Solca, Romania, March 9, 2021
The Solca Monastery in the heart of Bukovina was abolished by the Habsburg Monarchy 236 years ago. It then functioned as a parish until this past Sunday, when it was festively reestablished as a monastery.
The monastery was reestablished at the initiative of His Eminence Archbishop Calinic, who announced his desire just a few days after his enthronement as the hierarch of Suceava and Rădăuţi. At the same time, a new parish was opened for the faithful of Solca, reports the Basilica News Agency.
“One of the many wounds of Bukovina is closing right before our eyes,” Archimandrite Melchisedec Velnic, the Archdiocesan Exarch of monasteries and abbot of Putna Monastery, joyfully exclaimed, recalling that Solca was just one of the 21 monasteries and hermitages closed by the Habsburg Monarchy after it occupied Bukovina in 1775.
In November 2020, the Archdiocese acquired a plot of land adjacent to the monastery that had been separated from the monastery over time. Putna Monastery was entrusted with the foundation of a new monastic community and the necessary reconstruction work.
Abbot Protosinghel Elefterie Ionesie. Photo: arhiepiscopiasucevei.ro The new abbot, Protosinghel Elefterie Ionesie, also comes from the authoritative Putna Monastery. He was appointed as abbot on March 1 and officially presented on Sunday, March 7. The faithful were also introduced to their new parish priest, Fr. Sergiu Chioarță.
Fr. Sergiu explained that the monastery and parish will have a symbiotic relationship, with Abbot Elefterie serving as the parish community’s spiritual father. “He’ll settle here, and I’m sure we’ll find him constantly praying for us and working hard to rebuild the monastery,” the priest said, emphasizing that the parish will, in turn, offer their prayers and labors for the sake of the monastery.
In October, another monk of Putna Monastery, Fr. Prostosinghel Jeremiah (Berbec) was installed as abbot of St. Demetrios the New Romanian Orthodox Monastery in Middletown, New York.
Solca Monastery, dedicated to Sts. Peter and Paul, was founded by Moldavian Prince Ștefan Tomșa II in 1612, with the church being consecrated in 1614. After that, the construction of the other buildings continued until 1622.
After the flowering of the early period, another important period in the life of the monastery was the second half of the 18th century, especially during the abbacy of Archimandrite Vartolomei Mazereanu, from 1768 to 1774, who developed close relations with Putna Monastery.
Fr. Vartolomei renewed the monastery and endowed it with liturgical utensils, vestments, and service books. He also wrote and translated texts on monasticism and the history of Moldova.
Bukovina was then occupied by the Habsburg Monarchy and the monastery was closed. Of the 17 resident monks, only one very elderly monk was allowed to remain at the monastery. The church was converted into a parish and the other buildings were used for non-Church purposes.
The refectory and cells were destroyed in a fire in 1871, and the monastery was demolished during WWI.