The four hierarchs of Transylvania celebrated on 24 April, Ilie Iorest, Simion Ştefan, Sava Brancovici and Joseph of Maramureş were bishops over an oppressed population. The Orthodox faith and the Romanians in Transylvania had no rights in the country dominated since the middle Ages by the Hungarian noblemen, who shared the rights with the Germanic minorities. The so-called Transylvanian tolerance during the middle Ages is only half true. If the political rights of the Hungarians, Szekelys and Saxons were well respected, the Romanians had no political rights and no possibility to send representatives in the local parliament and no specific diocesan seat. Moreover, their religion was only mutually tolerated, but had no rights like the other 4 official religions (“religiae receptae”). In these conditions, the princes and the noblemen tried to convert forcibly, or by promising some rights, the Romanian population. The bishops celebrated on April 24 tried to preserve the minimal tolerance, asking for political sustaining in Moldova, Wallachia or Russia, and sometimes using compromise solutions.
Saint Ilie Iorest (1640-1643)
Saint Ilie Iorest resided as Metropolitan of Transylvania in Alba Iulia, the capital of the country at that time. There are not so many documents who attest him, but they are enough to create a portrayal of his. A letter of the Moldavian bishops addressed in 2 June 1645 to the Tsar Mikail Feodorovich of Russia attests that “this hierarch named Iorest is born in the Hungarian Country (=Translylvania), but he was instructed from his childhood in our country, Moldova, in Putna monastery, and he was tonsured as monk in the same monastery, and after a while he was ordained as priest”. His ordination may have been made by Metropolitan Anastasie Crimca of Suceava (~1607-1629), or by the retired bishop Efrem of Rădăuţi, who lived at Moldoviţa, just over the hill from Putna, or by the next bishop of Rădăuţi. The last page of a Slavonic Psalter Book from Putna comprises his not so often name, “hieromonk Iorest, vlet (=in the year) 7133 (=1625), November 8”. This notice made the historians to suppose he was born around 1600.
A decade later, in 1637 the priest Manoil from Suceava was finishing a Slavonic copy of the Byzantine Synaxarion of Simeon Metaphrastes (10th century) begun in the copyists school of Anastasie Crimca and continued by „hieromonk Iorest, hegumen”. This manuscript, kept today in St. Petersburg attests that Iorest was Abbot of Putna, one of the biggest monasteries in Moldova, in 1637.
|The tomb of St. Ilie Iorest|
|Depiction of the Saint in the Orthodox Cathedral from Alba Iulia|
|The first page of the Romanian New Testament|
of Simion Ştefan
|Alba Iulia during the canonization of Simion Ştefan|
|George Brankovic, the brother of the Saint|
|The probable burial place of St. Joseph|
in Giuleşti monastery of the St. Archangels
|The Canonization of St. Simion Stefan in Alba Iulia|