Our first stop was at a high school in the village of Zorleni. This high school is a technical high school. We were welcomed by the principal. She explained the high school has 1000 students arranged in 32 classes.For example, we visited an accounting class.
To reach the monastery one drives about 10 minutes down a gravel/stone road through a forest. Then the trees open and one sees a sight of great beauty.
To reach the monastery grounds from the parking lot, one walks up a set of stairs and then goes through an archway.
Here is part of the paintings on the archway walls.
When leaving the archway one sees this scene.
We learned this monastery has its beginnings back in the 4th century. Then during an invasion its most precious icon was hidden in a tree for protection, and subsequently knowledge lost about its location for a very, very long time. The story continues that some centuries later very rich merchants camped in the forest as they were trekking through the country and a donkey carrying the gold strayed from the camp. After a great search, the donkey was found kneeling in front of a tree in which the icon was found to be hidden. This led to a renewal of the monastery. For many years it was knows as the Donkey Monastery, but its present name is Bujoreni.
It continued to grow and operate until the Communist takeover, following World War II. It was nearly ruined by neglect in the 50 years that ensued. In 1992 a few monks came back and began restoring the monastery buildings and grounds. They continue to work to this day, as the piles of lumber attest.
We toured the “old church,” overcome by its beauty.
|Steeple of "old church"|
Then we trekked up a hill to the “new church.”
Because this is regarded as building under construction, not yet a dedicated church, we were able to take all the photos we wanted.
|Some of the work being done in the "new church"|
I could recognize St. George the Dragon Slayer.
Our next walk took us through the agriculture part of the monastery. One volunteer whispered to me asking what those objects are pictured above. She had never ever before seen hay stacks. This made me recall another American volunteer. While driving between Krakow and Zakopane in Poland, one sees many, many fields with hay stacks. One American asked if these were built for the tourists; I replied I thought the farmers stacked the hay for the sheep.
The monks eat a vegetarian/no meat diet. They have cows for milk and cheese production, used both for their food and as an income source.
They also have many different type of fowl for eggs.
And there are bee hives for honey.
After visiting this area, we were taken to a dining room where we were treated with an excellent lunch.
It began with a wonderful mushroom soup.
This was followed by a potato stew and a vegetable salad. All was accompanied by wonderful bread. We also got to sample the cheese made at the monastery. Oh, yummy!
Next came fish soup. I had absolutely no room for more food. Dessert was a sweet bread. Glad I took half a piece. It was also yummy.
Before leaving I wanted a photograph of the sculpture of Stephen cel Mare -- Stephen the Great. He is a highly revered king for the area of Romania. Noticing I was taking a photo, a monk indicated he would do the photo for me.
So here's a first -- a photo of me taken by a monk in a monastery!
Back to Barlad about 5 PM. We certainly didn't need an evening meal after this wonderful luncheon at 3 PM. As it was a quite warm day, we decided ice cream might be in order, so we walked off to Trattoria de Vinci for dessert and coffee.
Just a wonderful day. All this as a thank you from the school where I taught. When we volunteer we often feel like we get more than we give, and this day is certainly an example of that.