Bishop Varlaam of Ploiești celebrated the Divine Liturgy for the patronal feast of St. Anthimos Monastery in Bucharest on Sept. 27.
He spoke about the achievements of the holy hierarch Anthimos, who was a collaborator of St. Constantine Brâncoveanu: he founded the first free public schools; he introduced Romanian in worship; he created objects of art and spiritual writings and printed books in five languages.
The Saint coordinated the Printing House of the Metropolis of Wallachia and the Princely printing house. In 1694, being appointed abbot of Snagov Monastery, Saint Anthimos set up a third printing house. It was “an extraordinary thing for that time for three printing houses to operate in a single Romanian province,” said the patriarchal auxiliary bishop. After becoming Bishop of Râmnic, in 1705, he founded the fourth printing house.
More than 65 books were printed under his coordination, of which thirty in Romanian, and the others in Greek, Slavonic, Arabic or bilingual: Greek-Romanian, Slavonic-Romanian.
“Because he did not forget his homeland, he sent a deacon, Michael, to Georgia with a printing press made here, printing the first books in Georgian,” the patriarchal auxiliary bishop noted.
St. Anthimos and his disciples made the letters of the printing presses. “He is the author of the movable type in Greek and Arabic, which, for that time, was a real technological revolution,” Bishop Varlaam added.
“He also, for the spiritual benefit of Christians, invented the format of the small prayer book, as it is called in modern language, the pocket editions.”
In the diocese of Râmnic, he built three schools in which “the children of priests, the children of boyars and the children of peasants were educated, at the expense of the Church”, Bishop Varlaam highlighted. Thus, the Saint is “the founder of free education in our country”, he explained.
“He learned the Romanian language at a completely exceptional level.”
“We in the Liturgy and the service books have texts in which only a word or two have changed since then.”
“Although he was of Georgian origin, he fought with great courage to replace the Greek language and what was left of the Slavonic language in the Church. Therefore, he is the one who has unquestionably introduced the language of the people into the Church.”
The fact was viewed with reservation by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which preferred to maintain the Greek language in the worship of the Church in the Romanian Lands, Bishop Varlaam explained.
In 1716, the Ecumenical Patriarchate granted the request made by Prince Nicolae Mavrocordat to defrock the metropolitan, who had refused to leave Bucharest following a false rumor that the Austrians had come to occupy the city. The conflict led to the martyrdom of the hierarch.
“The lifting of the defrocking was obtained only in 1966, at the insistent interventions Patriarch Justinian of blessed memory,” Bishop Varlaam of Ploiești said.
He added that St. Anthimos the Georgian and Saint Constantine Brâncoveanu “led a very coherent policy for preserving the national identity, language and Orthodox faith of our brothers in Transylvania,” sending numerous books over the mountains.
Saint Anthimos the Georgian or the Iberian was canonized in 1992. He left to posterity, among others, the Didache – a collection of 35 sermons, hundreds of miniatures illustrating the book The Faces of the Old and New Testaments, an embroidery, the stone gate, the chapiters and two icons of the Church of St. Anthimos Monastery in Bucharest.