ROMANIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
ROMANIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH. The modern state of Romania is composed of a union of three medieval principalities: Wallachia, Moldavia (q.v.), and Transylvania. A fourth, Bessarabia (now the Republic of Moldova), awaits possible union with the Romanian state. Wallachia and Moldavia were first joined in the mid-19th c. to mark the beginnings of modern Romania. Formerly, the two had enjoyed the status of separate principalities politically subject to the Ottoman Empire (q.v.). The nation’s independence (1862) followed the pattern of the other new states in the Balkans (q.v.) and resulted in the declaration of Romanian ecclesiastical independence in 1859, recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarch (q.v.) in 1885. The primate of the Romanian Church took the title “Patriarch” in 1923.
As the only people speaking a Romance language in the Orthodox oikoumene (q.v.), the Romanians have looked much toward Western Europe, especially France, in the past one hundred and fifty years. Nonetheless, their church cherishes the most active monastic presence among the local Orthodox churches outside of Greece. Nourished by the hesychast revival begun by Paisii Velichkovsky (qq.v.), particularly strong in Moldavia, traditional monastic spirituality continues to inform the life of this local church’s best thinkers, notably the most distinguished Romanian theologian, Fr. Dumitru Staniloae (q.v.).