June 27, 2012

Podgoria Copou Monastery in Iasi, Romania

The Podgoria Copou Monastery, dedicated to Saints Athanasius the Great and Cyril of Alexandria, is a Romanian Orthodox monastery, located in the Copou Hill neighborhood in Iaşi, Romania. It celebrates its feast on January 18th.

The Monastery was built by Moldavian Prince Vasile Lupu in 1638 and put under the Athonite Monastery of Karakalou. Cyril Loukaris, Patriarch of Constantinople, consecrated the Monastery on 30 April 1638. Greek abbots oversaw the Monastery until 1838.

There is a legend that during an invasion of Iasi by the Tatars, Mrs. Tudosca (Theodosia), wife of Vasile Lupu, ran into the woods and hid in a hollow tree. Once past the danger, the Prince looked on these hills and found her with his hunting dog, Copou. The Prince cut the hollow tree, and out of gratitude that he found his wife unharmed, decided to build a monastery.

After the overthrow of Vasile Lupu in 1653, the church was burned and demolished, and rebuilt several times over the years, so that one cannot even recognize anything original in the church style.

A white marble inscription with a coat of arms, located on an outside wall of the church, contains an inscription in Greek which says that the church was restored in 1702 by Prince Constantin Duca (1693-1695, 1700-1703).

In 1809, Seraphim, Abbot of the Three Hierarchs Monastery in Iasi (also built by Vasile Lupu) restored this church, then a third inscription was placed. In 1850 the church was done with the iconography.

In December 1863, following the adoption of the Law secularizing monastic estates, the monastery was disbanded, but her church is still used as a parish church.

After 1960, the church was included in the perimeter of the Botanical Garden of Iaşi, the largest in Romania at that time. As a result of her neglect, the church began to collapse and required extensive restoration.

Between 1983-1986, by the perseverance of Fr. Vasile Vaida, restoration was done to the interior and exterior building, and it was adorned with frescoes, chandeliers and furniture by voluntary contributions of the faithful and the support of the Metropolitan of Moldova and Suceava. The iconography was done by painters Basil and Violet Carp in Bucharest.

After nearly 150 years, on April 20, 2001, Metropolitan Daniel Ciobotea of Moldavia and Bukovina restored the Monastery of St. Athanasius into a convent belonging to the Monastery of Galata in Iasi. Originally three nuns came from Galata Monastery. The nuns work in embroidery, sewing and painting churches. In April of 2009 there were fourteen nuns.