roc-structure > History of the Romanian Orthodox Church > I. Beginning of the Christian life on the territory of our country (Dacian-Roman Christianity)

I. Beginning of the Christian life on the territory of our country (Dacian-Roman Christianity)

 
Saint Andrew, the Apostle of the Gets-Dacians (Scythes).As Romanians, we draw our Christian faith from St Andrews’s activity, who preached on the territory between the Danube and the Black Sea, later on called Dobrudgea, known from the antique sources as “Scythia Minor”. 
 
 
Christianity in Dacia. In 106, emperor Traian (Trojan) conquered a part of the territory of the former state of the Gets-Dacians, headed by king Decebal, which was turned into a Roman province (Transylvania, Banat, Oltenia and a part of later on Muntenia). As a result of these political territorial changes, favourable conditions for promoting the new teaching in the north of the Danube, too, were created. One could speak of the so-called “informal missionaries” recruited from among colonists, soldiers in the Roman army, merchants and slaves who had adopted the Christian faith before coming to Dacia. In the 3rd century, the number of these “lay” missionaries increased due to certain Christian prisoners whom the Goths - established on the territory north of the Danube - used to bring here from Asia Minor, where Christianity was known as far back as the “apostolic century”. Some of them were ordained as bishops, chorepiscopi, priests and deacons.
 
 
Great Christians. Several names of Christians who died a martyr’s death have been known ever since the Gothic persecutions, such as Sava, around Buzau town, in 372, a certain saint Nichita and a few others.
 
 
In the province of Scythia Minor and on the territory close to it the number of the Christian martyrs during the persecutions of Diocletian, about 300, was very large. One can mention the following: Zoticos, Atalos, Kamssis and Filipos, all of them from Noviodunum (today’s Isaccea), whose relics have been discovered in a crypt in Niculitel, county of Tulcea (laid at present in the church of the Monastery of Cocos), Chiril, Chindeas and Tasius, at Axiopolis (today’s Cernavoda), priest Epictet and his converted disciple Astion, at Halmyris (today’s Dunavat), Macrobiu, Gordian, Heli, Lucian, Zotic and Valerian, Argeu brothers, Narcis and Marcelin, all of them at Tomis (today’s Constanta). There are other names mentioned, such as: the martyr soldiers Pasicrat, Valentin, Marcian and Nicandru and later on soldier Emilian from the town of Durostorum (today’s Silistra) at the boundary between the provinces of Scythia Minor and Moesia Inferior. Martyrs Quintilian, Maxim the reader and Dadas suffered in the village of Ozobia, near Durostorum.
 
 
The Church hierarchy. All the above mentioned information confirms the existence of a Church organisation on the Carpathian-Danubian territories. The historical sources proved that ever since the beginning of the 4th century, as soon as the Edict from Mediolanum was promulgated in the year 313, about 15 episcopal sees were documentary mentioned in various towns on the right bank of the Danube, in the provinces of Pannonia Inferior, Dacia Ripensis and Moesia Inferior (today in Serbia and, especially, in Bulgaria) - at Sirmium, Viminacium, Oescus, Bononia, Marcianopolis, Novae, Appiaria, Abbvitus, Durostorum, whose titular bishops participated in the proceedings of the Ecumenical or local synods. We suppose that these episcopal sees were even earlier than that, at about 300 A.D. During the persecution instituted by Diocletian, a large number of priests died a martyr’s death.
 
  
In the 6th century, Scythia Minor was a “metropolitan province” and its titular had become metropolitan, with 14 dioceses in the main towns of the province. All these episcopal sees - Tomis too - were directly related to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the new capital city of the empire, a principle confirmed by a decision of the 4th Ecumenical Council from Chalcedon, in 451. Therefore, they were related to Rome, through language, and to Constantinople, through faith.
 
 
There were also a few remarkable theologians from the same province, out of whom one could mention only two: Saint John Cassian (about 360-435), founder of two monasteries in Marsilia (today’s Marseille, France), the author of several theological works (Conversations with the Parents, On the monastic settlements with community life, On the Incarnation of the Lord a.s.o.) and Dionisius Exiguus (or the “humble one”, about 460-545), translator of some theological and canonical books in Greek, the one who laid the foundations of the present chronological system, counting the years since the birth of Christ (Christian Era).
 
 

The massive spreading of Christianity on the territory between the Danube and the Black Sea is also confirmed by about 35 basilicas dating back from the 4th-6th centuries, discovered in the main urban centres of the province: Tomis, Callatis (today’s Mangalia), Tropaeum Traiani (Adamclisi), Histria (Istria), Axiopolis (Cernavoda), Troesmis (Iglitia), Dinogetica (Garvan) etc., as well as by more than one hundred inscriptions on objects with religious character, dating back from the 4th-6th centuries.

 

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