Women have no right to penetrate within the Holy of Holies behind
Beautiful icons have I sometimes found in these forsaken little
churches, carried there no doubt from greater ones when so-called
improvements banished from their renovated walls the old-time
treasures forthwith considered too shabby or too defaced.
Well do I remember one evening, after having climbed an endless way,
I came at last to the foot of the pine-trees that had beckoned to me
from afar, and how I reached the open door of the sanctuary at the
very moment when the sun was going down.
day had been wet, but this last hour before dusk was trying by its
beauty to make up for earlier frowns.
villagers, having guessed my intentions, had sent an old peasant to
open the church. As I approached, the sound of a bell reached me,
tolling its greeting into the evening air.
last rays of the sun were lying golden on the building as I reached
the door. Like dancing flames they had penetrated inside, spreading
their glorious light over the humble interior, surrounding the
saints' painted effigies with luminous haloes.
was a wondrous sight!
the threshold stood an old peasant, all in white, his hands full of
flowering cherry-branches, which he offered me as he bent down to
kiss the hem of my gown.
Within, the old man's loving fingers had lit many lights, and the
same blossoms had been piously laid around the holiest of the icons,
the one that each believer must kiss on entering the church.
sunlight outshone the little tapers, but they seemed to promise to
continue its glory to the best of their ability when the great
parent should have gone to rest. . . . Sitting down in a shadowy
corner, I let the marvellous peace of the place penetrate my soul,
let the charm of this holy house envelop me like a veil of rest.
sun had disappeared; now the little lights stood out, sharp points
of brightness against the invading dusk.
Hard it was indeed to tear myself away; but time, being no respecter
of human emotions, moves on!
Outside the door an enormous stone cross stood like a ghost, its
head lost amongst the snowy branches of a tree in full bloom. This
cross was almost as high as the church. . . .
Varied indeed are the shapes of these peasant churches. When they
are not of wood, like those I have just described, they are mostly
whitewashed, their principal feature being the stout columns that
support the porch in front. There is hardly a Rumanian church
without this front porch; it gives character to the whole; it is the
principal source of decoration. Sometimes the columns have beautiful
carved capitals of rarest design; sometimes they are but solid
pillars, whitewashed like the rest of the church.