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Christianity in Dacia

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Christianity in Dacia
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  Bogdan NeacşiuOrthodox Christianity is a fundamental aspect of the Romanian culture. Christianityis attested in Romania, or Dacia, the name of the province in the time of the RomanEmpire, from the first century .D. !he Romanian people ta e pride in the fact that their national Church, #hich is the Romanian Orthodox Church, has its roots in the apostolic preaching of $aint ndre#, the %rother of $aint &eter. ccording to 'yppolitus, $aintndre# proclaimed the (ospel to the $cythians and the !hracians. lso, the famoushistorian, Euse%ius of Caesarea #rote that the same postle preached in &ontic Dacia, the (Scythia Minor)  future roman province, $cythia )inor *the territoryfrom south eastern Romania #hich today is calledDo%rogea+. s #as the practice of the apostles, $t.ndre#, ordained priests and deacons in the places#here he preached, thus so happening in $cythia)inor.  $aint ndre#s mission in this part of Romania is %ased not only on historical facts, %ut also %y local tradition. !hus #e have toponyms li e -the cave of $aint ndre#, or -theriver of $aint ndre#. /n recent years, the apostolic foundation of Christianity in Romaniais not %ased anymore only on the authority of $aint ndre#.  0atin #riter from (aulle,named %dias, in his %oo entitled  Historia certaminis apostolici  attests the fact that $aint&hilip also proclaimed the (ospel in this province for a period of 12 years. (South-West Dacia under the Roman Empire) 3or the security of the ne# province, Emperor !ra4an %rought here military unitsthat had soldiers #ho #ere Christian. nother factor that contri%uted to the spread of Christianity in Dacia during the Roman occupation #as an economical one. /n Dacia camemany merchants from various parts of the Roman Empire, li e the (ree cities, especiallythose from the Blac $ea, sia )inor and the (ree /slands. $ome of them certainly ne#the Christian faith and taught it to those #hich they encountered in Dacia. By the middle of the third century, the (oths, a (ermanic tri%e, come to Dacia.During their expeditions in sia )inor they too many Christian prisoners and %roughtfter Dacia #as con5uered %y theRomans in 627 under the leadership of theroman emperor !ra4an, it %ecame a roman province. Colonists #ere %rought here fromall parts of the Roman Empire, and there areno dou%ts that among them #ere alsoChristians. 8ealthy colonists had slaves, someof them %eing Christians.  them here. 3rom some of these expeditions they %rought even priests #ho preached thene# faith to the Dacian people.Besides these historical and logical arguments, there are several testimonies of Christian #riters of the first centuries a%out the spread of Christianity in Dacia. !he 0atin#riter !ertullian #rote in his #or  Liber adversus judaeos  that Christ rules over the landsof the $armatians, Dacians, (ermans and $cythians. lso, the great theologian Origen,#rote that many Britains, (ermans, Dacians, $armatians and $cythians, have not heard the(ospel. !hus, some of them have heard it ho#ever.!estimonies of early presence of Christianity in Dacia are also the martyrs #hosuffered persecutions from the Roman emperors. !hus, the first no#n Dacian Christian priest is )ontanus, #ho did as a martyr toghether #ith his #ife )axima in $irmium, under the Emperor Diocletian. )any others #ere illed %y the order of the same emperor9 %ishop/reneus and his deacon Dimitry, &asicrat, :alentinian, $tratonic, Ermil, the soldiers )arcianand Nicam%rus etc. /n 6;<6, archaeological excavations from Niculi=el, Do%rogea, led tothe discovery of a crypt #ith the relics of four martirs9 >oticos, ttalos, ?amasis and&hilipos.$tarting #ith the first half of the fourth century, the territory occupied %y Daciansand $cythians reveals a significant ecclesiastical organi@ation #ith many %ishops #hoconducted an extensive missionary activity. !he oldest diocese no#n is the Diocese of !omis *today Constan=a+. !he first %ishop of !omis #as Ephraim, #ho died as a martyr inA2. )artyr acts at that time also present %ishops Evangelicus and !itus as martyrs.Relia%le evidence presents Bretanion as %ishop of !omis in A7;. 'e #as follo#ed %y(herontius, the %ishop of !omis #ho too part at the $econd Ecumenical Council and #as  declared an example for his faith %y the Emperor !heodosius. t the third EcumenicalCouncil too part another %ishop of !omis, !imothy, #ho signed the anathema against Nestorius. !he last no#n %ishop of this diocese #as :alentinian, mentioned during thefifth Ecumenical Council from A. !#o lists of %ishops from 72 and from 16 mention!omis as an autocephalous archdiocese. $cythia )inor is important for RomanianOrthodoxy not only %ecause of it #as the starting point of Christianity, %ut also for itscontri%ution to the development of theological culture. !hus, $aint ohn Cassian, #riter of many theological treatises and author of a monastic rule for his monasteries in )arseille, issrcinated from here, as is Dionysius Exiguus.ll of these arguments are proof that Christianity #as no#n in Dacia since thesecond century, and in $cythia )inor *Do%rogea+ the Christian faith #as proclaimedstarting #ith the second half of the first century. /t replaced the old faith of the Dacians,#hich had >almolxis as supreme god, a monotheistic faith similar to Christianity %y meansof morality. !he ne# teaching, the (ospel, #as spread %y the missionary @eal of the earlyChristians, including priests, #ho planted it in the souls of others not merely %y #ord, %ut %y the %lood shed for it. /n conclusion, the Romanian ancestors did not receive their faith as an officialdecision of a specific ruler as the later $lavic tri%es. But as the Romanian historian :asile&Frvan puts it, -romanianism and Christianity are %orne and developed naturally, slo#lyand mysteriously in Dacia. Word count: 948

lec12_2012

Jul 23, 2017
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