Transylvania

Many churches provide evidence of the existence of hierarchs, priests and believers in the Principality of Transylvania by the mid-fourteenth century. Mention should be made of the earlier churches in Densus, and those in Strei, Streisangeorgiu (which has an inscription dated 1313, mentioning a painter and a priest), Santamaria Orlea, Rau de Mori, Ostrov, Sanpetru, Pesteana, Gurasada, Lesnic, Ribita, Criscior (all in Hune-doara county), and the Prislop, Ramet and Peri Monasteries. There is documentary evidence of a large number of monasteries in Banat and Western Romania.

It would have been only natural for such monasteries to have their own hierarchs. But Transylvania was under the rule of the Catholic Magyar kingdom. Under these circumstances the 'apostolic' kings of Hungary (particularly Louis the Great and Sigmund of Luxembourg in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries) took repressive measures against the Orthodox priests and believers in Transylvania. Their hierarchs never had a permanent residence near the princes of Transylvania, who were appointed by the kings of Hungary, and were forced to live in monasteries or villages. Throughout this period, the Orthodox faith was only acknowledged as 'tolerated religion'.

Three Protestant confessions appeared in Transylvania by mid-sixteenth century: Lutheranism (to which all Saxons adhered), Calvinism and Unitarianism (which were embraced by some Magyars and Szeklers). The Orthodox Church was confronted with rather unsuccessful proselytizing from the Calvinist Magyars, and a tiny percentage of the nobility went over to this confession. Despite this unfortunate situation, the documents of the time, even the Magyar ones, constantly mentioned Romanian hierarchs: Archbishop Ghelasie of Ramet in 1376 (who was sanctified), others in 1391, 1456, 1479, four metropolitans in Feleac village near Cluj (from 1488 to approximately 1550), as well as others in Geoagiu and Lancram, near Alba-Iulia.

It was only in 1572 that the state authorities allowed Romanian metropolitans to live in Alba-Iulia, which had become the capital city of the Principality of Transylvania. It became their official residence until the first part of the eighteenth century. The most representative defenders of the Orthodox faith were Ioan of Prislop (1585-1605), Teoctist (1605-22), Ghenadie (1627-40), Ilie Iorest (1640-3), who was removed by the Calvinists and canonized later, Simion Stefan (1643-56), the first editor of the Romanian version of the New Testament in Alba-Iulia in 1648 and Sava Brancovici (1656-80), who was also canonized. Several other hierarchs were active in Vad, near Cluj, where Moldavian princes established a bishopric in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Others lived in Maramures and in Timisoara-Banat (e.g., Metropolitan Joseph the Saint, 1643-53), in Caransebes, in Ineu-Lipova, and later in Arad.

There were close connections between the Church in Transylvania and those in Vallachia and Moldavia. The Metropolitan of Vallachia was appointed representative of the Patriarch of Constantinople in Transylvania and had the right to ordain hier-archs. Moldavian and Vallachian princes founded many churches in Transylvania: Michael the Brave, for instance, built the cathedral and the metropolitan residence in Alba-Iulia, and Constantin Brancoveanu built the churches in Ocna-Sibiu and Fagaras, as well as the Sambata Monastery near Fagaras. Throughout the Middle Ages, there was a constant exchange of hierarchs, monks, priests, iconographers, manuscript copyists, and printers. This exchange maintained a sense of national unity in the three principalities.

In 1688, the Principality of Transylvania was annexed by the Hapsburg Empire; Banat was also annexed in 1718, and this situation remained unchanged until 1918. With direct support from the authorities in Vienna and by direct action from Magyar Jesuits, a small number of priests were pressured into accepting union with the Church of Rome, by acknowledging the four 'Florentine' points (following the model of the union of the Ukraine in Brest, 1596). In 1701, Metropolitan Atanasie Anghel of Alba-Iulia was re-ordained in Vienna, but only as bishop, subordinated to the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Esztergom in Hungary. The metropolitan seat of Alba-Iulia was thus abolished and the seat of the new bishopric united with Rome was set in Fagaras (1723) and then in Blaj (173 7), where it has remained. In 1853 the pope elevated it to the status of a metropolitan, with three suffrage dioceses in Oradea, Gherla and Lugoj, which still exist.

Priests, monks and believers protested against the confessional schism of the Tran-sylvanian Romanians, and some of them subsequently died in prisons in Vienna, and later became neo-martyrs of the Orthodox Church. In 1761-2 all Orthodox Romanian monasteries and hermitages were destroyed by direct order from the Austrian General Nicholaus Adolf von Bukow. The Orthodox Church remained without a leader for more than sixty years, and candidates to priesthood were ordained in bishopric centres in Vallachia, usually at Ramnic. It was only in 1761, as a result of memoranda and peasant uprisings that the Court in Vienna consented to the Orthodox Church having its own bishopric centre in Sibiu. To begin with it had four Serbian hierarchs, but in 1810 the national hierarchy was restored.

Despite these difficulties, the Orthodox Church in Transylvania had an essential role in the advancement of Romanian culture, as well as in the strengthening of the sense of Romanian national unity. According to some historians, the first manuscripts in Romanian might have been written in southern Transylvania. In the second half of the sixteenth century, Deacon Coresi printed over twenty-five books in Romanian and Slavonic, in Brasov. The first Romanian version of the New Testament was printed in Alba-Iulia in 1648.

A considerable number of priests, especially from St Nicholas Church in Brasov, and monks copied historical and liturgical books. In the second half of the eighteenth century, three scholars belonging to the Church united with Rome - Samuil Micu, Gheorghe Sincai and Petru Maior - wrote theological, historical and linguistic books, most of which have been preserved in manuscript form.

Elementary schools for the children in the neighbouring villages functioned within the precincts of churches and monasteries. The first schools for the systematic education of clergy were founded in Blaj in 1754, and in Sibiu in 1786.

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