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Revista Studii Teologice

REVISTA FACULTĂŢILOR DE TEOLOGIE DIN PATRIARHIA ROMÂNĂ



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„Poruncile sfintelor soboare le primim ca și pe dumnezeieștile Scripturi și canoa-nele lor le păzim ca și Pravila”. Hrisovul lui Mihai Racoviță, domnul Țării Româ-nești, din ianuarie 1742

The charter issued by Michael Racoviță, the voivode of Wallachia- January, 1742.

Autor(i): Oana-Mădălina POPESCU


In January, 1742, Mihai (Michael) Racoviță, the voivode of Wallachia, issued a charter, in order to restore ancient customs and old religious laws, regarding the ecclesiastical jurisdiction and moral aspects, which had not been observed in course of time.
The original act was written on parchment, in Romanian language, with Cyril-lic characters and it was finely decorated with two icons, depicting-one of them-the Emperor Constantine the Great and the Empress Helen and the other-the ecumeni-cal Synod of Chalcedon. The iconography of the document was not accidentally cho-sen. It perfectly underlined and supported the text, which quoted the provisions elaborated by the ecumenical Synods. The icons were beautifully painted, with lively colours and golden ink. The act was made of expensive materials, like parchment and golden ink, so, its importance, value and official form were powerfully emphasized from the very beginning. The document, preserved nowadays at the Romanian Na-tional Archives, was multiplied, two copies of it, on paper, being written at the middle of the 19 th century, during the Organic Regulations` period, when the institution of the modern Archives was established. At present, the copies are held in the collec-tions of documents of the Library of the Romanian Academy.
The original act was signed by Michael Racoviță and by great boyars, mem-bers of the Divan, as well as by some important ecclesiastical personalities of the time: the metropolitan bishop Neophyte the Cretan and by bishops Climent of Râmnic and Metodie of Buzău. In our opinion, based on the analysis of the text, the document was issued on the advice and under the precise influence of Neophyte the Cretan, which constantly promoted and strongly supported, as other documents prove, the revival and prosperity of the religious life of the Christian people in Wallachia. The signatures of the great boyars of the Divan (which belonged to famous old families like Crețulescu, Dudescu, Greceanu, Văcărescu) as well as of the hierarchs proved, together with the iconography, the importance of the text and the official form of the document.
Michael Racoviță ordered, in four detailed paragraphs, several important rules that would be put into practice. The first aspect underlined by the voivode was about the ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Based on the canons of the ecumenical synods, as well as on the old Byzantine ecclesiastical laws, the document stated that all the monks and clerics had to be placed under the jurisdiction of the local bishop and had to be obedient to him. The hierarch had to watch over the monasteries of the country and to appoint or to dismiss the priors. The priors had to give an account for the adminis-tration of the revenues of the monasteries and to keep the record of the properties. Even the priors of the monasteries dedicated to the religious communities abroad, outside of country, had to be obedient to the metropolitan bishop of Wallachia, becau-se, geographycally, they were placed in his diocese. But, economically, a part of the income was sent abroad. The text insisted on the fact that the priors had to be virtu-ous, honest and wise men, able to administrate, in good order, the properties of the monasteries. They also had to be capable to keep unaltered the Orthodox monastic rules and traditions.
The second aspect specified by the document concerned the ecclesiastical ju-dicial instance. The act interdicted the boyars to interfere with the religious instance. The clergymen had to appeal only to ecclesiastical instance, not to laic judicial courts. Only the hierarchs had the right and permission to judge the cleric persons.
The third paragraph insisted on moral aspects. The hierarchs had to take all the required disciplinary measures, in order to fight against the wrong habits and sins of the people. Particularly, it was necessary to eliminate faulty habits like concu-binage, adultery, incest, forbiden weddings, abuses and the witchcraft. To stop there grave sins, the hierarch and priests were helped by the local archbishops.The priests had to advise the people to live a honest life, to confess their sins and to receive the Eucharist. These stipulations were also mentioned by other documents of the time and they were strongly supported by the metropolitan bishop of Ungrovlahia, Ne-ophyte the Cretan.
The fourth point of the document referred to the patrimonial inheritance of the monks. The properties of the monasteries had to be well preserved, not scattered. So, the monks had not the permission to bequeath the goods of the monasteries to their relatives. But they could entrust their own goods that they had in possession before coming to monastery and they could make their testaments. These stipulations of the document were written in order to keep the estates of the religious communi-ties and to protect them against the imixtion of the founders and the monks` relati-ves.
