"Saint Mary" Monastery
Techirghiol

"Teach me thy way, O LORD, I will walk in thy truth; unite my heart to fear thy name." (Ps.86, 11)

Presentation

Vila bought in 1928 In the year of 1928, the first Patriarch of Romania - Miron Cristea - bought a modest villa in the balneary spa of Techirghiol, with 16 rooms, setting up a clergyman's sanatory served by a few nuns for the priesthood of the whole country. Betwen 1965 and 1967, Patriarch Justinian initiated works for renovation and extension of the home (the right wing was enlarged and the floors were extended), and between 1975 and 1977 he built the left wing of the complex and the perpendicular part which unifies the two wings - adding the look of traditional monasteries (especially Brancovenian ones) - of an open square.

Manastirea Sf.Maria Techirghiol In 1951 Patriarch Justinian brings here a wonderful little transilvanian church, built from wood and dated in the 17th century, with the parish fair of "St. Ap. Peter and Paul". He will rehallow it on the 15 of August, the very same year, giving it the parish fair of "The Dormition of our Most Holy Lady the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary".

Built in the 17th century by the peasants of Maioresti (Mures district), the church was moved in 1934 by King Carol the Second at the Pelisor Castel in Sinaia. He built another church for the natives, using bricks. Having an affinity for wooden churches, Patriarch Justinian managed to save it by moving it from Sinaia - where it was sitting in ruins after the communism take over - and he restored it at Techirghiol.

Pridvorul Manastirii The design of the church is archaic: rectangular, polygonal in the west with three sides, and the unbinded ploygonal apse, with five sides. After the transportation to Techirghiol, the repairing workers added a sculpted verdandah and a watch tower with bells. The documents about this church which survived the passing of time mention something about the existence of a belfry that is separate from the Church itself.

The walls of the church are made of oak beams with a variable width of 25-30 cm, horizontally overlapped and binded together using a specifically transilvanian technique for wood churches - called "sparrow tail" - and occasionaly with nogs. These beams keep a natural aspect, being unsmoothed, presenting the look of the oak from which they were cut. The whole pile is surrounded by a median waist with the look of a twisted rope - symbol of communion or a method for simbolically delimiting sacred space.

Sculptura din pridvor The belfry's tower viewpoint is adorned with geometrical figures and crosses on each of the four sides. Popular Romanian motives - geometrical and floral - can be found on the south side, at the border of the door. The verandah, which was added later, besides popular adorns like those mentioned, presents a profile of a nun and a monk separated by a cross, sculpted on the west side corner.

The whole edifice was raised on a rock pedestal with material from Techirghiol, emphasising the beauty and the armony of this wooden church.

The picture was painted in different steps by various artists of the region. Surviving the subsequent interventions made in time, the following inscription can be found on the imperial doors: "These alms giving were paid by Maer Eremia and Bota Gligore for their sins to be pardoned - 1750". The researchers believe it has been painted by Andrei of Sunfalau, a famous house painter from the region of the church.

Usile Imparatesti The imperial icons are dated around 1730. No original inscription has survived on the wall-painted scenes, some of them being restored in the first half of the 19th century. As a distinctive sign for Transilvanian wooden churches, the Romanian tricolour is painted as a reminder of national unity. On the other hand, Christ's persecutors are painted as hussars, a popular vision of expressing the adversity against the enemies of the nation - sentiments which were freely expressed in similar churches of orthodox resistance against the protestant and catholic proselytism. Another popular image in the pictures from the 17th century is the icon of Saint Christopher The Dog-Headed.In this church, the image is associated with the symbol of death - a skeleton with a scythe in his hand - often met in Transylvania, where the peasants were even painting him on their houses' walls, with the belief that this particular saint drives evil spirits away.

Saint Martyr Christopher The Dog-Headed
Saint Martyr Christopher The Dog-Headed
Adam and Eve with the snake
Adam and Eve with the snake
The Passion of Christ
The Passion of Christ

Thus, the naive style of the anonymous artist peasants and the refinement of a belated romanic picture are combined in one place. It's one of the rare wooden churches which totally kept its picture and which holds the spirit of Romanian peasants from Transylvania in the middle of Dobrogean places.

