Voronet Convent, Romania
By the will of a Gracious God, through the prayers of Sf. Pious Daniil the Hermit and the zeal of the good and faithful Voievode (Prince) Stephen the Great, the Voronet Monastery was raised up, between the 26th of May and the 14th of September in the year 1488, with St. George the Martyr as its patron saint.
In 1547, under the supervision of the Metropolitan bishop Grigore Rosca (whose tomb can now be found here), the porch was added and all the exterior paintings were carried out. From the very beginning of its history, the monastery was blessed with montks of extremely high spiritual calibre, and in the time of St. Pious Daniil the Hermit it was a true example of Romanian hermitage. Monastic life at Voronet was interrupted in 1785 due to the annexation of Bucovina to the Hapsburg Empire, and it became a working monastery again only in 1991, with the arrival of a community of nuns. Under the abbacy of their Mother Superior Irina Pantescu, this new community strives to harmoniously combine a religious life of prayer and workship with housekeeping and farm work, running a painting workshop and provinding guided tours of the monastery for visitors.
The paintings in the porch represent the Christian Orthodox Calendar. Many of the icons here bear graffiti-names and scratches- the scars that remain after the 206 years of the monastery„s disuse. Above the entrance, in the narthex, lies a superb icon - "Dulcea Imbratisare" (the Sweet Embrace) and directly above it, an inscription in stone names the monastery„s founded and the date it was raised.
The tomb of St. Pious Daniil the Hermit, who became the first Abbot of Voronet monastery can also be found in the narthex, watched over by a burning flame.
The monastery's votive painting is found in the nave, were His Majesty Stephen the Great and the Holy along with Lady Maria-Voichita and Bogdan, his heir, are depicted in the act of giving, through the mediation of St. George the Martyr, the Monastery ot our Redeemer Jesus Crist, as a token of gratitude for divine aid given in the battle against the Turkish invaders.Gazing at this votive picture whilst listening to the ringing of the bells which were given to the monastery by its Voievode at the very beginning - bells which now, pulled by our young nuns, seem to call out the name of its founder: "Stefan-voda, Stefan-voda", back through the centuries, like an eternal requiem - we feel a close affinity to our forerunners, bound to them by invisible threads.
A piece of artistic value to be found within the church is the gilded iconostasis, fashioned from Yew-wood, its imperial doors being a true masterpiece of sculpture in wood. Also of a great value is the throne of the Metropolitan Bishop Grigore Rosca, We hope that the original throne, currently (1996) at Sucevita undergoing restoration, will soon be returned home to Voronet.. (The piece found in the church is a copy, in contrast with the other pieces, which are all original).
Voronet is considered by many to be the "Sistine Chapel of the East", due to the magnificient frescoes on the west wall, a representation of the "Last Judgement". In addition, "Voronet Blue" has been added to the lexicon of art alongside colours such as the "Titan Ted" of Rubens and "VeroneseGreen", by specialists who consider it unique. On this blue background can be found the "Tree of Jesse", or the genealogy of Redeemer Jesus Christ. Greco-latin philosophers are depiected in the borders to the left and right: Aristotle and Plato being amongst the better known philosophers that can be found there, and to the side on the apse the eye is drawn to a beautiful representation of St. Onufrie The Hermit.
On the left of the entrance door lies the haloed image of St. Pious Daniil the Hermit. The beautiful "Deisis" Icon rests above the door; it depicts Redeemer our Saviour Jesus Christ, the most Perfect Judge, keeping watch over all those who set food across the threshold of our Church, with the Mother of Our Lord and St. John the Baptist to His right and left, mediating on our behalf for mercy.
St. George the Martyr, the patron Saint of our monastery, can also be found painted on the buttress to the left, and on the first row of this series of paintings, the prayer "Acatist" of St. Nicholas (above the window) and, lower down the prayer "Acatist" opf St. John (Ioan) the New of Suceava.
The paintings in the nave and at the Holy Altar are blackened from the smoke of hundreds of years of burning candles, and are awaiting restoration. Tests have already been carried out by art specialists to determine their suitability for restoration, and it has been found that the original colours are well-preserved. This highly precise and costly task will be fouded with the also small donations from tourists and worshippers, both Romanian and from abroad, who love Voronet.
The Holy Voronet Monastery is an artistic expression of our true faith, and also shows the refinement of our people and their love of all beautiful things. It is our prahyer that as well as encouraging meditation, a visit to our all those who come here from all over the world.
"And behold, Stefan-voda, traveling from the Neamtul Citadel to Moldova, came upon Voronet, where a Hermit priest dwelt, by the name of Daniil. And Stefan voda, upon knocking at the door for the hermit to open it up unto him, heard the Hermit answer that Stefan-voda must wait out of the door, for he was at prayer. And after the hermit had finisted his prahyers, he called Stefan-voda into his cell, and Stefan-voda confessed unto him. And Stefan-voda asked the Hermit what he might do, so that he should no longer need do the battle with the Turks: should he give up his country to the Turks? And the Hermit answered that he should not give it up, for the battle was to be his, but that after he should be victorious, he should raise up a monastery in that place, in the name of St. George the Martyr as the Patron of its church".
Ion Neculce (Romanian chronicler, 1672-1745)
To see some of the monastery frescoes, click here.