The Piarist complex was built according to the plans of the architect László Székely, architect Arnold Merbl, in the style of the 1900s.
Liceul Piarist a fost una dintre cele mai renumite instituții de învățământ din Timişoara, care a funcționat fără întrerupere între anii 1789-1948, organizat de ordinul romano-catolic al călugărilor piariști (Ordo Scholarum Piarium), având activitatea principală educația copiilor din toate mediile sociale.
La venirea lor în Timișoara în anul 1788, piariștii au primit biserica Sf. Ioan de Nepomuk și mănăstirea adiacentă din Piața Libertății, ambele ridicate de călugării franciscani observanţi bosnieci între anii 1733-1736, biserica fiind demolată în anul 1911.
Complexul piarist din Piața Regina nr. 1 a fost construit după planurile arhitectului László Székely, antreprenor arh. Arnold Merbl, în stilul anilor 1900, curentul Secession. Complexul este compus din „Casa Ordinului”, corpul sălilor de clasă și biserica liceului cu hramul Înălţarea Sfintei Cruci. Lucrările au început în 12 august 1907 și au fost terminate în octombrie 1909, biserica fiind consacrată în data de 21 ianuarie 1912 de episcopul dr. Gyula Glattfelder. Frescele din biserică (b-dul. Regele Ferdinand nr. 3) au fost realizate de pictorul József Ferenczy (1866-1925), ilustrând scene din viaţa sfântului losif de Calasanz, întemeietorul Ordinului Piarist. Altarele bisericii au fost executate de firma Mayer din München, iar sculpturile de György Kiss
De pe fațada principală a complexului piarist au fost îndepărtate în 1934 statuile Sfântului Ștefan (István) și a Sfântului Emeric (Imre), realizate de sculptorul György Kiss. În anul 1938 au sfinţite două clopote şi montate în turnul bisericii, turnate de meşterul Anton Novotny din Timișoara, care le-au înlocuit pe cele rechiziţionate în timpul Primului Război Mondial.
Regimul comunist a desființat în 1948 liceul piarist şi ordinul călugăresc piarist din România, clădirea fiind confiscată și transferată Politehnicii, cu excepţia bisericii. Din anul 1992 funcţionează în clădire Liceul Teologic Romano-Catolic Gerhardinum.
- Mihai Opriș, Mihai Botescu, Arhitectura istorică din Timișoara, Editura Tempus, Timișoara, 2014
- Josef Geml, The old Timișoara in the last half of the century 1870-1920, Cosmopolitan Art Publishing House, Timișoara, 2016.
The Piarists' Complex
(So you grew up there in Fabric?) At first. After the first three primary classes I went to a school called Ehrilch, then in the fourth grade I went to the Löwinger school in Iosefin. It was a private Jewish primary school. The classes were held in Hungarian language, that was my mother tongue. (Did your parents speak Hungarian to each other?) Yes. And German.
That's when my parents wanted me to go to high school. At that time, the best high school was the Piarist High School.But there were Catholic priests. I remember the catalog that was being read, in alphabetical order. I remember, pay attention: Bajta, Bolog, Becker, Berzan, ...... Fargo, Fischer, Friedmann, I could tell you everything ... and how long has it been since then? I had my first year of high school there and had a Catholic priest who was a Latin teacher. He was very pretentious. I didn't need Latin all my life, but that's where I had to learn it. And I remember there were some prepositions, I don't know if they were in the genitive or the dative or the accusative ... in alphabetical order. For example: ante, apud, ad, adversum, circum, circa, citra, .... poene .... there were eighteen.
Back then, there was a law that forbade Jews from attending non-Jewish schools. There was a Jewish high school back then, and I could not continue to attend Piarişti. (When was this law happening?) Between 1923 and 1924. And then my parents enrolled me at the Jewish High School in Timisoara. I managed to learn the Romanian language there. It was new to me. At the Jewish High School I did second, third and fourth grade. But, because my grandfather was a furniture manufacturer and because my father was a civil servant - he had a baccalaureate, but he became a bank clerk - they wanted me to become a merchant and so, they enrolled me at the Higher School of Commerce in Timişoara, where I finished first, second, third and fourth grade. In these four years I have been the best student of the class. At the end of the year I always received a few books as a gift.
Andrei Spira (b. 1913, Rijeka - Fiume) interviewed by Smaranda Vultur in March - May 2002 in Timişoara. (published in full in Smaranda Vultur coord. Saved Memory, The Jews of Banat yesterday and today Polirom, 2002)
Tell me about your life! Were you born in Tomnatic?
In Tomnatic, on May 9, 1906. After finishing the first five classes there, I went to Hungary, to Szeged, to high school. This happened in winter, in the First World War. After the years 1918-1919, I came to the serbian country for a year. Everything has changed, the money… everything. In '19, after the Treaty of Trianon, we were under the Romanian rules, and everything changed, we lost everything. You know what that’s like, changing money and everything. And then I landed here, in Timişoara, at the Piarist High School.
What was taught at the Piarist High School?
At the Piarist High School? It was still the Hungarian system and I learned Hungarian. The Piarist High School was a very good school. We learned six languages: Hungarian, Romanian, French, English, Latin and Greek. But Latin, what can I tell you! I only spoke Latin to the walls. I only had eight hours of Latin per week. Six times an hour and two hours once. And history. More languages. It was two hours a week of religion, like anywhere else. Until the exams. In '25. Then, in '25, I passed the baccalaureate and went to college in Bucharest. There I learned Romanian. I didn't really know. I learned Hungarian during the war, I didn't learn German at all. I only learned, because of my family, the mother tongue, Swabian. It was hard in Szeged, because there was a war in '16 -'17, and it was a mess, you had nothing to eat. I didn't know Hungarian when I went to school, it was hard.
