Life at Adormirea Maicii Domnului Monastery:

Peace, Hard Work and Dedication

September 03, 2015  |  By Nicole Keeton, United Kingdom

Life at Adormirea Maicii Domnului Monastery:

Photo : Maelle Thome

Life at Adormirea Maicii Domnului Monastery:

Photo : Maelle Thome

Life at Adormirea Maicii Domnului Monastery:

Photo : Maelle Thome

Life at Adormirea Maicii Domnului Monastery:

Photo : Maelle Thome

Life at Adormirea Maicii Domnului Monastery:

Photo : Maelle Thome

Walking through the woods towards Adormirea Maicii Domnului Monastery in the village of Izvoru Muresului, Harghita County (Romania), felt like something out of a fairy-tale. It is a place that is surrounded by nature and it is complete with a beautiful traditional house. The buildings are decorated with patterned walls and all around there is the natural sound of animals including crickets and birds.

Once you enter the grounds of the sacred place, one thing becomes abundantly clear: the entire ‘Adormirea Maicii Domnului’ Monastery is self-sustainable. The grounds are filled with animals such as cows and chickens, green houses to grow their own vegetables and it would seem that they provide everything for themselves except electricity.

To be this productive it comes as no surprise how hard working the nuns are. Meeting them in person and watching them master their own works of art confirms everything that their surroundings suggest about their lifestyle. Next to the greenhouses and animals there are several different workshops where paintings and sculptures are made to maintain an income for the Monastery.

Maica [nun] Perpetua is a 37 year old nun who has been at the ‘Adormirea Maicii Domnului’ Monastery in Izvoru Muresului for 15 years. She became a nun because she “felt an inner voice and a need for peace and closeness to God.” She works alongside twelve other nuns in the painting workshop creating masterpieces out of 21 and 24 carat gold and special paints from all over the world mixed with egg yolk as the protein increases the durability of the paint.

The complicated process is assigned to the most talented nuns who have the best skills in painting as the works of art are paid for by churches and by private collectors. The painting canvases are made of wood and clay is added in the evening so that 12 hours later they can apply the gold. This is happening to make sure that it sets properly in order for them to start the painting.

The process is extremely precise; for example, the clothing and background must be painted first and the face left till last as that is what contains the most detail. They must always start with the dark colours first and then the light colours, working their way from the back of the painting to the front. The larger paintings can take up to 3-4 weeks to complete. The largest painting the Monastery has ever produced was 2 meters high and was hand painted by Maica Perpetua herself. 

As the ‘Adormirea Maicii Domnului’ Monastery runs itself, the nuns are often placed on rotation for their duties such as cooking and taking care of the animals. In the workshop on an average day a nun will work from 9am till 12:30pm and then be back in the workshop from 1pm till 5pm.Walking around the workshop, it is clear to see that they are a talented bunch of people and their creative minds excel in the community they have created for themselves.

Next door to the paint workshop is where the sculptures are being made. Inside of the workshop we met Father Emanuel who comes across as a very wise man. You get the impression that all of the people within the Monastery are quite educated and therefore are intelligent and creative which is a winning combination of attributes.

Father Emanuel wastes no time in explaining to us that everything within the workshops, including the materials, is made by the people within the Monastery in Izvoru Muresului. They are then brought to the workshop to be sculpted into ornaments which the nuns will then begin to paint. This workshop isn’t just responsible for the sculptures it also creates printed bookmarks and small decorations for the home.

The machinery used to create the metal parts of the decorations were invented and put together by Father Emanuel. He built a wooden version of the Eiffel Tower when he was fourteen years old showing that he has always had a passion for creating and inventing things. He has always been curious about how things were made so he would observe the product and then come up with a way to re-create it in an efficient way. However, he also works as a priest, so therefore he has to do most of his creating in his free time. Which is why the machinery he built took him one year to complete.

He is a very passionate individual. This is shown in the way that he created the machinery so that no electricity would be used, only compressed air. This makes it safer for the nuns to use. He also comes across as quite a philosophical person as he discussed with me the difference between the rich and the poor mind set. “The wisest people on Earth are the poor.” He believes this is true because poor people work out of necessity and therefore have more of a free mind rather than being rich and always obsessing over where to spend their money.

He believes that people who earn their money get the greatest satisfaction out of their work and therefore appreciate when their efforts are praised by others. However, being born rich will not give a person a normal life and therefore they will have no appreciation for the things they have and will just take it for granted.

The visit to the ‘Adormirea Maicii Domnului’ Monastery in Izvoru Muresului village showed me that a community can only work well if everyone gives the same amount of effort and they all work together to create something special. The fact that such a large place is completely self-sustaining is incredible and all credit should go to the people inside. It was a magical experience getting to know these passionate individuals in a place surrounded by natural beauty. 

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