ANOTHER KIND OF HERO
AND SOMETHING ABOUT THE STAR OF KINGS
COSMIC ROMANIA 17
-text and photos Andrei Dorian Gheorghe
design Florin-Alexandru Stancu-
Before watching through telescopes
And dreaming of various star treks,
I have to praise Eugen Iordachescu,
A saver of celestial specks.
In 10 April 2013 I saw Sirius,
the brightest star in the sky,
over the Romanian Parliament,
the largest civil-administrative building in the world.
Sometimes history is ironic.
This building was conceived by the communist regime in Romania
as a temple of totalitarian atheism
(which is not the same with free atheism,
many important thinkers and scientists of the world
confessing that they are not religious).
Hundreds of architects and thousands of workers were mobilized
for this construction (which began in 1984),
although most of them were Christian.
So, when the historical conditions allowed,
the Romanians made an anti-communist revolution (December 1989),
and then they transformed this building into a temple of democracy.
More, in 1997, for the first time after 1054
(the year of the Great Schism between Eastern Christianity and Western Christianity),
a (Catholic) Pope (John Paul II) visited a (majoritarily) Orthodox country,
(that, thus, became a world champion in Christian reconciliation)
giving his speech right in the park of the Parliament!
As a parenthesis,
I personally walked many times in that park,
watching a few interesting astral configurations,
such as the Moon and Venus in 8 November 2013.
After these necessary introductory explanations,
I have to say that the view of Sirius in that place made me think of a star
sculpted above the entrance door of a small church
hidden by communist blocks of flats at only a few tens of metres.
That star may be right Sirius,
or even the Star of Kings (or Magi),
the most important in Christianity.
This church, the Skete of Nuns, was built in the 1720s
as the centre of a peaceful monastery
right in the zone of the current Parliament.
But in the 1980s the communist leadership,
pushed by the frenzy to erase the old Romanian traditions
and to replace them with Soviet rules,
destroyed a big part of Bucharest
for making the new Civic Centre in the same places.
It was the moment when an unexpected hero appeared,
without swords or guns, but with the power of his mind.
He was a self-educated engineer named Eugen Iordachescu,
who risked to propose to the Communist Party a concrete plan
to move more churches and buildings by using special tracks,
not to be destroyed by the operations of “systematization”.
Thinking that his invention could be useful for other occasions,
the communist leadership provisorily accepted the testing of his plan.
Then history was stronger
and Iordachescu could save nine churches in Bucharest!
And the first of them was just the Skete of Nuns
(although the surrounding buildings of the monastery were demolished by communists),
which Iordachescu and his team moved almost 250 metres!
Visiting this church with a terrible moral load,
I remarked that it was decorated not only with that impressive star,
but also with a cross with the Sun and the crescent Moon,
a recently added form of current Romania,
and especially a few circles over the entrance,
one of them seeming to be a circle of light (possibly the ecliptic!),
with the Sun up and the Moon down,
and signs of the Zodiac between them.
Why do the temples
(antique buildings, synagogues, churches, oriental sanctuaries, mosques)
become historical monuments?
Why are the temples
for simple people, culture lovers and tourists?
Generally the temples include the most delicate human feelings,
culminating with those of gratitude to the existence of the Universe.
Particularly the Romanian churches were bastions of moral resistance
against the Ottoman pressures,
and preservers of national traditions.
And from the point of view of a sky lover,
since astronomy was subjected to religion for many centuries,
in the confessional buildings (even in the humblest of them) we can find
much cosmic symbolism, traditions about the sky and more pearls of proto-astroarts.
At the same time
the Christian Orthodox churches have an astronomical-geographical importance
because their altars are orientated to the east,
for a daily encounter with the sunrise!
That’s why for me the first challenge in presenting
Eugen Iordachescu’s heroic model
was to look for cosmic elements not in the famous churches
he saved in the right side of the Dambovita River,
but in three (rather) modest churches
(brutally surrounded by blocks of flats made by communists)
he saved in the left side of the same river.
