Written by Vladimir Moss



1. Before the Calendar Change

     The Romanian Church first encountered the temptation of the new calendar in 1864, when Prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza “convoked a Church Synod at which he recommended that the Romanian Orthodox Church change from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar. Also present at this Synod was Saint Calinic of Cernica (1787-1868), one of the most dauntless strugglers for the triumph of the truth and for the preservation of the True Faith. He was categorically opposed to the calendar innovation and exclaimed as he was leaving the hall in which the Synod was meeting: ‘I will not be reckoned with transgressors!’ Thus, the Prince did not succeed in implementing this recommendation, which had been imposed on him by Freemasons.”[1]

     However, Cuza succeeded in getting some leading hierarchs sent to foreign heterodox institutions for training. The bad fruits of this became manifest many years later, in 1916, when two-thirds of Romania was occupied by the Germans, Austro-Hungarians, Bulgarians and Turks. King Ferdinand I (1865-1927) withdrew to Iaşi, while Germany appointed a military governor for Wallachia. The Germans then introduced a decree that Christmas of 1916 and New Year’s Day of 1917 should be celebrated according to the western calendar.

     On December 29, 1916 (Old Style) Archimandrite Galaction (Cordun) wrote to Metropolitan Primate Conon: “The issue that today preoccupies all strata of Romanian society in the territories under foreign occupation is, without doubt, the introduction of the Gregorian Calendar, imposed on us by the German government for use by our Church, even after the passing of the New Year and our Orthodox Theophany. From the standpoint of the traditional law and practice observed in the Eastern Orthodox Church from time immemorial, this innovation, which does not involve, in and of itself, an immutable dogma, but rather a difference of eleven or thirteen days between one calendar and the other, will nonetheless be a great moral blow for our Orthodox people, but, at the same time, a huge success for the Roman Catholic Church, whose hand can be seen here, too, in that, by availing herself of the German authorities, she is now endeavouring to force us to adopt her calendar, especially in the present circumstances, when the mission of the occupying body and its concerns are directed towards something totally different from what Romanians celebrate at Pascha, Christmas, and New Year, and especially when we can anticipate that even the occupation of our territory will not remain in effect once peace has been established and measures are taken to ensure the proper administration of our territory.”

     It was not only the Catholics that Fr. Galaction feared, but also the “renegades” from the ranks of the Orthodox: “In the hand that is trying to orchestrate this arrangement, I can detect hiding with the greatest of caution under the mask of Catholicism the shadows of those renegades from our ranks who left because their exaggerated personal expectations were not fulfilled. Serving the cause of the enemy Church in this way, they are yearning to win there some miserable glory and a recompense greater than the thirty pieces of silver, the price of selling the traditions of the Lord’s Church. For this reason, as Your Eminence’s humble servant, I declare that you must energetically defend our traditional rights, and that I am ready to defend you, even at the price of my life, sacrificing the last drop of my blood out of respect for our ecclesiastical institutions and for the traditions inherited from our forefathers. Therefore, Your Eminence, make a grand gesture. Stretch forth your Archpastoral staff and defend with all courage the holy treasure that is entrusted to you. You are living in an age and in a situation in which you can no longer expect anything from the world. Out of respect for the position that you occupy, you must be willing to unite with the Lord in the struggle to preserve what He has established. If you come forth to fight with zeal, you will revive the memory of the great Metropolitans and patriots of our past, who were ready to die defending our traditional rights and ecclesiastical traditions with their pastoral staffs.”[2]

     In another pastoral letter, Archimandrite Galaction wrote further about the Judases among the Romanian Orthodox clergy during the German occupation, and prophesied about the coming period of unparalleled suffering in the history of Orthodox Church.[3]

     “For his opposition to the interference in Church affairs by the German occupying forces, [Archimandrite Galaction] was detained on January 18/31, 1917, by the German Central Police and interned as a hostage...

     “This was the beginning of sufferings for the man who would become the founder of the Hierarchy of the Old Calendar Church of Romania.”[4] 

2. The Calendar Change

     A few years later, the leader of the Romanian Church was Metropolitan Miron (Cristea), a former uniate. On December 17, 1923, as head of the Romanian Orthodox Church, wrote to the Patriarch of Constantinople that the Romanian Church accepted the decision of the “Pan-Orthodox Council” on the new calendar, and that it would be introduced in 1924.[5]

     And so in Romania, the new calendar was introduced in the same year as in Greece, October 1, 1924 becoming October 14. In reward for this, on February 4, 1925, the Romanian Church was proclaimed a patriarchate by Constantinople, and on November 1 Metropolitan Miron was enthroned as patriarch of Romania. Then he changed the date of Pascha in 1926 and 1929 to bring it into conformity with the western Paschalion.

     The new calendar innovation was pushed through by Alexandru Lapedatu, the Minister of Cults. Nicolae Iorga, the future President of the Council of Ministers, writes that it “did not bring about the expected results. People were beaten even in front of altars, and on the following day, after these desperate measures, the congregations were mostly empty, and the few people who were present – mainly clergy – were content to listen to proceedings of the driest imperial tradition.”[6]

     “These,” as Constantin Bujor writes, “were reports written in advance, in which the Faithful ‘begged’ for the use of the Gregorian Calendar in the Church, just as the peasants of Romania later ‘begged’ to enter en masse the collective agricultural cooperatives patterned after Soviet collective farms, according to the Congress of the Romanian Workers’ Party of February 18-20/March 3-5, 1949. Iorga continues: ‘Nevertheless, this decision to adopt the Western Calendar was taken too lightly and without recognition of the complex, conservative, and mystical psychology of the people, and it provoked a schism that still continues not only in Basarabia but also in the mountainous regions of old Moldavia.’ The population living in the extensive mountain regions remained steadfast in the ancestral Orthodox Tradition, from one generation to the next, from great-grandparents to grandparents, parents, children, and grandchildren, and so on, by recounting stories about the sacrifices made in the past, in the hope that such sufferings would leave memories and kindle the flame of the traditional Orthodox Faith everywhere. The press of this period mentions an eloquent declaration in this regard from some of the Faithful living in the vicinity of Cluj: ‘We, the whole village, will not abandon the Tradition and Faith into which we were born. It is up to the Priests to decide which religion they wish to join; we will have no part in this. But if we find that any of them want to introduce innovations here, such a one will no longer be our Priest.’”[7]

     In fact, only one hierarch rejected the calendar innovation - Metropolitan Visarion (Puiu) of Bucovina. He went into exile and died in Paris in 1964.[8]

     Resistance to the reform was particularly strong in Bessarabia, where there had already been strong resistance to the union with Romania and the removal of Church Slavonic from the churches.

