The St. Nicholas Church in Cund
A brief history of the Transylvanian Saxons, our village and the restoration of the church
The St. Nicholas Church in Cund is the villages most impressive landmark and was built and used by the Saxon community until their (nearly complete) exodus from Transylvania in 1994.
The Saxons are an ethnic minority of German decent, who settled in Transylvania from the 12th century onwards. The colonisation of Transylvania by Germans was begun by King Géza II of Hungary (1141–1162). For decades, the main task of the German settlers was to defend the southeastern border of the Kingdom of Hungary. The colonisation continued until the end of the 13th century. Although the colonists came mostly from the western Holy Roman Empire and generally spoke Franconian dialects, they were collectively known as Saxons because of the many Germans working for the Hungarian chancellery. For much of their history, these Transylvanian Saxons held a privileged status with the Hungarian nobles and Szekler´s of Transylvania.
After 1918, when according to the Treaty of Trianon Transylvanian became part of Romania, Saxons, together with other German-speaking groups in newly enlarged Romania, became part of the German minority in Romania. The Transylvanian Saxon population had decreased dramatically since World War II. The process of out-migration continued during Communist rule in Romania to a lesser extend as well, and the great majority of Transylvanian Saxons live now in Germany. A sizeable Transylvanian Saxon population also resides today in the United States, the latter donated a new ceiling to the church at the turn of the last century. Very few still live in Romania, where at the last official census around 6.000 Saxons were registered.
In Cund, the majority of the remaining Saxons left between 1990 and 1994 to Germany – of the 200 Saxons in 1990, only three are still living here. The St. Nicholas Church was built in the 15th century, about 180 years after the first records of the Saxon Settlement „Reussdorf“ (the German name for Cund) can be identified. This gothic church has a late-gothic reticulated vaulting and on the north facing wall you will find a small niche. Till 1906 the church had a hand painted coffered ceiling, a tradition which can be found in many Saxon churches in Transylvania.
Sadly has this ceiling been substituted by a simple ceiling in 1906… The western clock tower was a late addition in 1804 as can be seen in the Latin inscription. The brick partition pulpit was also built in the 1906 restoration phase and was donated by those Saxons who had left for the US.
Of exceptional beauty and value is the reformatory winged altar from the 1520s. On the inner wings one can find nice illustrations of the St. Nicholas legend, on the outer wings one can find eight passion illustrations inspired by the famous Alfred Dürer. Based on the five gold plated incisions in the altar shrine it is assumed that there were once wooden statues where nowadays a wooden cross can be found. Due to the decaying state of the church and specifically too much humidity, the altar was moved to the Sighisoara Bergkirche. Quite attractive are also the wooden pews and stalls in the late renaissance style featuring crenellations with year 1532 inscribed.
Following the destruction of the church bell manufactured in 1587 n the 1930s, the bell founder „Kaunz“ delivered two new bells . The smaller bell was manufactured in 1692. Nowadays the bells of the St. Nicholas church are only being chimed when one of the Saxons has found its final resting place or when a severe thunder-storm is approaching.
With the help of generous donors we repaired the roof timbering and hope to continue with the restoration of the ceiling in 2013 and restore the windows.
Later on we hope to use it as an ecumenical centre for all the religions now being practiced in Cund (Hungarian Protestants, Romanian Orthodox, Saxon Protestants and German Protestants) and we hope to be chiming the bells on many – much more pleasant occasions!
During the summer season we have several international young groups spending their vacations in Cund working on the St. Nicholas church. With a combined effort of many people we do hope to reopen this beautiful church in the middle of our treasured little village to services, concerts and meetings one day soon.