Pagans came, o Lord, in thy inheritance

We have already written, that 24 August, St. Bartholomew’s Day is a day of mourning not only for the Calvinists of France, but also for those of Szék (Sic, in Romania). In 1717 the Tatars devastating all northern Transylvania, after having found the gates of the rich neighboring Armenian town Szamosújvár/Gherla closed, compensated themselves with the town of Szék. They sacked the town and killed or deported the bulk of its inhabitants, leaving only a hundred survivors. Their offspring have ever since worn black, and made a vow to remember the tragedy with three penitential services on this day.

The second service at noon is for the remembrance. The pastor reads the report of the chronicle of 1759 and the testimonies of the investigation of 1771.

Tamás István, 57 year old, says. I was also abducted, along with other people from Szék, at the dam of Kaján. My father was slain. Many of them are still over there, in pagan hands.

Balog György says that 700 people were abducted from Szék. He heard it from his father and from the old Pószás Miklós of Russian origins.

Sipos István, 70 year old, says. My father was abducted together with others.

Molnár Mihály, 68 year old, says. A great many of those of Szék were abducted. Hardly a hundred were left, children included.

Nemes Kis Erzsébet, widow of Havadi András, 76 year old, says. I was also abducted along with others by the pagans, I remember of having been abducted together with a hundred and forty, of whom I only know four who were later set free.

Havadi András, 43 year old, says. I know very well that a large number of persons were abducted, for I still have a list of a part of them, 86 in number, who have never returned. Havadi Klára was abducted at the age of 2, and brought back to Szék at the age of 3 years and 6 months. She died in 1768.

Csorba Benedek, 65 year old, says. Towards the end of August 1717 the Tatars, having broken in through the valley of Beszterce/Bistriţa, have also wounded me and brought me to Máramaros/Maramureş. I was ransomed two weeks later, but my sister was taken away forever together with other persons of whom only a very few were set free.

Faragó or Balásfi István: I know that many were abducted. I was got back from the Tatar’s hand by my father around the border of Szék.

Árkosi Borbála, 73 year old. As a little girl I was sitting on the hillside of the church, and I saw how the charters were destroyed. The pastor was left alive, but in underpants only. Faragó György was slain, and I was abducted, too. I was ransomed eleven days later.

Kovács Márton: I watched from the hill how the church was ravaged and the charters destroyed by the Tatars. They broke in the door of the church, the people was running towards Káján, but at the Dam they reached them and abducted a great many of them.

Sós Pál, 78 year old. My wife, Bárdos Erzsébet was also abducted, and more than 600 together with her.

After the service I suggest that six years later, for the three hundredth anniversary it would be good to invite the representatives of the Tatars for reconciliation, we have the contacts for that. My hosts just shake their heads. “It’s too early yet”, they say.

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