Rugonfalva lies at the point in Udvarhely (Odorhei) County where the meandering White-Nyiko soon flows into the old Great-Tarnava river.
In front of the pretty tile-roofed Secler houses, the dovecote gate still stands here and there, and in the centre of the village, the radiant tower, whose beauty and antiquity are unrivalled, rises proudly. On the eastern side of the village, the Füzes stream, on the western side, the Tó stream, rushes into the stony White-Nyiko’s foam arms, to meander with a gentle splash along the blackberry bark banks. When spring comes: the small meadows surrounding the village glow majestically with wildflowers and the birds’ merry song echoes through the green foliage of the wooded meadows into the village. Along the little river, in the thickets of the bushes, the bait beats until midnight, and then, after a short rest, again greets the bright-eyed dawn star with clattering music.”
About the church
Only the nave of the Romanesque church remains. The former nave wall and Romanesque sanctuary on the eastern side were demolished, the foundations of which were uncovered during archaeological excavations in 2021. A row of bricks set into the floor of the nave at its edge illustrates this trace of the old foundation. The semicircular entrance to the old, small church, which still stands today, opens from the west, and above it, a doorway from the west arm gives access to the body of the tower. Work in 2020 revealed an earlier entrance on the south side under the plaster, which had been bricked up during the Gothic rebuilding. This 15th century rebuilding also increased the length of the church, shifting the axis of the nave to the east, and the new entrance, still in use today, is a remarkable sight, with its unique stone-carved lining.
The north wall of the Romanesque nave had a mural on it before the reconstruction, which was plastered over for a long period in the spirit of the Reformation. Most of the fragments of the mural were found in 1971, and in 1981, the archaeologist Elek Benkő cleaned and searched the edges of the painting. During preliminary studies prior to the renovations that began in 2018, windows were opened to look for any additional wall paintings that might still be hidden under the plaster, but no further details of the mural were found. The fresco, consisting of two rows of paintings one below the other, most probably covered the entire northern wall of the Romanesque nave. Elek Benkő, in his medieval monuments of Rugonfalva, writes of the painting as follows:
“Painted in black, white, ochre, sienna and vermilion, the upper cycle of this relatively well-preserved fresco depicts the Adoration of the Kings. The lower panel is completely destroyed, except for a small fragment of a haloed head (?). … The right side of the scene is filled by Mary, seated on a canopy throne, wearing a brown robe with a black and grey mantle over her, holding the child Jesus, also dressed in brown. The drapery behind the throne is held up by four angels, the head of the one on the left completely destroyed, the one next to it partially. Kneeling before Mary, his fragmentary form is covered by a flesh-coloured robe, he holds his detached crown in his right hand and with his left he holds Jesus’ feet, which he kisses. In Jesus’ left hand is a gift from Gaspar, a chalice full of money, and in his right hand he holds up a blessing. The left side of the scene is separated from the right by a geometric frame. Here the two other kings are standing, their names in small letters painted in white next to their heads (melchior and baltizar). The lettering of the inscription seems to be later than the date of the painting. Above them flies an angel dressed in an ochre-coloured robe with small circles, who draws their attention to the Star of Bethlehem. Menihert points to the star, Balthasar to Mary, and to their right they hold a chalice with a lid containing their gifts, or more precisely a ciborium. Both are wearing long robes, tied at the waist, Menyhért’s brown, Boldizsár’s blackish-grey with brown veins. Their portly servant turns his back to the scene and drinks from a raised bottle. The clothing of the demonstratively pagan servant, dressed in the medieval parlance of “thrushes” (grey and white striped overalls with a ruffled top, brown and ochre stockings that fit over the legs), and the detailed drawing of the liquid dripping from the edge of his mouth, were most probably serving educational purposes. The damage to the upper part of the mural was caused by the late Gothic extension of the church.”
During the rebuilding at the end of the 15th century, a polygonal sanctuary was added to the church, with a sacristy and an ossium to the east and a tower to the west. As a result of the Reformation, the door to the sacristy from the sanctuary was walled up and the sacristy and the ossium were demolished. Their foundations can still be seen on the north side of the church.
In 1861, an organ was built in the sanctuary by Sámuel Szőcs Mátisfalvi. “Made by the artist Sámuel Szőcs Mátisfalvi under the benevolent influence of the Chief Steward, Mr. Gergely Bartha, under the direction of the vicar Vetési Sándor and the choirmaster, Daniel Fülöp in 1861.” “Made by Samuel Szőcs for the glorious praise of God in Rugonfalva 1861.” According to organ restorer Zoltán Pap, further archival research may reveal how the original metal pipes escaped requisition. The instrument’s furniture and original front pipes were painted in the same colour as the pews. As it is the only remaining original façade built by Samuel S. Matisfalvi, it deserves special protection, as an excellent analogy for the reconstruction of other requisitioned pipes. Its internal metal whistles show signs of inexpert tuning, with the use of indentations to tune whistles that had already been cut to sound. The whistles are in repairable condition with little loss. The organ was restored in 2014.