Saint patron day: The Assumption of St. Ana (July 25th)
Year of foundation: 1939
Mother superior: Justina Popovici
Cenobitic Life: Monastery of Nuns (27 nuns)
Accommodation: 10 persons
At Saint Ana Monastery in Orșova the faith was revived through labour and prayer, according to the will of its founder, the famous inter-war journalist and writer Pamfil Şeicaru (1894-1998).
After the first day of pilgrimage, the well-deserved rest at Herculane Baths is sought, either at the hotels or hostels of the resort, or at the monastery compound of Dobosanu Vila, situated on the street bearing the name of Nicolae Stoica of Haţeg. The new monastic settlement, dedicated to “The Birth of Saint Mary Mother of God” (September 8th ), has rooms for accommodation of 20 persons in the spa resort on the Cerna Valley.
The second day of pilgrimage:
Saint Ana Monastery – Mraconia Monastery – Gornea-Sichevita Monastery
The Saint Ana Monastery of Orşova is unique by the historical richness of the place where it is located and the connection with the life of its founder, the well-known journalist of the interwar years, Pamfil Şeicaru (1894-1980).
To reach the monastery, up the “Moşului Hill”, the traveller has to climb from the old centre of Orşova on the “Heroes’ Road”, 1.5 km long, cut on the hills in 1935 in winding serpentines. In the past, seven outdoor shrines were weaving along the road, with carved oak benches put for rest. Each shrine was dedicated to a regiment, who fought at Alion, Cerna and Orșova in the war for Reunification of the Nation in August-November 1916. Once on the hillside, he can admire the picturesque Cerna Bay on the Danube from the porch of the monastery church, seeing the horseshoe of the new town of Orşova, with the houses placed in the amphitheatre on the banks, and the sea of water of the Iron Gate, which sank the Ada Kaleh Island. Look out for the place where the famous island of the East was located in the shape of a sta.
Passing the threshold of the monastery, in an atmosphere of silence and clanging of the bells, you will feel how monastic life has revived here by the urge “hour et labora” (prayer and labour) and you will ask: What urged the famous journalist erect a monastery? An incident, that happened to Pamfil Şeicaru in this place during the First World War. It was in the autumn of 1916 when, fighting as a young sub-lieutenant on Moșului Hill, he was covered with earth after the explosion of a shell. Because he escaped alive, he promised to raise a monastery in hat place, when his material possibilities allowed him, as a token of gratitude to God. Thus, the monastery was raised in the memory of the heroes who died in battles for a Great Romania, as it is notified in the donation act of Pamfil Şeicaru, signed in Munich in 1975.
St. Ana Monastery was built between 1936-1939, according to a project of the famous Bucharest architect, Ştefan Peterneli. It is the period when Pamfil Şeicaru was the director of Curentul newspaper and a deputy in the Romanian Parliament.
From “unknown” causes, the monastery was not sanctified immediately after the completion of the works led by the engineer Gheorghe Betelevici and the site engineer Grigore Sârbu, the latter becoming the mayor of Orşova later on. Bishop Vasile Lazarescu refused to sanctify the monastery on the grounds that the diocese did not grant its consent and did not approve the place consecration of the monastery. Thus the sanctification of the monastery had been delayed for over 50 years because in the communist era it was turned into a recreational touristic base. After the revolution in December 1989, the monastery returned to the property of the founder’s family, and it was given back its purpose for which it had been built. The Odyssey of the monastery ended on the 2nd of December 1990, when it was consecrated by Bishop Damaschin the Severinean.
St. Ana Monastery it is placed in the shape of the letter “U”, with the wooden church in the centre, and the hermitage cells on its sides. At each end of the monastery a bell tower was built later, with a summer altar, having on its frontispiece the mosaic icon depicting “The Assumption of St. Ana” (1996) and the Pamfil Şeicaru Memorial Museum (1995).
The architecture of the monastery it is made in the style of the wooden churches of Romania. The church is raised from a beam “crown” on a solid foundation of concrete and stone, jilted with burnt brick. The outer shape is one in the traditional Romanian rustic style. Around the church and the cells there is a continuous tile placed on supporting pillars and bordered by a prism that carved posts from place to place for supporting the roof. The inner shape of the church is in the “straight cross” style, with hexagonal slim central pivot. The nave and the narthex merge with each other, the areas being delimited only by the supporting posts that mark the central axis of the church.
The altar of the church has the current iconostasis carved in maple wood, with beautiful ornamental-floral motifs, richly outlined by the sculptor Costel Moroiu of Bucharest. The original sculptured linden wood iconostasis has been transferred to Timiş County, to the Timişeni – Şag Monastery ever since 1947.
At the entrance to the church you will see the tomb of Pamfil Şeicaru, whose earthly remains were re-buried in the porch of the monastery in 2005, after being brought back in the country from Germany.
Look and admire the mural painting of the church, restored by the painter Grigore Popescu and his wife Maria. Unfortunately, the original painting made in the Byzantine style by the painter Ion Ivănescu was covered in the ’70s with white lime. The original form was preserved only in the church tower, where the Saviour is painted surrounded by his disciples on each side of the hexagonal tower. Look for the votive painting of the founder Pamfil Şeicaru in the Knight uniform of the “Mihai Viteazu” Order offered by royal decree by King Ferdinand the First of Romania for special merits in the war.
Saint Ana’s Monastery is a nunnery, with Mother Justina Popovici as a Mother Superior. The saint patron day of the monastery is “The Assumption of St. Ana” (July 25th), after the name of Pamfil Seicaru’s mother.
“When choosing the monastery’s saint patron day, the founder was “strengthened” by the belief of the great Romanian sculptor Constantin Brâncuşi, who found it appropriate for the monastery of Orşova to bear the patronage of Saints Ioachim and Ana, the parents of the Mother of God. The position of the monastery on the Moşului Hill, dominating the old Danube, suggested to Brâncuşi the fact that the monastery is situated at the interplay of two civilizations: Dacian and Roman. The Roman civilization brought with itself, through these places, the “good news” in the world of the Dacian-Getians ancestors, like Saints Ioachim and Ana, which are found in the icon of salvation at the intersection of the two Holy Testaments. The Fathers of the Mother of God are those who, although belonging to the “old world,” become participants in the preparation and birth of the “new world”, that of Jesus Christ. “[Popovici J., 2008].
When you are in front of the summer altar of the monastery, look at the wonderful mosaic icon dedicated to the “Assumption of Saint Ana” and then enter the “Pamfil Şeicaru” Museum to see the permanent collection that presents the founder of the monastery. Chronologically and thematically arranged, the exhibits show the following:
• Photos of Pamfil Şeicaru and his family, including the places where he studied;
• Participation on the fronts of the War for the Reunification of the Nation (1916-1918);
• His activity as a journalist during the interwar period at the “Curentul” newspaper and the founder of the Heroes Monument from Marasesti and the Orşova monastery;
• His exile in Spain and Germany, after his death sentence;
• His posthumous rehabilitation on March 6th 1995, and his writings written in exile.
At St. Ana’s Monastery, the travellers can sooth their souls with the clarity of the views to all the cardinal points of the foundation conceived by Pamfil Şeicaru.