The Black Church was built between 1383-1487. It started out as a massive Catholic Church but soon morphed into an Evangelical Lutheran Church in the 16th century. It is roughly the size of a football field can hold 5,000 people.
Here is the clock tower surrounded by the four writers of the one gospel.
In 1689 one third of the population died in a huge fire. The smoke turned the church black, and the church has been called “Black” ever since that time. During the fire colors of the Madonna fresco intensified and, Mary’s blue robe turned to black. Henceforth, this fresco has been referred to as the Black Madonna. Pictures aren’t allowed inside.
Seating is by social ranking. The wealthier patrons sat toward the front. Pews were constructed and maintained by the guilds. For example, all of the bootmakers sat together. It seemed like the modern day section at a football game.
There are 159 Turkish praying carpets which served as decorations in the pews. It is the largest collection of carpets outside of Istanbul.
Catholic services were in Latin. German speaking people lived here and built the church and didn’t speak Latin. In 1542 the German Reformation reached the city. It was refreshing to hear the Bible in German so the Reformation quickly had an impact. To hear the gospel in the language of your heart is HUGE and is the mission of the Wycliffe Bible Translators today.
Johannes Honteras was instrumental in bringing the Reformation to Brașov. He wrote the Reformation booklet (1543) to explain the Protestant reforms. He was a mapmaker by trade. His rendering of the map of Europe was used until the 17th century.
Additionally, he started a school. The library was destroyed by the fire.
Anyone is allowed to attend this German speaking school. Most people in Brașov are Romanian, with 5-6% Hungarian and .01% German. The young may want to attend to better their job opportunities.
Before the Reformation graves were outside the church to be near Eucharist. After the Reformation people with a special honor were buried inside the church.
In 19th century funerals were banned inside the church due to hygienic reasons. Then tombstones were used in the floor. The tombstones listed important life events, coat of arms, and guild association. If their likeness was depicted, one could tell social status from the clothing. Sometimes there would be an hourglass indicating the passage of time.
My favorite saying on a tombstone was the following inscription: Hodie mihi, cras tibi. It means Today I (die), tomorrow you (die). It’s evitable.
We went to the White Tower. It was closed although it stated that it should be open. What a view!
We went to the Black Tower. Same.
Next we embarked on a walk along the city walls that we deemed charming.
How does one define charming? Here is an essay in the topic that I found…well, charming!
We walked outside the city center to St. Nicholas Church. We KNEW that it would be closed due to the time but the cemetery was open!!
The outside is beautiful in the day and night.
In 1947 as result of Communism, all religious books were burned. One man secretly hid documents, books, and paintings in the tower. They were found during reconstruction in Communist times. Nicolae Ceaușescu was so impressed with this find that he put them in a museum.
In the 15th century, this was the first Romanian school. Students from all over could attend, but attendance was decided by lots. The students had to agree to return to their villages and serve. It took three months to become a scribe, six months to become a teacher, and nine months to become a priest.
The early printing that started here took weeks to print a page as it had to be done as a mirror image. These transcribed books were some that were uncovered in church tower.
What do the following people have in common?
Johannes Honterus (1498-1549)
Apollonia Hirscher (*-1547)
Valentin Bakfark (1507-1576)
Michael Weiss (1569-1612)
Johann Martin Honigberger (1795-1869)
George Barițiu (1812-1893)
Andrei Mureșanu (1816-1863)
Elena Mureșanu (1862-1924)
Maria Baiulescu (1860-1924)
Annemarie Schnell-Sbârcea (1903-1984)
They are famous Romanians. One wrote the national anthem, another ushered in the Reformation and still another was a lute musician who introduced finger picking to stringed instruments.
Over the summer months these young actors portray the individuals above and will tell you about the lasting impression that they have had on history.