     “The patriotically minded Bessarabian population,” writes Glazkov, “who took a very cautious attitude to any attempt by the Bessarabian authorities to liquidate the national particularities of the Moldavian people, met the reform with protests. ‘The Union of Orthodox Christians’ immediately condemned Metropolitan Gurias, who carried out the decision of the Synod, and began an active campaign against the new calendar style by publishing apologetic literature and conducting popular meetings and processions. Some of the Bessarabian priests who considered the reform of the calendar to be uncanonical supported the protests of the laity and rejected the Gregorian calendar. Around the churches where the Church Slavonic language and the Julian calendar were preserved (for example, the church of the Alexander Nevsky brotherhood), there gathered priests and laity. Thus in April, 1926 thousands of believers gathered at the church of St. Panteleimon in Kishinev for a pannikhida for Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II. Some priests openly celebrated all the feasts according to the old style in front of a large number of believers, which was defined by the authorities as rebellion, for many lay Old Calendarists were subjected to direct humiliations by the new style clergy. There was an attempt to build, in Kishinev, a church in direct submission to the Patriarch of Jerusalem, who had remained faithful to the old style. According to the police, the majority of the population resisted the ecclesiastical reform, only individual parishes passed over to the Gregorian calendar. It is noteworthy that if, at the beginning, the civil authorities were quite conciliatory towards the Old Calendarists, allowing them to celebrate Pascha and other Church feasts according to the old and new styles, the official Romanian Church authorities took upon themselves police-fiscal functions in exposing and repressing them…”[9]

     In Bessarabia, the leadership of the movement against the new style had been taken up by the white clergy and the city intelligentsia. In other parts of Romania, however, the leaders were the monks. Out of the 14,000 parish priests, almost none stood up against the calendar reform.

     The only exception to this, as Metropolitan Blaise writes, was “Archimandrite Galaction (Cordun), who at that time was serving as parish priest in the metropolitan cathedral in Bucharest and who used to preach there when there was no bishop… Fr. Galaction, who later became our first metropolitan, fought against the reform, but was unable to do anything, since he was only an archimandrite. He was very capable, and had studied in Petersburg with the future Patriarchs Alexis of Moscow and Cyril of Bulgaria, graduating with the degree of doctor of theology. Later, in 1935, he was consecrated to the episcopate – they thought he had changed his views. Three bishops who had been consecrated before the change of calendar participated in the consecration, so [apostolic] succession was not broken…

     “This is what happened, for example, in Neamţ monastery, where St. Paisius Velichkovsky was once the abbot. When the reform took place there were about 200 monks in the monastery, 80 of whom were clergy. This was the biggest monastery in Romania. It was here that the strongest movement against the new style arose. Two months before the reform the abbot warned the brotherhood: be careful, reforms are coming, do not accept them. This was as it were a prophecy. But out of the 80 hieromonks only 30 (not counting the monks) were against the reform; and of these 30 only 6 stood out openly in opposition – the rest did not separate for material reasons. By a decree of the metropolitan of Moldavia all the clergy who did not accept the new style were threatened with deposition, exile from the monastery and confiscation of their property – the man would be outlawed. Then a small group of monks with the most devoted and zealous priests left the monastery, and it is from this group that our Church begins its history. Neamţ monastery as a whole accepted the new style, later they also renounced St. Paisius’ rule, for the keeping of which the monastery was renowned. Our monastery of Slatioara, which is not far from Neamţ, inherited this rule and tradition.

     “Here are the names of the (clerical) inhabitants of the monastery who resisted all their lives: Hieromonk Fr. Glycerius (later metropolitan)[10], Hierodeacon David (the first abbot of the monastery at Slatioara), Hieromonk Pambo, Fr. Baruch, Fr. Gimnasius, Fr. Zosima, Fr. Gamaliel, Fr. Damascene, who died in the woods near the monastery. We also know the names of other monks of Neamţ who resisted the new style. There were also nuns: Mother Macaria, who was the helper of the abbess of the biggest women’s monastery in the country, Agapia, which became new calendarist (it now has 450 nuns), and who with her nuns founded the first women’s monastery in our Church.

     “The small groups of clergy and monastics of these men’s and women’s monasteries – the purest, who had God in their hearts and not their property -- rejected the reforms and were driven out of the monasteries, being forced to live in the world. The pious laity who supported them became like bees constructing hives, the churches, while these clerics were like queen-bees. That was how our Church came into being.”[11]

     “Two months before the calendar change,” writes Metropolitan Blaise, “something very momentous happened in the great Church of the Neamţ Monastery. It was on the Eve of the Dormition of the Mother of God. The Ecclesiarch went to the Church to prepare all that was needed and to light the candles and kandelia for the Midnight Service. The weather was calm, with clear skies and numerous stars; no cloud was in sight. Suddenly, a great bolt of lightning came down from the heavens and, passing through a window in the dome of the Church, struck in front of the Miracle-working Icon of the Mother of God. It hit the stone floor, and a section of stone collapsed; from the impact, the candlestand that was affixed to this slab in front of the Icon was knocked over. [Cf. the words of the Lord in Revelation (2.5): “Repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place”]. When the Fathers and Brothers came to Church, the Priest who was serving told them what had happened; seeing the damage done by the lightning strike, they all concluded that it was a Divine sign.

