History of the Visk Evangelical and Reformed Church
Excerpts: From The History of the Reformed Church of Visk
by Peleskey Sandor 1925
Our church has two buildings at the present time. One out of stone and a smaller one out of wood. The stone church was built at a time when King Stephen V ruled in 1270. According to historical data we have this was the first church in the county. Since the cultivation of the forest and the mines gradually increased during the rule of Stephen V, the first schools and churches were built. This is why the construction of our church can be calculated around this period of time. Visk and its surrounding area was Royal property. This is reflected in Visk's name "Crown Town Visk". From the 1270's to the end of the 13th century the Hungarian King had the church built for his serfs. Its size suggests that Visk had a sizable population at the time. The church was built in a magnificent gothic style using stone stuck together with hot lime. This is why the church has stood sound for all these years.
Our ancient church was built nearly 700 years ago and it has not only served as a holy place to honor God, but it also became the location of many historical events. It has always been the center of Visks history. During the wars of the old days the local residents found shelter here since the walls are over 1 meter thick and the stone fence at the same thickness served as a good safe hiding place. During the Tatar , Polish wars and the period of Hungarian insurrection at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries the wooden buildings of the church were burned down several times, and the people hiding there were put to the sword and hacked to pieces. The most accurate description known about the Tatar attrocities was that the Tatars were crossing our territory toward Nandorfehervarra (today it is Serbia's capital and is called Belgrade) and they were defeated and hunted by the Hungarians. Though the Hungarians had gained victory over the Turks before the Tatars had reached the town, a Hungarian group of soldiers turned against the Tatars suddenly when they were crossing our county. They destoyed the Tatars at our city limits at a field called War Field since then. The Tatars were escaping and running thru our city and they started killing older people they found hiding in the church and they burned the roof off the church. Even 100 years later the events of those days were written in the church book with a terrified spirit. The killing occured at the end of August in 1717
In 1643 Rokoczy George II the King of Transylvania wanted to have soldiers from our city. The city council let the public know how many soldiers they had to give. When the time came for the young people who were chosen to gather they did not show up. So the city council with nothing else to do captured these young people. Because of this the church punished the city council and told them they couldn't do anything like this again.
In 1657 a big thing happened in Visk. Rakoczy George II was having a soldier camp just on the city limits with 24,000 Hungarian soldiers. He was the King of Transylvania. All this happened because Charles IX wanted to divide Poland and wanted to ask the Hungarians for help. So the helping force was camping right at Visk. They were waiting for the winter freeze because then they wanted to cross thru the Maramarosi Mountains covered by snow into Poland. During the time of the camp the King on January 17th 1657 had a Parliment called together in our city with the foreign King and their delegates. The Parliment was held in our church.
Under our church there are tombs. And old pastors are buried there. We only know one of their names which was Dezsi George who was buried there in 1713 and who's tomb can be found on the south side of the fence of the church. He was a rector of our church
In 1675 a terribile flood came to our city that seems almost impossible today that the Tisza river could have done this. The flood devestated Visk so bad that the only building left standing in the whole city was our stone church. Even the north stone fence of the church was destroyed. How much it ruined our blooming city would be if you could picture Visk before the flood and our church was in the center of the city, but today it is on the edge of the city because the citizens wouldn't dare build their new homes on top of the ruined houses. This flood made the bed of the Tisza River closer to our church. Even the little stream that goes thru the center of our town was swollen so much you could not even cross it if you wanted to get to our church. This is when the congregation built the wooden church and a bigger wooden house which is 250 years old today. They built to the left hand side of the stream the Pastor's home and a school. But after a few years they started to use the stone church again.
From 1717 and the Tatar devestation till 1750 our church was left in its place without any wooden attachments. There was no roof no pews no stairs and no bell tower just the walls. In 1750 a roof was rebuilt with a tower on top of it and the northern part of the stone fence was rebuilt. In 1789 the inside of the church was remodeled and it was painted. On the ceiling you can still see this painting. In 1791 they needed to remodel the whole church and the church wanted to ask for support from the Transylvanian reformed nobleman. We even have the manuscript when the church is asking for the support of the counties deputy. Our church gained support to get donations and they selected Szilagyi George who did a very good job. For his good work he was buried for free as a reward for his services. The constuction was finished in 1794 and they finished the whitening and painting and the new benches. In 1820 and 1829 an enormous earthquake made it nessesary to fix the walls because they were cracked. In 1828 the church balcony and loft was built on the north side and the next year they made renovations on it. Even the tower of the church and the roof of the church needed some fixing.
The current pastor of the church Geressy Laszlo irged continuosly for the renovations. By 1859 the citizen council agreed Geressy's renovating plan and they decided that the church needed a stone tower. but this plan only remained a plan and they only mended the roof and the tower and they did not build a stone tower. Even the stones that were gathered for the stone tower were crumbled to dust. In much later in 1867 they covered the roof with shingles and they whitened the church but this time the permanently whitened the walls and covered the very old biblical pictures on the walls. Starting from the punishment of Adam and Eve to the other hisorical and famous stories, to the assention of Jesus. In 1880 they painted around the organ and in the same year they had the pulpit made. Before that the pulpit was placed on the opposite side. In August of 1888 during a strong summer storm our famous wooden tower was torn down. This was when the church again decided they were going to built a new tower of stone. But because the church did not have enough financial support for that they just covered the roof with a wooden cuppola. lately in 1912 they whitened the church again and this was when the new balcony was built on the west side of the church which was a donation of Lorincz Janos because he wanted to help. This was when the church cut a window on the south side of the building which was not really suitable for the whole gothic style of the building. They also redid the floor but they were not carefull and the brought in a fungus on the wet floor. In 1914 the mold fungus already coved the spaces under the boys balcony and around the pulpit. Only after very expensive and hard work could they eliminate the fungus from the infected places. They used sand on it and cleaned it completely. This is how our church looked before the renovation on 1923.
Above are excepts from the History of the Visk Reformed and Evangelical Church in Máramaros, Visk
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