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November 18, 2010

Elder Daniil Sandu Tudor

Yesterday we commemorated 48 years since the death of Father Daniil Sandu Tudor.

Alexandru Teodorescu was born on December 22, 1896, in a family of lawyers.

After he started working as a journalist he chose the pseudonym Sandu Tudor; afterwards he became monk Agaton and then schema monk Daniil (Daniel).

He participated in WW1 and later studied Theology, Philosophy, and Arts, but without obtaining a degree. He was an airplane test pilot, teacher, poet, journalist. In 1929, after reading an article by a French female journalist who had claimed she visited Mount Athos, he decided to visit it himself and then write a tabloid article about it.

Father Roman Braga later remembers him saying how, on Mount Athos, he started making metanias (prostrations) to pass as a simple pilgrim, but something inside him mysteriously transformed step by step. Instead of a few days, he spent eight months on the Holy Mountain.

He returned to Romania and published his own newspaper. He was imprisoned in 1942 for his left sided political views and set free in 1944. After a plane accident from which he miraculously survived he sold all his possessions and decided to become a monk. He was received as a brother in Antim Monastery in Bucharest in 1945. There he started a group called "Rugul Aprins" (The Burning Bush). It was a study group which held conferences and practiced the Prayer of the Heart. Because of this he was imprisoned by the communists for three years. In 1952 he was released and he became a hieromonk and then hiero-schema monk. He retired to Rarau Skete in the Carpathians.

He was arrested again in 1958 and sentenced to 25 years of jail for "plotting against social order by publicly reading and commenting on writings of the enemy to the regime". Those writings were actually the writings of the Church Fathers.

We don't know how Father Daniil actually died. He was last seen in 1960, seriously ill in Aiud prison. His death certificate says Father Daniil died on November 17, 1962, because of a cerebral hemorrhage.

Father Roman Braga, who was also a member of Rugul Aprins, declared that "Father Daniil died in Zarca (a prison building with extreme conditions) from Aiud after four years of tortures and beatings, being one of the few inmates who wore chains for the whole duration of the sentence."

I also want to post the following story:

Father Augustin from Aiud Monastery gives us an important testimony about the holiness of the one who could be called the Righteous Daniil the Confessor:

"One winter, Father Daniil was put in a cell called The White or The Fridge, as it was also called, at a temperature of -30º Celsius (-22 ºF). It was a windowless cell, with feces and urine everywhere, because there they put those that were meant to die - practically they were sentenced to death because of the cold. They had few clothes and they where kept there with very, very little food before entering the cell, as well as after they where in that cell.

"And the elder was put there together with a medic, a very good friend of his. After they were both put in the cell by three guards, Father Daniil immediately jumped on his belly, with his arms spread in the sign of the Cross, with his face in all those dirty things, and told the doctor: 'Sit on me!' The doctor sat with his back on the back of the Elder in the same position of the Holy Cross. Then the Elder told him: 'Doctor, don't say anything more than: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.'

"And the doctor later said that when Father Daniil started praying, a blinding light entered the cell and from that moment he lost the notion of time.

"After a while, a few guards entered the cell, picked them up and then they found out they survived in there for 8 days without water, without food, without sleep or anything to wear, at -30° Celsius.

"When the torturers entered the cell and touched Father Daniil, he was hotter than when they had brought him to the cell, and everything around him had melted."

(Fragment from Rafael Udrişte's documentary, TVR, October 11, 2008).

Source: This was translated and abridged from: Razbointrucuvant and Razbointrucuvant by Marius Nitu.

Read also: 3 New Confessors of the Romanian Orthodox Church