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The exhibit of icons created for the Eucharistic Congress can be seen in Debrecen

The Ethnographic Museum and the Greek Catholic Ecclesiastical Art Collection has opened a joint exhibition entitled "Bringing Icons to Life" in Debrecen.

The Hungarian-Greek Catholic Church had planned to present a large exhibition in the Műcsarnok in Budapest on the occasion of the 2020 International Eucharistic Congress. Due to COVID-19, the event had to be postponed until 2021, but in the meantime, some pieces of the exhibition can be seen in the building of the Greek Catholic Metropolis in Debrecen until June 30, 2021.

The central element of the exhibit is the pieces of the iconostasis from Magyarkomját (Velyki Komiaty, Ukraine). In 1913, the Greek Catholic parish of Magyarkomját, formerly part of Ugocsa County in the Kingdom of Hungary, sold its Rococo iconostasis to the Budapest Museum of Applied Arts; the work was then transferred to the Ethnographic Museum in the 1960s.

By 2006, the history of the iconostasis and its pieces had been processed and identified. Archival sources on his carver, painter and exact date of publication have not yet been discovered, but based on its style, experts say its artists closely followed the design of the iconostasis at the Uzhhorod Cathedral, which was built between 1776 and 1780.

Another defining piece is the old altar of the Greek Catholic church in Abaújszolnok, which belongs to the diocese of Miskolc. The work of the unknown Hungarian carver and painter was made in the late 18th century, and its gable carving dates back to around 1900. The altarpiece depicts the crucifixion, while King David and the prophet Nathan can be seen on each side.

Other objects in the Debrecen exhibit come from the Greek Catholic churches of Northeastern Hungary.

A decade ago, the Ethnographic Museum restored the main parts of the iconostasis, while all of the images were restored in 2018-19 in preparation for the International Eucharistic Congress’s exhibit of Greek Catholics. 

According to the agreement between the Greek Catholic Metropolis and the Ethnographic Museum, the museum is lending more than 60 pieces of the iconostasis of Magyarkomját to the congressional exhibition and then to the Greek Catholic Museum in Nyíregyháza.

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