The Dragomirna Monastery

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The monastery of Dragomirna was built in a marvellous area, close to the forest, beyond the village Mitocul Dragomirnei, 12 kilometres from the town of Suceava. Metropolitan Bishop Anastasie Crimca, son of Suceava merchant Ioan Crimca and Cristina established the foundation, from the kinship of Stroici. Another little church had been built in 1602, previous to the building of the great monastery. This little church can be seen today in the graveyard of the Dragomirna monastery. It is the first church built by Metropolitan Bishop Anastasie Crimca together with his kinship Lupu and Simion Stroici. The plaque fixed over the entrance door reveals that it was dedicated to the saints Enoh, Saint Ilie and Saint John the Evangelist.

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Shortly after he was crowned at Moldavia’s Metropolitan Bishopric and inspired by the idea of building a new church, impressive both as regards size and artistic value, Anastasie Crimca started to build the great monastery at Dragomirna. The workings were finished in 1609, and the monastery received the festival “The Holy Spirit’s Descending”. The Moldavian architecture of that time will register a leap in its evolution through this building with innovative proportions and elements. Conceived to be tall and narrow, with the polygonal apse from West, the church impresses by its monumental allure. It is a very beautiful assemble, where the frames of the windows with gothic elements match harmoniously the rich and various decoration of the tower originating in Romanian folk art. Once you stepped into the monastery, one cannot help to notice the gradual heightening of the rooms, starting from the porch and moving to the altar and the rich network of nerves aligned almost everywhere, coloured in red, blue, gold yellow, and loaded with drawings inspired by the old church manuscripts. And to make it perfect, various sculptures appear here and there.

The walls and vaults of the nave and of the altar were wrapped with paintings in fresco in order to add a great artistic value. Undoubtedly, it was the traditional Moldavian sculpture school that formed the three painters from Dragomirna. Popa Craciun, Popa Ignat and Gligorie delicately added to the making of the frescos decorative elements borrowed from the miniatures of the Moldavian manuscripts. The paintings unfold according to the cannon of the Orthodox Church. Jesus in the Ghetsimani Garden, Jesus’ Capturing, The Crucifixion, The Descending from the Cross are just a few of the scenes amazing with beauty. Beside their artistic value, the frescos from Dragomirna have a great documentary value. The folk elements as well as the age costumes are carefully represented and observed by the painters.

It was at Dragomirna where Anastasie Crimca, Maria Mavrocordat, Bishop Daniil Vlahovici were buried. Other tombs were also discovered when digging.

In the 17th century thick, massive defending walls surrounded the monastery giving it a fortress aspect. A passage with a gothic vault, underlined by nerves adorned with ornaments of floral inscriptions, crosses the tower bell. A chapel is at the first floor and the bell room at the last floor. The great trapezium where old monks used to eat together is still kept in the original form at the right of the tower. Monk rooms can be noticed on the western and eastern interior sides.

During the first decades of the 17th century Dragomirna monastery proved to be a powerful culture centre. Miniatures and religious texts were created here.

There are a few things that round up the heritage of the monastery: a beautiful cover for saint vases, an evangelical book, an epitaph, a tetra-evangelical book written on parchment, decorated with numerous icons, a psalm book, two liturgical books as well as a crystal lustre given by Empress Ecaterina II of Russia.

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