The church "Saints Apostles Peter and Paul" (Doamna hermitage)

The church "Saints Apostles Peter and Paul" (Doamna hermitage)


Strada Nucului, Piatra Neamț, Romania


Within the parish is also the former hermitage of St. Apostles Peter and Paul'', which belonged to the Bistrita Monastery, but which until 1989 was a myrrh church.

The church "Saints Apostles Peter and Paul" (Doamna hermitage), is also called "the hermitage across the valley". Among the old churches that adorn the Piatra-Neamţ municipality today, there is no doubt the Doamna Church, whose immaculate walls guard a small plateau to the right of Bistriţa, under the forested foothills of Cernegura. The building impresses at first sight with its small dimensions and its simplicity, a sign that it was built to serve the needs of faith and piety of a monastic community with a small number of inhabitants.

The strong walls, which sometimes exceed the thickness of 1.5 m, rise according to the usual flat plan, with well-contoured apses and which on the outside present three flat faces joined at an angle. The gabled roof, slightly flared above the apse of the altar, unfolds uniformly up to the short belfry that rises at the western extremity, above the original entrance" (M. Dragotescu - 2003). At the time of the first consecration, the church had only one room, and much later the porch on the longitudinal axis of the nave and the vestry on the southern side, next to the apse of the altar, were added.
The narrow porch is covered with a star vault supported by four pairs of ribs, which contrasts with the stylistic purity of the semi-cylindrical vault of the nave, which extends even above the altar. The lateral apses are hollowed out in the thickness of the walls, and above the exit from the nave there is a small cage that provides access to the belfry. Restored in 1991-1993, a porch was added on the southern side.

The Doamna Church had no painting either inside or outside. The interior was made between 1995-1998. Above the entrance to the porch, two mosaic medallions with the portraits of the Saints Apostles Peter and Paul were recently executed.

On the other hand, the tapestry, made of three cabinets of impressive proportions, showcases the entire range of sculptural motifs characteristic of a neo-Byzantine style somewhat autochthonized through the massive presence of decorative elements taken from the folk art of the Bistriţa Valley.

The upper registers contain icons painted directly on the boards and the ones at the base removable icons, separated by miniature columns, artistically carved. Stylized plant motifs dominate with authority the fields between the icons and a large part of the surface of the royal doors, and the faces of the saints, painted by Mihai Zugravul, stand out through expressiveness and a happy combination of colors.
The following inscription found right on the iconostasis provides the chronological precision necessary to date this creation with undeniable artistic qualities: "This holy iconostasis was made through the diligence of His Holiness Kir Kalestru, hieromonk and priest of this hermitage, at 1802".

Regarding the dating of the monument, it is difficult to specify the year of construction, given the lack of any epigraphic or documentary mention to remember it. Of great help in the approximate dating of the Doamna Hermitage is the inscription on the stone cross that has been preserved as a heritage document in the endowment of the church: "Here rests the servant of God Hieromonk Mitrofan, by whom this Holy Church is made" which indicates the date of the founder's death on December 6, 1790. It follows that the church was built before this year, probably 1789 (?), the iconostasis being installed later by the hieromonk Kalistru, the successor of the founder Mitrofan.

Historian Marcel Dragotescu (2003), shows that "taking into account the specifics of Romanian hermit life and the evolution of other monastic places in Moldova and in the area, we believe that the Doamna Hermitage was built since the middle of the 18th century as a small wooden church, and later, between the years 1788-1790, the current brick church was built". In favour of this point of view are the liturgical books that have been preserved, the oldest dating from the 1760-1785 period: a Gospel printed in the 1762 period with a note written in Cyrillic letters on several pages, an Octoih edited at Bucharest in 1774 and a Triod appeared in Râmnic in 1784.
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  • Churches and monasteries
  • Monumental buildings

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