I GIVE A SUNSET FOR A BUS
PROTECTED BY SAINT ANTIM
COSMIC ROMANIA 25
-text and photos Andrei Dorian Gheorghe
design Florin-Alexandru Stancu-
This is an image with the national rugby stadium in Bucharest,
taken in August 2012,
5 months after Georgia had beaten Romania in the 12th edition
of the Antim Cup (score 19-13).
This stadium is part (about a quarter) of a sportive complex,
“Youth” (founded in 1913 through a decision of King Carol I),
which hosted many national and international competitions of
athletics, swimming, water polo, tennis, water jumps etc.
in its almost one hundred years of existence.
(I remember with pleasure that here
in 1973 I was the 5th in the national swimming championship for children
at the butterfly style,
and in 1974 I won the Bucharest swimming contest for children
at the crawl style.)
As special premieres,
in 1914 the first national rugby championship took place here,
and in 1923 the first international football match of the national team
(Romania-Yugoslavia 1-2) was also played here.
Not in the least, in August 1999
an international group of sky lovers
participating at the EuRoEclipse Perseids 99 event
(organized by Valentin Grigore and SARM + Total Solar Eclipse 99 firm),
led by Ovidiu Vaduvescu
and including the famous recordmen in hunting solar eclipses
Roger Tuthill (USA), Ralph Chou (Canada) and Osamu Ohgoe (Japan),
observed the “eclipse of the century” also in the Youth Complex.
(Total Solar Eclipse 1999 in the Youth Complex, Bucharest.
Document photo by Ovidiu Vaduvescu)
But who was that man called Antim
to deserve a rugby trophy in his memory?
First I would say that he was a great poet of the Sun.
But his story is much more complex…
Antim the Iverian was born in 1650 in Iveria (current Georgia),
part of the Ottoman Empire at that time,
and educated by the Christian community in Constantinople.
Hearing about his multiple talents,
the Romanian monarch Constantin Brancoveanu brought him
to Wallachia (the Romanian Land) in 1689,
where Antim, becoming also a real Romanian man,
developed an amazing career of priest,
chief-typographer, sculptor, writer (author of the “Didachies”),
chief of Romanian Church,
amateur astronomer and even proto-astroartist.
As the chief-typographer of the Romanian Church,
he printed religious books for the Orthodox Christians
from the zones occupied by the Ottomans
(Armenia, Georgia, Syria, the Balkan Peninsula).
He parallelly built a church finished in 1715,
one year after his protector, Constantin Brancoveanu,
was executed at Constantinople by the Ottoman sultan Ahmed III.
But here I have to open a parenthesis.
In 324 the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great
founded the city of Constantinople on older Byzantium
as Nova Roma or Christian Rome,
which became later the Capital of Orthodox Christianity.
In the 13th century,
after Constantinople was temporarily conquered by the Catholic crusaders,
the Bulgarian Emperor Ivan Alexander claimed the title of 3rd Rome
for his Capital, Veliko Trnovo,
and he was followed by the Serbian Emperor Stefan Dusan,
who tried to morally move the 3rd Rome
in his Capital, Prizren.
And in the 15th century, after the final fall of Constantinople,
the Russian Emperor Ivan the Great
(who was married with a Byzantine princess)
claimed that the 3rd Rome became
his Capital, Moscow.
Returning to Antim the Iverian,
it is obvious that he created in the Romanian Land
(which was only a tributary state to the Ottoman Empire,
not a pashalik)
the most active cultural centre of Orthodox Christianity
in the world at that time,
and when he moved his typography from Snagov to Bucharest
in his new-built church,
probably he achieved a secret dream,
transforming Bucharest into the 3rd Rome for one year,
a title never claimed unfortunately just because in 1716
he was killed from the order of the same Ottoman Sultan Ahmed III.
But the Antim monastery has remained
a beautiful and representative document of those times.
Before entering the church,
two elements especially appear as very attractive:
the wood door, sculpted by even Antim,
and his blazon, sculpted above and including a starry snail.
Regarding his prose poems,
when I saw the Sun near the Antim Monastery,
I thought of a quotation from “Didachies”:
“The Sun lightens the day, he is the sign of gift…”
Antim also wrote about sunspots:
“The last astronomers, through their field glasses,
found out in the Sun ugly things,
which had been unknown in the past…”
And he praised the Sun as an astral champion:
“The Sun is the top of the other stars,
overwhelming them with his light from sunrise to sunset,
warming the earth and God’s nooks,
enriching all and overflowing his beams everywhere…”
When I saw the twilight near the monastery
I remembered how Antim described the fall of the evening:
“After the Sun hid his rays,
extinguishing the daylight before the night darkness,
the Moon did not watch out,
and the smallest stars did not open their silver temples yet…”
When I saw the Moon near the Antim Monastery
I remembered how he wrote about the Earth’s satellite:
“When the Moon is full the dogs wake up as enemies,
fighting through yaps because they cannot support her light.
But the Moon, clean and innocent,
lightens and travels without stumbles…”
“The philosophers attribute many illusions, possessions and powers
to the Moon,
but I say that she is the ornament of the night,
similar to the Sun,
and the mistress of the sea.”
When I saw the Sun, Sirius,
and even the Moon with Venus over the fence of the Antim Monastery,
I remembered a veritable ode to the Creator and the cosmic creation
from Antim’s “Didachies”,
in which the author seems to be our contemporary,
imagining worlds watched through the performing telescopes
of the 21st century:
“God, who made and erected the seens and the unseens only through a word,
really can, through His perfect power,
to make stars more luminous than those that shine in the sky,
and a moon more beautiful and skilful than that who advises us in the night,
and a sun brighter than that who shades with his light all the other things.”
With all my limits,
I dared to be the translator of the quotations above.)
In the corridor of the steeple of the Saint Antim Monastery,
a picture made in the second part of the 19th century
by an apprentice priest who had an amazing premonition,
painting the Romanian Parliament
(which is placed very close to this monastery,
a comparison appearing below)
over one hundred years before it was built!
“It’s late” said to me my realistic ego
after one of my visits to the Antim Monastery in August 2012.
“Don’t you want to get a bus to return home?”
“No,” I replied, “the personality of this saint has inspired me so much
that now I need something to carry me after the Sun,
Antim described the sky for us
With the Sun as a super-bus.
In 11 March 2013,
5 days before the next rugby match between Romania and Georgia,
I came back to the National Rugby Stadium to test the place
for imagining the future ambiance.
Over the official tribune,
the Sun seemed to make the same thing.
In 15 March I watched the sunrise from the window of my parents’ apartment,
looking for a good omen to the next edition of the Antim Cup,
the greatest rugby battle of the east
because Romania and Georgia
are by far the best teams in the northern hemisphere in the immense territory
between Italy and Japan.
And in 16 March 2013 I went to the stadium to see the match,
which was also the final of the European Nations Cup.
Georgia was favourite, but the final score,
adorned by another sunset,
as if the two teams did not want to upset with Saint Antim,
both Georgian and Romanian.
“It’s late” said to me my realistic ego
after the match.
”Don’t you want to get a bus to return home?”
“No,” I replied, “now I’d like a bus
to carry me after the Sun to those countries in the south hemisphere
where rugby is a religion
and the genial players become another kind of saints.”
© 2014 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)