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The Church and Hospital of the Misericordian Monks

bis mizericordieni-smallThe Church and Hospital of the Misericordian Monks

The evolution of this buildings complex located at the western border of the city is connected to the Catholic orders active in Timişoara in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

In a first phase, at the request of local government officials, the Bosnian province Franciscans started in 1726 the “St. John of Nepomuk Brothers of the Cross Association” (also known as “Nepomuk brothers”), a very active association in its first decade of existence. In addition to raising that first statue of St. Nepomuk, which was originally positioned in the middle of Libertăţii Square, the association managed to build a hospital and a pharmacy, between 1735 and 1737. It was the first hospital in Timişoara.

On completion, the hospital and pharmacy were turned over to the Misericordia Order, called in 1737 in Timişoara especially for this. The Misericordians were a Catholic order with multiple activities in nursing the sick. From the massive documentary material preserved about this order in Timişoara in its 200 years of existence here arises that they cared for patients of all religions and ethnicities – therefore this was not merely a slogan.

The first six Misericordians arrived in Timişoara from Belgrade, and were led by Vicar Paulinus Temel.

The 1737 arrival of the Misericordians may be considered a fortune, because after just one year Timişoara would be struck by the plague. It seems that this time the plague had been brought from Transylvania (which was already infested by the epidemic) in Banat by an infantry regiment.  At that time, this was still the only hospital in town and, given the great number of deaths (about 1,000), the heroic task that fell on the monks’ shoulders is understandable. In fact, four of the six brothers died here, the two remaining brothers being unable to cope with the tasks. The deceased were later replaced by other new-comers.

Being financially supported by individuals, but also by the local government, the Misericordians developed little by little. A substantial testamentary donation left in 1760 the by the former governor of Banat, Baron von Englshofen, allowed them to install hospital beds for poor women in St. Catherine monastery. All the responsibility and care of mental patients (at least, former suffering priests) fell also on the Misericordians.

The Misericordians built themselves a church, but still this was not a priority for them. The construction began only in 1748 and, in the main, ended in 1753; it was probably not completed in detail. Ever since 1775, the Misericordians asked the bishop Engl von Wagrain to sanctify the cross that was to be placed on the church tower.

The church dedicated to St. Iosif, a beautiful Baroque building, was severely damaged during the siege of 1849, having to be restored – the Baroque appearance is therefore largely lost. Today it functions as a Greek Catholic parochial church with the same titular saint.

In addition to conducting church services in their own church, until 1774 the Misericordians also took care of the Freidorf parish.

The Misericordian pharmacy worked with great discontinuity, being closed between 1760 and 1825 for lack of funds. It was reopened under the name “Zum Granatapfel” (“Rodia” –“Pomegranate” Pharmacy).


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