All these dispositions, carefully mentioned in the documents, were strongly exemplified with the stipulations of the ecclesiastical legislation. The act quoted in abundance the canons of the ecumenical synods and the works of the famous Byzan-tine jurists, as Alexios Arestinos, Zonara, Harmenopulos, Balsamon and Photios. The laws promulgated by the Byzantine emperor Justinian, known as Novels, were also quoted by the document. For example, the first point, regarding the ecclesiastical jurisdiction, was based on the stipulations of the canons 4 and 8, issued at the Synod of Chalcedon in 451. The interdiction for laic founders and monks to build monaste-ries without the permission and the blessing of the local hierarch, mentioned at the first point of the act, was in strong connection with the rules stated by the local Synod of Constantiople, in 861. Therefore, were made mentions of the rules settled by the ecumenical and local synods. The second point, regarding the judiciary instan-ce, was based on the rules fixed by the Synod of Chalcedon. For moral aspects, the document mentioned the work of Harmenopulos, a well-known Byzantine jurist, who had quoted and summarized the ecclesiastical legislation, in support of living a moral and pure Christian life. The last paragraph, regarding the succesion of the clerics, was based on the canon 35 of the ecumenical Synod of Chalcedon and on the Novels of Justinian.
The necessity of preserving the ecclesiastical rules, as they had been esta-blished by the canons of the ecumenical and local synods, was the main target of the document and also a priority of the process of revival of the ecclesiastical life in Wal-lachia, at the middle of the 18 th century. From this point of view, the act issued in 1742 was not singular. Many other documents, with similar clauses, were written at the time and some of them were signed by the metropolitan bishop of Ungrovlahia, Neophyte the Cretan. For example, Neophyte issued an act, in order to stop several ancient, but pagan customs, popular dances like Drăgaica and Călușarii. He also per-suaded the voivode Michael Racoviță to settle the legal conditions for printing activity in Wallachia. In December 1741 and July 1742, the voivode emitted two documents, conceding only to the metropolitan bishop of the country the right to check the religi-ous works, before the printing activity. Neophyte took some disciplinary measures for eradicating the sins and errors among the clergymen. As a penalty, the hierarch defrocked several priests and deacons, charged with forgery and use of forgeries, for stealing of religious books and objects and for drunkenness. In 1746-1747, Neophyte paid pastoral visits to the Christians in the Western part of the country. On that occasion, the hierarch preached and had the opportunity to advise the Christians for confessing their sins and receiving the Eucharist.
Analysing the text of our document and comparing it with analogous acts of the same period, we have come to the conclusion that the initiator of the charter was Neophyte the Cretan, who, in our opinion, exercised a great influence over the voivo-de to issue that important document. The precise knowledge of the canons of the synods and the works of the Byzantine jurists attested the author of the text as an educated cerical person, well-acquainted with the religious life and literature. Ne-ophyte was a highly educated man, famous for his culture and his didactic activity (he was the teacher of Constantin Mavrocordat`s children).
Climent, the bishop of Râmnic, a signer of the act, was, in his turn, a promot-er of the same ideas and closely collaborated with Neophyte and influenced the re-newal of the ecclesiastical life in Wallachia. For example, in 1743, Climent issued a pastoral letter, with moral and liturgical clauses, for improving the religious life of the Christians.
The provisions of the ecumenical synods, quoted by the Byzantine ecclesiasti-cal legislation, had (and still have), as the act proved, a great value for the Orthodox Church. The Novels of Justinian strongly influenced the religious laws, not only in the Byzantine Empire, but also in the Romanian Principalities. The specific feature of the Byzantine legislation, also adopted by the Romanian laws, was the perfect union of laic and religious stipulations, a conspicuous characteristic of the charter issued in 1742. The act also emphasized a traditional element of political ideology, used in the Byzantine Empire, as well as in the Romanian Principalities: the ruler`s conscience regarding his obligation to watch over the Christian people.
In conclusion, we consider that the document presented in our study is of prime importance for the religious and cultural life, completing the knowledge about the history and the church in Wallachia. At the same time, the document casts a bright light on the personality of Neophyte the Cretan and also underlines the neces-sity of continuing scientific research on this topic. On the other hand, the act focused on the great value and the validity of the canons stated by the ecumenical synods, as well as the necessity of observing and keeping them unaltered, for living a blessed life.

Taguri:
Studiu
Pagini: 137-164