Christian ARTworks | The Greek-Catholic Cathedral of Saint Nicholas (Romania)

This month, our ‘Christian Heritage month by month’ column presents you the Greek-Catholic Cathedral of Saint Nicholas in the Diocese of Oradea Mare, Romania, a place of prayer for all Romanian faithful, regardless of denomination. Click here for more info

Air view of the Cathedral. (Photo: Diocese of Oradea Mare)

Built on the site where, in 1739, the first church for the united Romanians of the Byzantine rite in the Greek-Catholic Diocese of Oradea was established, the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas is a place of prayer for all Romanian faithful, regardless of denomination.

The church, in its present form, was completed between 1800 and 1810, and is one of the ecclesiastical buildings in the classicist Baroque style in Oradea. Over time, several fires destroyed parts of the building, which was rebuilt under the supervision of the Bishops and later modernised. In 1948, under the Communist regime, the Greek-Catholic Church was abolished and the Cathedral became a parish of property of the Romanian Orthodox Church. On 21 November 2005, it was returned to the ownership of the Greek-Catholic Diocese, with a substantial rehabilitation.

Internally, the iconostasis is a grand, powerful, impressive construction that supports the traditional arrangement of icons in three registers. In the first one figure the Kingly Icons, representing Jesus Christ Pantocrator, the Mother of God with the Child Jesus, St. John the Baptist and St. Nicholas (patron of the Cathedral and of the Diocese of Oradea), among others. The second and third registers are characterised respectively by the icons of the Kingly Feasts and of the Apostles. The icons were painted by Antal Szirmai in the spirit of Western eclectic painting inspired by the Renaissance style.

The iconostasis is also supported by slender columns and a complex network of gilded lacework made of wreaths, chalices and garlands.  The mastery of the workmanship, the perfection of the icon painting, the decorative elements that accompany it, make this iconostasis one of the significant works of religious art in the city of Oradea.

In 2020 and 2021 respectively, two side altars were built in the cathedral after the beatification by Pope Francis of the seven Romanian Bishops who were martyred under the Communist regime in Romania.

The Cathedral is still today a living memory of troubled times overcome by resilience and strength, a place of faith for all Christians in Romania that gathers people through its beauty and peacefulness.

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