The Romanian Orthodox Church in the Modern Period 18211918

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The 1821 revolution led by Tudor Vladimirescu in Vallachia led to the overthrow of the Phanariot regime in the principalities of Vallachia and Moldavia. The revolution set in motion the modernization of the Romanian political, economic and social structures. In 1859 Vallachia and Moldavia were united under Alexandru Ioan Cuza (1859-66). The name Romania was officially adopted in 1862. The country became a constitutional monarchy in 1866, under Prince (King from 1881) Charles I of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.

On 9 May 1877 Romania proclaimed itself independent of the Ottoman Empire. The Berlin Congress (1878) internationally acknowledged the Romania's state independence and the annexation of Dobrudja. In exchange, Bukovina, which had been annexed by the Hapsburg Empire in 1775, remained as it was. After the Treaty of 16 May 1812 between Tzarist Russia and the Ottoman Empire, Russia annexed Bessarabia. Transylvania, Banat Maramures and Crisana remained part of the Austrian Haps-burg Empire. The dualistic state of Austria-Hungary was created in 1867, and the administration of those three territories was taken over by Hungary, which intensified Romanians' struggle for independence. After World War I Romania retrieved its three regions, as a result of the National Assembly in Alba-Iulia in 1918. The Peace Treaty of Versailles (1919-20) sanctioned these national resolutions.

A series of changes in religious life occurred after the first union of Vallachia and Moldavia in 1859. During the reign of Alexandru Ioan Cuza, a series of clerical laws that were absolutely necessary to the process of modernization were adopted. Monasteries' possessions were secularized in December 1863. On 3 December 1864, the independence of the Orthodox Church and the establishment of its General Synod were proclaimed, which caused a conflict with the Ecumenical Patriarch. On 11 January 1865, the Metropolitan of Vallachia was awarded the title of Primate Metropolitan. In 1872, the Organic Law was passed, whereby the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church was constituted, comprising all the hierarchs in office: the Primate Metropolitan as president, the Metropolitan of Moldavia, the Bishops of Ramnic, Buzau, Arges, Roman, Husi and the Lower Danube (Galati), and eight 'lieutenant' hierarchs, one for every bishopric seat.

Metropolitan Veniamin Costachi of Moldavia (1803-8 and 1812-42) founded the seminary in Socola-Iasi, an elementary school and a high school near the 'Three Hier-archs' Monastery in Iasi. He also founded an engineering school, an academy, a school of crafts, as well as several 'county' schools in other towns in Moldavia. He edited approximately 130 books, some of which were his own translations from patristic literature. Grigorie Dascalul, the Metropolitan of Vallachia (1832-4), who was canonized in 2005, was also an outstanding translator from patristic literature. The Primate Metropolitan Nifon (1850-75) founded and sponsored a seminary in Bucharest; Calinic Miclescu founded the Faculty of Theology and the printing-house for church books in Bucharest (1875-86). In Moldavia, when Calinic Miclescu was metropolitan (186375), he and Iosif Naniescu (1875-1902) were the founders of the impressive metropolitan cathedral in Iasi. Bishops Chesarie (1825-46), Filotei (1850-9) and Dionisie Romano (1850-73) of Buzau supervised education and printing. Bishop Calinic the Saint (1850-68) of Ramnic was one of the most outstanding representatives of Romanian Orthodox spirituality, and Melchisedec Stefanescu of the Lower Danube (186479) and of Roman (1879-92) was the author of many studies on the history of the Church and a full member of the Romanian Academy.

The bishopric seat of Bukovina became a metropolitan seat in 1873, with Silvestru Moraru Andrievici (1880-95) as its most significant leader. After the annexation of Bessarabia by the Russian Empire in 1812, an archbishopric seat was created in Chi-sinau. It was subservient to the Synod of the Orthodox Church in St Petersburg, and it was forbidden to have any connections with Moldavia or Vallachia. Only its first leader, Gavriil Banulescu-Bodoni (1813-21) was Romanian; until 1918, the hierarchs were

Russian; unfamiliar with the Romanian language or with the hopes of the Romanian believers, they had a duty to incorporate Bessarabia spiritually into the Russian Empire.

In Transylvania, the Orthodox Church was ruled by the most outstanding hierarch in Romanian history, Andrei Saguna. He was vicar in 1846, bishop in 1848 and metropolitan from 1864 to 1873. In 1864 he restored the former metropolitan seat in Transylvania, which he moved to Sibiu; he also established two bishopric centres in Arad and Caransebes. He reorganized the metropolitan seat by the Organic Statute of 1868, the principles of which lie at the foundation of subsequent church law. He transformed the old Theological School in Sibiu into an Institute with a three-year theological and a four-year pedagogical section. He founded an eight-grade school in Brasov, which functioned under the guidance of the Church until 1948 and which still bears his name. He supervised the activity of the over 800 confessional elementary schools in his bishopric (over 2,700 such schools functioned in Transylvania at the time). He also founded a printing-house in Sibiu, which still functions, publishing among historical and religious books, and Telegraful Roman, a newspaper that has been published uninterruptedly since 1853. The Metropolitans Miron Romanul (1874-98) and Ioan Metianu (1899-1916) continued his cultural and spiritual efforts.

