Images of Old Calendarist underground church in Bucharest



Images of Old Calendarist underground church in Bucharest


The 4 images are taken from a secret police personal file and were used as evidence of an Old Calendarist underground monastery in Bucharest. The community was led by the Stilist bishop Evloghie Oța. According to the communist state legal framework, the Old Calendarist Orthodox Church was illegal entity. These pictures documented a sweep operation of the secret police that ended in the destruction of the underground church and the arrest of the bishop.
We cannot date the pictures precisely because the community kept rebuilding the underground chapel and the secret police destroyed it each time from 1965 until 1983. The community dated from 1964 when their bishop was released from prison and was held together under his charismatic leadership. During the 26 years of the community existence under communism their number increased gradually. They had several brothers in the monastery and a parish that consisted of regular church goers and people that came from time to time from various places across Romania. The bishop corresponded with and visited and maintained a correspondence with the geographically distant members of his flock. This form of parish is typical for a Stilist community in communist period but not typical for a regular Romanian Orthodox Church parish. For this reason the numbers cannot be accurately assessed.
The file contains several other pictures (14 in total) and two maps of the house and the underground chapel. The pictures follow standard crime scene photographic principles, illustrating the exterior, means of entry to the underground chapel as well as the main incriminating evidence and close up details of particular elements that elucidate the crime. They also show the methods by which the building was transformed from a house into an illegal underground chapel including photos linking the bishop and parishioners to the site.
The pictures selected here, illustrate common tropes of illegal religious activity: the route of entry via a ladder to the underground chapel; the ritual space; and the means by which the community financed itself.
The third pictures reveals the altar table and icons surrounding it together with religious service books, candles and items of from episcopal paraphernalia. Note particularly the crosier and the mitre, both elements that indicate the rank of the officiant that is not present in the picture.
The forth picture in this entry shows the money next to several diptychs (several lists of names for whom religious service has to be held are observable in the picture). A stole and a censer can also be seen in this picture, religious objects and garments effectively linking the money to the religious service provided.
Although the secret police implied that the community was hiding underground the Stilist subterranean religious spaced underground chapels were not necessarily used for hiding in. There is an Orthodox Christian monastic tradition of locating sites of worship in cave and subterranean spaces.

For further entries on Old Calendarists see:
Photograph confiscated from a Romanian Old Calendarist nun
Destruction of Romanian Old Calendarist Church in Cucova
Mugshot of Old Calendarist leader Glicherie Tănase from 1936
Confiscated post card of Old Calendarists in Albineț
Incriminating photographs of a typewriter and typewriter owner taken by the Secret Police in an Old Calendarist underground community

For related entries see:


Communism and Religion
Material Culture--Religious aspects
Religious groups
Evidence photographs
Evidence fabrication
Secret Police


Anca Șincan


Consiliul Național pentru Studierea Arhivelor Securității (CNSAS)
I161963, vol 1


This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme No . 677355




Copyright for these images belongs to Consiliul Național pentru Studierea Arhivelor Securității - CNSAS


image/ jpeg






I161963, vol 1


20th century

Bibliographic Citation

Anca Sincan, "Images of Old Calendarist underground church in Bucharest"

Date Created