Christian Underground Evidence – Importance of the Archaeological Discoveries

08-10-2011

Message of His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, on the occasion of the Symposium “Archaeology of faith. Archaeological research at the churches of Bucharest and neighbourhood” (03 – 04 October 2011), Monday, 3 October, “Patriarch Teoctist” Aula Magna:

One of the many methods of investigation, of bringing to light and valuing the evidence of the past of the human society is the archaeological research representing a typical field, of special importance, able to emphasise very significant aspects of the history of the human civilisation. The contribution of archaeology to the reconstitution, in time and space, of the evolution of some distinct epochs and cultures is so much the more important as the historical period investigated is more remote in time with no written sources or of other nature.

The Christian era, in its third millennium since its beginning, marked by the Nativity of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, benefited and continues to benefit, in its knowledge, of the results of the archaeological discoveries, revealed especially through systematic scientific research implemented mostly during the 19th – 21st centuries.

The archaeological research unfolded decades in the run in the territory of our country has brought to light and enriched, permanently and substantially the history of Romanian Christianity as well as the knowledge and estimation of the way in which the Romanian people have permanently lived in the Church of Christ, beginning even with the “apostolic century”, the first one when the Word of the Gospel was spread all over the world.

One can even say that the archaeology of the mediaeval epoch turned the discovery and emphasising of the hidden evidence of the old churches, precincts or cemeteries into a title of nobility, because they have all disappeared in the course of time or have been rather often replaced with new churches and constructions.

Fortunately, the number of these researches is rather large, so that they cannot be included here, in a simple introduction.

Yet, we limit ourselves to emphasising the fact that, only in the area of our capital city, the archaeological research unfolded especially in the second half of the 20th century and beginning of the present one, enriched a lot the knowledge on the old history of some well known churches.

We do express here our special appreciation for the long fruitful activity of the Univ. Professor Dr. Panait I. Panait, decades on end director of the Museum of Bucharest, who has reached now eight decades of life and who has added, together with his team of collaborators through much archaeological digging, new important evidence on the century old past of our capital city, many of his researches bringing to light the traces of some old churches of Bucharest.

His research has been continued with much success, during the last few years, by Dr. Gheorghe Mănucu-Adameşteanu, his successor who took over his activity at the Museum of Bucharest, together with a series of enthusiast young people within the museum or from the “Vasile Pârvan” National Institute of Archaeology.

Taking into account the special results of the archaeology of Bucharest during the last few decades, especially the rich results of the research of some church sites, we blessed the initiative to organise at the level of the Romanian Patriarchate, of a symposium designed to value and submit to the experts’ attention, to the priests of Bucharest and neighbourhood, as well as to the public at large, some of the most significant results of the archaeological research concerning the history of some places of worship in the capital and neighbourhood.

So, we shall have the occasion to better know the results of some research concerning the churches of Bucharest: Saint George the New, Udricani, Colţea, “Dintr-o zi”, Saint Dumitru – Poştă, Greci, St. Nicolae-Tunari, the complex of the former “Saint Sava” Monastery and Academy, or former Tânganu Monastery.

A new perspective is also opened over the importance of the inter-disciplinary research of the old places of worship, reuniting the contribution of the archaeologists with that of the historians, restorers of architecture and art, and of the art historians.

On the other hand, we underline the fact that such researches have been facilitated and enriched through the fruitful collaboration among the experts and the servant priests of the respective churches, as proved in the case of “Saint Nicholas – Udricani” church, where from the initiative of this meeting started, a collaboration also necessary in the case of some other church monuments of our national patrimony.

The symposium entitled “Archaeology of Faith. Archaeological Research of the Churches of Bucharest and Neighbourhood”, organised as the 7th edition of the cycle “Ecclesiastic Patrimony – Cultural Patrimony”, takes place in the context of the 90th the anniversary of the Museum of Bucharest.

Therefore, we render homage to this representative institution for its contribution to the Romanian cultural life, through the research and valuing of the history of the capital city of Romania.

We express our conviction that this event may be an eloquent pleading for the importance of some archaeological research of our churches historical monuments, especially when they can be a natural preparation for the renovation of these places of worship.

It is in the same sense that the two volumes of archaeological research plead, whose launch is occasioned by today’s scientific meeting.

We congratulate the organisers and participants in this prestigious symposium of the history of Bucharest and bless its proceedings under the auspices of the Romanian Patriarchate.

† Daniel
Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church

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