Anastasie Crimca

Anastasie Crimca, great Bishop of Moldavia, distinguished pundit and art lover, was born in Suceava at the middle of the16th century and was baptized under the name Elijah , being the son of a wealthy chapman Ioan Crimca and Cristina, daughter of some well-known gentry, Storici.

There are few facts known about this hierarch because many of the manuscripts and monastery’s documents had been destroyed in invasions. All we can do is piece out the dates, personality features, select elements in his work so as to create an image, though uncertain.

The Bishop seems to have been chosen by God to be spiritual shepard of Jesus’ church. His parents raised him within the Christian faith, his father tought him to be brave and pacient as he will encounter many obstacles, and his good mother tought him to be humble, open-hearted towards God’s beauty, firm in his prayer and human-loving.

There are not many details about Crimca’s childhood, but as the young man is being taken under the protection of Luca Storici, the erutide nobleman, who knew several languages, he began to enter the mysterious land of knowledge.

During the reign of Petru Şchiopu, the young Elijah Crimca had been a scribe at the common room and a soldier, because having faith in God and fighting under the protection of Jesus’ cross he managed to easily defeat the enemies. For his just and faithfull service, the ruler offered him an extended piece of land near Suceava, where he later built the Dragomirna Monastery.

Aspiring to greater goods, the young Elijah Crimca leaves behind all the earthly pleasures and his social posture and enters the Putna Monastery as a monk. Having changed his life, unconceited, he began to search the Holy books and learn from the lives’ of the Saints, eager for knowledge and deciding to follow their holy example. He began to copy the texts he read, books which are nowadays considered national treasures. There, inside the cell, he passed uncountable hours, being extremely humble, copying books and painting in miniature. At Putna he learned to battle spiritually and to be kind. For these virtues, he was made priest shortly after his entrance into the monastery, and, at the request of the ruler, he was named abbot of Galata Monastery, where he succeeded into putting together a humble collectivity of apprentices, who looked up at him as their spiritual father.

After Michael the Brave entered Moldavia, Anastasie Crimca is made Bishop of Rădăuţi and gives his vow to the new ruler on the 19th of June 1600. in his declaration to the ruler, among others, Crimca says:     “….and I confess that within the church I shall install and maintain the peace and never do anything against it; thus, I obey the command of the ruler Michael the Brave and to his son, the Godly chosen ruler Nicholas, to whom I shall always be acquiescent with all my heart and soul and I shall always love them.”

The union of the three regions was in Crimca’s eyes a great accomplishment of the Romanian people and, even if it soon fell through, Anastasie maintained hope and introduced the stranded belt on the Dragomirna wall, as a spiritual testament for his followers to keep the union through the faith in the Holy Trinity. Once the union had been disjuncted and Ieremia Movila returned to the throne of Moldavia, Anastasie Crimca became a hermit and retired for about six years on his land at he built a small, stone church, named, acoording to the documents of the time the Church of the Hermitage, known today as the Church from the cemetery.

In the spring of 1606, the former Bishop of Rădăuţi returns and is made Bishop of Roman, and after two more years, in 1608 he is made great Bishop of Moldavia and Suceava, becoming the Shepard of Jesus’ Church for almost twenty years, with a short break during Radu Mihnea’s command. Having become a spiritual Shepard, his first worry was assuring there existed a strong faith inside the monasteries and in the villages. In all of the monasteries he placed spiritually improved, kind and humble abbots. In towns and villages he introduced wise, educated priests so as to lead the people towards Jesus’ Gospel. Hence, under the great Bishop’s command, the monasteries and the hermitages bloomed spiritually.

In the year 1626, the Bishop Anastasie Crimca gathered all of the Bishops and abbots in Suceava for a synod to decide the building of a new sanctuary. Through this he sought to eliminate all trace of disobeyment inside the Moldavian Church and to strengthen the Orthodox Church. The set of rules from the 20th of September 1620, kept in the Negoian manuscripts, is one of the oldest documents ever written in our country regarding the behavoiur inside a monastery and the church rights.

In the year 1609, helped by the same two brothers Storici, Crimca elevates, under the protection of the Holy Trinity the beautiful monastery Dragomirna, having as titular celebration the Descent of the Holy Spirit. It is truly the greatest Altar of prayer and regaining peace ever built on Romanian land.

About the architectural value of Dragomirna it is useless to keep on talking, it is obvious. Anastasia Crimca showed his whole personality through this unique work, an expression of its founder and creator.

Besides the care he had for the salvation of the believers’ souls and for the adornement of the churches, he Bishop Anastasie Crimca also took care of the ones that were ill. Following the example given by Saint Vasile the Great, who built the Vasiliades, Crimca builds in Suceava a hospital, thus become the founder of the first public hospital in our country.

Anastasie Crimca accomplished many diplomatical missions, he supported several rulers of the time in their attempt of eliberating the country from under the Otoman power and involved himself in the political and social aspects of life in Moldavia. As Great Bishop of Moldavia, he built at the Monastery Saint Jonhn the New a winter beadle, because his soul burned ceaselessly with love for God. At the celebration of the titular saint, when thousands of pilgrims came from Moldavia and Transilvania to pray at the Holy relics, Anastasie Crimca, together with the people prayed dearly, experiencing days of intense peace and tranquility, of brotherhood within Jesus between all orthodox Romanians, East or West from the Carpaţi Mountains. On their way back, the Romanians from Transilvania took over the mountains books rewritten by the monks, icons, crucifixes and other gifts that the good shepard offered the orthodox Romanians from Ardeal and Maramureş.

In 1621, the barbarians invaded Suceava. The Great Bishop took the Holy relics at night and tried to hide them in the mountains. But God, hearing the prayers of his servant and the tears of the people, through a miracle made the Holy relics unable to be carried away. Then, the Great Bishop held special services all night long and went round the fortress with the Relics of saint John the New, protector of Moldavia until the heretics left the land. Anastasie Crimca gave special attention to a nuns’ Monastery in Pătrăuţi, where he later buried his mother, Cristina.

After the year 1629, information regarding Crimca’s activity is scarcely found. We know that in 1629 he retires to Dragomirna, giving up his position as Great Bishop and soon after, in 1631, he dies.

Fair at face, peaceful, as he was all through his life, in the belful sound of the bells, Anastasie Crimca was buried in the Preaisle of the big church within the Dragomirna assembly, underneath a simple gravestone, as he was humble and devout. We can depict from the church’s manuscripts the noblest qualities belonging to this great hierarch of the Moldavian Church in the 17th century.

Nobleman, educated, artist, man of culture, sensitive not only to Traditional values, but also at the times he lived in, ideologue and politician, who did not hesitate to endanger his own life and his position for the good of others, founder of schools, innovator, Crimca first of all remains in the history of the Romanian people as a guide, “risking his life for his sheep”. Only this way could it be exaplained that, each time he is called for help, the Great Bishop Anastasie Crimca does not refuse to accept any request, whatsoever. Most of all us, the ones that can admire his work nowadays thank him for his protection and help.