Reformed Church – Opovačka

At the time when the Reformed Church Diocese of Dunamellék was founded, many converted to the new faith thanks to the work of Calvinist preachers in the Upper Danube territory. This was because a sermon on their mother tongue was easier to follow for the simple farmers than the Latin service. Turks persecuted the Catholic parsons and monks more than the Protestant preachers, this was also a reason for the rapid spreading of the Reformation. The presbytery was founded in 1615. The first written record of the parish is from 1620. From 1626 on, all of its clergymen are known by their name. In 1670 there were 181 Reformed inhabitants of the town. After the Ottoman period, the Counter-Reformation made the congregational life impossible so the Reformed people moved to the nearby Csapdi. In 1796 there were only four Reformed people living in Szentendre. They attended service at Pomáz, Szigetmonostor or Óbuda.

The Church became stronger again only from the 1820s. The church service came from Szigetmonostor. In Szentendre there were no places built for church service for long. Until 1835 service was held in the flats of Czikora Sámuel, Konta István, Grétzi Sándor or Tornyai Sándor, not on every Sunday but only on bigger holidays. In 1835, the donation of the followers enabled them to acquire a building at the top of Szamár-hegy (Donkey Hill). It was converted to a house of worship. It was the subsidiary church of Pomáz from 1845. The chapel was reconstructed in 1852. In 1913, in the year of the foundation of the independent parish, arose the idea that the congregation could buy the Orthodox Opovačka, which was abandoned for years and on the brink of destruction by then. Jordán István, a landowner from Pomáz set up a foundation for buying it. The money needed for buying the building came from the income of the foundation.

The church was built by Serbian fugitives from Opovac. They came with the other Serbians at the end of the 17th century and settled down west from the Castle Hill. As most Serbian communities, they only built a wooden temple first in 1692 and then in 1746 they built not far from it a stone temple as well. According to some sources, the wooden temple used to stand left from the current church. The building was extended to the west in 1770. The tower was added only in 1777. The birth register was kept from that time. The parish closed down in 1900. The Reformed Church eliminated all the former furnishings and formed the interior according to their own rules. Its iconostasis was made based on the works of a master from Kiev. The iconostasis was transferred to the Serbian Orthodox Church of Hercegszántó in 1913.

The church stands a few streets away from the Belgrade Cathedral. It has an east-to-west orientation and is the smallest and simplest of the Serbian Orthodox churches of the town. Its front, small tower has a height of only 18 metres. The stone-framed, arched and decorated entrance under the tower has original wings from the 18th century and it is surrounded by two pedestalled pilasters. The window above the entrance is round-arched and has a windowsill. There are empty statue niches on the hollow, arched main front, at both sides of the tower and one below the bell of the tower. Statues were not placed into these as Orthodox people do not create graven images (statues) according to the Second Commandment. The flamboyant, Rococo stone vases were removed from the top cornice next to the tower in the 1950s. Above the round-arched windows of the bell tower are the church-clock and the cornice of the clock. The cupola has a low roof with a globe and a star at the top. On the sides there are 3 windows each, the buttresses with stairs are from the 18th century. There is a side entrance on the northern side, therefore the middle window is a little smaller than the others. It is interesting to note that its five-sided sanctuary has an irregular ground-plan so it is assumed to be built onto the foundations of a previous church.

Its interior is 22.5 metres long and 7.5 metres wide with 240 seats. The ceiling of the pure, white-walled interior can be divided into four vaults. The pews, the pulpit, the Seat of Moses and the Communion table were made after 1913. Earphones were installed into the pews for the hearing impaired. The small organ of the church, which has 1 manual and 4 registers, is standing on the simple wooden organ loft. The instrument was made by Angster József from Pécs for the Reformed Church of Patapoklos, in Baranya County. The congregation bought the instrument in 1982 and brought it to Szentendre. Above the organ a barrel vault can be seen.

Three bells were cast for the church by the Serbians from Opovac. These were removed in 1913 to be used elsewhere by the Orthodox Church. Currently there is only one bell present, which was cast by Johann Nuspickher in Buda in 1717, weighing 400 kilograms. Nuspickher was the first bell caster of the liberated Buda after the Ottoman rule. He died in 1717 so this bell was one of his last works. This bell used to be at the Roman Catholic Church on Castle Hill. The bell was originally consecrated to Saint Andrew. On one side Virgin Mary can be seen with Baby Jesus, below it the following inscription is present: “Holy Mary, pray for us”. On the other side: “Saint Andrew, pray for us” and below it: “I was cast by Johann Nuspickher in 1717”. The bell tolls prior to the service for about 5 minutes.

The Church got informed in 1871 that the Catholics wanted to have two new bells cast and to sell the old ones, which were still in good shape, to the bell casters. The presbytery decided to buy the bells that were waiting to be sorted out in 1872. The small bell, cast in 1793 and weighting 100 kilograms, was consecrated to Virgin Mary and Saint Nicholas. It was under requisition during the First World War.

Hungarian source written by Bajkó Ferenc, www.templom.hu