Bucharest, February 26, 2016
Meeting on Thursday February 25, 2016, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church decided to canonize the Venerable Daniil and Misail of Turnu Monastery, to be commemorated on October 5, and the Venerable Neofit and Meletie of Stânişoara Monastery, to be commemorated on September 3.
Through the centuries many Christian hermits have fled the world to mountain dwelling, becoming great ascetics of the Church, perfected through prayer and fasting, hearing and reading the Divine Scriptures, learning the Psalter by heart, meditating upon the name of Christ in silence and obedience, struggling for many years. In mountain huts they endured cold, suffering, and temptations of all sorts from the cunning demons. The holiness of their lives has been made known to the Church, becoming true examples of prayer and ascetic life in Christ, the Savior.
Sts. Daniil and Misail
The venerable hermits Daniil and Misail were born in the second half of the sixteenth century in the area of Oltenia. Both from their youth were lovers of God and willingly engaged in the labors of the virtuous life, having a warm love for Christ our Savior and His Most Pure Mother. Obeying the commandment of the Lord, He who desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me, they left their homes, families and friends, and entered Cozia Monastery as brothers, living in obedience and humility, as the Son of God was obedient to His Father, even unto death on the Cross.
Through their struggles they gained the gift of prayer and the love of God. Obeying all the commands of their abbot and the brethren, they became living ascetic examples in all things. Not long after entering the monastery, they were found worthy, through their labors, to don the angelic habit of monasticism and received the tonsure at the hands of their abbot.
Daniil, being familiar with the Holy Scriptures and the teachings of the Fathers, and living a worthy and skillful religious life, was honored with the grace of the priesthood. Becoming as a candle’s flame, his humble and pure life was quickly made known to the fathers of the monastery who elected him as a confessor and adviser for their salvation.
Among those who confessed to Daniil, also worthy of remembrance, was the blessed Misail, who became his spiritual disciple. Hearing and receiving the spiritual wisdom of St. Daniil, he began with zeal to pass from glory to glory, being full of good works, becoming a good example to all. Eventually, seeking greater spiritual fulfillment, and with burning love for the Divine, Sts. Daniil and Misail decided to leave the community life and enter into solitude. Receiving the blessing of their abbot they went into the mountain lands around Cozia, where cells were dug in the mountain quiet near springs of water.
Many were their temptations, but none could comprehend their thirst for prayer and quiet labors. Around them the Theotokos gathered a small community of brothers who struggled in unceasing prayer, in vigils, in fasting, and in reading soul-profiting books. Therefore, the venerable Daniil and Misail built a wooden church to serve their needs, in honor of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple. St. Daniil was the spiritual father of all the hermits, receiving also the confession of the newly-canonized Sts. Neofit and Meletie. They came down, from time to time, especially on Sundays and feast days, to confess and celebrate the Divine Liturgy in the hermitage, being near an old tower thus named Turnu Hermitage.
Foreseeing his end, St. Daniil left behind a sure guide in the person of his disciple the Venerable Misail. Both blessed Daniil and Misail, passing into eternity in the first half of the seventeenth century, were buried by the altar in their little church. When, in 1676, Metropolitan Varlaam of Romania built a new stone church, he placed their holy relics at the foundation of the new altar.
The Venerable Daniil and Misail were shown to be chosen vessels of the Holy Spirit, following in the tradition of Romanian hermits as bearers of spiritual gifts and light.
Sts. Neofit and Meletie
Many God-loving hermits have lived in the mountains around the Cozia Monastery, and Sts. Daniil and Misail are among the most famous. With them also were the newly-canonized Sts. Neofit and Meletie who lived above on Mount Savage, and whose disciples founded the Stânişoara Hermitage.
Venerable Neofit was born in the sixteenth century to God-fearing Orthodox Christian parents. He received the angelic habit in Cozia Monastery, and after several years of humble obedience in community life, desiring a more perfect life, he received the blessing of his abbot to enter into solitude. He dug a cell on the western side of Mount Savage and entered into harsh labors and unceasing prayers, receiving after a while the tonsure into the Great Schema. He would spend the week in fasting and prayer, coming down occasionally on Sundays and feasts to confess to St. Daniil and to commune of the holy Body and Blood of Christ our God.
Laboring in ceaseless prayer, this great ascetic and lover of God, having given his whole life and attaining to high levels of holiness, received from the Holy Spirit the gift of tears and prayer for the world. After thirty years of wilderness life, having suffered harsh winters in poverty and nakedness, enduring severe demonic temptations, he gave his soul into God’s hands there in his cave, unbeknownst to anyone. His body was discovered by a monk of Cozia Monastery who was appointed to bring food to the hermits.
The monk took the holy body to the monastery for burial, but at night the blessed Neofit appeared in a dream and scolded him, commanding him to return his body to his cave. That same night the venerable Abbot was given the same vision. The next morning two monks returned St. Neofit’s holy body to his cave. Arriving, one of the monks, angrily cried out: "With the bears he lived and with the bears he can stay." For these impious words he was punished immediately, his head being turned around to the back. With great cries he returned to the monastery, confessing his sin. The fathers of the monastery prayed to the holy Neofit to forgive him, and the monk was immediately healed.
Thus God revealed His pleasure in St. Neofit, revealing it in a miracle of healing before all. News of the miracle quickly spread to nearby villages and many faithful began to visit the caves for spiritual consolation and healing from diseases. St. Neofit’s relics are today preserved in the monastery church where the faithful still receive deliverance from passions, troubles and illnesses. His cave today remains a place of pilgrimage.
The Venerable Meletie lived in the hermitage of Stânişoarei at the turn of the seventeenth century. It is believed that it was located in a village near Cozia Monastery, where he dwelt from infancy. There he forced himself in fasting and prayer until the day when, at his request, his abbot gave the blessing to go to the hermits in the mountains. He dug himself a cave on the south side of Mount Savage, where he was tonsured into the Great Schema and offered blessed labors for over forty years, continually glorifying God and guarding his pure mind against all evil thoughts.
His labors were innumerable: tears, sighs, repentance, fasting, vigils, and battle with evil spirits. Six days he labored in his cell and on Sundays he went to St. Daniil for confession and to receive holy Communion. In his old age, unable to make his way down from his cave, by the care of the Lord and His Mother a fountain sprung up in front of his cave, which flows to this day, being known as the “spring of Meletie.” Thus God has honored him by miracles, healings, and consolation of the weary souls that went to him. After long struggles and reaching an old age, he entrusted his soul into God’s hands. His relics, which remained a long time in his cave, were later divided among believers, and the cave remains a plcae of veneration to this day.
The life and struggles of Sts. Neofit and Meleite show them to be glorified by the Holy Spirit and heirs of the kingdom of Heaven, as bearers of spiritual gifts who pray to God for our souls.