     “Here is another incident. When Father Glycherie reached the Coroi Ravine, a spiritual uneasiness overcame him. One night, after lengthy prayer, he was beset by heavy thoughts. ‘How is it possible,’ he said, ‘that in our country many Priests with advanced theological training, together with a large number of intellectuals, are leaving the Old Calendar, as it was bequeathed to the people by the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church, who have honoured it from times of old? Should I not abandon the Old Calendar and be one of these? Am I making a mistake before God by not changing?’ Late in the night, he had a beautiful vision: from the West, a dark cloud appeared; it tried to cover the whole world and was moving furiously towards the East, howling like a monster. In front of the cloud, a powerful storm formed, adorned with a chain as black as tar, on which black Crosses appeared. Everyone was frightened. But looking towards the East, he saw a snow-white cloud, glittering like gold; before it was a chain of gold, from which there were hanging Crosses of gold.

     “A choir of Hierarchs also appeared – all with golden vestments, - walking towards the black cloud. In a designated place, the two clouds collided and the dark cloud fell; and in its place, a sea of water appeared, engulfing the earth…”[12]

     In 1926, two shepherds, Ioan and Mihail Urzică found Hieromonk Pamvu and Monks Galaction and Veniamin hiding in the Coroi Ravine. They then led them to Fr. Glycherie and Fr. David. The Old Calendarist monks were received with rejoicing by the faithful of Vānători, and it was decided to build a church. When it was built, Fr. Glycherie appointed Hieromonk Pamvu and his Monks Galaction and Veniamin to look after it.

3. The Persecution of the Old Calendarists

     In this way a beginning was made to the Old Calendarist movement in Romania. In spite of continual persecution by the police and the new calendarists, it flourished. By 1936 Fr. Glycherie had built about forty large churches, most of them in Moldavia.

     Metropolitan Cyprian writes: “The Romanian Patriarchate, both in 1926 and 1929, celebrated Pascha with the Latins, constituting an infringement of the Orthodox tradition of centuries. Indeed, on the second occasion that this was done, Patriarch Miron, having the undivided support of the Uniate (Greek-Catholic) prime minister, Julius Maniu, and several others among the clergy, compelled all of the Romanian Metropolises to proceed with the common celebration of Pascha with the Papists, a fact which evoked great commotion in the ranks of the Romanian Church. Metropolitan Gurias of Bessarabia openly criticized Miron and, ignoring the Patriarchal decree, ordered his churches to celebrate with the other autocephalous Orthodox Churches (i.e. with the entire Orthodox world, with the exception of the innovative Church of Finland). Patriarch Miron’s action also scandalized these other Orthodox Churches, many of which reacted in protest. As well, the White Russian clergy of Bucharest took a particularly strong position during those trying days, ignoring the Patriarchal order and celebrating Pascha in accordance with the traditional canonical decrees.”[13]

     The Romanian monks on Mount Athos fully supported their co-religionists in the homeland. Two hieromonks returned from the Holy Mountain to support their co-religionists in the homeland. However, the new calendarists prepared counter-measures.

     Thus in 1930, “there arrived in the Moldavian skete [of the Forerunner] from Romania one of the skete’s hieromonks, Simeon, a fifty-year-old who had been sent by Patriarch Miron to propagandise the new style on Athos. He brought with him a lot of money… from Romania. He also brought with him from Romania a lawyer, who was armed with an agreement obtained in Athens to conduct negotiations over the return of the metochion on the island of Thasos. The skete-dwellers received him with honour. They promised to gather the brotherhood and speak to them in the church about accepting the new style. But they prepared a trap for him. They summoned him to the hall, cut off his beard and pigtail, took the money sent for propaganda, put a jacket and hat on him and drove him out… He appealed to the police in Karyes for help, but they replied that this did not come within the compass of their responsibilities. This was the end of the propaganda for the new style on Athos. This was already the Romanians’ second piece of trickery. The first time they had received a letter from the patriarch suggesting that they change to the new style. The skete-dwellers, on receiving this letter, served a triumphant all-night vigil, and, on the next day, a liturgy with a moleben, after which they pronounced an anathema on the patriarch, composing an official document which they sent on to him.”[14]

     In the 1920s and 1930s many Romanians fled from the new calendarists in Romania and Bessarabia. They constituted the majority of the new postulants in the Russian monasteries of the Holy Land.[15] Among these was the famous priest-hermit Fr. John the Romanian (+1960), whose relics are still incorrupt… 

     “The first and foremost problem” for the True Orthodox, writes Constantin Bujor, “was the lack of Priests. Religious persecution against the clergy and Faithful was in full swing, especially in Moldavia. Great sacrifice and an unwavering will were needed in order to uphold the True Faith. The organization of the Old Calendar Church started with the construction of the Church in Vānători, Neamţ County, and afterwards in other places; and alongside this, religious assistance was provided for the Faithful in various localities in the houses of trustworthy Christians. In addition to Vānători and Rādăşeni, Brusturi, Răşca, Slătioara, Cucova, and Angheleşti were among the first places to oppose the calendar innovation, and strong communities of true believers formed in these localities. It was in Rādăşeni that Hieromonk Glicherie first established himself. At the outset, the Divine services were held in the village Church, but this situation was not allowed to continue. In normal circumstances, the Church could have been used by both the Old and the New Calendarist communities, because all of the Faithful had contributed to its construction. However, Father Haralambie Teodorus, the Priest who served the New Calendarist community, locked the Old Calendarists out of the Church and removed the clapper from the bell so as to prevent them from holding services. He incited the locals to pelt the Old Calendarist Faithful with rocks, and on one particular day he told them, ‘If you need a Church, go build your own.’

