Cernatu (Csernátfalu)

Csernátfalu, Village of Saint Michael, Villa SanctiMichaelis, Zernendorf, Cernatu is part of Săcele Municipality, until 1950 being a commune located at 8.5 km south-east of Brașov. After the beginning of the Second World War, it was inhabited by 2532 persons, out of whom 1873 were Hungarian and 575 Romanian. Before the Protestant reform, it was the Mother Church from Seven Villages. In the central square, which is today the central square of Săcele locality, famous fairs were organized in the past and if someone wanted to have a Sunday walk, he/she was awaited by confectioner’s shops and restaurants placed side by side on Bretter.

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The new immaculate walls were soiled with soot from the flames of torches and the craftsmen, sitting around the huge oak table, were anxiously waiting for the guild leader to open the letter received from the governor. They presumed that the letter will be about their bastion built from the debris of Tâmpa fortress but after the red like blood wax seal fell in pieces on the table and the guild leader opened the parchment, the goldsmiths found out horrified that they were given an important task. They studied for a long time the lines written on the thin parchment, then they discussed even more and made plans within the guild council. They started to draw decorative elements, models, letter characters, small statues, then the plan was completed. Yes – the governor thought about something similar. A unique masterpiece – which will be truly worthy of being offered by John Hunyadi to the village of Saint Michael for the bravery showed by the Csango from Seven Villages in the fight against the Ottomans. After careful preparations, one day, when the weather was foggy at dawn, the fire from the stove started to finally burn and the jewelers started to form the drawings. Later, the silver was melted and cast, then gilt, glazing and when the guild leader took the completed chalice in his hands over a few weeks for the first time, he admitted with satisfaction: indeed, a masterpiece was created – everyone looking at the chalice will remain without words. The Gothic small chalice was made of silver and it was abundantly gilded both outside and inside. According to pecollstock[1] evidence, the height was 20 cm and the diameter of the chalice cup was 9 cm, respectively the bottom had a width of 11.5 cm. The bottom with six lobes is surrounded by a perforated crown, the fields are smooth, except one, on which can be seen the kneeled body of a monk – figure of the Saint Thomas d’ Aquin – looking with piety to the chalice and to the army floating in the halo above him. The rod is hexagonal, enlarged toward the nodus, but the area from the chalice mouth becomes narrower again, keeping the hexagonal profile on its entire length. In the lower part, the rod is covered with a sculpted ornament, in the upper part, a black enameled writing can be seen on the thinned hexagon, some capital letters[2] written in a convoluted manner: INRI | LUCAS | MAR | CUS MA | TIAS IOH | ANNES. The nodus ornament is the most beautiful one. Each of the six groups of ornaments forms a small Gothic window, a top work above the window ending with a cross flower, with embrasure and niche. The windows are separated by three small decorated towers. Some compartments are found behind the gothic windows and small statues are placed in them: Jesus on the cross, the four evangelists, respectively Saint Mary below the cross. The lower part of the gate is covered with a Renaissance sculpted ornament: with leaves, birds and flowers on crossed branches. The carving of flower composition is very smooth, the enameled cords are full of colors, the crown is braided from the lily. This small beauty was rotated in the hand with satisfaction by the guild leader and he was already kneeled in his thoughts before John Hunyadi, when he was handing him the chalice, so that the governor to offer it further as gratitude to his beloved Csango.

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The first written memory about Cernatu dates from 1366 and it is mentioned in different modes, in some places as Charnadfalua, in others as Zentmihálfalva. The mystery of using the name is only obviously clarified in the donation letter of Matthias Corvinus, from 1460: “ZentMihályfalva, for that matter Tharnatfalu”. John Hunyadi regulated tithe in 1440, so the church built in gothic style was there for a long time. Each master had the obligation to annually pay 5 pengo Kreuzers to the priest from Cernatu. Around 1445, Tărlungeni, Zizin and Purcăreni localities separated from the mother church, then also Satulung locality after almost one hundred years.

After the Ottoman invasion from 1421, 1432, 1438, John Hunyadi donated a chalice to Cernatu locality. In 1498, Ulászló II pawned Bran locality and all its fields to Brașov.

Between 1542–1544, the Hungarians from Seven Villages passed to the Evangelical-Lutheran religion and in the document from 1561, the Prince John Sigismund talks only about Cernatu, the name of the Village of Saint Michael disappeared along with the Catholic world. The protocols from 1544 of Honterus prove the fact that the school already functioned on that date in the village, besides the church! According to these data, 101 families lived in Cernatu, Turcheș and Baciu, the priest from Cernatu received from each head of the family half of the church tenth, namely 10 silver coins and the other half belonged to the commander of Bran fortress. The church owned an arable land of 15 yokes and a grass land. The teacher received annually 4 silver coins, one bread or 1 dinar in its stead from each family.

The plague from 1718–1719 left behind 400 victims.

Between 1777–1778, a new church was built in Cernatu (45.6175° N; 25.6875° E; 631 m) during the ministry of Máthé Márton, with a cost of 1393 forints and 45 Kreuzers, only the altar foundation remaining from the old church on which a date was written: “Anno Domini 1542”. The pulpit was built in 1780 by Pap János and Fejér Ilona and restored in 1803. One June 21st 1795, someone set fire to Péter István’s barn, the fire causing also the burning of the priest’s house, school, teacher’s house and other 107 houses. A big house made of stone was built for the priest in 1796. On October 26th 1802, a big earthquake took place in Cernatu at 1 o’clock in the afternoon and the damages were only repaired in 1823.

Starting from 1845, the school from Cernatu had two chancellors.

On October 27th 1848, the rebellious Romanians from Făgăraș attacked Cernatu locality and men were forced to swear devotion to the emperor near the mounds in the field, under two swords. The events lasted until the Bloody Christmas, which made 5 victims in Cernatu.

Battalion 126/140 from Seven Villages had 59 Hungarian soldiers/soldiers from Cernatu, out of whom 28 died heroically.

The construction of the new school and teacher’s house was completed in 1865 – due to the patriotic work of the villagers.

The organ was offered in 1871 by Lukács János and Simon Ilona.

The priest’s house was demolished in 1881 and it was rebuilt with 2450 forints.

In 1891, EMKE erected a monument in the memory of the 51 Csango victims of the Bloody Christmas in the central square of Cernatu locality, which was destroyed by Romanians with oxen in 1926, on the Twelfth Day, then the Hungarians saved it and placed it in the cemetery from Alszeg from Satulung.

In 1893, the old tower of 28 meters high and which was standing on wooden feet, was demolished, another stone tower of 36 m was built in 1895 and on June 12th 1895, the sphere on top of the tower was placed. The two bells of the old tower (which had 200 kg and the inscription “Istendicsőségére Csernátf. Türkösiés Bács f. eccl. Önt 1722” (“For God’s glory, cast by villages: Cernatu, Turcheș and Baciu in 1772”), respectively the bell from 1855 with 100 kg) were melted and two new bells were cast, one of 400 kg, the other of 210 kg, which rang for the first time on December 19th 1895, in the afternoon. In 1893, at the initiative of Sipos Jánosné Bereczki Anna, they covered Kotyor river – called also the Water of the village – with planks, at the entry into the village, the sidewalk of Vásár street was made in this way, called Bretter, which shortly became the center of social life. In 1906, the same lady donated 1000 crowns for building a new altar and for a new painting for the altar.

Besides the fact that Cernatu was a church and educational center, it was also considered the commercial center from Seven Villages for a while. From very old times, fairs were organized in the Square and on Vásár (Fair) street, but, under the yoke of Brașov, this habit also disappeared due to the fact that the fairs organized in Cernatu were a true competition for the fairs from Brașov. On April 1st 1842, with a lot of work and interventions, the Emperor Ferdinand V personally approved that these weekly fairs to be held by the official document no. 1372, later, on November 5th 1886, by ordinance no. 56.914, the Ministry of Agriculture, Industry and Commerce approved the national fairs.

The national fairs (of exhibit and animals) took place on May 3rd and September 20th. The weekly fairs were held on Monday, respectively Tuesday if Monday was a holiday.

Stores for clothing, metalwork, footwear, leather, spices, food, pub, pharmacy, steak house, barber’s shop and tailoring shop appeared already in the Square in the middle of the 19th century. After all these were recorded by Orbán Balázs, he declared that “Cernatu is endowed with all elements to become a city.”

Different products were always exhibited in the same place, in order to be found easily by buyers. Thus, in front of the gate of the former timber factory Köpe, an animal fair was held, surrounded by a metal rail, fattened pigs and meat calves were sold at the intersection of Vásár and Hátulsó streets. Here it was also located the Beer garden Papp, where the drink treat was drank for sold animals.

On the right side of Vásár (Fair) street, the producers of vegetables who came without carriages displayed their products, they sold fowl or oat and wheat weighed with the bushel. Near them, the potters arranged their merchandise, then the carriages with lime from Purcăreni and carriages with timber from the Szekler region were next. Across the river, at the corner, a few Transylvanian Saxons from Hărman sold flax seed oil, respectively flax seed cakes for calf and pig feed.

The carriages loaded with clapboard, stairs, wooden vases, rakes, wooden forks were sitting on the left side of Vásár (Fair) street. The endless row of carriages with vegetables could be also found here. The women from Purcăreni brought cloth from Seven Villages. The tents of tailors and furriers were found near them. A few women from the Szekler region offered mineral water with vinegar as refreshers in cups. The cow or buffalo cow buttermilk was sold from the tub.

A great buzzing was also in front of the present city hall. Here, the Romanian women were selling cloth for clothes, rugs, woolen carpets and those who came from Șcheii Brașovului were even offering exotic fruits. Other people were attracting the buyers with cheese, salt fish. In front of the bakery, Szőcsse was selling fresh bread and the children were offered honeycombs cut in small pieces. The merchants with sweets and Rroma from the Seven Villages who sold mushrooms and broomsticks were sitting in front of them. Travelling comedians and fortune tellers, from whose box the parrot was taking out the rag with the written future was interested person, were also found there.

The most popular entertainment of youth, the carousel, parties and singing were not missing from national fairs.

In the period of the two world wars, the development of Cernatu stopped. 39 persons from Cernatu fought in the First World War, out of whom 22 persons died heroically.

Around 1910, the sale volume of fairs decreased due to the extension of the public railway, which facilitated the transport of inhabitants to Brașov for shopping.

In this way, due to modernization, the famous fairs from Cernatu disappeared but the chalice is praising the work of jewelers from Brașov even after half a millennium and when it touches our mouth during the Holy Communion, we think with eternal respect at the bravery of our ancestors, which obtained the gratitude of John Hunyadi.

Kovács Lehel István: Térben és időben… Barangolás a Barcaságon
Hétfalusi Magyar Művelődési Társaság, Négyfalu, 2017.
ISBN 978-973-0-25878-3

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[1] Collstock: measuring rod, meter.

[2] Capital: written with capital letters.

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