The Hungarian House of New York hosted an exhibition about the life of Áron Márton, bishop of Transylvania, who was prosecuted by the nationalist communist regime of Romania during the second part of the 20th century. The exhibition was organized by the Pro Patria Association and the State Secretariat for Hungarian Communities Abroad as an event of the Áron Márton Memorial Year, commemorating the great bishop on the occasion of the 120th jubilee of his birth.
Áron Márton (1896-1980), Servant of God, was the bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in Transylvania during World War II and the communist regime in Romania. He was born into a peasant family; fought in the First World War as soldier of the Austro-Hungarian army; later became a seminarist and was chaplain in villages, also he teached in the seminary as professor of theology. He became the Roman Catholic bishop of Gyulafehérvár (Alba Iulia in Romanian) in 1938.
He found his diocese in a fragile historical situation: Transylvania was given to Romania and teared from Hungary at the end of the First World War, by the Treaty of Trianon (1920). But the Roman Catholics of Transylvania were ethnic Hungarians. Later, in 1940, by the Second Vienna Award, North-Transylvania and Székelyland was given back to Hungary, cause it’s ethnic majority was Hungarian – but not exlusively. The seat of the bishop, Gyulafehérvár remained in Romania. After the Second World War, the decision was repealed. During those years the ethnic tensions were especially intense.
Áron Márton stood up against the deportation of Jews in 18th May 1944 at Kolozsvár (Cluj), and wrote a letter to the authorities asking them to stop the deportations. The Yad Vashem Center honoured him posthomously for his stand in 1999 as Righteous Among the Nations.
Just some years later the Romanian communist regime started to monitor the Palace of Bishop at Gyulafehérvár, later trapped the bishop and restrained him in Nagyszeben (Sibiu). He was sentenced for life imprisonment in 1951, but was released in 1955. The authorities started a new trial against him in 1956, so he was kept in house arrest even until 1967 – he couldn’t leave the Palace of Bishop.
Because of those incidents, the devout Catholic people of Transylvania, especially the Hungarian Székelys feared for Áron Márton, for example they organised teams of bodyguards for him when he arrived to the region of Felcsík for giving confirmation to the uncofirmed.
The Romanian communist secret service, called Securitate, collected 70.000 pages about the bishop during the decades of the totalitarian dictatorchip.
Áron Márton die din 1980, at the age of 85. More than ten thousand people attended his funeral at the cathedral of Gyulafehérvár. The canonization of Áron Márton is under way.