Saint Ladislaus’ memory is still alive in the Hungarian culture: the knight king is present in our legends, he is the hero of our tales and the central figure of many pilgrimages.
The church was first mentioned in charters in 1583; it was rebuilt several times, and its present appearance is probably due to a renovation in the mid-19th century.
The paintings depicting the legend of Saint Ladislaus were discovered by József Huszka, but later they were unfortunately covered with whitewash. The wall painting has survived in a fragmentary state, but it is possible to see the scenes depicting the cutting of the tendons and the killing of the Cuman.
It is the creation of the same master who worked in the Unitarian Church in Dârjiu (Hu: Székelyderzs) and in the Roman Catholic Church in Mihăileni (Hu: Csíkszentmihály), and was probably painted around the 1410s and ‘20s. The restoration of the fresco fragments was completed in 2011.
Balázs Orbán had already given an account about the frescoes in the Unitarian church, but only the 1996 research and then the 2006 uncovering brought to the surface the outstandingly beautiful wall paintings of the Saint Ladislaus legend.
The legend, painted during the first half of the 14th century, was depicted on a surface of more than 11 metres in length, on which we can observe the knight king and his Hungarian warriors, but, at the same time, a fresco depicting the Adoration of the Magi was also discovered. The garb and armour of the Cumans, as well as the horse tacks are all in good condition on the wall painting.
On the basis of their stylistic features, we are sure that this is the work of the same master who created the paintings in the churches of Ghelința (Hu: Gelence), Martiniș (Hu: Homoródszentmárton), and Pădureni (Hu: Sepsibesenyő).
According to the legend, three fairy girls, Klára, Dála, and Ramocs walked here once, all three settling down in the area, and Dála chose this settlement.
The church surrounded with a precinct wall is the most important historical monument of the region; its construction started at the end of the 12th century.
The fragments of several wall paintings were discovered in the church. The chancel vaulting was also painted, with coats of arms on the vivid green background: we can identify the Szekler coat of arms along those of Sighișoara (Hu: Segesvár) and Brașov (Hu: Brassó) towns. On the northern wall, the details of the Saint Ladislaus legend can be seen; the figure of the Cuman, shooting an arrow, is easily recognisable.
The wall paintings decorating the Unitarian fortified church, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, were discovered in the second half of the 19th century.
The church was rebuilt several times, and only its nave preserves the 13th and 14th century architecture, with the representation of the legend of Saint Ladislaus on its northern wall. The cycle starts with a specific depiction of the scene where the king rides out, the largest compositional element is the chase scene, followed by the wrestling, the killing of the Cuman, and the rest.
The ornamental elements appearing in the background, the manner of the horses’ depiction, as well as the characteristic figures suggest that the master that worked here was the same as in Armășeni (Hu: Csíkmenaság) and Sânmartin (Hu: Csíkszszentmárton). The restoration of the paintings was finished in 2016.
The most widespread legend of Frumoasa attributes the origin of the settlement’s name to Saint Ladislaus: “There was a stone in Păgânul Peak, from where he jumped. When he was here, he named it by telling his horse: Drink, my horse, from this beautiful water! So, it gained the name of “Szépvíz” (“beautiful water”). Where he leaped from, the trace of his horse is still visible.”
The former Saint Ladislaus Chapel in Frumoasa was started to be researched ten years ago, after which a belfry was built there, and earlier a hill named after Saint Ladislaus was built with soil brought from settlements in Upper Hungary and Transylvania, where a statue was erected to honour of the knight king.
Lunca de Sus
The memory of King Saint Ladislaus is preserved even today in the Ghimeș (Hu: Gyimes) region. The two ecclesiastical buildings raised on the ridge bordering the Ciuc (Hu: Csík) and Ghimeș regions, the Saint Ladislaus Chapel of Păgânul Peak (Hu: Pogányhavas) and the Holy Spirit Chapel of the Frumos Mountain (Hu: Széphavas) commemorate the holy king, protector of the realm’s borders, and an annual pilgrimage is also held in the memory of the knight king.
According to the tradition of the legends, the chapel at Frumos Mountain was built by Saint Ladislaus in memory of his victory over the enemy. Near the chapel, the Küpüs fountain found on the slopes of Păgânul Peak is also related to the king: he was the one who created it, respectively the foot of his horse left an imprint in the stone next to the spring, the horseshoe’s trace being still visible today.
The church and the settlement were first mentioned in charters in 1332. During the centuries, the church was rebuilt several times: in the 15th century the chancel was modified and a tower was built, which was later raised further, and its precinct wall was built in the 17th century.
The wall paintings that decorate the interior are fragmented, but they are highly significant, as they were painted by the same master that worked in Dârjiu (Hu: Székelyderzs). Among the depictions we can also see fragments from the legend of Saint Ladislaus: the slain heads and hands of the Cumans, their hats, and the front leg and saddle of Saint Ladislaus’ horse, as well as the king’s armour.
One of the most significant churches of Udvarhely Seat stands here, with the most mediaeval parts preserved, having been built around the 13th and 14th centuries. Its tower was raised further and then reinforced around the mid-19th century; this was when a part of the wall paintings were discovered.
The wall painting of Saint Ladislaus’ battle at Chiraleș (Hu: Kerlés) is unfortunately in a fragmentary state, as it was knocked off during the construction of the Gothic vault and subsequent reconstructions, but the dynamic composition of the remaining parts is outstanding. The best preserved scene is the one on the western wall, depicting the king riding out into battle, as well as the battle scene found on the northern wall.
The Unitarian church was rebuilt many times; at the turn of the 16th century a new chancel and tower were constructed, yet the largest changes were brought by the construction works in 1937, during which the building was enlarged and new windows were opened in the southern wall. This was when the mediaeval wall paintings were found, which were uncovered and documented by the parish priest at that time, however, he was forced to re-render them.
We had to wait until 2007 for newer researches: this was when a part of the wall paintings from the mid-14th century was uncovered, among which the figure of Saint Ladislaus appears several times. For example, he is depicted as being crowned by an angel, a scene which has not yet been painted in other cycles. Near the former triumphal arch, a horse’s head can be recognised, as well as the figure of the king from the wrestling scene.
The cult of Saint Ladislaus is still alive in the settlement today, expressed through the annual pilgrimage held on June 27, the canonisation day of the knight king, while the statue of Saint Ladislaus on the square named after the holy king also preserves his memory.
According to oral tradition, in a neighbouring area, the footprint of Saint Ladislaus can be seen on the surface of a stone, and the Aranyos Stream flows next to it, referencing a well-known motif of the legends.
The area is also rich in natural resources: the Luci (Hu: Lúcs) turf bog is found nearby, its peculiarity being the dwarf birch, a dwarf shrub that has survived since the last ice age but is endangered today.
Written sources first mentioned the village in the first half of the 1400s. The connection of the settlement to Saint Ladislaus [Szent László in Hungarian] is most evident in its name, however, there are also several legends about the knight king: it was believed that a castle belonging to Saint Ladislaus, called Szabárcs, was once standing on a mountain near the village.
In another area close to the village, called Cintorom, according to local tradition there was a church and a monastery built by Saint Ladislaus, which was frequently visited by the king from Szabárcs Castle.