Churches of Gherla
Out of the nine Armenian churches that once stood in Gherla today there are left only two: The Cathedral with the Holy Trinity as its patron and as its second patron, Saint Gregory the Lightbringer, and Church Simaian with the patron of the Annunciation. The first one is called cathedral because it was a diocese where the chair belonged to Bishop Auxentiu Varzarescu and even today a diocese functions in this place. The cathedral is named after its famous painting.
At present, in Romania there are 3 paintings signed by Peter Paul Rubens. While the first two, amongst which a portrait of Ignatius of Loyola can be found in museums, the third one is sheltered by the Holy Trinity Armenian - Catholic Cathedral of Gherla. We are talking about the painting "The Descent of Christ from the Cross".
In the middle of the 18th century the Armenians of Gherla, united with the Church of Rome, built this cathedral in the center of the city. The construction was finished in 1804. Then the elder of the city decided to look for a beautiful painting to be placed behind the altar. The Armenians, very rich at the time, often lent money to the Emperor of Austria. On the occasion of such a loan as an expression of gratitude and also having learned that the Armenians of Gherla had been looking for a special painting, Emperor Francis I invited them to choose one from the imperial galley of Vienna. The Armenians chose "The Descent of Christ from the Cross" by Peter Paul Rubens. Brought to Gherla, the painting proved too small in size to be placed behind the huge altar of the cathedral. Then the Armenians decided to build a side chapel for this painting, naming the chapel "The Chapel of Resurrection" and so here they exhibited their acquisition.
In 1944, the painting was taken by the Hungarian troops and it was deposited in a convent in Hungary. As a result of the treatise between Romania and Hungary in 1952 the painting was returned to Romania but not to the original owners but to the Museum of Gherla. Eventually, the painting was restored in the Art Museum of Cluj where it was forgotten and rediscovered only after 1990. On December 22 1999, in a special car and under military escort the painting was transported from Cluj to Gherla. Although it is worth millions of dollars, the painting could be visited for free by those who pass through Gherla and visit the Armenian - Catholic Cathedral.
The Greek - Catholic Cathedral of Gherla with the Entrance of the Virgin Mary into the Church as its patron was built in 1905 as the cathedral of the diocese of Gherla.
The bones of the bishops Ioan Sabo and Vasile Hossu were placed in this sanctuary. Since 1948 the building has been used by an Orthodox parsonage. On June 2, 2005, the patriarch Teoctist announced the restoration of the Greek - Orthodox Cathedral of Gherla.
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Churches of Gherla
Out of the nine Armenian churches that once stood in Gherla today there are left only two...