Saint patron day: Saint Prophet Elijah (July 20th)
Year of foundation: 1905
Mother Superior: Varvara Sântiuan
Cenobitic life: Monastery of nuns (10 nuns)
Accommodation: 10 persons
The Vasiova Monastery is also called the Monastery from the Spring, because the healing spring, the hand of the saint and the holiness of the monastery give the “aura” of faith to the spiritual strengthening of believers through prayer.
For the pilgrimage to the Vasiova Monastery you should take the national road Reșița-Timișoara (DN 58B), and from Bocșa Vasiova the road detaches, leading to Ocna de Fier (DJ 586). After more than 1 km you reach the monastery, next to the road that goes up in serpentines to the hill’s top.
The Vasiova Monastery is also known as the Monastery of Saint Elijah from the Spring, because everything that happens in this place of faith is related to the name of the most ancient prophet of the Old Testament and the healing spring of the monastic settlement.
St. Prophet Elijah the Tishbite is the one who fought against the sin of idolatry for people to worship only the true God. For all Christendom, but especially for Banat, he is a great wonder maker; he turned people back to faith and had the gift of submitting rain and drought. He was ascended to heaven in a “carriage of fire” without knowing death. The Vasiova Monastery is under the sign of divine protection, by the hand of St. Elias, because the feast of July 20th organized in this place has never been interrupted by the rain.
The miracle–working spring is a never-ending source of faith, in which the water does not cool down the body, but the thirst of soul. Its history begins in 1850, when a miner, Alexe Perian, suffered an accident in the mine, losing his sight. He regained his vision miraculously after washing his eye with water from the spring, exactly on St. Elijah’s Day (July 20th). As gratitude to God, between 1853 and 1859 Dumitru Perian (father) and Alexe Perian (son) built the spring in stone and, since then, every year at the great Christian feast in Mountainous Banat, people come in pilgrimage in large numbers to the monastery with its miraculous spring.
Over time, above the 3m deep spring, the faithful built a cellar-shaped vault, on the walls of which there are biblical scenes from the life of St. Elijah. At the spring, you will see the little cup attached to the front, put in the path of the traveller to drink from the mountain water, cold and clear as crystal. When a man passes by, you will notice how he takes out his hat in a sign of godliness, crosses himself, drinks a mouthful of spring water, and almost regularly wipes his eyes, for he believes and he is even convinced that “the water of the holy spring strengthens the healthy eye and fully heals the sick eye. “
The wood benches near the spring urge the traveller to rest and pray. And between prayers, wash your eyes several times with miracle-working water.
Standing in front of the spring of Vasiova Monastery, every summer, on July 20th, when the Saint Elijah Day is celebrated, you will have the feeling that you are in front of a second “Lourdes,” and what is happening at the famous French pilgrimage place in the civilized world in front of millions of people, is happening here too, at the Romanian “Spring”, but on a much smaller scale. Meditating, you will say that both here and there the true source of healing is faith.
The tradition of the place tells of the miracles and healing power of this spring’s water. On the 20th of July of the year 1900, an old man came to the spring. It was in the evening when the veil of darkness unfolded the wrinkles of the shadow over the eyes, just as the old man’s eyes had lost his sight almost unexpectedly. He came as Thomas the Unbeliever at the spring, crossed himself, washed his eyes with great piety, prayed, and then walked away. Suddenly, a soft breeze from the woods passed as the sound of a horse’s “trot” beside him, after which in the gentle silence of nature he regained his sight completely. Since then, he has been coming to the spring every summer, washed his eyes in water, praying with the faith in God, and in his miracles by which he escaped from the dark night of eternal blindness.
The gift of sight offered by the holy water of the spring is the reason why Father Macarie Gusca, the founder of the monastery, had chosen this place to raise the monastery and on the 2nd of April 1898 he raised a stone cross to mark the place of the future monastic place. The cross has been preserved until today; it can be seen in front of the church on the line joining the church with the chapel, under which the spring is located. On the cross you can read the inscription “Wisdom, hope, love and faith.”
The foundation stone of the monastery’s church was set seven years later on May the 2nd 1905, by Father Macarie Gusca, who recorded the event in the “Diocese Journal”: “On Monday on May 2nd of this year, in front of a large number of people, the foundation stone of the Monastery’s Church from the Spring was laid. The act of sanctification was made by the Most. Hon. Mr. Maxim Popoviciu, protopresbyter of Bocșa, in a very solemn act. He descended into the ditch, began to build the foundation from the right, from the east, where the foundation stone was laid, and around the entire foundation of the church. After consecration, the Most. Hon. Gentleman gave a short speech in which he blessed the memory of Mr. Nicolae Dolâng from Reșița-Romana, the initiator and the endeavourer of the monastery.” [Diocese Journal, 1905]
Although the church was raised in only three months, it was consecrated only two years later on the 19th of July 1907 by Archimandrite Filaret Musta, alongside with Iosif Traian Badescu, the future bishop of Caransebeş. The cells of the monastery were built in the L-shaped building, beginning with 1938.
During the Communist era, the monastery was closed and transformed into a foster home for children. Only after 1989, the monastic life was restored grace to the care of a group of nuns, guided by the spiritual father Ieronim Stoican.
The church of the monastery has the shape of a “cross” with a closed porch, 15.5 m long and 7 m wide. The nave is bordered by the narthex through two wooden posts that support the choir balcony. The iconostasis is carved in oak wood, in watermark, with specific Orthodox ornamental motifs, vine with grapes. Above the porch there are the two towers covered with tin, giving the impression of a cathedral, where the bells of the church are. Look at the beautiful ornaments of the mosaic floor of the church and the interior painting realized by Florica Lepădatu from Drobeta Turnu-Severin, being the first creation of the painter. Her hands had also made the interior painting of the Vodita Monastery, near Orşova, the first monastery in Romania with monastic life according to the rules of the oriental church, established by St. Basil the Great and the oldest documentary attested voivodal building, built between 1370-1372 by St. Nicodemus, due to the donations of Vladislav the First.
Today, the Vasiova Monastery is in the care of the mother Varvara Sântiuan, the abbess of the monastery, who, together with the 10 nuns, work with gardening, beekeeping, in the painting workshops, or in the tailoring and embroidery workshops.
“The spring, the saint and the monastery give the aura of faith that leads to the knowledge of God. To believe in God is one thing, to know Him is something else.”- as confesses, with great depth, the spiritual father of the monastery, Ion Petrică.
At the Spring Monastery in Vasiova, the traditional order of the Matins service is still preserved, and after more than 100 years it is held immediately after midnight, long before the sun rises. And Mother Varvara tells us: “The holiness’ tradition says that night prayer is the gold prayer, the most powerful one. Through faith and prayer, the daycares can turn into angelic aura.” The spiritual beauty of the ministry, the nuns’ choir and their hospitality make the believers to cross the threshold of the monastery several times.