I know German, Hungarian, Romanian and a little bit of French that I managed to learn. In Bucharest, the French language was popular, especially in the ‘25 -'26.
Where did you live in Bucharest? Lutheran Street, number 12.
Are you a Catholic? That's how we were when we lived at Tomnatic, Catholics.
Hans Damas b. 1906 interviewed by Smaranda Vultur 1998 in Timişoara (published in full in Smaranda Vultur, Germans from Banat through their stories, coord, Second Edition, Polirom 2018)
I was a student, between the years '52 -'57, at the Faculty of Industrial Chemistry in Timişoara (...) While I was a student I preffered to study more at the library. It suited me to study in the library that was in the Piarist building at the time. To eat, I ate at the student canteen, I was always a scholarship holder, I also had a merit scholarship and since my father had no means of subsistence, poor man gained his existence by selling lottery tickets. As an old man, he had no pension, he had nothing, he would give me 25 lei to have pocket money and the rest of my money were thanks to this scholarship. We ate lunch at the canteen and at home in the morning and in the evening. The canteen was where the Express Buffet is on the corner, next to the Central Park. The Sports Association had its headquarters there, the students were upstairs and there was also a student dormitory for girls, while downstairs you could find a student canteen.
(...) As students we had a chance; before having a confectionery near Violeta, there was a shop where mineral water per liter to take home was sold, but if you wanted to, you could ask to drink mineral water there as well. After eating at the student canteen, we would go there and serve a glass of cold mineral water, a tablespoon of rose sherbet and a little Turkish coffee, and the prices were: 25 cents was the water, 1 leu was the coffee and 50 cents was the sherbet, so for not even 2 lei we had the full dessert. I would also light up a cigarette and I'm not even a smoker, but as a student I would enjoy lighting up a cigarette or two.
I would sit there, have some coffee, then go to the library to study.
Gheorghe Reisz (1934 – 2002) interviewed by Adrian Onica, Third Europe Archive, BCUT (published fully in Smaranda Vultur coord. Saved Memory, The Jews of Banat yesterday and today Polirom, 2002)
After being born, I had been baptized as an Orthodox by my parents, but my grandma secretly baptized me once again as a Catholic, as she had promised St. Anthony to do, in case I got rid of the pneumonia I had contracted when I was not even a year old. She was convinced that my illness had been a punishment for her, because she hasn’t baptized me it in the first place. Thus I found myself with a double celestial affiliation, as I would also find myself having a dual worldly citizenship later on. But most of the time I went to the Piarist Church, in the center, after I was taken, in good weather - to play in the Central Park, and in bad weather - to eat cake or almonds, at Corso - Violeta. Because of this, whenever Grandma said to me, "We're going to pray tomorrow," I didn't know what I wanted: sun or rain.
Grandma used to sit on the back benches at church, near the holy water vessel at the entrance. Mostly, because the position allowed you to come and go discreetly, without disturbing anyone. She preferred to go to church when there were as few people as possible. We rarely went to worship, probably because she was afraid of being recognized and losing her job, but also because I was too bored during that time, and she wanted to take it easy with me and teach me how to pray first. That being the case, I remember how, looking from behind the church at Piariști, in the depths of the narrow nave, towards the altar, I looked and saw something - it was blurring in the distance and I could only see a golden steam at the end of it. I didn't tell anyone, probably thinking that's what it would look like if you look "beyond." Later on, when I had already passed primary school and came across the word transcendence, which I was very happy to use; everytime I used that word, I could see the golden fog that hid the doors of the altar at the Piarist Church and I could smell the wooden benches.
The fact that I was short-sighted would be brought up differently - and it wasn't without emotion. At one point, the film Godzilla, Ishiro Honda's original from 1954, which came to us about two years late, made a sensation in the city. Everyone wanted to see it. I don't know what made Grandma take me to the movies with her. It was my first movie. She thought it was kind of a fairy tale with dragons that was children-friendly, or my mother was gone and she didn't want to leave me at home - I don't know. In any case, with her habit of sitting as far back as possible, she bought seats as far back as possible as well. After it got dark in the room and the movie started, all I could see on the screen were some gray shadows, and so - I got bored and started yawning. A little later on I fell asleep. That happened as the room began to wave from the screen toward us in successive waves of horror. Grandma first thought I fell asleep in fear. Not long after, the screams of the spectators woke me up. I had a surprised face, and it was pretty obvious I did not understand what was happening. My grandmother gave me a frown, continuing to be absorbed by the movie until the end, while I remained impassive, stoically enduring my growing boredom, similar to being at a church service. On the way home, grandma asked me if I was afraid. I was silent, and she started thinking. In the evening she did not tell my mother anything about our mysterious getaway. She later confessed to me, laughing, that she hadn't slept all night, tormented by questions about my mental capacity, and that the next day she told everyone in the office that I wasn't scared of Godzilla. Firstly, there was a polite silence in the room, then an older teacher said in a soft voice: "He should see an ophthalmologist, headmistress." Said and done. The ophthalmologist looked me in the back of my eyes, seeing things there that I would discover later, and prescribed me a pair of glasses.
Andrei Ujică, excerpt from the Archive of Interior Images. Part I published in Orizont magazine, no. 5, 2020. P. 17 - 18