Elder Justin (Pârvu) on Pascha in Prison

Archimandrite Justin (Pârvu) (February 10, 1919–June 16, 2013) is one of the most famous Romanian elders of our time. In 1948, he was arrested and sentenced to twelve years in prison “for his political views.” In 1960, at the end of his sentence, he was given another four years in prison for refusing to renounce his Orthodox faith.

Archimandrite Justin Archimandrite Justin     

You spent sixteen of your eighty-eight years in prison.

—Yes, but those were the most wonderful years, because if not for them, I wouldn’t be what I am now. Know that man doesn’t know how to arrange his life in freedom. He’s very unstable and influenced by everything around him. And if he’s forced against his will to form his character, to follow a certain position and line of behavior, then begins the suffering that sanctifies him.

Orthodox Christianity wouldn’t be Orthodox Christianity if it hadn’t gone through 200 years of persecution. If it hadn’t passed through the whole Middle Ages, and right up to our day. Because Christianity has always had to bleed, if not here, then there. Christianity is still bleeding—and continues to live from generation to generation. After all, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christianity. And the life I led during those years was perhaps the most fertile and beautiful, because all those sixteen years I was moving from death to life and from life to death. And I experienced my entire evolution, which is extremely beneficial for a man being formed for life.

And you experienced the most beautiful Pascha…

—The most beautiful Pascha!

—... at the Baia Sprie Mine.1

—I served Liturgy there, maybe so I wouldn’t do it later. Maybe that’s why God punished me today, and just before Pascha I fell and broke my kneecap. Maybe, I did something wrong… But it was beautiful, because the Liturgy celebrated there, under the watchful eye of the militiaman standing outside the door isn’t an easy thing. If he caught you praying like that, he’d give you hell!

Entrance to the Baia Sprie Mine Entrance to the Baia Sprie Mine Fr. Calciu spoke about how he served the Liturgy in his cell. There was no bread, only some wine and utensils, and the most terrible policeman on guard in the ward! You couldn’t even talk to him. On holidays, such people were intentionally put on guard on holidays to do prison training. And then Fr. Calciu knocks on the door. And this man comes up and opens it:

“What do you want, bandit?”

“Sir, I don’t have a piece of bread.”

“Bread?! What, is it time to eat?”

He slams the door and leaves. But less than ten minutes later, he returns with a piece of bread.

“Come on, take the bread! Just don’t tell anyone!”

“How could I tell anyone, sir? But you’re now the initiator of our Liturgy here.”

And he celebrated his Divine Liturgy there—an unprecedented thing. With all the gathered altar servers, with all the priests, the Liturgy was celebrated on the body of a sick prisoner who held on after Communion for another six hours and then departed to the Lord. They were lively Liturgies, on the bodies of martyrs. As you well know, when a church is consecrated, they put the relics of martyrs under the holy altar.

Baia Sprie Mine Baia Sprie Mine Not even to mention how beautiful the “chiming of the bells” was in Baia Sprie, that is, the various drill bits that we used to drill stone blocks that we hung on a wire and would hit when about 250 people gathered together and sang, “Christ is Risen!” And when we would leave there with these chants, then everyone up above would know that the prisoners were working in the mine. About five unarmed prison guards came in—they didn’t usually approach the prisoners with weapons—and outside, my dears, the battalions of police and security were waiting for us. And with these shouts and Paschal hymns, we came out of the mine, from a depth of 1,300 feet, and our voices resounded all throughout Baia Sprie and Baia Mare. We went straight from the mine to the camp, to the barracks, our shelter. We didn’t even take a bath—we went straight to the bedrooms, and we stayed there for two days. And after two days, they gathered everyone in the yard:

“Do you know, bandits, why we held you like this, without food? Because you still have this nonsense in your head. Now go, wash up, eat, and get to the mine!”

On Holy Friday they gave us cabbage soup—worse than you can imagine! Salty and sour, so we went to the mine having eaten 3.5 ounces of bread, and worked hungry for a whole day. And on the day of Pascha itself they had a rich, plentiful table—a whole mountain of meat, and they all stayed there at the table, while we went fasting and praying to fulfill our duty and get them the required amount of lead and galena.

​Galena from Baia Sprie Mine ​Galena from Baia Sprie Mine     


​Exhibit from the Museum of Mineralogy, Baia Mare. Photo: P. Zhokhovsky, P. Timko ​Exhibit from the Museum of Mineralogy, Baia Mare. Photo: P. Zhokhovsky, P. Timko     

​Exhibit from the Museum of Mineralogy, Baia Mare. Photo: P. Zhokhovsky, P. Timko ​Exhibit from the Museum of Mineralogy, Baia Mare. Photo: P. Zhokhovsky, P. Timko     

Exhibit from the Museum of Mineralogy, Baia Mare. Photo: P. Zhokhovsky, P. Timko Exhibit from the Museum of Mineralogy, Baia Mare. Photo: P. Zhokhovsky, P. Timko     

We see that our Christians at all times have been baptized, married, confessed, and communed, and have always sought reconciliation with God. Such is the peculiarity of our Romanian people. Our Romanian nation found refuge precisely in the Church, because the Church is both a school and a tribunal; a place of worship and all their hope and joy and pain.

Where do you find the strength for everyone?

