The Teachings of Father Elek

One of the most visited pilgrimage sites in Covasna County is Bățanii Mici. Yet, in the small village in the Baraolt Depression, people with disabilities condemned to a wheelchair forever haven’t stood up miraculously, and there are no wonder-working fountains healing the blind.  There is only a memorial house, which was inaugurated 52 years ago, and has been a permanent destination ever since for visitors who come to pay homage to the great personalities of Hungarian literature and culture, and for participants in the almost obligatory school excursions. A few years ago, a bench was added to the courtyard, with a bronze statue sitting on it, where you can nestle and perhaps even hear the voice of Father Elek. 
The storyteller Elek Benedek – born 162 years ago and died 92 years ago – is undoubtedly most famous for starting the first Transylvanian children’s magazine, the Cimbora (literally “Buddy”), in 1922, which he took over as editor-in-chief after the first issues were published by Jenő Szentimrei. Subscribers were not only provided with moral but at the same time entertaining literature, historical and scientific educational readings, but within the rubric entitled “Message from Father Elek”, he was also consistently honing the spelling and drafting skills of his large number of child correspondents. Through this, he was in intimate, personal contact with some 50,000 Transylvanian Hungarians: “You have to learn the language of the state but you must not forget your mother tongue.”

Samu Csinta

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