Address of His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, at the Funeral Service of King Michael I of Romania, in the Patriarchal Cathedral from Bucharest on Saturday, 16 December 2017:
“I am the resurrection and the life! The one who believes in Me, even though he dies, will live! Whoever lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11: 25-26)
Grieved Royal Family,
His Majesty King Michael I of Romania came many times in this church, protected by the Holy Emperors Constantin and his mother Elena, built by Ruler Prince of Wallachia Constantin Şerban Basarab, between 1656-1658, which afterword became the Metropolitan Cathedral, in the year 1668, and later on the Patriarchal Cathedral, in 1925.
In this Cathedral, His Majesty received as a six-year-old infant king the blessing from Metropolitan Primate Miron Cristea of Romania, and in 1940 he was anointed King of Romania by Patriarch Nicodim of Romania. During his childhood, adolescence and maturity, King Michael, with his mother Queen Elena, his father King Carol II or other members of the royal family was present many times in the Patriarchal Cathedral, observing the tradition that the great events or anniversaries in the life of the Romanian people should be preceded by the service of a Te Deum (Doxology) celebrated at the Patriarchate.
King Michael attended also many religious celebrations in the Patriarchal Cathedral, such as: the Patronal Feast of the Patriarchal Cathedral, Nativity of the Lord, New Year, Epiphany, and some religious processions, reception of foreign delegations, certain anniversary moments, etc.
Unfortunately, after 1947, for 45 years, until 1992, during his forced exile abroad (in Great Britain and Switzerland), King Michael did not have the opportunity anymore to pray in this church, so familiar to him.
However, after the fall of the communist regime, in the years 1997, 2000, 2001 and 2006, King Michael I was received here at the Patriarchate with great respect and admiration by the clergy and the people.
After His Majesty King Michael’s inanimate body returned to Romania for ever on 13 December 2017, today, 16 December 2017, it is in the Patriarchal Cathedral in Bucharest for the funeral service, because, on 5 December 2017, his soul passed to Christ the Lord, in the Kingdom of Heaven, together with the righteous.
King Michael I of Romania has been a deeply faithful person throughout his life. His faith was not a formal one, but an existential and practical one. The King felt God present and at work in his life, especially in the difficult moments of his life. Faith in God was for him light and help for life.
In an interview with writer Mircea Ciobanu, King Michael also answered some questions about his faith. For example, to the question: “What book do you value above all?”, the King replied: “The Bible, without any doubt”. To the question: “What other book has contributed to the spiritual awakening of Your Majesty?”, the King replied: “No other book. Conversations with my mother meant more than many books of theology to me. My mother has been a real pillar in my life. She was strong through prayer. Prayer is our most necessary action in relationship with God”.
In another part of the interview, the King stated: “If it is united with an action, faith strengthens us, it becomes shield in time of trials (…) There are simple people who do not bother with dogmas, but who know how to pray and who have the unshaken conviction that their prayer is listened to”. In his speech in the Romanian Parliament on 25 October 2011, the King affirmed that “the world of tomorrow cannot exist without morality, faith and memory”.
King Michael’s faith and prayer has greatly helped him to be steadfast in his love for his nation and his homeland, to reject both the Nazi and the Communist dictatorships, to endure the exile imposed on him by the Communist regime, to always be courageous and dignified, diligent and modest, patient and forgiving, virtues for which he was valued both by the royal houses of Europe and by ordinary people.
Today, during the funeral service, we prayed together, clergy and people, Romanians and guests from abroad, so that God may forgive King Michael any mistake he has made as a human being in his life and give rest to his soul together with the righteous and saints in the Kingdom of heaven.
The biblical texts, the Epistle (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17) and the Gospel (John 5:24-30), which were read during the funeral service, are a powerful foundation for the strengthening of our faith in the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the flesh, according to the confession: “I await the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come” (Orthodox Creed). In this sense, the prayers of the Orthodox Church for those fallen asleep in the Lord (deceased) are full of light and hope, they show us that love is stronger than death, that the grave is not the last destination of humans, but the resurrection and everlasting heavenly life.
The cross and the candle or votive light next to the coffin of King Michael symbolise the Crucified and Risen Christ from the dead, Who is the Light of the world (John 8:12), but also the light of the strong faith and generous love that King Michael showed during his life.
The kalach (bread) and the koliva made of grains of wheat symbolise the hope of Christians in the resurrection of the dead, their communion in prayer for the deceased, and compassion with family members who are in a state of sorrow or mourning.
In these moments of sorrow, but also of respect and ultimate honour to King Michael I of Romania, we pray God to place his soul in the light, peace and love of the Most Holy Trinity, to strengthen spiritually, to console the mournful Royal Family of Romania and to bless all those who in these days of mourning show respect and honour to King Michael’s memory, who remains a permanent symbol of the suffering and hope of the Romanian people.
His memory be eternal from generation to generation!
Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church
 Mircea Ciobanu, Conversations with Mihai I of Romania, Humanitas Publishing House, Bucharest, 2008, p. 227.
 Op. cit. p. 221.
Photo credit: Robert Nicolae / Basilica.ro