Lapus wooden church, Maramures County, Romania

The wooden church, general view
The wooden church, general view

The village was first recorded in 1505.

The wooden church named ”The Dormition of Our Lord’s Mother” is the subject of a legend connected to those living in the center of the village. The legend says that the village was once in the valley of Raoia, a tributary of the river Lapus. A villager’s oxen constantly disappeared from the field, and were always found in the middle of an ash-tree forest. The villagers considered the happening to be a divine sign, and decided to build a church on the place the oxen were found. Even today the church is well kept and looked after.

This small building has ash-tree log walls with planed brackets cut straight, ringed by a massive crown fixed with wooden nails. The simple roof that enfolds the structure has a bell-tower that ends with a simple wrought iron cross with Half-moons at its base and top.

The watch-tower extends outside the tower with its parapet-decorated with hollowed out

The wooden church, detail
The wooden church, detail

fret-sawn circles at the top, and fret-sawn circles at the bottom. The open balcony has eight side arcades beautifully jointed, and is covered by a square-based spire that becomes an octagon at the top.

The porch runs along the entire length of the southern wall, and includes an Alm’s table. It is supported by a row of undecorated pillars and connected by a corona with straight edges joined at right angles.

On the same side is the entrance door in the shape of a triple arch. lt has fine raised patterns on the frames and big wrought iron hinges with repeated floral patterns

An amazing example of the Lapus carpenters craftsmanship is the frame of the passage door between the pronaos and the nave. It is remarkable because of the richness of the incised raised motifs in regular patterns: wheat-ears, stripes, rosettes decorated with rhombuses and squares. Cross-like flower friezes and a Saint Andrew’s Cross with rosettes in the middle and lively colored corners please the eye.

The wooden church, detail
The wooden church, detail

The Holy Doors are made of rough wood carved with floral motifs and grapes, having on the sides of the raised center part, a two-headed eagle with a broad-sword to its right and a scepter to the left. Above them there is an imperial crown similar to the one found on the Wallachian Prince Serban Cantacuzino’s Coat-of-Arms, and also found on the back of the title page in The Bible from Bucharest dated 1688.

Fragments of painting have been preserved in the pronaos, where a Wheel of Life is painted as an extension of “The Tree of Life”. Its spokes are extended over the rim with human faces symbolizing the different stages of life. Scenes like: “Turks”, ”Tartars”, “German Colonists Living in Transylvania”, “Hermits” and others from The New Testament such as ”Jesus with Pilate”, “The Descending to Hell” are painted in a vast harmony of colors.

The lconostasis has only one row nowadays, with Christ crucified, and the Holy Icons

Vestment chest
Vestment chest

carved in wood on golden background. It’s frames are simple and in high relief. The raised frieze decorated rosettes above the Holy Icons, continues on the side walls. The two supporting arches of the vault of the nave are decorated with the same motifs.

The Ark, placed in the Altar, is made of wood with a painted chalice and Angels on its sides. Other valuable objects are an old wardrobe painted with flowers, housing the priest’s vestments, and in engraved candlestick.

The bell-tower built in the churchyard has a bell made at Cluj in 1852, while the Old crosses in the cemetery around the church are well worth attention.



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