Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Romanian legend about Virgin Mary Theotokos

Annunciation, Bunavestire
Icon XIX century, museum. Link: http://www.epr.ro/muzeu-icoane
 Many mundane problems have kept me from writing on this blog in this last month.

But today, I resume my activity here by sharing an old and interesting Romanian legend that I have read about recently. It is a legend about Virgin Mary which Romanians call her "Fecioara Maria", but, most often "Maica Domnului" meaning literally Mother of Lord/God. In the title I use the Greek term "Theotokos" which I see is much more known and used online than the Romanian one and it also means Mother of Lord.

The following legend was discovered about a century ago by Simion Florea-Marian, (Ro link) one of the greatest Romanian Ethnologists and Folklorists. He gathered several legends from the Romanian inhabitants of Bucovina region (which nowadays is no longer bordered by our frontiers - long political story, hardly related to the subject of this post).

To put things in context, I must mention that a few days ago, more exactly, on 25 March, the Orthodox Christians and the Greek-Catholics from Romania celebrated the Good Annunciation, followed a day after by a celebration dedicated to Archangel Gabriel. I'm not going to insist now on the events celebrated with this occasion. They are well known and, anyway, they can be easily found out from the link I gave.

The legend I'm going to tell is quite long and I intend to save my... I've almost said my breath... well, I wont to save my... finger tips for it. The legend presents the event in a quite different version from the biblical one. I could say, the people have made Virgin Mary one of their own kin.

I try to follow in the most accurate way the original text of the legend, which was published in the book called "The Legends of Theotokos", original title being "Legendele Maicii Domnului". I will also keep the Romanian form of the names of the characters. I don't think they need to be translated. It is very easy to guess, as there are similarities in spelling with their English forms.

So, let the story begin...

 "It is said that once upon a time, in the old times, dwelt two old fellows named Ioachim and Ana. This couple did not had children. And they prayid to God every morning and every night so that He would give them a child. And they've made a promise that if they would have a child then he will be sent to the church to be dedicated to God and will serve Him.

And God, as He is entirely good and merciful, listening to their long prayers gave them a daughter which they called Maria.

And now, to fulfil their promise, they dressed the girls like a little doll and took her to a monastery of nuns. Once there, they entered in the church, put the child on the table inside and then they left for home.

Soon after their leaving, the monastic women rived to the church to say their prayers and thus they found little Maria and took her in their rooms. They gave her a room of her own and an old woman as her nanny.

Under her nanny's guidance and good care, Maria grew up well. She became smarter and wiser as days passed by.

But after she grew up a little more, entering to her adolescence, the Holy Spirit descended from heavens and blew with a divine breath upon her and from that moment she became mid-bearne (see here for the expression) with our Lord Jesus Christ.

The old nanny noticed Maria's new delicate condition, but, unknowing the reason she did not knew what to think. She was very frightened and upset. In the end, gathering all her courage, she went to the abbess nun and told her the situation.

The abbess nun did'nt belived the old woman, she slapped her face and threw her out of the room, saying this can't be true. Then, after she calmed down, she went into Maria's room to see with her own eyes and verify if there is truth in what she just heard.

 And after seeing for sure that the old woman was telling the truth, and unknowingly also that Maria was expecting a child being under the divine shadow, the nun brutaly took her our from her room, bemocked and banished her.

 Maria, seeing that she is treated in such a shameful way and knowing herself to be innocent, started to cry heavily and entered the church to pray to God for her innocence.

When she set her foot inside the church, God's angels started singing. And Maria, with her eyes still in tears, started bowing and prostrating in front of the holy icons.

The nuns and their abbess, seeing the church's door open and knowing that none of them opened it, hurried into the church to see what is going on. There, they saw Maria crying and praying in her knees, and the angels around her singing. The nuns, frightened by this, felt on their knees, asking Maria for forgiveness, and also asking her to get back to live with them in the monastery.

But Maria did not wonted to get back, so she left the church to live in the village of her parents."

Well, here is where the legend ends. I'm not sure if it was told/translated in English before. Anyway, I have tried my best in order to share it to the world...

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