Romfilatelia adds to the theme of spirituality and the history of the Romanian Orthodox Church a postage stamps issue entitled Romanian Saints of Orthodoxy, which will be introduced into circulation on Friday, September 1st, this year, the date of the beginning of the Church New Year.
Within the issue, consisting of 4 postage stamps, 1 block of 4 perforated stamps and 1 First Day Cover, the following saints are honored: Saint Hierarch Grigorie Dascălul (face value of Lei 2.30 lei), Saint Venerable Paphnutius – Pârvu the Painter (face value of Lei 3.50), Saint Venerable Theophano Basarab (face value of Lei 10), Saint Venerable George of Cernica (face value of Lei 14) and Saint Hierarch Calinic of Cernica, Bishop of Râmnic (on the First Day Cover).
Saint Hierarch Grigorie Dascălul, Metropolitan of Wallachia
This God’s chosen Hierarch was born in the city of Bucharest, in 1765, of God-loving and pious parents, at baptism receiving the name Gheorghe.
He found the fulfilment of his unquenchable longing for the tranquillity of the wilderness by going to Mount Athos, together with his friend, the monk Gherontie, where he built up his soul by researching the great ascetics unknown to the world.
As archpriest he did not rest his days, striving tirelessly for the good of the Church, placing new prelates in the sees of Argeș, Râmnic and Buzău, building new churches, ordaining priests, ordering and administering with good moderation the goods of the Metropolitanate, organizing new schools for the enlightenment of the people.
But the soul of the indefatigable hierarch was restless until he saw the restoration of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Bucharest begin, work that would be completed a few years after his passing to the Lord, on June 22nd, 1834.
Saint Venerable Paphnutius – Pârvu the Painter
The famous icon painter known as Pârvu “Mutul” (The Mute) was born in Câmpulung Muscel, on October 12th, 1657, as the son of the priest Ioan Pârvescu (1623-1702). At his baptism he received the name of his godfather, the great treasurer Pârvu Vlădescu, a devout Christian and church founder.
The mother of the Venerable Paphnutius passed to the Lord giving birth to her sixth child. The disease then took five of the children, Pârvu being the only one left alive. Following these events, the priest Ioan Pârvescu became a monk at the Negru Vodă Monastery in Câmpulung Muscel, taking with him his 11-year-old son Pârvu.
At the age of 18, Pârvu was sent to learn painting in Bukovina, with a famous Russian master. There he learnt the secrets of icon painting and took the many monasteries and churches in Bukovina, adorned with interior and exterior paintings, as an example of iconography.
From this time, also his first painting in the church of Aninoasa Monastery dates back. Then, together withthe monk Evgheny, his first teacher, he painted the church of Negru Vodă Monastery.
Pârvu Pârvescu was given the surname of the Mute not because he was an actual mute, but because he painted without talking or eating, that is, in fasting and prayer.
He eventually settled in Bucharest and became a teacher at his own school of painting, where he formed several disciples. After his wife, Tudora, passed away, he went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, during which he fasted and prayed earnestly.
On his return, in 1718, being enlightened by God’s grace, he entered monastic life at Mărgineni Monastery, together with his younger son. Pârvu receives the name of Paphnutius, and his son George, that of Gerasimos.
After thirteen years of struggles, in 1731, he passes through another trial: his son, monk Gerasimos passes away. Taking the Abbot Cosma’s blessing, Pârvu Petrescu went to the hermitage farther from the world, in the heart of the woods, Robaia, in Argeș county. Here he was given the great monastic schema and he laboured for four more years in prayer, silence, patience and humility. He passed to the Lord in 1735.
Saint Venerable Theophano Basarab
Saint Venerable Theophano Basarab was born at the beginning of the 14th century. She was the daughter of the first ruler of Wallachia, Basarab I the Founder (1310-1352) and his wife, Marghita. She received the name Theodora at her baptism and had a chosen education based on love for God and fellow people.