     “This hatred was fomented by New Calendarist clergymen and subsequently degenerated into acts of violence and aggression. The celebration of Holy Pascha according to the Gregorian Paschalion in 1926 and 1929 convinced the Faithful that the New Calendar was, in fact, just the first step in a process that had as its goal the destruction of the Orthodox ethos. In 1931, Hieromonk Glicherie came to Rādăşeni and began to organize an Old Calendar parish in response to a decision made by the local Faithful. On May 8/21, 1932, he blessed the place where the new Church of Saints Peter and Paul was to be built and laid the foundation stone. The Church was built out of wood in twenty-eight days, covered with sheet metal, and then stuccoed in a single day. But in June of that same year, the local New Calendarist Priest sent two men under the cover of darkness to set the Church on fire. However, the Church was saved by the father of Father Nicolae Onofrei, Vasile Onofrei, who was alerted and awakened. Along with Nicolae (then a child) and his two sisters, by barking dogs. One of the malefactors, Teodor Sandu, fell very ill later on and was carried on a stretcher to Church to ask for forgiveness. On October 14/27, 1933, the Church was Consecrated.

     “In later 1930, Hieromonk Glicherie and Hierodeacon David went to Jerusalem to discuss with Patriarch Damianos of Jerusalem (1848-1931) the situation of the Romanian Orthodox Christians who wished to continue observing the Julian Calendar. The Patriarch blessed them to continue their struggle and to build and Consecrate new Churches, for which purpose he provided them with Holy Chrism. To this day, in the home of Father Nicholae Onofrei there is a photograph of Father Glicherie serving with Patriarch Damianos. On returning to Romania, Father Glicherie continued the struggle with greater zeal and invigorated the Old Calendar Church by building over thirty new Churches. He went to many places in the country, including Basarabia, accompanied by a group of monks from both Romania and Mount Athos, who helped him in convincing the Faithful to keep alive love, hope, and confidence in the power of the traditional Faith.

     “For the service of blessing the site for a new Church or of Consecrating finished Churches, the Faithful, dressed in festal attire, would come on pilgrimage from all over the country in convoys of carriages. Led by Father Glicherie and his Synodeia, journeys to these sites were permeated with spiritual joy. Father Nicolae Onofrei remembers that when he was a child, he and his brother Onofrei Onofrei (later to become Metropolitan Silvestru [1924-1992]) were taken by their father (who later became a monk at the Slătioara Monastery with the name ‘Varlaam’) on such pilgrimages when Churches or sites for Churches were to be blessed. While travelling towards Oglinzi, Neamţ County, to bless the site for a new Church at Vadu in Moldavia, they met convoys of carriages from Mălini, Drăguşeni, and other places. Father Glicherie stood up and greeted the Faithful with ‘Christ is Risen!’, to which the crowd responded with ‘Truly He is Risen!’ so loudly that the entire Moldavian valley they were crossing echoed with the shouting. Because it was the Paschal season, the Faithful sang ‘Christ is Risen’ the entire way to the new Church. They were all overcome with spiritual joy and wanted to glorify God.

     “This unity displayed by the Old Calendarist Faithful, which lent a note of greater splendour to their religious celebrations, was not viewed favourably by the authorities or the representatives of the official Church. Thus, on June 29/July 12, 1932, the Old Calendar Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, strong action was taken to stifle the celebration and especially to discourage the organization of such events. At the end of the service, the mayor of Rādăşeni, Costică Grigorescu, deceitfully and cunningly said, ‘All the men of your parish have to go to the Prefecture in Fălticeni in order to receive approval for the functioning of your Church.’ Since the people respected the mayor as being a sober individual, they joyfully left on foot for Fălticeni, a distance of two or three kilometres over a hill. Although Father Glicherie did not trust the mayor, he approved the departure of the people for Fălticeni, placing all his hope in God.

     “After the Faithful had departed and had gone some distance, the Church was surrounded by forty gendarmes, all of them drunk, who had entered the courtyard in search of Father Glicherie. When he saw the danger, Father Glicherie ran into the backyard and hid among the potato plants. However, he was spotted by the gendarmes, who brutally pounced on him. They tried to haul him over the fence, but they were seen by a few nuns, who alerted Vasile Onofrei by their cries. Together with Toader Amariei and Anica Grecu, he sprang to Father Glicherie’s assistance and yelled at the gendarmes, ‘What are you doing in my backyard!’ One of the gendarmes answered with a warning shot; but as the gendarme tried to reload his gun, he lost his balance dodging Anica Grecu, who had lunged at him with a pitchfork. He was disarmed by Vasile Onofrei, who in turn freed Father Glicherie. During this vicious attack, the gendarmes brutally kicked Hieromonk Glicerie’s legs with their boots, leaving him with an incurable wound for the rest of his life. Vasile Onofrei hid the gun used by the gendarme and kept it for two weeks, intending to take it with him to the Ministry of Internal Affairs to denounce the abuses committed by the Gendarmerie.

     “The Faithful who lived close to the Church made haste to alert the people by tolling the bells, and one of them went on horseback to catch up with the believers who had left for Fălticeni. Meanwhile, the Church was defended by women, who blocked the gate and prevented the gendarmes from entering the courtyard. The gendarmes withdrew only upon the return of those who had gone to the Prefecture and were now angry at having been deceived by the mayor. Later on, it turned out that the gendarmes had been hiding in the house of the New Calendarist Priest, Father Haralambie Teodoru, waiting for the Faithful to depart for Fălticeni. The same Father Teodoru had gotten the gendarmes drunk, thereby becoming an accomplice to their criminal action.”[16]

     There were other Old Calendarists in Romania besides Fr. Glycherie’s Church. Thus in Bessarabia there was Fr. Gamail Papil. After the war, his spiritual children joined Bishop Vasily-Victor (Leu), who had been consecrated by Metropolitan Seraphim (Lyade) of ROCOR.Also, writes Glazkov, “the priests Fathers Boris Binetsky, Demetrius Stitskevich and Vladimir Polyakov were put on trial for serving according to the old style.” [17]

     In 1935, the leader of the Romanian Old Calendarists, Hieromonk Glycherie, heard of the return of the three bishops to the Old Calendar in Greece. And so late in the autumn he “travelled again to Mount Athos, accompanied by Monk Ghimnazie, who knew Greek… Their purpose was to bring an Old Calendarist Hierarch to Romania to perform Ordinations, or to have Father Ghimnazie or any other Romanian living on Mount Athos Consecrated to serve the Church back home.”[18]

     However, when they “asked the Old Calendar Greek bishops to consecrate Fr. Ghimnazie to the episcopate, the bishops could do nothing without their first-hierarch, Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina, who, at the insistence of the newcalendarist Metropolitan of Athens, had been detained by the English authorities in Palestine...

