-text and photos Andrei Dorian Gheorghe
special guest (the two introductory photos) Valentin Grigore
design Florin Alexandru Stancu-

What is the Universe?

Something much higher
And much greater
Than we can imagine,

Because we are,
Near the wonders of the Earth,
Tinier than a comet
Near the Pleiades.

What is the Universe?

Maybe this is one of the questions which occurred
the mind of the Thinker of Hamangia in the 4th millennium BCE,
his statue being discovered on the territory of current Romania
and reproduced on a banknote,
along with an ancient local house,
the rainbow
and a wheel as a solar symbol.

What is the Universe?

Certainly, nobody will be able to completely define the Universe,
but it is fascinating to remember those to tried to do it along history.

Among them, Plato and Aristotle represent special cases,
being disputed by the worlds of philosophy and astronomy.

For Plato (around 420-340 BCE), the Universe mainly was
both an ornament and a spherical whole,
created by Demiourgos from the chaos,
and governed by harmony,
in which the Man was a microcosmos
and the Sun was the Principle of the Good.

For Aristotle (384-322 BCE), the sky was just
the “substance of the extreme orbit of the Universe”,
including all that was divine
(the sphere of the fixed stars, the spheres of the planets,
and practically the “totality of the natural and sensible bodies”),
the cause of the changeable motion being the Prime Mover.

Plato and Aristotle discovered more astronomical truths,
although their cosmological system
(with planets and stars turning round the Earth)
that resisted almost two millennia as basis for European astronomy,
fell after Copernicus and Galileo.

The images above show the central-eastern zone of Bucharest,
where, between church spires and the Trajan Market Hall
(one of the most picturesque in Romania, made in the 1890s),
the memory of the two Greek classics of humanity
is kept in an admirable manner in a special place.

More precisely, somewhere at the middle of what has remained old
on the Calarasi Way (a zone like a museum)
after the systematizations of the communist regime.

This street was named so after the “calarasi” (rider-postmen)
who carried on this road in the past
letters from Bucharest and Wallachia to Istanbul and the Ottoman Empire
or on the inverse route.

After I walked on the Calarasi Way (the old zone)
from east to west and from west to east,
I stopped in the Saint Stephen Square
(named after the Archdeacon of the 7 Primordial Deacons
and the First Martyr of Christianity),
which has in the center a small park with the statue of
Mircea Vulcanescu (1904-1952),
a Romanian remarkable philosopher, economist and sociologist,
who died imprisoned by communists just because he differently thought.

(He left a famous message of Christian inspiration
in the name of all Romanian political prisoners:
“Do not revenge us!”)

From his opera I have chosen an excerpt
reflecting his vision about the Romanian soul:

“For the Romanians there is a connection of life to stars and forests,
a universal brotherhood of material and spiritual things,
their mythical connection and the interdependence of their sense and destiny.”
-from Romanian Dimension of Existence
(republished in 1991 by the Romanian Cultural Foundation)-

Did you ever imagine
That a simple special building
Can make you feel like a
Carrying through the Universe
A letter called life?

Yes, also here the Saint Stephen Church
appears as a delicate and admirably trimmed entity,
which turned 250 years of existence in 2014,
being founded by even the “domnitor” and “voievod” of Wallachia,
Stefan Racovita,
in 1764, during the “Phanariot century”
(when the rulers of Wallachia and Moldavia were named by the Ottoman Sultans
from the Greek aristocratic community who lived in the Phanar district in Istanbul,
just because they were afraid of a possible Orthodox Christian alliance
of the Romanians with the Russians against their empire).

However, Stefan Racovita had a Romanian origin,
but he appeared as a Hellenised character,
and perhaps that explains a few surprises on the exterior walls of the church,
which are adorned by circular portraits of prophets and saints,
and floral-solar models.
(Obviously, after him many Romanian masters in church art worked
to conserve and to enrich the beauty of this edifice!)

Yes, at a moment, I could see here
the portraits of Plato and David!

A Greek philosopher and a Jewish poet-king
as pre-Christian prophets!

Dear Plato,
Many thanks because you showed us
The way to be connected to the Universe:

To touch as much as we can
More “universals” -
Superior human qualities!

Continuing to surround the church,
I saw the portraits of Sibylla Delphica
(the pre-Christian prophetess at Apollo’s Temple in Delphi)
and even Aristotle!

Dear Aristotle,
Many thanks because you showed us
The moral inertia that the Earth is
The centre of our world,

And the quantified certitude
Of the natural beauties,

Over which planets and stars
Appear as
Caresses of perfection.

Inside the church there are
relics of the Three Holy Hierarchs (Basil, Gregory and John)
and Romanian precious icons,
and I admired beautiful paintings
and three spectacular artistic representations
of the solar crown.

I also have to say something about
the two permanent guests of this church:
a rooster reminding of the human failings
from the bad night of Saint Peter,
and a dove reminding of the Holy Spirit.


At the Bucharestian church
Of philosophers and sibylles
(Named after Saint Stephanos,
That means crown in old Greek),
Seeing the solar crown
Near the second sun cross
I understood that Plato
Was the greatest philosopher
In his era…

…Seeing the solar crown
Near the sun cross of the tower,
I understood that Aristotle
Was the greatest philosopher
In the next era...

…And seeing the solar crown
Near both crosses,
I understood that in fact
The Sun is the greatest ever Philosopher…

…To the envy of Jupiter, who
(Although stronger than the tree branches)
Has remained just a modest planet-god.

Then, seeing the Moon
Near the same church,
I understood that she is
The greatest Sibyl...

…To the envy of Venus, who
(Although brighter than the artificial lights)
Has remained just a modest planet-goddess.


© 2015 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)