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The Holy Trinity Church in Maieri I

Located in the Lower City, on Iașilor Street, Holy Trinity is Alba Iulia’s second stone-built Orthodox Church. It was erected after the promulgation by Emperor Joseph II of the Edict of Tolerance on 29 November 1781. The church was built by the Maieri neighbourhood’s Romanian community following a major religious shift from Uniation to Orthodoxy.

In the second half of eighteenth century, a new Orthodox church became a pressing issue as the majority of inhabitants of Maieri neighbourhood renounced Uniation and returned to Orthodoxy and their former church was granted to the Greek Catholics by General Adolf von Buccow. The 298 Orthodox families must have found things difficult without access to a church building. Their situation was similar to that in the nearby Lipoveni neighbourhood, where the authorities rejected the inhabitants’ petition to build a new church. Indeed, there was active suppression of the Orthodox movement, which went as far as forbidding Orthodox rites within the city bounds. Orthodox inhabitants were recommended to go to existing churches in the neighbouring villages if they wished to attend services, according to the memories of Rubin Patiția (1848-1918).

In spite of these impediments, it is likely that Orthodox residents in Maieri, similarly to those in Lipoveni, would have used a prayer house or a wooden church, possibly on the site of the later stone church. It is difficult to imagine that such a large community could have managed for twenty years without a church.

The Orthodox church in Maieri is first referred to in documents from 1784, when the priest Nicolae Rațiu was active. He is known for having given the Holy Eucharist to Horea and Cloșca, the leaders of the Romanian peasant uprising, before their execution. From various notes in books, we know that in 1784 the church possessed two liturgical books, Octoechos and Strastnic. The church also held many icons painted by Simon Bălgrădeanul.

After the Edict of Tolerance was adopted in 1781, Maieri’s Orthodox inhabitants were granted the right to build a church made of durable materials. Construction was delayed and did not start immediately (as was the case in Lipoveni) but began sometime around 1790. An inscription on the architrave of the entrance into the church mentions the year 1795, which could be when construction was completed.

Initially the church had one rectangular nave with a polygonal apse placed on the east. A bell tower was constructed on the western side at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The nave is covered by vaults in the shape flattened cupolas. The apse bears a semi-spherical vault. On the northern and southern exterior are buttresses that get slimmer in their upper section. The nave and apse are covered by a tiled roof, while the tower has a Baroque lantern roof covered with tin. On it appears an inscription bearing the year 1812, which was perhaps when the church was restored.

Over time the church has undergone several restorations which have changed its original appearance, while the floods of 1970 and 1975 damaged the paintings and inscriptions in the niches of the vestibule. A votive placard dedicated to the memory of Horea, Cloșca and Crișan, the leaders of the 1784 uprising, as well as a text about locals who died during the 1848-1849 revolution and the First World War, have disappeared.

The icons of the iconostasis painted in 1797 were preserved until recently in the patrimony of the church, while in 1992 a new fresco covered those painted in 1925-1926 by Traian Achim under the supervision of the master Costin Petrescu, who painted the Coronation Cathedral. (C. A.)