     “St. Glycherie set off for Yugoslavia. He visited the church of the Russian Church Abroad in Belgrade, where Metropolitan Anastasy was serving. Metropolitan Anastasy advised Fr. Glycherie to turn to Bishop Seraphim (Lyade) of the Russian Church Abroad, and ask him to go to Romania to order Old Calendar priests. Bishop Seraphim at that time was in Vienna. St. Glycherie set off there, but Vladyka Seraphim did not decide to go to Romania, knowing how dangerous it was.”[19]

     After returning to Romania, on September 1, 1936 Fr. Glycherie came to the consecration of a church in the village of Bukhalniţa-Neamţ. He was accompanied by 4000 peasants on 500 wagons. When the procession was passing through the town of Piatra Neamţ, the road was blocked by soldiers with machine guns. St. Glycherie and many other monks and laypeople were arrested. Many were killed. Glycherie was savagely beaten on the head with various clubs. Deacon David Bidascu was also beaten, and suffered from his wounds for the rest of his days.[20]

     Metropolitan Cyprian writes: “Hieromonk Glycherie… was taken under guard to Bucharest and there condemned to death. He was, however, miraculously saved, in that the Theotokos appeared to the wife of the Minister of Justice and gave her an order to intercede with her husband on Father Glycherie’ behalf. Her husband did not react in the manner of Pilate, but rather commuted Father Glycherie’s death sentence and ordered him imprisoned in a distant monastery 

     “[Patriarch Miron] ordered all of the churches of the True Orthodox Christians razed, and imprisoned any cleric or monastic who refused to submit to his authority. The monks and nuns were incarcerated in two monasteries, where they were treated with unheard of barbarity. Some of them, such as Hieromonk Pambo, founder of the Monastery of Dobru (which was demolished and rebuilt three times), met with a martyr’s end. During the destruction of the Monastery of Cucova, five lay people were thrown into the monastery well and drowned. By such tactics the Patriarch wished to rid himself of the Old Calendarist problem!”[21]


     In fact, over ten priests were killed or died in prison, including Fathers Pambo, Gideon and Theophanes.[22] “Take, for example, Fr. Euthymius – he was in a concentration camp for 3 years with Fr. Pambo, and he told us how they tortured him. They threw him into a stream and forced other prisoners to walk over him as over a bridge; he was at that time about 27 years old.”[23] 

     In February, 1938 Patriarch Miron became prime minister of Romania. Immediately there began a severe persecution of the Legionnaires, a patriotic movement within the new calendar church. In April Codreanu was arrested and sentenced to ten years in prison, and in November he was killed… Although the Romanian True Orthodox Church, unlike the Legionnaire movement, was a purely spiritual organization, it is not surprising that its leaders should have been put into the same category. Thus in 1938 the authorities now decided to accuse the True Orthodox leader Fr. Glycherie of being an Iron Guard (Legionnaire). “After Father Glicherie was arrested in 1936,” writes Constantin Bujor, “all means of intimidation were employed to shatter his nervous system. He was incarcerated for more than two years in a variety of prisons, being transferred from one jail to another; Bucharest, Iezeru, Rāmnicu Vālcea, Iezeru, Rāmnicu Vālcea, Craiova, Bucharest, Iaşi, Iezeru, and Piatra Niamţ. The accusation of being an Old Calendarist could not carry too long a sentence, and Father Glicherie was thus finally set at liberty in 1938 – much to the chagrin of those who had gone to such great lengths to have him arrested. So, once again, they fabricated false charges, this time accusing him of more serious infractions in order to have him decisively condemned. Thus, Hieromonk Glicherie was falsely accused of being active in the Legionary Movement. Although Legionnaires were highly regarded and visible in Romanian political life at this time, the Monarch had dictatorially abolished all political parties. Ironically, Father Glicherie was also falsely accused at the same time of Communist or Bolshevik activity, because the Russian Orthodox Church followed the Julian Calendar. This, too, was a serious charge: the Communists were mortal enemies of Romania, and therefore, through guilt by association, the Old Calendarists were enemies of the State. Accusations of these kinds provoked a variety of reactions and even frightened many people, who came to believe that the Old Calendarists posed a danger to society. To discourage supporters of the Old Calendar Church, appropriate punishments were levied. Plenty of ‘witnesses’, denunciations, and contrived ‘facts’ could easily be produced; the elimination of inconvenient opponents by such methods was the order of the day. Thus, in 1938, Father Glicherie was arrested and sent to Miercurea Ciuc to a death camp for political prisoners. After nine months’ imprisonment, he was scheduled for execution with a group of Legionnaires. Miraculously, at the very moment that he was to face the firing squad, he was saved by the government’s unexpected amnesty of the camp’s remaining detainees…”[24]

     While Fr. Glycherie was in this camp “there came an order to divide all the prisoners into two parts and shoot one part and then the other. When the first group had been shot, Fr. Glycherie and several legionnaires in the second group prayed a thanksgiving moleben to the Lord God and the Mother of God for counting them worthy of death in the Orthodox faith. The Lord worked a miracle – suddenly there arrived a governmental order decreeing clemency.”[25]

