Romania is a religious country, for a fact: each year there are built more churches than hospitals or schools. Yet, this is not completely wrong, as spirituality is of the essence for the Romanian people.
Along history, the spirituality and the religion were those who kept the unity of the nation and also the hopes of the Romanians for better times. The most appreciated Romanian ruler of all times, Stephen the Great, used to build a church after each victorious battle, and there were more than 20.
At the moment, there are more than 18,000 churches and monasteries on Romanian territory and their number increases year after year. Each town or village has at least one church, but more churches are being built. In Bucharest an ambitious project is rising even higher than Ceausescu’s House of People, the current Palace of Parliament: the National Cathedral or the People’s Salvation Cathedral. Though controversial, as the costs of the cathedral are pretty high, it is expected for this to become an important point of attraction for believers, but also for the international tourists.
This is the context where some voices express their criticism to the religiousness of the Romanian people, as there are 6 times more churches than hospitals or schools. Still, a spiritual people is not necessarily an uneducated one and there could be found funds for both spirituality and education, if wanted.
One of the most important religious celebration in Romania is the Saint Andrew’s celebration, taking place each year on November 30th. Saint Andrew, who is thought to have lived in Romania in the ancient times and who is considered to be the Baptizer of the Romanian people, is also called the Savior or the Patron of Romania. Immediately after this celebration, Romanians celebrate their National Day, on December 1st.
Saint Andrew’s Day is usually celebrated by pilgrims by going to the cave where it is thought he had lived and to the adjacent Monastery of Saint Andrew, placed in Constanta, South – Eastern Romania. As the country’s authorities try to avoid large gatherings, the local Gendarmerie announced their troops will guard the cave and will deter the pilgrims from gathering.
On the other hand, while being forbidden from gathering to religious holidays, the Romanian people is expected to gather to vote on December 6, when parliamentary elections are organized. This is why the local religious leaders issued a public letter requesting in the name of the Romanian people the right for expressing their religious belief. Also, a call for the worshippers to gather during the holiday was launched and people are expected to attend the ceremony.
This is the same archdiocese which decided to celebrate Easter a second time, the Romanian Archdiocese of Tomis, at that time the gesture generating lots of controversy.
Photo source: Monastery St Andrew website