One of the most important personalities of the Great Union generation in Romania was Cardinal Iuliu Hossu. It is about the one who announced to the crowd gathered in Alba Iulia the decision to unite Transylvania with the Kingdom of Romania. Many of Iuliu Hossu’s personal belongings are kept in Cluj-Napoca and Gherla.
Iuliu Hossu was born in a noble and priestly family, in Milașul Mare, Transylvania. His father, Ioan, was a priest, and his uncle, Vasile, was a Greek Catholic bishop. Iuliu Hossu was sent to study in Rome. He received his doctorate in Philosophy, then his in Theology. In 1910, he was ordained a priest by his uncle, Vasile Hossu. After the outbreak of World War I, he decided to become a military priest. In 1917, Pope Benedict XV appointed him Greek Catholic Bishop of Gherla.
In the autumn of 1918, Iuliu Hossu was the first hierarch who, together with Alexandru Vaida-Voevod and Teodor Mihali, decided to decide for the Union of Transylvania with the Kingdom of Romania. On December 1, 1918, he was the one who announced to the crowd gathered in Alba Iulia the decision to unite Transylvania with the Kingdom of Romania. The audio recording of his speech, remade in 1968, is kept in the archives of the Greek Catholic Episcopate of Cluj-Gherla. Also there is kept a photo taken by Emanoil Samuilă Mîrza, which documents the moment.
On December 2, 1918, Iuliu Hossu was elected a member of the delegation sent to Bucharest, to present to King Ferdinand I the declaration of Union. In the interwar period, Iuliu Hossu manifested his vocation as a founder. He moved the episcopal see from Gherla to Cluj, and in 1936, he founded the first monastic community from Nicula, which he entrusted to the Order of Saint Basil the Great. It is the most important pilgrimage center for Romanians in Transylvania. During the Second World War, Iuliu Hossu remained in Northern Transylvania, ceded to Hungary.
But the hardest attempts came after the establishment of communism. Iuliu Hossu was arrested in 1948, and the Romanian Church United with Rome was banned. Iuliu Hossu went through many prisons, including Sighet Marmației. In 1969, Pope Paul VI created him cardinal in pectore. Prisoner Iuliu Hossu died in 1970, and last year, on June 2, he was beatified by Pope Francis on the Liberty Field in Blaj, along with six other Greek Catholic bishops who died for faith in communist prisons. Numerous relics remained behind him.
Iuliu Hossu’s personal belongings were kept, after his arrest, by various relatives. Today, they can be seen in many places. An example is the museum in Gherla, where some hierarch’s clothes are kept. Others, including liturgical objects or decorations offered to Iuliu Hossu by the kings of Romania, can be seen in the permanent exhibition hosted by the cathedral under construction in Cluj-Napoca, dedicated to the Martyrs and Confessors of the Faith in the 20th Century. There are also objects, such as the album with original photos made by Emanoil Samuilă Mîrza, kept at the headquarters of the Greek Catholic Eparchy of Cluj-Gherla.