     “With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Father Glycherie was set free and, along with his beloved co-struggler, Deacon David Bidascu, fled into the forest. There the two lived in indescribable deprivation and hardship, especially during the winter. In the midst of heavy snows, when their few secret supporters could not get frugal provisions to them, the Fathers were obliged to eat worms! However, Divine Providence protected them from their persecutors and, directed by that same Providence, the birds of the sky would erase traces of the Fathers’ footprints in the snow by flying about and flapping their wings in the snow. And despite the harsh cold, not once did they light a fire, lest the smoke might betray their refuge. (The cold often approaches thirty degrees below zero during the winter in Romania.) Other ascetics were also hidden in the deserts, among them Father Damascene, Father Paisius, et al.”[26]

 4. The Old Calendarists under Communism

     After the war, the Romanian Old Calendarists led by Hieromonk Glycherie continued to be fiercely persecuted. Nevertheless, as Metropolitan Cyprian writes, “the work of building churches was begun anew, since all of those formerly built had been demolished. In as short an interval of time, between the end of the war and 1950, almost all of the razed churches, as well as the ruins of the Monastery of Dobru, had been rebuilt. Between 1947 and 1948, the large Monastery of Slatioara (for men) was constructed, along with the monasteries of Bradatel Neamt and Bradatel Suceava (both for women).”[27] 

     Metropolitan Blaise writes: “In 1947 some people from our village went to Archimandrite Glycherie and said: something like freedom has come. The point was that the communists at first tried to win over the people to their side. They told them that they could come out of the woods and build a monastery. And in 1947 they built the monastery of Slatioara – the spiritual centre of our Church.

     “It is difficult to say whether our position got worse under the communists or not. But essentially things remained the same – the persecutions continued. The communists destroyed only eight of our churches – not all of them. They were comparatively moderate. 

     “Before the war the Church was almost completely annihilated. Before the coming of the communists in 1944 we were accused of being Bolsheviks because we had the same calendar as the ‘Russians’. Under the communists, after 1944, they called us followers of Antonescu, Iron Guardists, fascists, enemies of the people. In fact we took part in no political movements or parties. We entered into agreements neither with the civil authorities, nor with the monarchy, nor with the Iron Guardists, nor with the communists, nor with the Masons…

     “1947-52 was a period of comparative freedom. The communist authorities even compelled the official church to return to us the icons, iconostases, bells and church utensils which they had removed. But in 1952, at two o’clock in the night of February 1st to 2nd, two lorries loaded with security police came to the monastery and arrested almost all the young monks together with the igumen, sparing only the very aged. They were sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. Four of them died in camp.”[28]

     “The aim of this raid,” writes Constantin Bujor, “was to destroy the organization of the Old Calendarist Church, to put a stop to her activities, and thus to abolish her. Arrests were carried out in an abusive manner because the Securitate had unlimited powers – it was a manifestation of Communist totalitarianism under the notorious ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ promoted nationwide by the Romanian Workers’ Party. During these years, thousands of arrests were made without any legal warrant in order to populate the forced labor camps. But the inhuman treatment of those detained in prisons and labor camps – the nation’s leaders had always turned a blind eye to these abuses – had a negative impact on foreign relations for Romania, which was striving at the time to become a member of the United Nations. In order to extricate themselves from this mess, the Communist leaders sought a scapegoat by organizing a secret trial for a group of officers in charge of the labor camps. One of these officers, Cormoş from Cluj, testified that the officers did not consider themselves culpable, since they were under direct order from the higher authorities, who now were trying to wash their hands of any guilt. Needless to say, the leadership of the country accepted no culpability, and instead condemned the officers either to death or to years of harsh imprisonment. Then, in 1954, after two years, all of the Old Calendarists arrested were set free, together with numerous other political prisoners.

     “While the clergy and some of the Faithful of the Old Calendar Church were serving time in prisons and labor camps, in Ardeal more and more believers were returning to the Church Calendar…

     “[Nevertheless,] a careful analysis of the situation demonstrated that the persecution was now being intensified, especially against the leaders of the Church, who had already undergone years of harsh imprisonment and other sufferings at the hands of the previous regime. In order to ensure continuity in the leadership, it became necessary to Ordain Priests and Hierarchs to take up the banner of the struggle for the truth. The presence of a Hierarch was absolutely indispensable for the Old Calendar Church. To this end, contact was established with Bishop Galaction in Bucharest, who had in the past expressed his attachment to the Old Calendar, for which he had been condemned at the time of the German Occupation during the First World War.[29] He promised that when conditions at the Slatioara Monastery were favourable, he would come and assume the leadership of the Old Calendar Church. Thus, a delegation of Priests who formed part of the leadership and were personally known to Bishop Galaction was sent to Bucharest – Father Dionisie, Father Evloghie, and Father (later Metropolitan) Silvestru - and persuaded him to come to Slatioara Monastery.”[30]

     On April 5/18, 1955 Bishop Galaction publicly declared in a letter to the newcalendarist synod that he had accepted to be the head of the Old Calendarist Church, and on May 8/21 he arrived in Slatioara Monastery, where the people greeted him with the cry: “Axios!”, “He is worthy!” Thus was fulfilled a prophetic vision that Hieromonk Glycherie had had during the war, while in a forest being pursued by enemies: “It was night. Before him, he saw a beautiful Church. Metropolitan Galacteon (Cordun)… appeared. Vladyka was holding Icons and a Cross in his hands, and he was giving each believer in the Church an Icon. When he reached the pious Father Glycherie, he gave him the Cross.”[31]

     In November Metropolitan Galaction and Fr. Glycherie were summoned to the police to register and legalise the Church. The faithful were against them going, sensing a trap, but the metropolitan insisted. The result: he was placed under house arrest in the monastery of St. Callinicus at Cernica, while Fr. Glycherie was exiled. However, under the pretext of visiting his doctor, the metropolitan went several times to Moarea Domneasca, which belonged to the Old Calendarists, and consecrated two bishops (Evloghie and Meftodie[32]) and several priests. When this was discovered, about a year later, he was placed under stronger observation in Căldăruşani Monastery. But on Good Friday, 1959, Metropolitan Galaction was abducted by Fr. Pavel Mogârzan, Georghe Hincu and the advocate Albu, disguised as Securitate agents. He went the next day to Slatioara… “When, two or three hours [later], the patriarch phoned to find out what the metropolitan was doing, they told him that two officers of the security police had taken him. The patriarch shouted: ‘I didn’t send any officers!’ But the metropolitan was already far away.” [33]

