Structure and Functions of the Romanian Orthodox Church
In Romania there are several religions officially recognized by the Romanian state. The Orthodox community is the largest. Over 80% of the Romanian population is Orthodox Christian. The shapes of the Orthodox churches are diverse, but the best known churches are cross-shaped and clubs-shaped with lateral apses. Usually, the construction of a church has to be first of all functional, that is to observe the structure of the space where the liturgy is held, and where church canons are observed (certain church practices).
An Orthodox cult building - the church - is made up of the following parts presented from the outside to the inside: the porch, the pronaos, the naos above which rise the steeple of the Pantocrator, the lateral apses, the altar and the small secondary apses of the proscomidia and diaconicon separated from the naos and the other spaces by the catapetasma. The Orthodox churches are always built east-westwards, namely on the west side there is the porch and on the east side the altar.
Besides those mentioned above there are specific elements, components and subsystems: arches, vaults, cupolas, steeples etc., besides the elements occurring in constructions in general: beams, pillars, walls etc. Extremely important is also the bell tower.
The church porch is usually large, wide, and open. However, more often than not it is closed by windows for the sake of preserving the monument. Sometimes the porch lacks or is added later. (Porch - an open space, at the level of the ground that links the inside to the outside of certain edifices, usually delimited by archways resting on columns or stone, masonry or wooden pillars. In religious architecture it precedes the religious spaces themselves.
The pronaos is the place entered from the porch, through a massive door. It is rectangular in shape and allows entering the naos.
The naos is square-shaped, topped by the big Steeple of the Pantocrator, that is the cupola above the naos where Jesus Christ is depicted as emperor of the world (Pantocrator = the one who rules, Pantocrator in translation, "God Almighty" or "Holy Father"). In traditional Orthodox iconography Jesus Christ' image, usually depicted bare-headed with a crosswise halo, making a blessing gesture with the right hand and holding the Scriptures closed (sometimes open) in the left hand. He is often depicted in the church calottes spanning their central space - the naos which usually rests on four strong masonry piers, sharing the weight with the semi-cylindrical lateral arches.
The lateral apses are wide and deep, so that they surpass the plan of the pronaos. Thus, at their level the width of the church reaches the largest dimension. The walls of the apses are usually cylindrical in shape inside and polygonal outside.
The altar looks like a rectangle continuing the walls of the naos, is large with big niches, and can be considered to be the most important element of the church. In the east part, the altar closes in a halfcircle similar to the apses and situated in an axis. Hence, a considerable increase in the space. In the altar the passing is performed through two deacon's doors. Women are forbidden to pass through these doors. The altar includes the small apses of the proscomidia and diaconicon.
The small apse of the proscomidia is a smallerniche or recess (sometimes from lack of space even a table) situated on the north wall of the altar where the priest prepares the bread and wine for the Eucharist. (Proscomidia - in the Orthodox churches, is an adjoining space of the altar or a simple large niche, situated in the north part of the altar, where a special mass is held in the memory of the builders and benefactors of that place of worship, before beginning the liturgy. In the same place they keep the sacred vessels and the eucharist for the sick.
The small apse of the diaconicon is the place in the altar where they keep the liturgy garbs (priestly garbs, but also other elements of the religious ritual).
Both the pronaos and the naos, and the altar have windows. In the pronaos and naos, the windows are fixed on both sides, and in the altar there is only one window crossing the halfcircle closing in the altar to the east. In that way the edifice gets enough light, as it is perpetually lit inside by the sun rays that create an atmosphere of peace and thoughtfulness specific of religious monuments.
The temple of the church (catapetasma or iconostasis - a kind of screen made up of a wooden or masonry skeleton, that separates the shrine (the altar apse) from the space of the naos, with which it communicates through the emperor's doors or through the pair of deacon's doors, is wooden and somehow has the shape of a wall separating the naos from the altar, or, in other words, the altar from the rest of the church. It is painted in oil, fresco, etc and comprises a large number of emperor's icons with emperor's festivals, apostles and prophets.
Any church has a patron. The patron of a church is a Saint, whose name must bear a connection to the community life that raised that church.
The bell tower usually stands at the west entrance and the church precint is accessed under it or by it. The bells can be found in the south part of the bell tower. Or - especially whenever the space of the church building is limited - it stands above the church pronaos.
Organizational and operational status of ROC (Romanian Orthodox Church)
Local Organization: Art 40.
