Saint patron: Sunday of all saints
(First Sunday after Pentecost)
Year of foundation: 1929
Prior: Constantin Timiș
Cenobitic life: five monks
Accommodation: 8 people
The monastery is a treasure of grace on the European road E70. It is also called the “Cozia of Banat” both due to the place where it is located, right in the way of the traveller and also for the mystery of the “written stone” and the miracles that the “Holy Trinity” icon, painted on the cliff, can make.
The Written Stone Monastery is also called the “Cozia of Banat” both due to the place where it is located, right in the way of the traveller and also for the mystery of the “written stone” and its miracles.
From Caransebeş to Orşova, after 25 km of walking, just before entering Armenis, at the foot of the third railway bridge that crosses the Timiş-Cerna Passage, lies the old church of the monastery, known as the Written Stone Monastery. Make a halt and climb the stairs from the bank of the Timiş River to the entrance to the church, steps that remind you of the faith of the believer in his ascent to perfection, on the ” Heaven’s staircase”.
Who and when was this holy icon painted cannot be known for certainty, but it is precisely this that gives it a mystical grace of benevolence. Between legend and truth, the Written Stone icon is considered as a wondrous icon, not being painted by earthy hands. A first proof about the Written Stone dates back to 1788, when on a military map, illustrating the positioning of the border guards on the Timiș-Cerna Corridor, the place with the icon appears under the name “The Holy Trinity’s Stone”. Then, according to the inhabitants of the villages around the monastery, when the Caransebeș-Orşova railway (1878-1886) was built, the christians of Armenis, together with the priest Ilie Sârbu, persuaded the engineer Mihlheinsein to “make” this railway with the Armenis tunnel “bent”, deviating the exit of the tunnel by 4-5 m west of the rock with the icon, which can be seen even today:
“I replied that who had painted the holy icon, from what urge and in what circumstances or when, we do not really know, but this icon is sacred for us and for all the Romanian passers-byers and that we never pass by it without uncovering our head and crossing ourselves.“ [Timiș C., 2011]
It is said that in the past centuries in this rock “cave” a hermit used to live, who discovered the icon of the Holy Trinity.
The site’s legends are also linked to the gratitude and the contentment of the people shown to God for all the good things that came into their lives.
According to one of legends, a cattle merchant, who traded animals was travelling on horseback on the road passing in front of the hermitage; he was not satisfied with working six days during the week, but used to work on Sundays too.
As he was heading home, precisely on Sunday of All Saints, a storm with thunder and lightning began. When the merchant passed before the rock with the icon, a powerful and deafening lightning split a part of the mountain cliff. This collapsed over the merchant and threw him and his horse into the Timiș River. But by a miracle the man and his horse escaped alive and unharmed. As a token of gratitude, at the urge of the priest in the village, the cattle merchant had the icon of the Holy Trinity painted on the rock, because “God with all his saints rescued him from danger.” Since then, he had never worked on Sundays.
Another legend says that a Christian army leader, pursued by the Turks, fell with his horse from the cliff of the Armeniş Mountain into the Timiş River. As he escaped unharmed, out of gratitude to God, he had the icon of the Holy Trinity painted on the rock.
If the two legends speak of people’s gratitude and contentment for escaping danger, another legend reminds of the sacrifice a believer brings to God, even when a tragedy happens to him. Tradition says that when the Armenis church was erected, the master’s son insisted to put the cross on top of the tower. Although his father disagreed, the boy climbed, but he got dizzy and fell from the altitude. After the death of his son, the painter, with grief in his soul, painted the icon of the Holy Trinity for the forgiveness of his sins.
Over the time, the icon was an inexhaustible source of wonders. The legend says that a little girl who could not walk was taken by her mother to the Written Stone. Thanks to the prayer recited by the mother and the daughter together in front of the icon, the girl healed and could walk without help from the monastery back to her home. The healing power that originates from the icon is known not only by Orthodox believers, but also by Roman Catholics as well, who come in pilgrimage with their priest at the feast of the All Saints Sunday. At such a feast a Roman Catholic believer came to the monastery church together with his two children sick of fever. After praying with profound faith, father and sons together, the children healed completely.
There were many wonders. Some have been lost in the mists of time, and others have remained great mysteries, undiscovered by the eye. These icon healings are so well-known in Banat that the name of Icon or Iconia is widely spread in this area, but only in this part of the region.
The biggest wonder of the Holy Trinity Icon of the Written Stone Monastery is that it resisted in time as a testimony of faith.
The year when the monastery was founded in 1929 when Ana and Vasile Dragomir of Little Slatina raised the chapel that “shelters” the icon of the Holy Trinity, in memory of their daughter Maria, who died when she was only 26 years old. The church is 8 m long and 4 m high outside, and the interior is 3.5 m long, 3 m wide and 3.5 m heigh. Later, the bell tower was added to the chapel, and after 1989, a new larger church was starting to be build, tha place becoming thus a monastic settlement.
The new church from the monastery is built in Byzantine style, 30 m long, 12 m wide and with a 20 m high tower. It was inaugurated in 2008 by PS Father Lucian, Bishop of Caransebeș.
Each year at the feast of “All Saints’ Day”, dedicated to the monastery that is held on the first Sunday after Pentecost, a pilgrimage is made to the icon of the Holy Trinity on the Written Stone. Here, near the waves of Timiș, striking the cold shore of the river, where the air is cleaner and more refreshing, where the valleys and hills are so full of Christian feasts, man feels closer to God.
The Written Stone Monastery is a place of mysteries and wonders, but also a treasure of grace on the European road (E70). “It is the grace of God poured out through the prayers said by the monks for all who come to the Written Stone“, as the present prior of the monastery, archimandrite Constantine Timiș, says with peace in his soul.
Once you have stepped on the door of the chapel in the rock, peace comes to your mind and you enter into a simple, happy world. The thoughts that have overwhelmed you before are now scattered and you experience pure emotion. You will ask: What is man? What is happiness? At a time when the body was and continues to be “unleashed” from any mystery by provocative behaviours and gestures, and the soul is increasingly alien to the body, man’s happiness lies in simple things. Now, when the artificial intelligence seeks to “scan” people’s thoughts and decipher the soul through the “electronic cloud,” only through prayer can a drop of hope be given for “holiness”, for the man’s desire to always seek a balanced and harmonious way to live in nature, at least on a Sunday: no computer, no television, no phone, and close to God.
It is the only way we can protect ourselves from the danger of becoming robots, without soul, without sadness and without joy. We come to the world having a smile on our face and we leave the world with tears in our eyes.