Piteşti, Romania, March 11, 2021
Piteşti Prison of communist Romania was home to unspeakable horrors, where thousands suffered for their faith in Christ and political dissension.
Now, the former penal facility is set to become the site of a future Orthodox church in honor of all who suffered there.
The foundation stone for the future church was placed and consecrated on Monday by His Eminence Archbishop Calinic of Argeș and Muscel. The necessary arrangements for building a new church were worked out by Fr. Cozmin Ionuț Miloiu, who currently serves in the chapel at the prison building, reports the Basilica News Agency.
Before the consecration, Abp. Calinic celebrated the Divine Liturgy and a memorial parastas for all the victims of Piteşti. He also spoke about all those who were physically and psychologically tortured at the prison, and encouraged all present to cultivate respect and love for their fellow man.
The penitentiary in Pitesti, in its current form, was built between 1937-1941 and functioned as a penitentiary until 1977. It is especially known for the reeducation experiment conducted between December 1949 and September 1951 designed to violently “reeducate” the prisoners, including destroying their faith in Christ, altering their personalities to the point of absolute obedience.
French historian François Furet, considered Piteşti “one of the most terrible dehumanization experiences our age has ever known.” Alexander Solzhenitsyn, having himself suffered in the Russian gulag system, described the Romanian prison as “the most terrible act of barbarism in the contemporary world.”
Among those who suffered in Piteşti were Fr. Roman Braga, Fr. Gheorge Calciu, both of whom ended their days in America, and Valerian Gafencu.
The commemorative services were attended by representatives of the Piteşti branch of the Association of Former Political Prisoners and the Piteşti Prison Memorial Foundation.
Afterwards, Abp. Calinic also went to the monument to the victims of the prison in the center of the city, where moe memorial prayers were read.
Watch the Film “Beyond Torture: The Gulag of Piteşti, Romania,” featuring Fr. Roman Braga:
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