Orthodox Christianity and Nationalism: an introduction

Lucian N. Leustean*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter


On the morning of January 5, 1859, at the end of the liturgy in the Orthodox cathedral in Iaşi, the capital of the principality of Moldavia, Father Neofit Scriban addressed the congregation. He had given many sermons in the cathedral; however, on this par tic u lar date Father Neofit faced an unusual audience. Among the faithful who regularly worshipped at the relics of Saint Parascheva, the protector of Moldavia, were the members of the assembly who would decide the future of the principality. They had a specific mission: to elect a new prince, a key figure in their plan to unite Moldavia with the neighboring principality of Wallachia. Father Neofit, a supporter of the unionist cause and fully aware of the significance of the moment, stated: Brethren, Jesus Christ has said that "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst." You, Brethren, are not two, or three, but a real gathering in the name of God. God is in your midst. You are here in the name of the Romanian nation [and] the Romanian nation is in your midst. On the flag under which you have assembled, the flag of the Romanian nation, great events, the Romanian faith, unity, are written in large letters. The church, which is founded on faith, blesses the flag of this faith⋯. You, Brethren, through the faith of the Romanian nation, by remaining faithful to this flag, will find the same strength as the church [finds] in its own saints. The faith of the Romanian nation was not, is not, and will not be anything else, but the unity of all Romanians in a single state, the only anchor of salvation, the only port in which the national boat could be saved from surrounding waves. You, Brethren, have gathered here in the church of Stephen the Great; looking at the altar that he raised to the God of your parents, I think that, through this [altar], you will be able to enter into the wishes of this hero of our nation. You, [remember that] by leaving this place, you are leaving [in order to fulfill] a great gesture that for many centuries has been lost for us; you are about to elect a successor to this great hero; therefore, as his true sons, you could not be anything other than the true expression of his wishes. Myself, [as] last year, from this altar, I said and I will continue to say that this great hero has told us that "the God of our parents will send us a Redeemer who will heal our wounds and accomplish our wishes." May your chosen leader today be the redeemer expected by the Romanian nation. May he heal its wounds and achieve its wishes. Therefore, Brethren, may your election today be that of a real Messiah of Romania. God and the world are looking at you, the church is blessing you and the whole Romanian nation is waiting for you!1 A few hours after Father Neofit's sermon, the assembly elected Alexandru Ioan Cuza to be the prince of the principality of Moldavia; a few days later, on January 24, 1859, the assembly of the neighboring principality of Wallachia decided that Cuza should also be their prince, thus confirming the unification of the two states. A new country was inscribed on the map of Southeastern Europe, titled "The United Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia," also known as "The United Romanian Principalities".

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOrthodox Christianity and Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century Southeastern Europe
Place of PublicationNew York (US)
PublisherFordham University Press
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)978-0-823256-09-9, 0-823256-06-5, 978-0-823256-06-8
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2014

Publication series

NameOrthodox Christianity & contemporary thought
PublisherFordham University Press


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