On the premises of the monastery, there is a building for the superior clergy - built in 1953 - where the 6th "Interconfessional ecumenic dialogue" took place in 1985. In the same perimeter there is the fountain with Saint Pantelimon's statue, sculpted in bronze by the famous Romanian sculptor Ion Jalea, and brought here by Patriarch Justinian, from Bucharest, from the "Saint Panteleimon" hospital. This saint lived in the 4th century in the Roman Empire, under Maximia's rule, and he was a famous physician who became a miracle worker, with the gift of healing all kind of diseases - after becoming a Christian. After having worked many miracles, he was caught and martyrized. The Church honours him as a martyr and a "freely of charge physician", being the protector and the patron of medicine. Symbolically, his statue was placed in the park of the clergy home that had 'Saint Panteleimon' its feast day for the protection of those who would come here for treatment.

Saint Pantelimon Fountain
Saint Pantelimon Fountain
Fountain fresco
Fountain fresco

In order to continue the curative activity at the monastery, in 1999-2000 a balneary treatment base spa was set up - under Saint Panteleimon's protection - equipped with electrotherapy medical instruments, galvanic and saline baths, sauna, and all the necessary endowment, etc.

With the support of the National History and Archeology Museum of Constanta, and the kindness of that time's Director Prof. Dr. Adrian Radulescu, in 1989-1990 a museum was set up on the monastery's premises: "Evidence of Christian life on Dobrogean lands" - museum which displays archeological fragments and religious cult objects from the 4th century untill today. Amongst the most valuable pieces, we mention: fragments of Christian churches from 4-6th centuries found at Tomis and Calatis; Roman-Byzantine amphora dated from the 6th century; fragments of ceramics with Christian symbols on them, dated between the 4th to the 11th centuries;archeological fragments coming from the monastic complex of Basarabi, digged in a chalk hill that is dated in the 9th century - a proof of the long Romanian monachal tradition - and a lot of religous cult objects dated from the 18th and the 19th centuries (icons, vestments, robes, golden bowls, etc.).

Between the years of 1969 and 1990, the monastery hosted the yearly courses for the guides and the museographs from churches all over the country - except from Moldavia. Important people of the Romanian culture - such as Prof.Dr.Zoe Dumitrescu-Busuleaga, Prof.Dr. Adrian Radulescu, Prof. Dr. Ioan Curinschi, P.C. Prof. Pacurariu, Prof. Dr. Constantin C. Giurascu and others - brought a high degree of proffessional competence to these courses. The courses were stopped in 1990, being starting re-started in 1999 at the intervention of the Ministry of Culture and Cults.

Enclosure of the Monastery
Enclosure of the Monastery
Bishop's House Alley
Bishop's House Alley

As the number of the monastic community grew substantially, in 1995 the "Saint Mary" hermitage was tranformed into a monastery with juridical statute, under the patronage of "The Dormition of our Most Holy Lady the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary". Today, the monastery has 43 nuns who combine prayers with various artistic and householding activities. Thus, a painting workshop, where the nuns paint icons in tempera technique, paint eggs, make rosaries, book signs - and the list can continue, etc. During summer, the monastery provides hosting and food for the Christians and those who wish to spend their vacations, offering the possibility to take a balneary treatment, beneffitting from modern equippment and proffessional assistance.

The little wooden church as a historical monument needs special care and because it is too small for both the monastic community and the Christians who attend the holy services, His Beatitude Patriarch Teoctist has stuck the cross for the construction of the new church that will be built in concrete and will celebrate the same feast day "The Dormition of our Most Holy Lady the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary".

Finally, here is how the Minister of Tourism valued our Monastery when he was visiting it in 1990: "We do have a lot of beautiful things here on the seaside, but what you, the nuns, have here, we do not."

Crestinism Ortodox.ru. Catalogul Resurselor Ortodoxe pe Internet
Monday, 20 November 2017, 5:15 pm