Romania's National Cathedral

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Romania's National Cathedral

Postby Barbara » Sat 1 December 2018 11:55 pm

I had collected a lot of material on this several months ago, but can't find it, even on the internet. All major Western media published the SAME BORING brief piece on the consecration and must have pushed the earlier better articles back.

This writeup below is the only slightly objective summary available at the moment. All the European and American news media merely sniffed their disapproval of the spiritual project, which has little or no value in materialistic societies. The Cathedral was disparagingly termed "grandiose" by some writers.

The Washington Post's alarmist headline shouted : "Scuffles in Romania at blessing of Orthodox cathedral" in order to play up any kind of strife possible. The sole accompanying picture showed a terrified looking Romanian woman being escorted by 'riot police', as though violent conflict had ruled the consecration day. Talk about false advertising. It sounds like there was merely some pushing to get through a fence by the crowds wishing to get a better view of the landmark day.

Still, even in this more calm, factual article, I deleted all the same tired quotations by people supposedly interviewed - do we really know that the statements against the Cathedral are real ? - who protested Romania's building a large house of God rather than putting the money into social works projects. My attitude is that while the latter are needed, one should appeal 1st to God and all other needs and problems will be solved and arranged rightly.

One can skim through this 6 minute video to get an idea of how the National Cathedral is projected to look when finished. I would call it impressive and even magnificent if it actually turns out anything like the beautiful complex pictured here ! ... MzbZBRLfQw

[ Photo below is not from the original article but added by Barbara ]


"....others, like Eugenia Voicu, a former primary school teacher who says she attends church every Sunday, approve of the investment.

“The cathedral we had in Mitropoliei Hill [central Bucharest] is really small and is always crowded at mass,

Description care of BucharestTodayPhoto : During the 15th century the Mitropoliei Hill was covered by vineyards and a small wooden church stood on top of it. Construction of the new church was started by Prince of Wallachia Constantin Şerban Basarab in 1656 and finished by Radu Leon in 1668 when it was named the official Metropolitan seat. None of the original interior paintings remain except for a single icon depicting the Saint Emperors Constantine and Helen which are the cathedral’s patron saints. The church was restored several times. The present day frescoes were painted by Dimitrie Belisarie in 1933

let alone on the great holidays, such as Easter … when they bring the relics,” the 65-year-old said.

“It seems fair that a big Orthodox country like Romania should have a big cathedral. Yes, people are unhappy because of hospitals and roads and other problems, but spirituality is important too. It’s just used too much in politics nowadays,” she added.

After the November 25 inauguration, a mass is scheduled on November 30 to celebrate Romania’s patron saint, St Andrew, one day before the country marks the 100th anniversary of its independence.

Inaugurating and holding a mass in the new cathedral on November 30 was a smart move by both the government and the Orthodox Church, explained Giuseppe Tateo, a researcher at the Max Plank Institute for Social Anthropology.

“It tells people: ‘You can’t call yourself Romanian if you’re not Orthodox,’” Tateo said.

“That might offend other minority faiths in Romania, but it puts Romania of the map of Orthodoxy in Eastern Europe,” he stressed.

A nationalist dream, long in the making:

The idea of building a great Orthodox cathedral in Romania dates back to 1877, after Romania profited from the war between Russia and the Ottoman Empire.

Romania, then made up of only Southern Walachia and Eastern Moldavia, and ruled by King Carol I, a former Prussian Prince, like Serbia, Montenegro and Bulgaria, emerged as an independent state from the defeated Ottoman Empire.

Tateo recalled that by 1884, King Carol thought that, besides a national theatre, a national bank and government institutions, Romanians needed a grand cathedral to confirm their national identity.

The project re-emerged after World War I, in 1918, when the kingdom obtained Transylvania from defeated Austria-Hungary and formed modern Romania.

However, the project was postponed for decades, first for money reasons and later because the Communist regime, which was more inclined to demolish churches, took control.

“After the fall of Communism the idea became stronger,” Tateo noted. “The nation-building project may be over, 130 years have passed since then, but now seemed the right time to re-launch a nationalist project.”

Various governments vacillated over the choice of a location for the cathedral, however.

In 1996, several projects emerged, but the authorities dithered over locations.

The first proposal was to build it in the middle of Unirea Square in central Bucharest. Pope John Paul II even assisted in consecrating the founding stone. However, the idea was abandoned.

In 2004, the Social Democrat-led government under Adrian Nastase allotted five hectares in Park Carol I, also in central Bucharest, for the great cathedral.

The project also involved demolishing a mausoleum dedicated by the Communist regime to the heroes of socialism and class struggle. But this idea was also abandoned after a series of controversies.

After Traian Basescu, then mayor of Bucharest, sued the local authorities and won in court, the building permit was cancelled.

The final decision came in 2009, when the Romanian Orthodox Church announced that the location would be right next to parliament, and would hold 5,000 worshippers as well as other amenities, situated on 11 hectares of land.

According to the Church, the project would cost 400 million euros, including the artwork and the painting.

