Postcards of Romanian Greek Catholic martyr bishops

Item

Title

Postcards of Romanian Greek Catholic martyr bishops

Description

These images are of postcards that circulated in the 1970s of the Greek Catholic bishops that refused the forced unification of their church with the Romanian Orthodox Church. The bishops were all arrested, imprisoned and either died in prison or in forced domicile.
The two images show the Greek Catholic Bishops Ioan Suciu (1953), Valeriu Traian Frențiu (1952), Vasile Aftenie (1950), Ioan Bălan (1959), Alexandru Rusu (1963), Tit Liviu Chinezu (1955), and Cardinal Iuliu Hossu (1970). Their photos were then collaged together and artistically framed around an image of the Blaj Greek Catholic Cathedral. Because Cardinal Iuliu Hossu appears in the medallion with the date of his death, we can safely date the postcards in the 1970s.
The first image also has a photo of Bishop Ioan Dragomir dressed in his cassock with cincture and with an episcopal cross. These visual clues also serves to narrow the date in which the postcards were produced to before 1985 when bishop Ioan Dragomir died since the file in which these images are found does not give any explanations of the postcard or the picture. We can only assume that both bishop Dragomir’s staged photo and the postcard of the martyr bishops were similarly used as a means to inform the community, through these visual messages, that the Greek Catholic bishops had died for their faith in the communist prisons and yet the Church continues to live on in the underground.
The second image of the same postcard of the martyr bishops comes from the Informative File of Greek Catholic Bishop Ioan Ploscaru. The document contains the postcard, a picture of all the Greek Catholic bishops taken before 1948 and the envelope in which these pictures were presumably sent. The document represents the secret police practice of making photographic evidence of problematic correspondence. After it was copied, the letter was probably posted on to the addressee. In this case, the letter was sent to Florea Dosoftei at Curtea de Argeș. What made this letter suspicious was probably the fact that it was correspondence between the Greek Catholic bishop Ioan Ploscariu and Fr Dosoftei Florea, a monk in the Orthodox Church. They were both imprisoned during the communist regime.
The images selected were part of two different surveillance files of two underground Greek Catholic bishops. Variants of these postcards can be found in Greek Catholic communities today leading to the conclusion that they were widespread in the period and fairly accessible inside the underground community, and thus a useful method of passing information on the community through visual rather than textual means.

These postcards are photographed and attached to two different multiple volumes informative files that space out from 1964 to the late 1980s. The files are preserved in the archive as CNSAS I3560 vol 7 and I262256 vol 4. They also contain surveillance images, intercepted correspondence, notes from informants, religious texts and samizdat.

Subject

Communism--Romania
Communism--Romania--History--20th century
Communism and religio
Catholic Church--Byzantine rite, Greek
Material culture--Religious aspects
Romania. Securitatea
Surveillance

Creator

Anca Sincan

Source

Consiliul Național pentru Studierea Arhivelor Securității (CNSAS) I3560 vol 7
Consiliul Național pentru Studierea Arhivelor Securității (CNSAS) I262256 vol 4

Publisher

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

Date

1970-1985

Rights

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

Format

Jpeg

Language

RO

Type

Image

Identifier

CNSAS, I3560, vol 7
CNSAS, I262256, vol 4

Coverage

20th century, Romania

Bibliographic Citation

Anca Sincan, "Postcards of Romanian Greek Catholic martyr bishops"

Date Created

2019