Agapia Monastery

Agapia Monastery (Romanian: Mănăstirea Agapia) is a Eastern Orthodox monastery located 9 km west of Târgu Neamţ, Neamţ County, Bukovina, Romania.

The name of the monastery comes from a monk named Agapie who founded a wooden church long time ago. It was named "Old Agapia Monastery" or "Agapia of the Hills Monastery". Elena Doamna, the wife of ruling prince Petru Rareş, decided to build a stone church in 1527 at this location. The church underwent renovation during the reign of Petru Şchiopul at the end of the 16th century. Unfortunately, within a short time it collapsed because of the sloping ground. As a consequence, it had to be re-founded by Gheorghe Duca Voivode, but it was afterwards destroyed by the Eteria militants in 1821. In 1832, Mother Sevastia Munteanu founded a new wooden church on the premises, but it burned down in 1934. The church which exists now at Old Agapia was constructed of stone and wood and was erected before the 1939.

Agapia Monastery ("New Agapia" or "Downhill Agapia") was built between 1642-1647 by hatman Gavriil Coci, the brother of Voivode (ruling prince) Vasile Lupu. The Church dedicated to the Archangels Michael and Gabriel was designed by the court architect of Vasile Lupu, a certain Ionasc (or Enache) Ctisi, possibly originating from Constantinople. The Metropolitan of Moldavia, Varlaam Moţoc, officiated at the consecration ceremony, which Vasile Lupu himself attended. On this occasion, hetman Gavriil donated to the monastery a Gospel book written on parchment and decorated with miniatures of the Evangelists, as well as a silver gilt filigree cross with eight arms.

The inscription on the wall of the church says: "In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, I, slave of God hetman Gavriil and my wife Liliana, made and endowed this Agapia Monastery again, during the days of the right believer and lover of Christ Prince Vasile Lupu. And the construction started in the year 7150 (1642), October, the 15th day, and was completed in 7152 (1644), September, the 3rd, and was consecrated in 7155 (1647), September, the 12th". After the consecration, many of the monks of Old Agapia moved downhill, and little by little, a real monastery was built around the church.

The monastery was attacked and damaged by Turks and Tartars in 1671-1672, robbed by Tartars in 1674-1675 and by Polish in 1680, damaged again by the soldiers of king Jan III Sobieski of Poland between 1689-1693.

The monastery became a convent for nuns in 1803, by order of ruling prince Alexandru Moruzi. He founded also here a school for nuns. On 16 September 1821, the monastery was seriously damaged by a fire, but it was restored soon. It was restored and enlarged between 1848 and 1858 (when the church underwent several notable modifications), between 1858-1862, in 1882, 1903 (after the fire of 23 July) and 1968. It was painted by the great Romanian painter Nicolae Grigorescu, between 1858-1861.

The museum housed within the monastery shelters a valuable art collection as well as a precious collection of liturgical objects. It also shelters the deposit of old book of the County of Neamţ and the “Alexandru Vlahuţă Memorial House”. The library of the monastery incorporates fifty thousand volumes.

Attracted by the beauty of the landscape and the surrounding sights, as well as by the peacefulness of the spiritual life of the holy establishment, many writes and cultural personalities visited this monastery particularly in the summertime. It was here that they could rest and work in peace, far from the maddening crowd. Today, it is one of the largest monasteries of nuns in Romania, with 300-400 nuns and being second in population after Văratec Monastery. The Old Agapia Skete is affiliated to the monastery.

Sources: Romanian Monasteries, 100 Romanian Monasteries.