According to the website of the Cathedral, the Church was not happy with the location, however, because the proximity of the huge parliament did not allow much visibility for the cathedral.

However, it added, “the Church accepted the location as a moral reparation or the light of resurrection” for five churches that were demolished during the 1980s to make room for the so-called House of the People, today’s parliament.

“The new building will tower over the House of the People and will present the Church itself as a victim of the Communist regime and not a collaborator,” Tateo observed. “This is a specific narrative that the Church is trying to convey.”

Controversy over use of public cash:

As the date of the inauguration and Romania's 100th anniversary approach, the government as well as Bucharest City Hall have made efforts to fund the building so that the cathedral is ready on time.

In July, a mid-year budget overhaul cut funding for institutions including the presidential administration, some scientific research institutes and intelligence services in order to fund the cathedral with an extra 15 million euros.

The decision caused tensions between the cabinet and the President Iohannis.

Moreover, the City Hall, run by Social Democrat Gabriela Firea, also reserved funds on several occasions for the cathedral. Firea announced on Monday that another 2 million euro would be made available to fund its completion.

On Monday, the Romanian Orthodox Patriarchate said that out of the 110 million euros spent on the construction so far, only a quarter had come from donations. The rest was public funding, which the Orthodox Church said it was entitled to, based on Romanian legislation.

In a statement, the Church also said the cathedral was 95 per cent finished. The bells, made in Innsbruck, which cost 700,000 euros, were mounted on Tuesday. The main bell has a portrait of the Romanian Orthodox Patriarch engraved on it.

The Patriarchate statement said it cannot estimate how much more money is needed to finish the construction, but the final touch, the paintwork, should be ready by 2024.

The icons are to be painted manually with gold, and the paving is made of marble. The cathedral will also have eight elevators for elderly or disabled people to access two balconies around the main dome, one at 56 meters and the other at 91 meters above ground, where tourists can view the Bucharest skyline.

Despite the controversy over the public funding for the cathedral, the costly construction has its backers.

Aurel Ioan Pop, president of the Romanian Academy, the country’s main scientific forum, said in an interview on Monday that “those who compare the cathedral to other institutions are not Christians and do not know that the highest school and the most enduring health are not those of the body, but of the soul.”

Events in Ukraine have impacted on inauguration:

The inauguration mass on Sunday will be held by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, while the St Andrew’s Day mass, on November 30, will be held by Theophilus of Jerusalem.

The Romanian Orthodox Church has brought the relic of the hand of St Andrew from Greece for the event.

Although Russian Patriarch Kirill visited Romania in October 2017 and Romania’s Patriarch Daniel returned the visit two months later, the Moscow Patriarch will not be present for the inauguration of the cathedral.

The two churches are at odds over the independence, or autocephaly, of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, which Bartholomew has endorsed and which Moscow has denounced. This has impacted on the ceremonies in Bucharest, Tateo said.

The cathedral in Bucharest is five to ten meters taller than the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow, until now the tallest Orthodox cathedral in the world. “I don’t think it is by chance that the cathedral in Bucharest is taller,” Tateo said.

He called it a way for the Romanian Orthodox Church to present its power in the Orthodox world, brand Bucharest as a capital of Orthodox culture and put it firmly on the map of Orthodoxy in Europe.

“Most people do not believe in this project and are not happy with it. Other people don’t care too much, but don’t question it because it’s part of a sphere related to God. They are not happy with what the Church does, but would not question it because it’s related to God,” he opined.

Despite struggling to win popular support for the project, the government has still spent 100 million euros on it because its partnership with the Orthodox Church has benefited it electorally in the past, Tateo said.

In 2016, Firea gained electoral points when, weeks before the local elections, she brought a relic and organized a pilgrimage to a cathedral in Voluntari, near Bucharest, where her husband is mayor. She continues to support the Church as Bucharest Mayor.

Meanwhile, on the street that passes the People’s Salvation Cathedral, passers-by stop and stare at the huge construction.

“God help us!” one joked. “Soon we’ll be able to pray like normal people, not like poor people. I hope they bring many of those miracle-making icons!” he added." ... 11-22-2018

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Re: Romania's National Cathedral

Postby Barbara » Sun 2 December 2018 12:51 am

At the celebration of the New Calendar Feast of St Andrew yesterday, November 30, 2018,

"... the delegation from Jerusalem had brought some true spiritual gifts for the Romanian people: a fragment of the relics of St. John Jacob of Neamţ the Chozebite, a Romanian saint who lived and repose in Jerusalem, and a piece of his vestments.


St. John Jacob was canonized by the Romanian Church in 1992 and by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in 2016.

The relics will be available for all to venerate and then placed in one of the Cathedral’s chapels, dedicated to St. John Jacob."

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Re: Romania's National Cathedral

Postby Barbara » Tue 4 December 2018 12:42 am

One of the few clear glimpses of the finished part of the interior : deacons before the iconostasis at the consecration of the new Romanian National Cathedral

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