown in the inscription, they managed to build their church.1 The adornment of the church with candlesticks, candelabra, votive lights, priest clothing and others was also done by the good Christians, in time. The four bells were also purchased on people’s expense. However, during World War I, all the bells, except for the big one, were seized by the Hungarians and used to build war materials. After the war, the bells seized by the Hungarians were replaced with new ones. From amongst the special events related to our church, we mention: the presence of the Serbian bishop Gherasim Adamovici in 1796, upon the sanctification of the future church altar. The vicar bishop of Sibiu Archiepiscopacy Rt. Revd. Visarion Răşinăreanul was also present on October 17th 1999, upon the occasion of the re-sanctification of the church after the restoration of the paintings. Upon the celebration of 210 years as of the erection of the church, on November 7th 2009, Most Reverend Metropolitan Laurenţiu Streza, PhD, the Archibishop of Sibiu and the Metropolitan of Transylvania, blessed the repair works on the place of worship and elevated the officiant priest Şerban Raul Valer to sakellarios.

The trefoil plan, highly important in Wallachia, is supplemented by the spatial structure relying on the techniques of Transylvanian artisans (cylindrical vaults with penetrations), made of stone, brick and wood. On the Western side, the church features a porch (locally known as “tindărău”, from the Romanian “tindă” (vestibule)) with initially open arcades that are then closed with large windows, protecting it from rain or snow, with the overlapping sharp bell tower and side tympanums, a structure that actually is a synthesis between Brâncoveneanu-influence porches, added to the Western side, present in most religious edifices in Transylvania. Its development from bottom to top and the volume of the church represent the Transylvanian baroque, alongside the rich stucco decorations of the facades - with double pilasters and composite capitals, which were unfortunately altered by unskilled artisans in time. The church walls are adorned with fresco painting, in Byzantine style, bearing the date of: “1803 Ghena 30 Iacov Popoviciu painter, for an exterior scene, and the interior painting was done by painters “Ioan Bărbuc and Iosiv(f) Bărbuc”, names that may be distinguished in the narthex inscription, above the door.2 The icons on the tynpanum are signed by Ion Boghiciu (an important merchant in Şcheiul Braşovului), dating since 1803 and it is the original one, without any later remakes. Between 1994 and 1999, the interior painting was restored by painter Ioan Dobre from Sibiu.

The parish church museum hosts several religious books printed under Saint Andrei Şaguna’s pastoral care: The Illustrated Bible (1856-1858), Act of the Apostles (1851), Prayer Book (1849), Kiriacodromiom (1855); as well as Gospel dating since 1829 (ep. Ştefan Stratimirovici). ). There also is a collection of feast icons painted on both sides (18th century), restored in 2007-2008. Ancient inscriptions: The rotive above the church entrance.

This holy church was built “in the name of the Holy tryptych of the Father and (of the) Son and of the Holy Spirit”, to celebrate the patron Saints Archangels Michael and Gabriel, by the good Christians, the founders in this village (through their own endevours) mentioned in the rotive of the holy church from the beginning to the end, in the year 1799, in the days and with the mercy of our emperor Francisc I: and by our Reverend bishop Gherasim Adamovici, who sanctified the holy altar obtained through the endeavors and efforts of Mr. Eremia Ţârcă and through his special care, and the honest archpriest Radu Verzea, with his endevours to the end: and the church was painted, as mentioned on the rotive, through the efforts of the elderly and young founders, being completed in the year 1833, on August 12th, under the curacy of Alexe and Eremia Verzea, church administrator (churchwarden) Gheorghe Sasu, cantor Martin Popovici and Eremia Verzea” painted: Ioan Bărbuc and Iosin Ioan Bărbuc. Because of the lack of money, the church was painted later, especially with the expense of Constantin Boghici”.

The altar of this church was served by honest priests, who always knew how to plant in everyone’s heart the seed of love and the fear of the Lord. From amongst them we mention:

A. Prior to the building of this church, before 1651, priest Oprea Kiprian is mentioned and then priest Candăr 1685; priest Stan at the end of the 17th century - in 1701 he was one of the leaders of the fight of the Romanian orthodox for the defense of the ancestral creed; priest Petcu, son of priest Petcu from Turcheş - 1718-1721 served at “St. Nicholas” church and died of plague in 17213; priests Ion Verzea and archpriest Ion Verzea4.

B. As of the erection of the existing church and up to the present date: archpriest Radu Verzea (1794-1799); priests Irimie and Alexe Verzea (1799-1848); priests Alexe and Irimie Verzea (1848-1861); priests Ion Dan and Irimie Verzea (1861-1874); priests Alexe and Romul Verzea (1874-1911); priest Petru Leucă (1911-1969); priest Andrei Prunea (1970-1993); priest Ioan Voineag (1993-2004); the archpriest of Săcele Dănuţ-Gheorghe Benga (2004-2010) and priest Şerban Raul Valer as officiant priest starting 2006 and as parish priest starting 2011 and up to the present date (2015)

Important churchwardens and cantors: church administrator (churchwarden) Gheorghe Sasu, parish clerks Martin Popovici and Eremia Verzea.

The parish has two cemeteries: a parish graveyard, surrounded by the brick wall, a historical monument, and the confessional one, located in the vicinity of the church. A two-room school was also built next to the church. The school operated here under the auspices of the church until 1919, when it became part of the building of primary school no.1. In time, and working in close collaboration, these two institutions, the school and the church, shaped countless savvy men, skillful goodmen and famous merchants who left these places to populate the largest cities of Romania. The school was not abandoned during the interwar period, but it actually hosted the “Reading Hall” (a library counting, at the time, more than 3,000 books) in one of the rooms, the Old Church department, and, in the other room, “Săceleana” People’s Bank, a work of the post-World War I young generation, aiming at creating a closer relation between shepherds, providing guidance to the new generations towards knowledge and the preservation of their identity. The school and tower of the school were repaired in 1975 and 2006. The construction currently belongs to the historical complex of “Saint Archangels Michael and Gabriel” Church’s buildings and it also hosts the parish museum.