Medieval Archive in Romanian Church. (no author named) reports on a recent find:

A team of researchers in Romania has discovered over 200 books and manuscripts in a church in Mediaș. It includes dozens of early printed works and manuscript fragments dating back to as early as the 9th century.

The research team, led by Adinel C. Dincă of Babeș-Bolyai University, found the cache in the Ropemakers’ Tower of St. Margaret’s Church in Mediaș, a town in central Romania. Biblioteca Batthyaneum, a branch of the National Library of Romania, announced the discovery on its Facebook page earlier this month. They reported that the find included 139 printed books dating to between 1470 and 1600, two manuscripts from the early 16th century and about sixty more charters and other documents dating to between the 14th and 16th centuries. Furthermore, they found several manuscripts fragments that were kept inside parish records, the earliest of which is from the Caroliginian era and may date back to as early as the 9th century. […]

St. Margaret’s Church, also known as Margarethenkirche, dates back to the early 15th century and was established by the Transylvanian Saxons, a community of Germans who settled in this region of Romania in the Middle Ages. The collection of books seems to have been left in the church’s tower for at least decades, perhaps to protect them during the First or Second World War. However, Professor Dincă believes they may have been placed here much earlier. […]

These items may have been part of a much larger library collection within the church. Professor Dincă notes that a catalogue published in 1864 lists around 7,700 books held by the library, including dozens of early printed works by Protestant Reformers such as Martin Luther, John Calvin and Philip Melanchthon. The research team will now be working to match up the discovered books with those listed in the catalogue. […]

The research team is now working to better understand the collection and help with its preservation, and they hope that it can be kept in a local library with digitization to give it wider access. Professor Dincă believes that this discovery will allow historians to better reconstruct the literacy and the intellectual life of the Transylvanian Saxons as well as the local medieval manuscript tradition.

I love stories like this; it’s nice to look forward to more discoveries. (Transylvanian Saxons were featured, among many other topics, in this great 2004 thread.)


  1. J.W. Brewer says

    That church is well-known enough to have its own wikipedia article in English.,_Media%C8%99

    OTOH, the “Saxon” percentage of the city population has dropped to below 2% compared to almost 45% before WW1 (total population has increased significantly, though, so the Saxon population has dropped less precipitately in absolute numbers), so I don’t know how many parishioners the church has left or even if it’s still in regular use as an actual place of worship.

  2. David Marjanović says

    The German Wikipedia article lists the pastors of the parish, ending with the current “acting pastor since 2010”.

  3. I like “Servatius.”

  4. David Marjanović says

    Pankratius, Servatius, Bonifatius und die kalte Sophie are the four ice saints – their feast days in May (die Eisheiligen) used to be often accompanied by a cold spell.

    Except for Boniface I know nothing else about them.

  5. J.W. Brewer says

    The German wiki article (also available in Romanian and Esperanto!) about the prior pastor, who in 2010 was elevated to bishop of (one of) the whole Lutheran church(es)* for Transylvania, notes that while he was pastor of the Margarethenkirche he was also in charge of 10 other nominally-still-existent congregations elsewhere in the area that no longer had their own pastors. It sounds like one of the ironies of his situation is that the post-Communist government finally started belatedly returning properties seized from the church by the Communists only after most of the Lutheran Saxons had taken advantage of the change of regime in Romania to emigrate.

    *Apparently there are for historical reasons two separate Lutheran jurisdictions in Romania, one predominantly ethnic-German and the other predominantly ethnic-Magyar. Don’t know if the Magyar one can use the German one’s emptied-out-by-emigration buildings or if they barely have enough active members to use the buildings they already have.

  6. Kate Bunting says

    Apparently Pankratius is the St.Pancras to whom a surprising number of churches in England are dedicated (notably the one in London from which the railway station takes its name).

  7. David Marjanović says

    …and so it turns out the ice saint is the original Bonifatius, the one of Tarsus instead of Dokkum.

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