A Return to the Old Ways6th July 2010 • Places to Visit • Stephanie Donaldson
Since Ceausescu’s demise the Orthodox Church has emerged from hiding (it never went away) and old churches and monasteries have been restored and new ones built. One afternoon we climbed high up the side of a valley through meadows and woods to visit a small monastery. The church was new, but filled with superb icons. A charming young boy who hopes to become a priest (if his mother lets him) led us higher still to see an ancient and primitive chapel hidden in a cave. It has been a religious refuge since the 12th century and has been used at times of invasion or threat ever since, including during the 2nd World War and during Ceaucescu’s era. We were moved by the peaceful simplicity of the place. Istvan however gave us the modern Romanian’s view, telling us that a huge amount of superstition survives in the church with belief in the evil eye commonplace and many priests conducting rituals involving black and white magic.