—My dear, the strength for everyone comes from the need of each one individually. And then I don’t tell him too many things or read too much to him. I don’t work miracles, and like every man, in the end I’ve arrived at old age. If I go, for example, to the Holy Mountain, or to Jerusalem, or to a monastery, to Rarău, for example, I leave there changed—they have a wonderworking icon of the Mother of God there. Or I go to see an elder, like Elder Benjamin, the father abbot, with whom I still speak . He tells me something and I tell him something else. I need this spiritual recovery two tothree times a year.

Wonderworking icon of the Most Holy Theotokos at Rarău Monastery, 1538 Wonderworking icon of the Most Holy Theotokos at Rarău Monastery, 1538     

I also go into seclusion, or to Nechit Monastery, and I find Fr. Zosima the younger there, Fr. Nectarie, or I find someone else, and so I fill up my resistance file that way.

Is there anything you can learn from the young?

—Sometimes you can learn much more from the young than the elderly, because old age does not always bring c wisdom. There are things that I ask the young people here in these years of mine: “What do you think about such and such a thing?” “I figured I had to do this and that.” “Is that good? Tell me, my dear.” “Yes, it’s good, but look, it seems to me it’s also like this, as I think.” And I really take it for granted, that it’s the grace of God that works, not man.

It's all about the spiritual life. An elder in a monastery or a priest among the faithful is a chosen person, he is honored by the people; and know, that the grace of God is present there. The abbot may make a mistake, your spiritual father may make a mistake, but if you render obedience, then his mistake is nothing. You must act in obedience to him, because he doesn’t bear responsibility here, but the Spirit of God, as far as it is given to him at a certain moment for a Christian coming to him. Therefore, there is an absolute need for obedience in the life of a monastery and the life of Christians.

Even if someone says, “Ah, but I don’t go to see that priest. I heard that he’s such-and-such. And I myself saw how at some party, a Baptismal party, he made some kind of strange gesture.” No! That’s not the point. We need to know that this is a man chosen by God, and we must listen to him. His mistake is my elevation. The Holy Fathers say: “Rather than rising on my own opinions, it’s better to go lower with the opinions of an advisor.”

So this is my word about the equilibrium of Christians with a spiritual father. And of course, people go to see them. “Oh”, they say, “there’s an elder at Petru Vodă Monastery!” They print an article in the paper and people say,“Oh, wait, we’re going there!” And what’sthere? I’m sitting here like a fool healing my bones, and my sins too. What can I say? A man is satisfied like that, because an Orthodox Christian par excellence is obedient!

He has a principle, it’s inborn in him; from childhood he was brought up in such a way that as soon as you start talking to him, he says: “I’m sick, I’m broke, I have no income, I’m married, I have two kids, my wife left me.” “And do you have a spiritual father? An advisor? Do you still confess? Do you still take Communion? Do you still go to church?” “Yes, from time to time, Father.”

But this is precisely the key to resolving a man’s difficulties in life.

Archimandrite Justin (Parvu)
Translation by Jesse Dominick



1 The city of Baia Sprie, together with the neighboring Baia Mare and others, is located in far northern Romania, in the region of Maramureș, and has been known since the fifteenth century for the richest mines, where gold, silver, and other ferrous metals are mined.

Panagiotis5/8/2023 4:39 am
+++ May Father Justin's Memory Be Eternal +++ He is in Paradise now with the other Martyrs of our Holy Orthodox Faith. This is a great article, and I hope others read it and share it with others. The Romanian People suffered immensely, just like the Russian People under the yoke of the Satanic Bolsheviks and monster communists. One of the leading so-called "Romanian" communists was Ana Pauker. This chameleon masqueraded as a Romanian, but she didn't have a drop of Romanian blood in her. She was pure Ashkenazi, just like the Tito imposter (Weiss) in Yugoslavia, just like Leon Trotsky (Leiba Bronstein) in the so-called USSR. Now we see in the gangster state of the corrupt Ukraine, where the midget clown president is not of ethnic Ukrainian descent. The clown is of Ashkenazi descent, just like the defense minister and the prime minister of the Ukraine. Oh by the way, there is a book titled: "Dan, the Man Without Youth" written by the Romanian Freedom Fighter, Dan Roman, who was imprisoned in the same type of camps as Father Justin. He writes in his book that Nikita Khrushchev's real surname was Perlmutter (or Pearlmutter), which is an Ashkenazi surname. The same Perlmutter claim is allegedly made in the book titled: "The Plot Against the Church" by Maurice Pinay, which is a pseudonym for a group of conservative high-ranking Catholic Cardinals, Bishops, and Priests..... I love the Romanian Orthodox People, just like I love my Russian Orthodox Brothers. Don't believe for one second the never-ending stream of anti-Russian propaganda coming from the sewer mouths in the West. They are masters of lies and deception and are experts in brainwashing people. Let us pray to Almighty God and The Panagia to give knowledge to all of the Orthodox People. All Glory to our True God Jesus Christ. Just my humble opinion.
Christina5/7/2023 8:24 am
This holy man used to sit and take confession well into the night. Very rare were those confessors of that generation. They offered so much and suffered more than anyone can ever say in words. Sacrificed their health, life, time, sleep, ate very little especially during lent, prayed for hours, slept very little. I wish they were still around. The world would be better with them in it and they would give us faith and courage.
Pfmd5/5/2023 8:05 pm
A difficult and muddled interview to follow and understand. What is the point of this interview? Perhaps it requires a better and more thorough translation or perhaps there is a failure of an adequate preparation prior to the interview or perhaps this old and exhausted monk just wanted to rest and had no interest in conducting an interview. I did however enjoy the gemology lesson. Thanks
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