Near the Great Church, at the intersection of Füvészkert street and Múzeum street, you can see a real botanical rarity: a tree-sized lycium shrub growing on the window bars of the former parsonage. According to the legend, Reverend Bálint, a follower of the new faith, entered into a passionate argument with the Catholic priest Ambrosius on this very spot in the century of Reformation. In the heat of the debate, the Catholic priest tore a branch from a nearby lycium shrub and stuck it into the ground, saying, “Your faith will grow into something when this weed turns into a tree”. The answer of Reverend Bálint was simple: “Then it will turn into a tree.” The prophecy came true, as the little branch indeed grew into a tree during the centuries.
The lycium (lycium halimifolium) is a very durable, drough-resistant, shrub-like plant, which normally does not grow into a tree, but some of its tendrils can be as thick as an arm.
However, the historical facts do not underpin the anecdote. In fact, the Debrecen specimen can only be around 200 years old, since the house of Bishop Sámuel Szilágyi, whose window bars the branches embrace, was built in 1764. Thus the legend has no historical veracity, but the place itself played a significant role in the history of Reformation in Debrecen. Péter Juhász Melius, the famous reformer and religious writer lived in the parsonage that stood here, and which also housed the printing workshop of Gál Huszár. The Bishop’s Palace was erected by the Reformed Church in the place of the former parsonage in 1912, and it functions even today as a church-owned apartment building.