On Romania’s National Day, December 1, 2021, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel sent a message to all Romanians, highlighting that national unity is a symbol of the dignity of the Romanian people.
Please find below the full text of the message.
By prayer, through speech, through printed books, by personal presence and concrete action of its servants, the Church was active in the work of unifying the Romanian people in a unitary Romanian state, thus contributing to this ideal with its erudite hierarchs, patriotic priests and deacons, theology professors and students, having oratorical talent and the power to convince and mobilize others, through monks and nuns who took care of the wounded soldiers, through monasteries and parishes that collected money and food, all together morally encouraging and materially helping the Romanian fighters for national freedom and unity.
During the 1916-1918 War, over 250 Romanian Orthodox priests accompanied the Romanian army troops on the battlefields as military confessors. Unfortunately, some of them died on the front, while others were taken hostages and deported.
Over 200 monks and nuns were activated as nurses in various field hospitals or on the front, some dying on duty because of epidemic typhus. In addition, hundreds of priests were investigated, robbed or expelled from their parishes by the enemy. Forty priests were shot dead in the occupied territories by the German, Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian troops.
In Transylvania, one hundred fifty priests were sent to Hungarian jails; others were sentenced to death or many years of prison. Other two hundred priests were deported to Western Hungary in Sopron county, where they experienced inhumane conditions until their release in 1919 with the help of Romanian troops.
Regarding the very event of the Great Union at Alba Iulia on December 1, 1918, among the 1228 official delegates from the National Constituent Assembly were many Church ministers.
On the morning of December 1, 1918, at the end of the Divine Liturgy celebrated at the Orthodox Church in Alba Iulia, Bishop Miron Cristea of Caransebeș read the prayer for the liberation of the Romanian people.
The deep content of the prayer created a powerful emotion among those present so that the whole Church then sang the hymn “Awaken thee, Romanian!”. “No eye was dry. From the eyes of all flowed the sacred tears of our national resurrection,” recorded in those days the magazine “Biserica şi Şcoala” (Church and School) in Arad.
The meeting of the Constituent National Assembly ended with a festive speech by the Orthodox Bishop Ioan I. Papp of Arad and locum tenens of the Metropolitan of Transylvania, who emphasized the idea that the clergy and the people are “one in thoughts and feelings, one in national desires and aspirations from bishop to peasant and from peasant to bishop. Therefore, they participate with the same feeling of unity and the feeling of connection with the faithful in this event, which is the guarantee of the constitution of the Romanian people as a free Romanian nation and the only one entitled to have its present and future fate.”
On December 14, 1918, the delegation of Transylvanian Romanians, composed of the Orthodox Bishop Miron Cristea, the Greek Catholic Bishop of Gherla Iuliu Hossu, Alexandru Vaida-Voivod and Vasile Goldiș, presented to King Ferdinand, in Bucharest, the act of union on December 1, 1918.
Today, on the 103rd anniversary of the Great Union of December 1, 1918, we express our homage and gratitude to all the founders of the great act of our history for which the Romanians fought for centuries, knowing that the union of all Romanian provinces in one unitary Romanian state was the culmination of many sacrificial, spiritual and material efforts to assert national consciousness and the desire for national unity.
For all the benefactions of the Great Union, today we thank God the Most Glorified in the Holy Trinity. We thank all the Romanian heroes who sacrificed themselves for the freedom, unity and dignity of the Romanian people.
On Romania’s National Day, we solemnly reaffirm our appreciation and love for the Romanian people.
In particular, it is necessary to contribute, through prayer, solidarity and good deeds, to help those who have suffered from the Covid-19 pandemic.
At the same time, we pray for the rest of the souls of doctors and patients who died in their fight against the pandemic.
Special care is also necessary to preserve the Romanian identity and spirituality in the life of the Romanians living among foreigners in the Romanian diaspora.
In conclusion, all Romanians have a sacred duty to preserve and cultivate the gift of national unity as a symbol of the dignity of the Romanian people.
Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church