In 1322, she married Ivan Alexander, despot of Loveci, the future Tsar of Bulgaria (1331-1371), and together they had three sons and a daughter: Michael Asan, Ivan Stratsimir, Ivan Asan and Vasilisa.
In 1331, Theodora followed her husband to the tsar’s capital, Tarnovo, and became tsarina of the Bulgarians. She was hard-pressed by troubles,
Trusting in God’s care, humbled herself and chose the monastic life to serve the Bridegroom Christ with love and dedication in a monastery near Tarnovo. Upon tonsure to monasticism, she received the name of Saint Theophano of Constantinople, whose holy relics were then in Tarnovo and whose life she followed with great zeal.
As a nun, the Venerable Theophano sought advice and blessings from the hesychast disciples of Saint Gregory of Sinai, the most famous of whom was Saint Theodosius of Tarnovo (+1363). From him, Venerable Theophano Basarab learned obedience, the keeping of silence and prayer of the mind, reaching great spiritual measures. According to tradition, Saint Theophano spent the last years of her life in the Albotina Monastery, dug into the rock not far from Vidin. She passed to the Lord at an advanced age and was honoured with great honour, being mourned by all the people, whom she served, guided and defended as a true mother preacher of God’s love and mercy.
Saint Venerable George of Cernica and Căldăruşani
Saint Venerable George of Cernica was born in 1730, in a pious family from Săliștea Sibiului. Because of the persecution against Orthodoxy in Transylvania, he moved to Wallachia at the age of 19.
Arriving in the Holy Mount Athos, he entered the community of the Holy Monastery of Vatoped, where he was made a rasophor, then ordained deacon. Seeking a spiritual father, he met St. Paisius by divine ordinance, with whom he retired in solitude, devoting himself to prayer, reading and translating holy books.
Departed from Mount Athos, after a period of stay in monasteries in Moldova, Saint George took the blessing of the Abbot Paisius to return to the Holy Mountain. However, when he arrived in Bucharest, he met with another improved monk from the community of Saint Paisius, Archimandrite Macarie Dascălul (The Teacher), who presented him to the metropolitan, who, listening to him and seeing the gifts with which he was blessed, asked him not to go to Athos, but to remain in Wallachia to found a monastery of monks according to the tradition of Saint Paisius.
After a dream in which he saw St. Nicholas, the Venerable George went to Cernica. The Venerable spent much time here, cleaning the briers with his hands and putting everything in order.
Then, he reached the Căldăruşani Monastery where, living and teaching, the Venerable George of Cernica passed to the Lord in 1806, on the 3rd of December, and is honoured by all as a great hesychast ascetic and spiritual father.
Saint Hierarch Calinic of Cernica, Bishop of Râmnic
This happy Father Calinic was born in the city of Bucharest, on the 7th of October 1787, of Romanian God-fearing fathers and received the name Constantin at his Holy Baptism.
Saint Calinic lived in the Cernica Monastery for 43 years, spending day and night in fasting and prayer, in work and humility, in patience and love.
In 1850, the Most Reverend Calinic was elected and consecrated bishop of Râmnic, where he performed great deeds and fulfilled many of the lacks of this diocese. With great zeal and hard work, he built the church of the Bishopric from the ground up, adorning it with paintings and precious ornaments and gave new life to the church printing press, bringing out many books of service and of edification of the soul.
Saint Calinic shepherded in the See of Râmnic for over 16 years, after which, feeling weakened by old age and ill, he retired to the Cernica Monastery, where he lived for almost a year, passing to the Lord on April 11th, 1868. He was buried, according to his wishes, in the Sfântul Gheorghe church.
Romfilatelia thanks His Beatitude Father Patriarch Daniel for the High Resolution and blessing and Mr. Răzvan Mihai Clipici, Cultural Director within the Patriarchal Administration for the documentary support provided to the development of this issue of postage stamps.