Oltenia Metropolis proposes three monastics for canonization

At its latest session at Lainici Monastery on August 6, the Metropolitan Synod of Oltenia discussed the proposals for the canonization of several holy men.

During the meeting, the hierarchs approved the liturgical texts that will form the services for Fr. Gherasim (Iscu), Fr. Visarion (Toia), and Fr. John of Horezu, who are being proposed for canonization.

The abbot of Lainici Monastery, Archimandrite Ioachim Pârvulescu, presented the reasons for the canonization of the Venerable Visarion Toia, former abbot of the monastic settlement and confessor of Christ during the atheist communist regime.

Abbess Antonia Popescu of Tismana Monastery presented the life of the hieromartyr Gherasim Iscu, the last abbot of the foundation of St Nicodemus of Tismana.

Archbishop Varsanufie of Râmnic brought to the bishops’ attention the reasons for the canonization of Elder John of Horezu, a learned theologian and adviser of Saint Constantine Brâncoveanu.

The synodal meeting took place after the service dedicated to the patronal feast of Lainici Monastery, the Transfiguration of the Lord. His Eminence Metropolitan Iosif of Western and Southern Europe concelebrated with the hierarchs of the Metropolis of Oltenia.

Father Visarion Toia

Fr. Visarion Toia was born on May 28, 1884, in Secuieni commune, Bacau County, to simple and pious parents, Gheorghe and Ilinca. At baptism, he was named after Saint Basil the Great.

He was tonsured a monk at Frăsinei Monastery in 1910 and ordained a hieromonk in 1922. In the summer of 1929, he was appointed abbot of the suffering Lainici Monastery. In addition to managing the monastery assets, he grew the community to more than 20 monks within 10 years.

He endured many hardships at the hands of the communist regime. He died in agony in 1951 following a beating suffered about a year prior by the commander of a military unit stationed in the monastery.

Venerable Visarion Toia. © Lumina Newspaper

Father Gherasim Iscu

Fr. Gherasim was born in the Poduri commune, Bacau County, on January 21, 1912.

At the age of 12, he entered Bogdana Monastery as a novice. He also studied at the monastic seminaries at Neamț and Cernica Monasteries and completed higher studies at the Theological Faculty in Bucharest. He knew seven foreign languages.

He was tonsured a monk at Tismana Monastery and became abbot of Arnota Monastery at the tender age of 25. He was later sent on a mission to Transnistria, and upon his return, he became abbot of Tismana in a very troubled time, taking over the holy habitation after it had been used as a camp for Legionnaires’ prisoners and suffered a severe fire in 1942.

He was arrested on September 26, 1948, and spent time in several jails. After severe suffering, he fell ill and reposed in the Lord on December 25, 1951.

Venerable Gherasim Iscu, fresco at Afteia Monastery. © Basilica.ro

Venerable John of Horezu

Fr. Ioan of Horezu was originally from the Argeș area. He entered monasticism at Negru Vodă Monastery, where he was ordained a hieromonk and later became the abbot.

In 1692, St. Constantine Brâncoveanu appointed him administrator of Horezu Monastery, which was then under construction. He went on to lead the monastery for 33 years.

He led the building and restoration of several sketes and monasteries and was considered “the most skilled administrator of churches and monasteries in Wallachia.”

He was also the closest advisor and confessor of the ruling Brâncoveanu family.

For his efforts, he asked for nothing more than to be commemorated: “I humbly pray that on all Thursdays throughout the year, once a week, the Divine Liturgy won’t be missed, so that my soul can also enjoy that prayer of your saints, and that my wretched soul may have hope in the glory of God.”

He reposed in the Lord in the summer of 1726 and was buried in the monastery church.

Venerable John of Horezu

Photo: Metropolis of Oltenia

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