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    STUDIA HISTORIA - Issue no. 2 / 2005  

  Abstract:  Orthodox Action – Catholic Action. The Effects of the Movement Led by Visarion Sarai in Hunedoara, Haţeg, Zarand and Alba. The study aims to analyse a number of conscriptions, collected in November-December 1747 by county officials in the villages of the counties of Hunedoara, Alba and Zarand and the district of Haţeg, in order to provide the government with information concerning the restoration of order after the pro-Orthodox movement led by the monk Visarion Sarai. The statistical data which these sources furnish have helped us quantify the proportions of the success of the discourse of Visarion Sarai, by establishing the number of new non-Uniate priests appointed in the parishes (by comparison with 1733) and of the churches taken over by the faithful who have refused to listen to Uniate priests. Moreover, the conscriptions have helped us to gauge the meaning invested into the priestly office of the Uniate Church after almost half a century after the founding of this church, in the wake of a conflictual episode which had lasted for a few weeks and had profound effects, still noticeable three years later. It has been possible to highlight the types of relations established between Uniate priests and their former parishioners, the definitions given to non-Uniate (Orthodox) priests and the ways they have defined themselves, their place of provenance and their status within the community. The examples which we have extracted from the conscriptions show that Uniate priests have defined themselves legally, through the recognition of Uniate Episcopal jurisdiction and dogmatically, through the acceptance of the four Florentine points. Sometimes, they have not expressed explicitly their attachment to the union, fearful that they could stir the anger of the parishioners. Unwanted by the faithful for celebrating the liturgy, they were called by some in order to perform baptisms and marriages. Although in agreement with imperial decrees, they had been restored to the possession of their churches and parish houses, they experienced difficulties in asserting themselves in the face of the congregations, which had been convinced by the Orthodox monk that the sacraments administered by these priests were not valid. Some Uniate priests have even been expelled from the villages, while others have learned to live in the parishes with non-Uniate priests (for some of them this was a situation which they had experienced for decades). In conclusion, Uniate priests from these areas impacted by pro-Orthodox discourse have traversed a crisis of credibility, at a time of confusion, as the officials referred to it. Some have fed this confusion themselves, perhaps through ignorance, others have encouraged it through fear or interest, for example because their own sons, priests themselves, who served in the same parish were non-Uniate. The border between union and nonunion has, consequently been, at times, fragile and vague. Because non-Uniate priests have been active for decades with the full awareness of the Uniate archpriests, who have allowed them access to the parishes on condition that they would fulfil their financial obligations towards the Uniate bishopric (payment of the cathedral census and even of a contribution for the founding of the monastery of Blaj, the Episcopal residence). Wanted by the communities and accepted by the landowners, they have not been subjected to public contributions. They thus had rights and obligations just like any Uniate priest. The most dangerous, through their fervour against the union have been those who had arrived from other lands, vagrants, and thus, difficult to pin down and control. The accounts concerning the 271 villages discussed in these conscriptions unveil a world of concord and compromise, still marked by tensions and mistrust. After three years the Uniate bishopric had received a good part of the churches and parish residences which had been occupied by those who no longer wished to be Uniate. The losses hardest to recover were those at the human level.  
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