     This was not the first abduction carried out by the Romanian Old Calendarists in this period. “During the night of November 17, 1956, Archimandrite Glycherie, who had been abducted from his forced labour, was secretly consecrated a bishop [in Moara Domnească]. Then they hid in our monastery, where every day ordinations took place. A year later they were again arrested.”[34]

     At about this time, the future Bishop Pahomie “and Hierodeacon Paisie (Urdă) travelled to Alba County to celebrate the Feast of Saint Nicholas at one of the Churches there. It was soon after the anti-Communist uprising in the Third Hungarian Revolution (October 10/23-October 22/November 4, 1956), had been crushed by Soviet tanks. The Romanian Securitate was monitoring all activities, making arrests, and trying and sentencing individuals. The intention of the monks was apparently known to Securitate forces, because on the way to Râmeţ, Fathers Pahomie and Paisie were detained and taken to Securitate headquarters in Alba Iulia. After a few hours of interrogation, the Fathers were transported later than same night to Aiud, where, the next day, the interrogation continued. The monks began a hunger strike to protest their innocence. After five days of questioning, Father Pahomie was granted a vision at night in his cell, in which the Holy Hieromartyr Cyprian (+304) appeared to him and said, ‘Brother, why have you been arrested, and why are you so distressed?’ Father Pahomie replied that he was distressed because he had been illegally detained. Saint Cyprian told him not to be upset, but to pray to him, and they would be allowed to go home. With much difficulty, Father Pahomie succeeded in communicating his vision to Father Paisie, and both agreed to spend the whole night in prayer. In the morning, they were interrogated once more, signed the transcripts, and were then taken to the prosecutor’s office. After their dossiers had been examined, the monks were released, although by that time it was too late for them to perform the Divine Services for Saint Nicholas’ Day as they had planned. 

     “The monks returned to Bucharest, where they celebrated the Divine Services for Theophany. The news that in the Bucharest area a ‘hotbed’ of Old Calendarists had been established under the leadership of Bishop Evloghie swiftly reached the Patriarchate, which in turn notified the Securitate. Thus, Father Pahomie and Father Paisie were arrested again, while Bishop Evloghie went into hiding. Taken back to Aiud, where only two months earlier they had been set free, they were sentenced to eight months in prison…”[35]

     After being abducted from captivity, Metropolitan Galaction “returned to Slatioara, where he was so weighed down with his sufferings that he was unable to serve the Divine Liturgy”, and died on July 12, 1959.[36]

     “The majority of the clergy who had been ordained were however arrested, and were not finally liberated until the amnesty of 1963, when Ceaucescu came to power. In 1958, the Romanian authorities ordered that all the monks under 60 and all the nuns under 55 should leave their monasteries, but, as always in these cases, the order had to be given through the local Metropolitans. Those of the new calendar complied (with one exception) and thousands of monks and nuns found themselves on the streets after a lifetime in their monasteries; the authorities, however, met with an absolute refusal from Saint Glicherie, who declared himself happy to return to prison rather than betray those under his care. Before this, the authorities bowed, though harassment of the monasteries continued, and several monasteries were closed by force…”[37] 

     About 4000 monastics were expelled from their communities.One of those who suffered at this time was Father (now Bishop) Demosthenes (Ionita): “In 1957 Metropolitan Glycherie ordained him to the priesthood. Within a month after his ordination, Fr. Demosthenes went to Bucharest to assist Bishop Evloghie who was in hiding. There he was betrayed by an Old Calendar priest and arrested. The authorities demanded that Fr. Demosthenes reveal the whereabouts of the bishop, which he refused to do.

     “On July 23, 1958, Fr. Demosthenes was again arrested. He, with a group of chanters, had served a funeral for his cousin in a closed church. A New Calendar priest reported this to the authorities, which resulted in his and the chanters’ arrest. Six officers took Fr. Demosthenes to the city Tirgu-Mures. Upon his arrival, he was led to a room where several guards took off his clothes, and later shaved off his hair and bear. His prison cell had a cement bed with no covers. For five months the civil authorities investigated and interrogated Fr. Demosthenes in an attempt to find some excuse to have him sentenced. The first round of questioning went along these lines:

     “Interrogator: What activity does Glycherie have in this country? What measures does he plan against the Communists?

     “Fr. Demosthenes: The Metropolitan teaches us to work, pray, and obey the laws of the state.

     “Interrogator: Where are you hiding your guns?

     “Fr. Demosthenes: Our guns are our church books.

     “Chief Interrogator: Why doesn’t he tell us where the guns are? Hang him!

     “At this point Fr. Demosthenes lost consciousness and fell to the floor. When he awoke, he found himself in his cell with a doctor. The doctor asked where he hurt and why he had fallen. Fr. Demosthenes responded, ‘I don’t remember.’ The doctor kicked him and responded, ‘This is our medicine for Old Calendarists who want to kill Communists.’

     “Fr. Demosthenes spent the next seven years in concentration camps. His experience could comprise a chapter of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. The prisoners were starved, tortured, and denied any form of comfort. At one point Fr. Demosthenes was so exhausted that he could not even remember the Lord’s Prayer. In 1959 the authorities promised all religious prisoners from his camp freedom if they signed a declaration of apostasy. Out of 2,000 prisoners only 90 agreed to sign. In the prison camp in Salcia, Fr. Demosthenes saw prisoners being trampled by horses as he and others worked on building canals and other projects in the freezing winter. Many years later, Fr. Demosthenes met one of the prison guards of Salcia, who informed him that it was indeed a miracle he had survived, for the guards had orders that no one was to leave that camp alive. 