Theological culture benefited from new translations from patristic and post-patristic literature, especially in the first half of the nineteenth century: textbooks for theological seminaries, translations from modern Russian literature, especially in Moldavia, from where people went to study at the Pastoral Academy in Kiev. In Transylvania emphasis was laid on historical research. The first foreign-language periodicals were translated into Romanian in that period: the national-political papers Telegraful Roman (1853) in Sibiu, and Biserica Ortodoxa Romana (1874) in Bucharest are still running. Others were short-lived: Biserica si Scoala in Arad (1877-1948), Foaia Diocezana in Caransebes (1886-1948), Candela in Cernauti (1882-1946), Revista Teologica in Sibiu (1907-16 and 1921-47), published as Mitropolia Ardealului since 1956. In Transylvania and Banat, many priests edited newspapers with a national, political, pedagogical, literary and economic profile.

The first modern theological seminaries were founded near each bishopric centre in Moldavia and Vallachia: Socola-Iasi (1803), Bucharest, Buzau, Arges (1836), Ramnic (1837), Husi (1852), Roman (1858), Ismail-Galati (1864). A short-lived Theological Faculty was founded as part of the University of Iasi (1860-4), and another one was founded in Cernauti (1875-1948) to replace an institute that had existed since 1827. The Faculty in Bucharest (1881-1948) continued its activity as the University Theological Institute.

Each bishopric seat in Transylvania had its own Pedagogical-Theological Institute: Sibiu (1850), Arad (1822) and Caransebes (1865). The Orthodox Church in Transylvania guided the entire Romanian education system, namely several high schools (in Blaj, Beius, Brasov, Brad), pedagogical, vocational and girls' schools, as well as over 2,700 elementary schools (these were schools open to all children and subsidized by special funds donated by the believers).

Ecclesiastical art declined. Churches and monasteries were still built in the Molda-vian/Brancoveanu style that had been established in previous centuries. Some neoclassical and neo-Gothic churches were built in towns, for example the metropolitan cathedral in Iasi and Amza Church in Bucharest. Some of the former princely establishments were recreated, but their initial shape was distorted. In Transylvania the same architectural style was predominant, in hall-churches, whereas in Banat and Crisana the Baroque style was dominant. The Byzantine style prevailed in the building of the cathedral in Sibiu in 1902-6.

The painting in monasteries followed the earlier Greek-Byzantine fresco style, but neo-Renaissance tempera paintings also abounded (the church of Agapia Monastery, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Iasi). Psalm music, with a strong tradition in Moldavia and Vallachia, was also strongly represented in Transylvania.

Monastic life declined after the monasteries were secularized in 1863, and after a law was passed during the reign of Alexandru Ioan Cuza, whereby restrictions were imposed on the number of monks in each monastery. Few new monasteries were built: at Cocos, Saon, Celic-Dere in Dobrudja, Chitcani, near Tighina-Bessarabia, but at the same time new churches were built in former monasteries: at Frasinei, Horaita and Cheia.

The clergy and the hierarchs took part in social and national vindication movements: in the 1848 revolution in Vallachia, Banat and Transylvania, in the movements prior to the Union of the Provinces (185 7-9), in the 1892 'Memorandum' movement in Transylvania, and as a result of their involvement, many were imprisoned. During the Russian-Turkish-Romanian war for independence in 1877, and during World War I, military priests, as well as hospital monks and nuns accompanied the army on the battlefield. From 1916 to 1918, hundreds of priests from Transylvania and Banat were deported to Hungary or imprisoned because they had fought for the union with Romania.

Inter-Orthodox links, which had been so complex in the fourteenth to eighteenth centuries, regressed after monastic properties were secularized and links were made with Greek clerical institutions. Many young Romanians studied Greek theology in Athens and in Kiev, and became outstanding translators from Greek and Russian theological literature. In the second half of the nineteenth century, many Romanians from Transylvania and Banat studied at Roman Catholic and Protestant Universities in western Europe, especially in Austria and Germany.

In the same period, the first Romanian Orthodox communities appeared in Paris, Baden-Baden, Vienna and Budapest. Some Romanian monks built churches on Mount Athos (Prodromu and Lacu hermitages) and in the Holy Land (on Mount Tabor).

As a result of massive emigration from Transylvania and Banat at the beginning of the twentieth century, the first Romanian parishes emerged in the USA and in Canada.

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