Fundraising to save the fresco from the wooden church in Urshee (18th century memorial)

Pro Patrimonio Foundation launches an international fundraising campaign to save the fresco from the wooden church in Urşi, thus completing the restoration and restoration of the local community memorial

The wooden church of Urși village (Popești municipality, Vâlcea province, 18th century) is part of the project of 60 wooden churches, developed by the Pro Patrimonio Foundation. Over time, the partners were Europa Nostra, the Order of Architects of Romania, the National University of Arts in Bucharest, Association 37, the Dala Foundation, the Astra Museum in Sibiu, the Museum of the Romanian Peasant and Artis Periția, and financial support was to be provided to the organization International World Monuments Fund, Headley Trust, International Foundation for Music and the Arts, Holcim Romania, EIB Institute.

The 60 Wooden Church Program was started in 2009 by architect Urban Stordza and implemented with the help of more than 100 young people of different professions (architects, restorers, engineers, sociologists, etc.), mostly volunteers, through specific and specific intervention, documentation and promotion actions for controlled churches. Join the responsible efforts of priests and parish communities who have inherited the old wooden churches, classified as historical monuments, and placed them in tombs and often deserted. Most of them are in a serious state of structural and technical deterioration. Its use and preservation in good condition is the duty of the community of believers, preserving its traditions, history and the identity of its settlement.

As the ancient churches were envisioned as sacred spaces for Christian religious gatherings and celebrations, the old churches—built by village craftsmen out of wood and painted with grace—are indicative of spirituality. They are, at the same time, exceptional objects of cultural heritage that have been passed down to us as a valuable heritage and education from previous generations. The ensemble of wooden churches from Northern Oltenia (Gorge and Falcia Province) and Southern Transylvania (Honedwara Province and Sibiu) are an exceptional cultural landscape, with which the local communities are recognized.

All of these rescues and restorations also have a social component, aiming to reintegrate the church as a valuable heritage object in the life of the local community, by constantly reopening and using the building, with the function of religious, educational and cultural tourism.

“A society that develops and is strong, imposes itself by the hereditary character of what it creates. An advanced society will leave behind an increasing wealth of what it has acquired. In this respect it must also take care of the heritage which it has inherited.” (Eng. Urban Stordza, Vice President of Pro Patrimonio Foundation)

From the start of the project to date, 14 emergency interventions have been carried out, 10 complete oil replacements, eight restorations, more than 50 wooden churches have been documented (through architectural surveys), and two conservation projects, with Europa Nostra support, have been put in place to apply for on financing. The high-value mural (fresco or sico) has an area of ​​2,000 square metres. Approximately 30 churches inside were painted. The emergency or extensive restoration work is multiplied by public events, fundraising ceremonies and exhibitions, intended to highlight the wooden chapel and revive community interest in these heritage jewels.

The Church of the Bears dedicated to the Annunciation and Saint Archangel Michael (Historic Monuments Code List VL-II-mB-09954) was built between 1757-1784, founded by Ion Dancio and Pope Costanden. After a fire in 1838, the church was restored and painted in 1843 by artisans Gergey, Nikolai, and Iwan, inside and out. From 1913 a new church was built in the village, the wooden church remained deserted in the cemetery. The last reform took place in 1943.

Its restoration began on June 12, 2010, after the collapse of the vault above the altar, with an emergency intervention initiated by the Order of Roman Architects and funded by the Pro Patrimonio Foundation, by the late architect Serpan Cantacuzino, founder of the Foundation in 2000. The intervention in the monument, due to the peculiarities of the restoration activities, is four months of the year, from June to September. For the remainder of the period, the Foundation focuses on fundraising activities to continue the project.

Funds collected through various actions and events in 2011-2019 were used for: cementing the board, retracting the vault (beams and iconostasis are being restored at the National University of Arts in Bucharest), building new stone foundations, replacing rotten slippers and beams in the structure, restoring Basement, frame and ceiling paneling, preservation of interior and exterior frescoes, repair and completion of interior furniture, vertical organization. The money was donated exclusively by individuals, companies and private organizations: World Monuments Fund, Headley Trust, Holcim Romania, International Music and Art Foundation. The local community (parish, city council, villagers) supports the project each year, providing accommodation and meals for all the volunteers, restaurateurs, and artisans who work here.

“It was a pleasure (…) to save the wooden church in Orshei. It is a historic antique church. Like it, all of our late peasant churches, a colossal treasure, with which something strange happens. These churches disappear first. They lie between folk art and the great art of The Middle Ages, and is considered outside the “Great Road of History.” But it is a testament to a living world, through which we survived, when the whole world around us changed its face. They will disappear first because most of them are made of wood. We have to take care of them too!” (Interview with Dan Mohano, “” As a restorative painter, you must have faith and be alive in the life of the Church”, formula As, No. 1247/2016)

The wooden church of Urși needs another 12,000 euros, this is the last amount necessary to complete the restoration of the fresco, the reassembly of the interior furniture and the restoration of the community monument. Under the slogan “Give so that history lives”, we are launching an international campaign to raise these funds both on the crowdfunding platform and on the website of the Pro Patrimonio Foundation.

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