Past and Present

The first efforts to set up a Romanian parish in the Iosefin district (called after the emperor Joseph II,1780 – 1790) of Timisoara were made by Iacob Marian, a devout Christian, and lasted for almost ten years. On January 25th 1902, Iacob Marian and his wife donated their entire fortune to the Arad Diocese Consistory in order to support a confessional school and to build a parish church in the Iosefin district. Although the couple did not see their dream come true, they may be regarded as the first founders of this parish, due to their donation and initiative.

After the World War I, this family`s efforts were successfully continued by the great leader of Romanian movement in this region, Maecenas Emanuil Ungurianu, one of the enthusiastic supporters of the setting up of the Bishopric of Timisoara.

On the 17th April 1921, the lawyer Ungurianu held the parish meeting and was elected president of the parish council. After the members of the parish council and committee were elected, they appointed the RS teacher Stefan Opreanu as the managing priest.

On the 8th July 1921, the parish council sent a letter to the Rector`s office in Timisoara to inform it about the intention of setting up the parish and the inauguration of the district`s primary school. Furthermore, it was requested that this initiative should be brought to the attention of the Diocesan Centre in Arad. The Bishopric of Arad approved the setting up of the new parish (Resolution nr. 1941/1922) and appealed to the government for funds to complete the vicar’s wages.

Lawyer E. Ungurianu asked that the 1319.8 square meters plot in Asanesti Square (Alexandru Mocioni nowadays) to be donated to the parish by the Town hall in Timisoara, (which happened in the meeting of the 25th July 1925) so that a church, a parish house and other church buildings could be built. At the same time, Ungurianu managed to obtain from the government three plots of land for the clergy, which made possible the appointment of a vicar.

Temporarily, Gavril Selegeanu, the vicar of the neighboring Elisabeth parish, was appointed administrator of the newly founded parish. He drew up the list of the 152 members of the parish general council in 1926, with a view to electing the vicar.

On the 22nd July 1927, the parish meeting unanimously elected Ioan Imbroane, RS teacher at Carmen Sylva High School in Timisoara, as the vicar of the parish. The new vicar was ordained on Boxing day in 1927 and soon after that he started collecting the necessary funds to build the church and the parish house. Therefore, he organized public collections, concerts and received numerous donations. A considerable sum of money was left in his will by Emanuil Ungurianu (who died on the 8th October 1929). Before the church was built, the religious service for the new parish was held in the chapel of Secondary School Number 8 in Dragalina Square, which had been hallowed on the 8th April 1929. Two years later, the parish council led by vicar Imbroane entrusted Victor Vlad, engineer, professor at the Polytechnic University of Timisoara, with the task of designing a church worth of the devoutness of the believers in the district and fitted into the architectural environment, with its unique belfry and elements of modern technology (such as the central heating system, the first of its kind in the Timisoara churches). The result was remarkable.

The religious service to hollow the site and set the foundation of the church was held on September 8th 1931 by the bishop of Arad, Grigorie Comsa, assisted by archimandrite Policarp Morusca, Vasile Lazarescu, vicar Ioan Imbroane, rector and priests. The construction of the church and the parish house was committed to the architect Constantin Purcariu on August the 30th 1932. On the 30th October 1932, the parish house was hollowed in the presence of the Minister of Arts and Cults, Dimitrie Gusti.

The building and endowment of the church was concluded in 1936. The church is made of brick and it is ship-shaped. It has a surface of 2000 square meters and it can hold up to 1000 people. Its design was inspired by the famous Saint Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople, with a 24 meters Byzantine central cupola covered within, in the traditional monastery style, with a 33 meters high tin-roofed pyramidal frustum-shaped belfry, buttresses and four flaring balconies.

The mural painting was done in 1935-1936 by professor Catul Bogdan (the apse of the shrine and the continuation) and Ioachim Miloia (the central cupola and the semi cylindrical vault of the shrine, as well as the icons on the iconostasis). In 1958 professor Victor Jurca added 70 scenes and compositional areas in tempera and fresco. The iconostasis, the chandelier and Christ`s Sepulcher were sculpted in lime wood by master Stefan Gajo, in the same style as the baptistery in Curtea de Arges monastery. The thrones, pews and the chairs in the church are sculpted in oak, bearing the same patterns as the iconostasis, by master Traian Novac, while the furniture and the ark in the Holy Shrine were created in 2001-2002 by the sculptor Ilie Sârbu from Caransebes.

The floor is made of white Ruschita marble, with pink marble patterns, and the shrine, which has steps and railings of white marble with lily patterns, illustrates the Seven Holy Mysteries and the Gifts of the Holy Ghost. In the basement of the shrine there is vicar Ioan Imbroane`s tomb, under a marble plate with a frame of lilies. The six bells, harmonized in arpeggio, were molded in 1936. The churchyard and its park are surrounded by a brick wall and a wrought iron lattice work, also built in 1936.

The parish council, gathered on August 30th 1936, decided that the hallowing service should be held on September 8th 1936, on the occasion of the celebration of the church festival. The service was held by the bishop of Arad, Andrei Magieru, together with a group of 22 priests and the Romanian church choir from Costei (Serbia). A few thousand believers attended the service and so did the representatives of the local authorities, commanders of the military quarters and the police, other officials. After restoration, the church was blessed in 1958 by Bishop Vasile Lazarescu and on September 7th 1986 by His Holiness Nicolae Corneanu, the Banat Metropolitan Bishop

Vicar Ioan Imbroane founded the choir “Doina Banatului”, conducted by musicologist Nicolae Ursu, the only permanent religious choir at the time not only in Timisoara, but in the whole Timis-Torontal county. In addition, the vicar also founded the women`s charitable organization “Regina Maria”, a surgery and also organized a sports field by the Bega River “so that the parish youth could have fun under the church supervision” (The Parish Chronicle, page 8).