CALINESTI (SUSANI) wooden church, Maramures County, Romania

The wooden church
The wooden church

The settlement was recorded in 1387 as belonging to Dragos, Bud and other families mentioned in a written document released by King Sigismund of Hungary.

The wooden church was built in 1784 and is named ”The Dormition of Our Lord’s Mother”. The church is the work of carpenters from the right bank of Tisa river. They built it in the Moldavian style with side apses and entrance through the south.’

A square steeple rises above the double roof. At its top it is rounded and decorated with a three-arm wrought iron cross, a half-moon at its middle and a star on top.

The construction imitates the shape of a club. It has an enclosed Sanctuary. Its distinguishing features are the cross-like joints of the beams at their corners, and the roundness of the brackets beautifully carved on their sides with rosettes that give an elegance and greatness to the church.

The frame to the entrance door has on each side vines that end at the top in the shape of a

Wooden chandelier
Wooden chandelier

styled tulip. At the bottom is a rosette bordered by the traditional twisted rope in wood. This twisted rope continues on the frontal side framing a cross above it, which bears the words “It was made in 1784”. Probably it was the date when the framework was carved- as the church seems much older.

The frames of the door between the pronaos and the nave are beautiful decorated with straight untwisted ropes that end, at the bottom of the door in a rosette with cross-like petals. Unfortunately the frontal painting has been only partly preserved. We can still observe the interesting coloring: a bright red nicely combined with light green and sky-like blue.

The lconostasis, is shaped in a semi-circle at its upper

Detail on the Iconostasis
Detail on the Iconostasis

part, and has three levels separated by a series of arched colonnades, along which the characters are disposed. The characters are painted on a background that imitates a skyline. The lower level is more spacious where the Sanctuary is narrowed so the characters are painted from their waists upwards. The last level is placed above the semi-circle and it pictures ”Jesus on the Cross” along with the two robbers, ”John and Jesus Christ’s Mother stand guard by the Cross of Jesus”. On the sides, in beautifully arched frames, Mary Magdalen and Saint Peter, are painted carrying a cockerel. The cockerel is a symbol of Peter’s denial of Jesus.

In the Sanctuary a massive wooden log (which replaces the stone found in other churches) supports the Holy Table.



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