roc-structure > History of the Romanian Orthodox Church > IV. The Romanian Church in Transylvania in the 14th - 18th centuries

IV. The Romanian Church in Transylvania in the 14th - 18th centuries

 
There is certain evidence that, in Transylvania – organised as “voievodship” until 1541 – there were some Orthodox archbishops and metropolitans ever since the first quarter of the 14th century. Thus, rather recently, an inscription was discovered in the church of the Monastery of Ramet (county of Alba) mentioning the name of bishop Ghelasie and the year 1377.
 
 
As soon as Alba Iulia became the capital town of the autonomous principality of Transylvania - set up in 1541, when Hungary was turned into an Ottoman province - the seat of the Metropolitanate of Transylvania was established in this town (perhaps in 1572), where it remained until the beginning of the 18th century. Here one can mention the pastoral service of the following metropolitans: Ghenadie I (1579-1585), a supporter of deacon and printer Coresi form Brasov, Ioan from Prislop (about 1585 - 1605), in whose time Michael the Brave built a new cathedral and a metropolitan residence in Alba Iulia (1597), Teoctist (about 1605, who died in 1622), Ghenadie II (1627 - 1640), Ilie Iorest (1640-1643; +1678), defender of Orthodoxy, Simion Stefan (1643-1656), in whose time the New Testament from Alba Iulia was printed, in 1648, in its first Romanian edition, Sava Brancovici (1656-1680, +1683), fighter against all attempts to convert the Romanians or other people to Calvinism. Due to their steady fight to defend Orthodoxy, and according to a synodal decision, metropolitans Ilie Iorest and Sava Brancovici were canonised in 1955.
 
 
As soon as Transylvania came under the Habsburgs’ rule (1688-1918), a little part of the Romanian clergy and faithful were obliged, through pressure and deceit, to accept the “union” with the Church of Rome (1698-1701), at the time of metropolitan Atanasie Anghel. Consequently, a “split” in the Romanian Church appeared, although only formal, as besides the admittance of the papal primate, all the doctrine, rite and organisation of the United Church remained unchanged. Several monks, priests and faithful defended Orthodoxy, out of whom one can mention: hieromonk Visarion Sarai (1744), who died in Kufstein prison, in Austria, hieromonk Sofronie from Cioara, leader of a peasants’ upheaval between 1759-1761, peasant Oprea Miclaus from Salistea Sibiului, who travelled three times to Vienna with petitions of the Orthodox Romanians and who died in Kufstein, priests Moise Macinic from Sibiel and Ioan from Gales, who died in the same prison, hieromonk Nicodim, archpriest Nicolae Pop from Balomir and priest Ioan from Aciliu, who travelled to Petersburg to get the assistance of tsarina Elisabeta Petrovna for the Romanians persecuted for their faith, archpriest Ioan Piuaru from Sadu, priest Stan from Glamboaca, faithful Ioan Oancea from Fagaras, faithful Tanase Todoran from Bichigiu, Nasaud, broken on wheel – who was canonized in 2008 – and hundreds of other priests and faithful imprisoned or displaced from their villages. Taking into account their firm fight for defending Orthodoxy, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church decided that hieromonks Visarion and Sofronie, as well as faithful Oprea Miclaus be honoured by our Church as confessors of the right faith. In 1992 priests Moise Macinic from Sibiel and Ioan from Gales were listed among saints. All five are celebrated on October 21.
 
 
Schools for the children in the adjacent villages used to function, just like beyond the Carpathians, in the precincts of certain monasteries and churches in Transylvania and Banat. A Romanian school of old tradition was the one in the precincts of the church of Saint Nicholas in Scheii Brasovului; most of its pupils became priests at the respective church. Due to their low income, the monasteries could never develop a cultural charitable activity equal to that of the monasteries beyond the mountains. In fact, from 1761-1762, most of the monasteries and sketes present in Transylvania at the time (more than 150) were destroyed by cannons or set on fire, by order of general Nicolai Adolf Bukow, the envoy of Maria Tereza, empress of Austria. Practically, any trace of monastic life disappeared in Transylvania after that period.
 
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