Monday 17 January 2022

The miracle-working icon of St Anthony in the old town in Bucharest


Today is St Anthony’s Day in the Orthodox and Catholic calendars. 

Not having eaten lunch by half past three, I stopped to drink the always excellent fish soup at Dinescu's restaurant, Lacrimi și Sfinți. 

The restaurant was hidden by a very long queue of people waiting to kiss a miracle working icon in the church of St Anthony around the corner. 

The saint is devoted to orphans, the poor and unmarried girls, who pray on this day to find a husband. Orthodox tradition says that praying nine Tuesdays in a row to the miracle-working icon should lead to prayers being answered. 

More than anything else it’s the Orthodox religiosity and mysticism of Romania which make her such a wonderful country. 

Religion here is very Byzantine, has pagan roots, is mysticalm otherworldly and, as Eugen Ionescu said, means something very different from in Catholic or Protestant countries. It certainly means something very different from the polite, understated, mildly depressing religion of the Church of England. 

Very different from other Orthodox countries in the Balkans, which are becoming godless.

I imagine Catholic England was very like Orthodox Romania before Communism. 

I suppose Protestantism and Communism hijacked the countries in which they were imposed. 

The Church of England meanwhile is facing near extinction. Catholicism is not because of immigrants, especially but by no means only Eastern Europeans.

Today, back in England, the Guardian publishes an article by Simon Jenkins headlined

Churches could double as banks, or even serve beer. We can’t leave them empty


  1. I am glad that religion (Orthodox Christianity) is still strong in Romania.

    1. I knew in the 1990s this was the country's great strength along with Romanians' patriotism. The virility of the men an the femininity of the women. It took me a long time to see how Romanian religion colours everything here. And although I am not a Protestant I have the idea, because I come from a Protestant country, that religion is at best sombre and usually terribly depressing. Here the Mass is very beautiful and folk religion runs very deep, deep into the bloodlines that go back to pagan Dacia.