history of Christianity within the country of Romania goes back to such a degree that the foundation of the country itself is often linked with its Christian theology. “By 360 Dacia was a part of Christendom. ”
Miller 28) The foundation of the country is to some degree synonymous with its theology, known today to be largely Orthodox.
Romania occupies, roughly, ancient Dacia, which was a Roman province in the 2D and 3D cent. A.D.; The ethnic character of modern Romania seems to have been formed in the Roman period; Christianity was introduced at that time as well. After the Romans left the region, the area was overrun successively by the Goths, the Huns, the Avars, the Bulgars, and the Magyars.
Romania itself has a rough history of imperial rule and bloody tyranny, yet to some degree each successive conqueror was exposed to if not converted to Christianity while occupying the country. The strength of the Christian faith is foundational even today to the identity of the nation.
Going back in time to the beginnings of the Christian conversion of the people of Dacia, or Romania is a rich if limited tradition associated with the apostle, Andrew, later to be known as St. Andrew. Though the man himself is often more likely to be associated with Scotland, his influence within Romania and other parts of the world is still felt today.
The Romania…was formed…between the first and the seventh centuries A.D. According to the ecclesiastic history, the inhabitants who were lived in the North of the Danube received the Gospels from Apostle Andrew and his disciples, in the first to third centuries A.D. Archaeological testimonies prove that at the end of the fourth century church life was powerful, numerous religious abodes, priests and faithful existing on the territory of present-day Romania. (Alecse 2001)
St. Andrew remains the patron saint of Romania and is said to be the missionary who initially brought Christ’s words to the Dacian people, after the resurrection of Christ and before Andrews own crucifixion upon what is today known as St. Andrew’s Cross, shaped as an X.
After the resurrection of Christ, Andrew became a missionary. He preached in Scythia on the north shore of the Black Sea in an area which is now Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, and the Ukraine. He preached in Russia as far as the Volga River and was also the patron saint of Russia. (Switzer 1994),
Though the information is often limited upon issues of such age, it is believed that St. Andrew came to Romania in or around 1st century AD and left a colorful legacy of Christian, belief, doctrine and even mythos in his wake.
Saint Andrew came to the Dobrudja region in the 1 st century A.D. preaching the Gospel to the population living between Black Sea and the curvature of Carpathians. The legend says that at the Namaiesti monastery St. Andrew was guided to the wise Dacian hermit but unfortunately he was not there. So Andrew said nemo est (the Latin expression for “is nobody”) – people kept these words and named the monastery Nama-iesti. Do you see how close is the Romanian language to Latin? St. Andrew brought to Geto-Dacians a new religion but he found here already a complex spiritual life, recognized by the most developed antique civilizations (including the Greeks). (Spataru 2003)
Through the years Romania has gone through many political changes, which has played out upon the ways in which Christianity is worshiped and believed by the Romanian people. Each successive oppressor, as mentioned above, beginning in the mid 3rd Century, after the Roman pull out marked the beginning of a foundational liturgical change within the Romanian world. Yet, the basic fact of the belief in Christianity remained the standard.
The migration period brought Dacia linguistic and religious change. The Dacians assimilated many Slavic words into their lexicon and, although modern Romanian is a Romance language, some linguists estimate that half of its words have Slavic roots. Baptism of the Dacians began around 350 A.D. when Bishop Ulfilas preached the Arian heresy north of the Danube. Soon after saints Cyril and Methodius converted the Bulgars to Christianity in 864, Dacia’s Christians adopted the Slavonic rite and became subject to the Bulgarian metropolitan at Ohrid. The Slavonic rite would be maintained until the seventeenth century, when Romanian became the liturgical language. (Library of Congress Country Studies 2004)
It is without a doubt even given the cryptic nature of historical fact associated with Christian origins, and the multitude of changes within the faith that Christianity thrived in Romania and even survived through the suffering of state mandated religious control in the early to the late twentieth century. Many of the laws and foundations associated with the abolition of religion are still being challenged and finally stricken down today, as more and more people embrace their history and faith, openly.
Statistics for 1992: 86.6% of Romania’s population (of 22,800,000) are Orthodox; 5.1%, Roman -Catholic; 3.5%, Reformed; 1%, Greek Catholic. Of the Hungarian minority (7% of the population), 801,500 are Reformed; 800,000, Roman Catholic; and 76,000, Unitarian.