     “In 1964 Fr. Demosthenes was freed from prison. When his mother saw him for the first time in seven years, she asked, ‘Why did they release you, did you compromise the faith?’ His mother was relieved to hear that her son had not betrayed the Church; this was her main concern. After three weeks he was again under house arrest. Fr. Demosthenes fled to the forests and lived in hiding for five more years.”[38]

     Such was the life of the persecuted True Orthodox Church of Romania until the fall of Communism in Romania in 1989, when freedom was given to the Church and many new churches began to be built…


August 28 / September 10, 2016.



[1] Metropolitan Vlasie, preface to Constantin Bujor, Resisting unto Blood: Sixty-Five Years of Persecution of the True (Old Calendar) Orthodox Church of Romania (October 1924 – December 1989), Etna, CA: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 2003, p. 10.

[2] Archimandrite Galaction, in Constantin Bujor, Resisting unto Blood: Sixty-Five Years of Persecution of the True (Old Calendar) Orthodox Church of Romania (October 1924 – December 1989), Etna, CA: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 2003, pp. 28-29.

[3] Bujor, op. cit., pp. 30-32.

[4] Bujor, op. cit., p. 33.

[5] Monk Benjamin,, p. 118.

[6] Iorga, The History of the Romanian Church; cited in Bujor, op. cit., p. 26.

[7] Bujor, op. cit., pp. 26-27.

[8] Bujor, op. cit., p. 11.

[9] K.V. Glazkov, “Istoricheskie prichiny nekotorykh sobytij v istorii Rumynskoj Pravoslavnoj Tserkvi do II mirovoj vojny” (Historical Reasons for Certain Events in the History of the Romanian Orthodox Church up to the Second World War), Tserkovnaia Zhizn’ (Church Life), №№ 3-4, May August, 2000, pp. 48-49.

[10] Fr. Glycerie (Tanas) was superior of the Protection skete. When Abbot Nicodemus (Muntianu) of Neamţ monastery offered to put him in charge of another skete if he changed calendar, Fr. Glycerie refused, and with Deacon David (Bidascu) left the skete (Monk Benjamin, op. cit., p. 132). (V.M.)

[11]Metropolitan Blaise, Pravoslavnaia Rus’ (Orthodox Russia), 2 (1479), 15/28 January, 1993, pp. 6-7.

[12]  Metropolitan Blaise, The Life of the Holy Hierarch and Confessor Glicherie of Romania, Etna, Ca.: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 1999, pp. 24-25.

[13]Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos, "The True Orthodox Christians of Romania", The Orthodox Word, January-February, 1982, vol. 18, 1 (102), pp. 6-7.

[14]Letter to Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), in Glazkov, op. cit., p. 54.

[15]“The Convent of the Ascension on the Holy Mount of Olives, 1906-2006”, Orthodox Life, September-October, 2006, p. 21.

[16]Bujor, op. cit., pp. 55-60.

[17]Glazkov, op. cit., p. 57.

[18]Bujor, op. cit., p. 98.

[19]Monk Benjamin, op. cit., part 2, p. 52.

[20]Monk Benjamin, op. cit., part 2, p. 57.

[21]Metropolitan Cyprian, op. cit.

[22]Victor Boldewskul, "The Old Calendar Church of Romania", Orthodox Life, vol. 42, 5, October-November, 1992, pp. 11-17.

[23]Metropolitan Blaise, Pravoslavnaia Rus’(Orthodox Russia), 2(1479), 15/28 January, 1993.

[24]Bujor, op. cit., pp. 99-101.

[25]Glazkov, op. cit., pp. 57-58.

[26]Metropolitan Cyprian, op. cit.

[27] Metropolitan Cyprian, op. cit.

[28] Metropolitan Blaise,op. cit.

[29] Bishop Ambrose of Methone writes: “[Galaction] was Bishop of Silistre, which after the war was, with Southern Dobrodgea, ceded to Bulgaria. He was thus left without a diocese, and having been the confessor of the royal family, was a persona non grata who could not possibly be appointed to another see. He was thus a bishop in retirement, who continued to serve as invited (he in fact consecrated Teoctist, the present Patriarch, bishop) until 1955” (personal communication, 28 August, 2005). (V.M.)

[30] Bujor, op. cit., pp. 113-114, 115-116.

[31] Metropolitan Blaise, The Life of the Holy Hierarch and Confessor Glycherie of Romania, Etna, Ca.: Center for Traditionalist Studies, 1999, p. 50.

[32] Bishop Evloghie was consecrated in 1955 and died in 1978. He had previously spent seven years in prison after declaring his adherence to the True Orthodox Church, and spent 14 years in prison in all. Bishop Meftodie was consecrated in 1956 and died in 1977. Metropolitan Galaction himself died in 1959. See Foi Transmise et Sainte Tradition (Transmitted Faith and Holy Tradition), N 79, November, 1994, p. 15; Bujor, op. cit., pp. 133-145..

[33] Metropolitan Blaise, Pravoslavnaia Rus’, op. cit.; Bujor, op. cit., pp. 126-127; Metropolitan Cyprian, op. cit., pp. 8-9; Stefan and Girgiu Hîncu, personal communication, September, 1994; Bishop Ambrose, personal communication, May, 2006.

[34] Metropolitan Blaise, op. cit.

[35] Bujor, op. cit., pp. 148-149.

[36] “Saint Glicherie the Confessor, Metropolitan of Romania, 1881-1985”, typescript of the Monastery of Sts. Cyprian and Justina, Fili, Attica, Greece, July, 1999. Bishop Ambrose of Methone writes: “Metropolitan Vlasie, who looked after [Galaction] remembers that he had a stroke six days before his death and was unconscious during that time; only his right hand moved, constantly passing the knots of his prayer-rope… He was buried secretly at night, and a load of concrete poured into the grave, for fear lest the new calendarists should take his body” (private communications, August 28, 2005, May 3, 2006).

[37] “Saint Glicherie”, op. cit.

[38] Victor Boldewskul, "The Old Calendar Church of Romania", Orthodox Life, vol. 42, N 5, October-November, 1992, pp. 13-15. Bishop Demosthenes spent seven years in prion.

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