“Transfiguration” Greek-Catholic Cathedral

“Transfiguration” Greek-Catholic Cathedral

The Transfiguration Cathedral in Cluj, also known as the Minorite Church, is a historical and architectural monument, built between 1775-1779 in baroque style. From 1924 it has served as the Greek Catholic cathedral of the Cluj-Gherla Diocese. The church is located on no. 10 Eroilor Boulevard.

The building was built by the Roman Catholic Order of Minor Conventional Friars (so-called “minorites”, the oldest branch of the Franciscans) on the former “Henter House” and other neighboring lots obtained through exchange. The project was headed by Francis Kirtner. The money required to work came from a donation of Empress Maria Theresia, who was also the Grand Princess of Transylvania.


catedrala schimbarea la fata 1
Due to a construction error, the church tower collapsed on 22 September 1779 with the loss of a human life. The tower and façade were raised again three years later under the guidance of the architect Johann Eberhard Blaumann.

The ceiling frescoes were painted in 1908 by Francis Lohr and restored in 1968 by Coriolan Munteanu.

The windows have family emblem of Transylvanian nobleman John Haller (protector of the Minorites in the eighteenth century) and the emblem of the Order of Minorites. The nineteenth-century stained glass windows represent saints linked to the history of the Franciscans as well as Hungarian history. With the acquisition of the church, the inscriptions (in Hungarian) were destroyed.

In 1924, when Pope Pius XI decided to take church property of the Unitarian Romanian Church (Greek Catholic), the Franciscan friars barricaded themselves inside the building, requiring the intervention of security forces for their evacuation.

In 1948, after the ban of the Unitarian Church (Greek Catholic), the building taken by the communist authorities for the use of the Romanian Orthodox Church.

After the Revolution of 1989, the Greek-Catholic Diocese of Cluj-Gherla unsuccessfully asked to be granted ownership of the sacred abode. After a trial which lasted eight years, the Court of Appeals in Ploiești ruled that the building’s rightful owner is the Greek-Catholic Diocese of Cluj-Gherla, ordering the building’s return.

On March 13, 1998 Orthodox believers who opposed the execution of the sentence, blocking the access of Greek Catholic believers in the church. The same day, after police intervention, the bailiff put in the old cathedral into the possession of the Diocese of Cluj-Gherla

The Crypt under the Cathedral

The tomb was discovered by chance in 1999, when some work was performed to find the source of moisture in the very large building. The crypt was built with the church in 1779 but was hidden by Franciscan monks in 1920, when the place of worship was passed to the Greek Catholics.

The crypt is composed of 150 burial chambers, the deceased were buried here between 1785 and 1920. Next to each can be found their name and social position; among those who found their eternal sleep here being one of a lawyer, a mailman, and even a mayor.

It is believed that the labyrinth beneath the cathedral is related to the gallery of tunnels beneath the medieval city center.

Photo Source: Wikipedia