St. Nicholas Church in Calafat
Monastery / Church
St. Nicholas Church in Calafat
The church "St. Nicolae "in Calafat is an architectural monument, being one of the main religious places in the city on the Danube, alongside the " Assumption of the Virgin Mary "Church, the "Spring of Healing " Church and the" St. Martyr Gheorghe ", considered a monument. Situated in a central area of the city, midway between the Town Hall and the entrance to the harbour, the church has attracted many believers for over a hundred years.
St. Nicholas Church in Calafat was built between 1730-1740. The Parish in which it fell had for a long time the name “The slum from the Hill” („Mahalaua din deal”). In ancient time, because of the constant Ottoman danger across the Danube, the church operated in the beginning in a cottage. It was later build, but still in the ground, walls. In the autumn of 1830, the church hosted at a Holy Liturgy the Serbian price Miloş Obrenovici, and Alexandru Ghica, the price of Wallachia. The eucharistic satisfaction brought to God was due to the conclusion of a convention at Poiana Mare, the domain of the Serbian price, known in history as "The Poiana Mare Salt Convention". This was the first written contract of Muntenia.
The holy sanctum rose above the ground in 1853, when it was covered with ridge-tile. During the Crimean War, the reconstruction works were interrupted. Then resumed, they ended in 1856. In the period 1860-1861, by the care of a committee headed by the priest Matei Dobriceanu, with the help of Vâlcea Jivcov and Mihail Atanasiu, the construction was extended and raised. Five years later, on the initiative of the parish priest Petru Calafeteanu and the churchwardens D. Nicolescu and S. Mladenovici, benefiting from the support of the local authorities and the community, the church was given a dome, its iconostasis was changed and it was again painted. Towards the end of the century, the church was serviced by a parish priest, two supernumerary priests, three singers and two sacristans. In this status, the church was many times honoured by the presence of Price Carol I. The king passed here at the beginning of the Independence War, the headquarters of the Romanian Army being at Poiana Mare, in the Obrenovici pavilion.
"The Independence Church"
In 1905, the parish priest of St. Nicholas Church, priest Petru Calafeteanu, started a vain struggle for the “independence city” to have a cathedral worthy of the role it had in the history of the country. That year, under the mayor I. S. Drăgulescu, the timber market had moved from the front of the old church, some small buildings were demolished; so the surrounding area, merged with that of the Public Gardens had increased. In 1906, when the mayor of Calafat was Ion Ciupag, even the holy sanctum is being demolished. On the hearth of the old church, on March 20, 1906, the monumental building began to be built, following the plans of the architect Kafauniski, the works being led by the architect C. Anghelescu from the Plenita commune. The church was designed in the form of a cross, with a hemispherical cap, a narthex and two smaller turrets clogged in front, with a main apse and two lateral cap, the narthex with a hemispherical cap including the balcony.
The porch was designed openly, supported on four columns that are at the end of a monumental staircase. The figurative painting and the painting of the dome were painted by Covaci. For the most part, the surface of the painting is covered with ornamental motifs foreign to our traditional style, in a tempera oil emulsion. The iconostasis is made of hewed limewood, and the 49 icons are pirogravated and slightly coloured in oil. The church was finished in 1910, when it was sanctified and brought into use during Bishop DD Ghenadie.
For its expansion, a series of surroundings building had to be demolished, and the Public Garden would be widened in the greenfield left in the church’s perimeter. On the occasion of the excavations made for the reconstruction, many crosses of graves were found, probably remaining from the old cemetery near the holy place.
Helped by the boyars and the philanthropists of the Calafat city
The raising of the church was made entirely by private means, in order to raise the funds a committee of citizens, having as president Ilariu Marian, the son-in-law of Ionita Marincu (two in a road mayor of Calafat: 1891-1894 and 1898-1901) was formed. He gathered around him six of the great and wealthy landowners of Calafat, who decided to contribute each one with a year's income. Ilariu Marian, Ştefan Marincu, Dumitru Arssenie and Sima Năiculescu gave 10,000 lei, Vasile Mirica and I.S. Dragulescu, 5,000 lei. With the same amount contributed also Mari Faranga, the heiress of another great philanthropist - Gheorghe Giuroglu, whom the city thanked the 28-bed hospital, as well as Calafat Bank, whose president was Ştefan Marincu and Vice-President Dumitru Arssenie. Also, all the inhabitants of the city made their way to lifting the cathedral, either by working with their hands, or by power, contributing with money.
Incorporated naturally in the public garden area, uninterrupted due to demolitions made to create a church building space, it required to be protected by a fence. On March 25, 1907, at he extraordinary meeting of the Local Council, the amount of 1,037 lei proposed by the mayor was approved, on the basis of the estimated sums elaborated by the architect engineer of the city, necessary for the fencing of the park. In 1908 and then in 1913, King Carol I, inspecting the Dorobanti Regiment 31, visited, as usually, the historical monument, and took part every time in the Te Deum liturgy in his honour, in the new and grand Cathedral of Independence, St. Nicholas. His face, together with the Prime Minister of the country, D.A. Sturdza, is painted on the walls of the church, above de main entrance.
Worthy servants at the Altar of the Church of St. Nicholas
Over the years, at this beautiful cathedral served priests like: Marin Petrescu, Petre Calafeteanu, Stefan Ionescu, Dumitru Rudareanu, Florea Pretorian, Antonie Căliman, Vartolomeu Gavrilescu, Vasile Marinş, Gheorghe Guţulescu. Today, at the Holy Altar serves priest Adrian Micu. Through out their labour, the church overcome the vicissitudes of time, which has imprinted on its body, whose paintings have deteriorated, requiring it to be restored to bring it into the initial state of profound aesthetic and emotional delight. Through the craftsmanship of the restorer Mircea Constantinescu, during 1988-1992, when the parish priest of the church was Vartolomeu Gavrilescu, this grate work of art was accomplished. A new and wonderful coat was given to the church, because of the external restoration performed during the priest Gheorghe Guţulescu during 2004-2005, with funds allocated from the local budget of the city, supplemented by voluntary contributions of the citizens of the parish.
Place of worship and silence, the "St. Nicholas" Church, through its majesty and architectural grandeur, is one of Calafat's valuable adornments, a tourist attraction admired by all who pass through our locality.