The declaration of affiliation also closely matches the actual statistics for church membership as well.
Church membership: Orthodox, 19,000,000; Roman Catholic (Latin Rite), 1,144,800; Roman Catholic (Oriental Rite), 228,400; Baptist, 109,677; Pentecostal, 220,051; Adventist, 78,658; Evangelicals, 40,000. ”
Near the close of the last century the statistics for association of faith are dominated by Orthodox faith, though the striking feature of the following statistics are the sheer numbers, per capita of people openly affiliated with Christianity in general.
Many would argue that the strength of the region, culturally and nationally even under the oppressive rule of communism is largely associated with the historical significance of Romania as a seat of a rich and ancient Christian faith.
Romania has a long history of Christianity; therefore, Orthodox refuse to be treated as if the nation were an empty religious arena. They try to recover their identity, and the ethos of the place: tradition, practices, and ethics that constituted the pillars of resistance in difficult times, carrying the long history of Christianity in Romania.
Contemporary experiences of believers in Jesus Christ have to be recapitulated. The canonization of the Romanian saints in 1992 showed that all people of God, not just the hierarchy, are the defenders of the Truth, and, in fact, that the gospel was transmitted and preserved by the experience of confessors and martyrs.
Romanian Christian resurgences occurred throughout its history as a nation and are largely associated with the nationalistic and cultural pride of the people of Romania.
Despite the overwhelming fears and destructiveness of the , and the despotic rulers of other times the faith and the strength of the nation, as a is unflagging, and the new generations, unlike many other post-colonial populations, see Christianity in their future, rather than simply as a quaint part of their cultural past.
After World War II, the communist regime in Romania never formally made a distinct separation of the church from the state; it allowed the church to maintain two theological faculties, in Bucharest and in Sibiu, as well as six seminaries. The communists also tolerated the existence of monasteries and several ecclesiastical and theological publications. Still, the church was tightly controlled by the state, and the remarkable revival of monastic life that occurred in early communist Romania was severely limited by the government after 1958. The church was largely freed from state control in the early l990s, when the communist regime was overthrown. (Computer 2004)
From the foundations of the ancient faith within the region now known as Romania, the conversion and ecclesiastical advantage brought by St. Andrew and his followers, to the modern regeneration of faith and practice within Romania there has been regional cohesion to Christianity and cultural pride associated with it.
The Romanian Diaspora, associated with the communist control of the region has also led to the spread of Romanian Orthodoxy all over the world. Wherever the Romanians landed they brought with them a strong sense of national, cultural and spiritual pride, which will remain strong for centuries. Cohesion and strength of character of the Romanian people will unite them despite their distance from their homeland and their fellow displaced Romanians. A strong sense of their Roman past is also associated with the spread of faith and people across the world. Romanians continue to ally with the faith of their homeland, either within it or outside of it. New generations of Romanians follow in the footsteps of their Christian ancestors with pride and faith in their strength of belief and cultural values.
Alecse, Rev. Fr. Constantin “News, Views, Community Announcements” The Christian Life 2001 Vol. 44 / Issues1-3 Retrieved May, 15, 2004 at: http://biserica.org/Publicatii/2001/NoI/XV_index.html. http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5001871459
Bria, Ion. “Evangelism, Proselytism, and Religious Freedom in Romania: An .” Journal of Ecumenical Studies (1999): 163. Questia. 19 May 2004 http://www.questia.com/.
Computer, Norbert 2004 “The Orthodox Church in Romania” Retrieved May, 15, 2004 at: http://www.rotravel.com/romania/history/app3.php. http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=8134619
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Library of Congress Country Studies 2004 “Romania The Age of the Great Migrations”
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Miller, William. The Balkans: Roumania, Bulgaria, Servia, and Montenegro. Freeport, NY G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1972.
Spataru, Dionis 2003 “Romanian Orthodox icons painted on glass” Retrieved May 15, 2004 at http://www.meetromania.info/uk_ds_ortho_icons.html.
Switzer, John “Saint Andrew, Patron Saint of Scotland”1994 Retrieved May 15, 2004 at http://www.kcscot.com/society/standrew.htm.