(1) constituent units of the Romanian Orthodox Church Patriarchate held that:
a) the parish;
c) district of Archpriest ;
e) diocese (archdiocese and diocese);
(2) Each of the constituent units of the Church, in accordance with this statute, is entitled to lead and to manage autonomously from the other part of the same rank and participate, through its elected representatives, clerics and "Mireni" - for parishes and dioceses, the work units above components.
(3) The establishment and operation of the component units and local bodies of the same level is the same for all Romanian Orthodox Church.
Parish is the community of Orthodox Christians, clergy and laymen, placed on a given territory and subordinated to the diocesan center in terms of canonical, legal, administrative and patrimonial, led by a parish priest appointed chiriarhul (Archbishop or Bishop) that diocese.
"Filia" is Orthodox Christian community, situated on a small territory and subject to the unincorporated parish.
Monastery is a community of monks or nuns who have freely decided to lead prayer life, prevention, voluntary poverty and obedience.
An institution Stauropegial Submission (or Stavropegic), usually a monastery, is one that falls directly under omophorion Întâi-Stătătorului a church, instead of being the local bishop of that diocese. Σταυροπηγιον Greek word literally means "settlement of a cross" and refers to the crosses used to mark a boundary. In liturgical context, the cross was placed the bishop stavropighionul the foundation of a new church. The term has come to be used mainly as a reference to the monasteries that kept canonical Patriarch of Constantinople.
In a Byzantine documents X-XIV centuries, the term Stauropegial Submission was used as a synonym for patriarchal, when referring to such monastic council, although in some cases distinguishing the two terms, Stauropegial Submission referring only to those monasteries which had been founded by patriarch itself.
Stauropegial Submission Byzantine monasteries of the time recognized the authority of the patriarch as their bishop, they speak of the liturgy and paid him kanonikonul, an ecclesiastical tax which provide a substantial revenue Patriarchate. A monastery and a convent not become Stavropegic without the consent of the local bishop.
"Metoc" is a small monastery, a convent more subordinate administrative, property of a monastery, spec building belonging to a monastery and serves as a place of accommodation.
The sl. Metohŭ, metóc (succursal monasteries), s.n. - 1. Monastery dependent country. - 2. Monastic residence outside the monastery. District of Archpriest is an administrative unit comprising several church parishes in the same diocese the subordinated.
Diocese, dioceses - Church Administrative Division, headed by a bishop, bishops, diocese. - The NGR. diocese.
Diocese - 1. administrative district in the Eastern Roman Empire. 2. subdivision of the diocese in the Byzantine church, led by a bishop, diocese. (<Fr. Eparchie, gr. Eparkhia).
Bishopric - territory over which extends the authority of a bishop, diocese. ♢ residence of Bishop, Bishop. - The NGR. Episkopi. 1. diocese, the diocese, Bishop. 2. Administrative division headed by a church bishop, diocese. 3. The seat of the bishop. [G.-d. bishopric] / <NGR. Episkopi
Archbishop - 1. Diocese headed by an archbishop, Archdiocese, the archbishop. 2. Archbishop function. 3. Residence of an archbishop. [Pr:-hi-e-] - From sl. arhiepiskopija.
Bishops are subordinate archbishops. Subordinated bishoprics archbishops are called sufragane. As organized, the two institutions are different. Archdiocese gets precedence over the diocesan bishops of the size sufragane older or because of historical and religious reasons. Governing bodies of the diocese are: Chiriarhul (Archbishop or Bishop eparhiot), the Diocesan Assembly as a deliberative body, Diocesan Council and Diocesan Council as a permanent executive body.
Romanian Orthodox Church is organized as a Patriarchate, with the title "Romanian Patriarchate. Romanian Patriarchy includes dioceses (Archdioceses and bishops) grouped Metropolitanates and other units inside or outside Romania.
Metropolitan - 1. Administrative institution of the Orthodox Church, bishops and lower upper Patriarchate, headed by a metropolitan. 2. Church and annex buildings which are located a metropolitan (1). 3. Metropolitan function. - From sl. mitropolija. 4. Administrative authority of the Orthodox Church (upper and lower bishopric Patriarchate) is headed by a metropolitan. / <sl. mitropolija
Religious life in Romania, ed. IIIth, The Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs, Bucharest 2008.
Law no. 489/2006 on freedom of religion and the general scheme of religion.
Case no. 78/2005 on the organization and functioning of The Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs.