Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History

Explore the extraordinary past of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through the pages of the book 'Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History.' Uncover political events, economic development, and cultural heritage of these Banat towns through richly documented stories. Follow the evolution from the earliest days to the present, delving into the intricate threads of political intrigues, economic transformations, and cultural ascensions. Experience the past through the eyes of the author as the pages of the book unfold before you, providing a unique perspective on the life and legacy of these significant locales.

Orthodox Church in Novi Becej

Orthodox Church in Novi Becej

The year of construction - 1774 is inscribed on the church, which does not correspond to reality. This date originates from 1871 when the church was repaired, and it was found on September 12, 1931. At that time, Novi Becej and its surroundings were hit by a hurricane, which caused great damage and claimed about twenty human lives. A small boat that sailed between Stari Becej and Novi Becej was submerged, and more than twenty people drowned in the Tisa River. At that time, the top of the Orthodox Church in Novi Becej was also demolished.

In the apple tree of the fallen tower section, a tin box was found filled with oil, containing a piece of paper on which was written:

"Upon the renewal of this honorable cross and the entire tower with a new roof, which occurred in 1871 on September 2nd, we consider it our duty to record this for posterity's knowledge:
1. This holy church was built in the year 1774 during the Turkish war under the reign of Emperor Joseph II, and the cross on the tower was erected due to the wartime only in 1789.
2. The cross was regilded and the tower was re-covered as indicated above on 2nd of September 1871. Church Assembly."

Some data in this document are incorrect except those under number 2, when the church assembly covered the tower again and regilded the cross.

Sentklarai in his book "History of the parishes of the Cenad Diocese" says that the Orthodox in Novi Becej established their parish as early as 1685, and the church was built in 1731. The present large church with fewer decorations was built in 1786. Although by that time the Becej estate had been in the hands of the Hadžimihajlo family for four years, knowing that the estate cost 120,828 forints and was mostly purchased on credit, as we found in the Historical Archives of Vojvodina in Sr. Karlovci a bond from Pavle Hadžimihajlo from the year 1783 in the amount of 104,000 forints, we cannot assume that he could participate with his funds in the construction of the Orthodox church already in those years. In those early years of owning the estate, his primary concern was not the Orthodox church.

It seems very acceptable to us the data presented in the First Schematism of the Timișoara Diocese for the year 1897, which states that the church in Novi Becej, dedicated to St. Nicholas, was built from 1792 to 1796. In support of this assumption is the fact that the Hadžimihajlo family had already exploited the Novi Becej estate for ten years, so they could participate in the construction of the Orthodox church. At that time, Klara Papapoliso was already the wife of Pavle's son, Jovan Pavle Hadžimihajlo. It is likely that in the year the church was completed, she gave birth to their second son Nikola, who perhaps, received his name from the church patron saint, or St. Nicholas became the church patron saint because of Klara Hadžimihajlo's son.

That the church was built in 1796 is also mentioned by Borovski, but this date is mentioned in the description of Vranjevo.

Dimitrije Ruvarac, in the Schematism of the Eastern Orthodox Serbian Metropolitanate of Karlovci (Sr. Karlovci 1900), mentions 1794 as the year of construction of the church of St. Nicholas in Novi Becej.

Different data is also given for the iconostasis. The Chronicle of the Orthodox Church in Novi Becej states that the iconostasis and frescoes were made by Pavle Simic, Jeftimije Popovic, and Teodor Kracun in 1858 when a complete reconstruction of the interior of the church was carried out. Popovic supposedly worked on the iconostasis, and Kračun on the smaller icons around the iconostasis (these were probably transferred from an old church), while Simic worked on the icons on the walls and ceiling. We find the information that Pavle Simić painted the iconostasis in 1858 also in Mate Kosovac's book. Recent research proves that the iconostasis was painted in 1814, and this information is found under number 12 in the church inventory from 1841, where it states: "The iconostasis or (temple) adorned with sculptural art and painted representations from 1814 is in good condition."

The same author concludes that the painting on the iconostasis of the Church of St. Nicholas in Novi Becej undoubtedly originated from the workshop of Stefan Gavrilović. This conclusion is based on pronounced stylistic analogies between this work and other iconostases by Gavrilović, manifested in all elements of painting expression of its time, in line, composition, and color.

Two icons (the Crucifixion of Christ and the Resurrection), located in the choir loft, were donated (in 1921) by the Russian Ljubov Sergejeva Ostrovska, who settled in Novi Becej as a refugee from Russia after the October Revolution. The icons were painted by the Russian Aleksandrovna Jearakova, an academic painter, who also settled in Novi Becej as a refugee from Russia.

During the demolition of the top of the tower of the Orthodox Church in Novi Becej by the hurricane in 1931, the ceiling was pierced and the icon (fresco) of the Nativity of Christ was destroyed. In the same year, the Novi Becej teacher Žarko Čiplić made a new one.

The last restoration of the church was done in 1928, when all the icons and frescoes were restored. These works were carried out by Vasa Pomorišac and Zdravko Sekulić. At that time, a new floor made of white-gray ceramic tiles imported from Czechoslovakia was installed. Electric light was also introduced in the church.

The repair of the church after the hurricane was carried out on October 5, 1931, by putting back the fallen apple and cross. Before the demolition, the church tower had a pointed top, and the blunting was done as a temporary measure "to serve for 10-15 years until better circumstances."

The bells, like all other churches, were requisitioned by the state during the First World War and melted down for the needs of the Austro-Hungarian army. New bells were purchased in 1923 from the Merkur foundry in Belgrade, namely: the large one weighing 557 kg, the medium one 232 kg, the third, so-called Vladino bell (named after the donor Vlada Bajin) 106 kg, and the small one 49.5 kg.

The church was built of solid material, with dimensions of length 24.5 meters, width 12 meters, and tower height of 35 meters before the demolition in 1931, and after the repair (1931), 30 meters.

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