Ulugazi Mahallesi. 614 Sokak, 2
Tel: 0362 4313386 – Fax: 4356101
The arrival of the Capuchin friars. Eight Italian Capuchin friars who are living in Georgia, are forced to leave the country. During their return they encountered many Latin Catholics along the Black Sea who did not have a church for prayer, and not only in Samsun but also in Trabzon, Giresun, etc.; the Greeks and the Armenians (both Gregorian and Catholic) already had their own churches.
The French Catholic school. The French Marist friars construct a school and the Saint Joseph nuns came to help educate the children. During that time, an Italian woman donated a piece of land to the Capuchin friars to build a church (constructed in wood) and a house for their residence. In this period, the Christians in Samsun made up 30% of the population (Catholics, Orthodox, Armenians, and Gregorian).
The Sultan’s signed agreement. Sultan Murad signs off on the construction of a real church to replace the existing wooden one which was in a state of decay. The Sultan considered the coexistence of Christians and Muslims extremely positive and therefore authorized the construction of a small church ( 8 x 12 meters). Two years later the church and the land were officially registered and taken under the French Consulate’s protection.
The Catholic cemetery. The church is completed. A convent is constructed near the church for the friars, and an adjacent rental house is built for Christian families. A Catholic cemetery is constructed (besides the Orthodox one) and the church is completely adorned with frescoes.
The Young Turks invade the convent. The friars are closed off in two rooms with a leaky roof and they are not allowed to repair it. The Young Turks take over the other rooms and the house for rentals. The house was never returned because the Land Registry did not issue a copy of the property documents. With the outbreak of World War I the friars barely had enough money to eat.
A living community. There were about 100 faithful with a majority of foreigners and the rest Catholic Armenians.
The confiscation of our church in Giresun. The Vali of Giresun orders the seizure of the Capuchin church in Giresun and the custodian (a carpenter) who lives there, is evicted. Despite the protests of the friars and the French Consulate the church was transformed into a library that still exists today.
The inauguration of the new altar. During this period, the historical figure P. Umile (Roberto Ferrari) lives in Samsun. He arrived in 1951 and was ordained Deacon in 1969. The following year he became a Priest and remained there until 1973.
The Nuncio’s visit. The Nuncio arrives for the diagonal ordination of P. umile. The church is crowded, the lateral altars are visible as is the large presbytery carpet. The decorations of the Stations of the Cross are also original.
The Mayor orders the destruction of the church. Because he wants to create a park, Mayor Vehbi Gul orders the church to be demolished. He devises a plan to defame the Church and instigates the population to revolt against the friars, who he defines as missionaries (against the State). With the help of the Nuncio and the Italian Consulate, the Capuchin Friars are recognized as the legal owners of the church and it’s artistic value. The work of the young lawyer Yasar Ozturk was fundamental in the achievement of this result.
The centennial of the Sultan’s signing.
The church is threatened with destruction exactly one hundred years after the Sultan’s signing, which expressed his desire to see Christians and Muslims living together. As seen below in the photo with his head bowed down, P. Germano (Giuseppe Bernardini) was elevated to the glory of the episcopate in the city of Smirne. The only remaining sign of Mayor Gul in the city, is a bad memory. Historically the church was known as the French Church, now more the Italian Church; both however are incorrect: the Catholic Church represents all populations and all nations.
Pierre, a French Priest who arrived four years earlier, is taken to court and accused of converting 60 students to Christianity, showing them pornographic films and supplying them with alcohol, including to young girls. The accusations turn out to be false, all invented by a demented person named Attila Nur. A few years before P. Pierre’s arrival the church was looked after by a custodian of Armenian origin. The Christians disappeared. There were less and less foreigners working in Samsun. A few Turks began to show interest in Christianity but they were almost all distanced by the authorities. The remaining few did not have the courage to be baptized and many of them moved away. For these reasons there are only a few Christians in our community.
The church is restored. The Bishop of Anatolia, Ruggero Franceschini, sustains the restoration; the Romanian couple Nico and Elena did much work here during this period.
Pierre is stabbed and the Matteoli family is defamed. P. Pierre is stabbed by Attila Nur, the same man who falsely accused him in the past. After an unsuccessful attempt to extort money from the priest Nur decides to stab him. The elderly P. Pierre returns to his homeland for health reasons and is replaced by an Italian/Turkish family. The newspapers immediately started a slander campaign against the family with the final intention of lynching, but they were subsequently forced to retract their statements so as not to end up in court.