Greco Catholic parish church in Novi Sad
Historical data about settling of Rusyns from Kucura and Krstur in Novi Sad, as well as the reason for their move to the town is well known since there are several works on that topic. As soon as they settled in Novi Sad, Rusyns immediately began work to found a parish and started building the church and parish palace. From the time the community settled in Novi Sad to the foundations for the church and school in 1820, four years had transpired. During those years Rusyn community was trying to obtain legal permission and help from Austrian government and Novi Sad Magistrate. Only then could church members realize their desire to build their temple and parish palace – at that time those buildings represented spiritual and cultural headquarters of each national community in the vast Austrian empire.
Two writings stand out in the available literature we used in researching the history of how the temple
in Novi Sad was built. Those writings are characteristic because of their historical value.
Thus we must pay a closer attention to them in spite of discrepancies in the two records.
The older record is found in Novi Sad Monograph entitled “The History of Novi Sad” authored by
Melhior Erdujhelji (Novi Sad, 1894, page 233-236). Erdujhelji wrote that Rusyn Greco Catholic
church community was founded in 1784. All the data in that memoir Erduhelji
(who recorded the first application to build a church and parish palace, then later applications in 1802
and 1810 and the arrival of the first bishop Konstantin Stanic who laid the foundational stone) drew from
archive documents he found in municipal archive. He also used minutes of magistrate sessions and quoted
Visitatio Canonica written in 1810. The Canonica is found in Kolocka archdiocese archive.
Parish palace and Greco Catholic church
Laying a cornerstone in 1820 is the information we used to date the origin of temple and parish house. The parish house was promptly completed, yet building of the church lasted until 1834 or 1837. During the Hungarian uprising against the Austrian dominance both buildings survived more-less intact, even tough the church community center was targeted in the attack. The local priest was killed in the attack, the church inventory was devastated and precious archive that would have been so useful for our research was destroyed! The condition of the church following the uprising is described by the parish priest Djuro Shosh from Kucura. His report is particularly important because it provides information on the appearance of Novi Sad. The author also lists buildings that survived bombing – that is very important for us when we attempt to date buildings and further analyze how well their architectural and style properties have been preserved. A technical drawing dating back to 1868 shows the building has not changed in its appearance since that time, neither it was changed in its internal arrangement. The plan solely shows the basis of the ground floor and the first floor, as well as their transversal intersection. Sadly, description of the façade appearance is not included. In the drawing of the base it is noticeable the present size of distinct profile which confirms the information related to the time the object was built. The building has one floor, quadrant almost cubic base with both sides occupying parts of Jovan Subotic and Petar Bojovic streets. The plan mentions Saint John Street (St Johanesa Gasse — which led to the Serbian church of Saint John which no longer exists) and Kupfereschmid Gasse.
The main façade which faces Jovan Subotic street has a very shallow rizalit that contains shallow
lezens on each side. The only plastic decoration on the façade is in a form of unique rectangle fields
above the window. There is no wreath which usually decorated space between the floors. The edges on the
sides have a vertical, strait cut which runs along the entire height of the building. There are two
entrances in rizalit, on the ground and first floor respectively. A wall profilaction which can be
seen Vojvoda Bojovic street is made of background area around the window. The background is spread
over the entire height of the building. There are plastic, metopic fields above and below the window
(see the photo on page 58). Façade in the yard has no decoration – that was most likely the original
look-out. Building can be entered from the yard. Rooms on the ground floor have arches.
Stairs on the left side of the ground floor lead to first floor which is also arched.
Concrete stairs are newer. They replaced the wooden ones (Budenstege— as they are called in the plan).
Rooms on the first floor are covered with flat roof.
Parish palace and Greco Catholic church
Ideas that were put into designing the building most likely came from »edil« George Effingr, whose name is
engraved on the plate above the main entrance into Catholic prayer house along with names of other high
officials of the time in Catholic church community and municipal administration. Catholic prayer house
is decorated in greater lavishing manner because rizalits in the arch just under the roof are girded.
Yet the overall
impression makes one conclude that Rusyn parish palace was built after that building. The Church for
which we have indirect information that its construction was „finished" in 1820, but not completed in
that year, contains style expressions pertinent to the half of XIX century. It must be stressed that
XVIII and XIX century Vojvodina architecture research has only recently begun. We do not have a
sufficient number of published studies on the subject,
so this work must be viewed as a pioneer step not because it might be construed as arduous and
difficult, but only because it is an amateur step. Certain valuable data about architectural
development of Rusyn buildings was brought out by doctor Djurdjica Cvitanovic, art historian from Zagreb,
Croatia. She put together a work on history of Serbian church Saint Nicholas in Karlovac.
Doctor Cvitanovic interpreted the forms of sacred objects as directed by
the administration, construction regulations which required that churches be marked with bell towers
and “correspond in style with artistic quality as it was understood at the time, while standard
pre-calculated models were already in place before the building would even begin”.
It is significant that Cvitanovic reports that in State archive in Budapest she found plans for
typical churches used for buildings of Greco Catholic rite.
The plan designer was Comor-based subarchitect Laurentius Lander, who was succeeded by
Josip Tallher after he died in 1784.
High bell tower flancs zabat whose edges are meandering voluta, plastic decorative typical detail which appears in older classicism. Baroque cover of the bell tower is in harmony with its size. The entire building gives impression of well scaled dimensions. Side temple walls contain four cuts that are finished in arch shaped heightened archvolts. Side walls and western wall are decorated by horizontal cuts in the mortar, while apsis and façade cuts are smooth. Façade decoration is embellished by lowering verticals, rch lines and horizontal fugas. Overall it is a balanced and harmonious to the point of being totally unique. There are many church buildings in Backa and Banat that have similar solutions to their side facades. We believe that most of them originate from the period between 1820 and 1850. However, that topic has not been researched sufficiently. We believe that Rusyn church in Novi Sad has its analogous architectural counterpart somewhere else.
Interior corresponds to the exterior. Naos is separated by four pairs of pilasters.
It is arched with spheric arches and formes four traveys. Space for choir is somewhat broader;
it is separated from naos by a high wall that separates the bell tower from choir. In the foot of
that part there are three traveys arched with spheric arches: one serves as stairs for choir, the other
on the side is a small room, the central one is the entrance. There are three arch-shaped openings in
the first floor, the central one being the widest. Basic line in choir parapet in the central part is
widened and arch-shaped toward naos. An unknown architect had undoubtedly complied with owner’s order,
but he obviously also complied with the requirements for construction of church objects. Therefore the
church architecture does not have more specific traits compared to appearance of other confessional
temples of that time in the area.
Translated by Aleksandar Veljic
Copyright © 2007 Novta Miroslav, All Rights Reserved