The Saint Stephen Church (popularly named the “Nest of the Stork”,
after a legend which said that the church was blessed by the fact
that a stork made her nest right on the roof) was created in the 1760s,
and I remarked its crosses with the Sun and the crescent Moon,
a few solar-floral works,
and a few external paintings with saints appearing in celestial spheres
(probably inspired by the antique Greeks’ spherical astronomy).
The Olari Church was created in the 1750s
and has the special model of a sun cross seeming like a rose wind,
and three external paintings seeming like three astral spheres.
Not in the least,
contemporary doves seem to come here to greet the Holy Spirit
(materialized in a dove, too, on an external painting).
The Saint John New Church was created in the 1760s
and also has a main cross with Sun and Moon,
along with stars painted around Saint John, Saint Peter and Saint Paul.
I also remarked an external painting with the Baptize of Jesus.
Over the Savior there is a big star
which seems to have three simultaneous significances:
-the Sun (that normally covers the other stars with its light);
-the Aura of the Holy Spirit (materialized in a dove);
-a prolongation of the Star of Kings just because around it
other (much smaller) stars are painted.
I tried to make a synthesis of Romanian folkloric visions about the Star of Kings
(that guided the road to the Birth of Messiah in Bethlehem)
as they appear around every Christmas in carols
(all of them having rhythm and rhyme in original)
performed by children, peasants and artists.
The classical beginning:
“The Star is rising up there
Like a big Mystery.
The Star is shining
And announcing to the world…”
And a few variants of continuation:
“Three Eastern Kings
Travelled with the Star
And going on the road
They saw the Star further,
And when they stayed to rest
The star awaited them.”
“Three Eastern Kings
Travelled with the Star
And they went, as we read,
Right to Jerusalem.”
“The Magi saw the Star
And immediately started,
Going after its ray
To see Christ…”
I found out other poetic vision of the Star in the Announcement Prayer
(“Acatist - Condrac 5”) of Romanian Christian Orthodox Church:
“The Magi, seeing the Star with a divine passing,
went after its light,
and, keeping it as a torch,
they looked for the Strong Emperor.”
Then I visited the largest church created in Bucharest during World War II,
Saints Constantine and Helena
(another past candidate to be demolished by communists
and perhaps to be saved by Eugen Iordachescu),
right in the place of the Barer of Vergu
(who had introduced taxes for merchants who came to the city
in the beginning of the 18th century).
This church, full of painted stars,
includes a spectacular vision of Genesis (a possible Big Bang!)
and paintings with three (!) variants of the Star of Kings:
the Announcement, Travelling with the Star, and the Birth of the Saviour.
As a reflection of the fascination of the Star of Kings in astronomy,
today many planetaria have programs which reproduce the sky
at the time of Christ’s Birth,
after more astronomers had tried to identify it as a real phenomena.
In this respect I imagined a round table:
A Traditionalist Priest:
There are so many speculative variants around the Star of Kings
just because it obviously was a supernatural phenomenon.
An Enthusiastic Astronomer:
The Star of Kings was a very educative phenomenon
through the variants born around it.
As Comet Halley (12 BC)
it invites to learn more about comets.
As a conjunction, such as Jupiter-Saturn (7 BC)
or Venus-Jupiter + the star Regulus (2 BC),
or even as the star Sirius,
it invites to learn more about planets and big stars.
As a nova (possibly one in the Andromeda Galaxy in 8-7 BC, or others),
it invites to learn more about variable stars.
As a giant fireball,
it invites to learn more about meteor showers.
What a generous challenge for astronomy!
A Skeptical Philosopher:
However, I have a query.
Since the Three Magi,
Melchior (possibly the King of Persia),
Casper (possibly the King of India)
and Balthazar (possibly the King of Arabia)
it is obvious that they could discern
the planets from the stars at that time…
A Positive Citizen:
Star of Kings, still a mystery,
But it is fine it was to be!
to complete my modest sentimental orbit around the Star of Kings,
I finally return to the star Sirius.
© 2013 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)