People's Salvation Cathedral
|People's Salvation Cathedral|
Catedrala Mântuirii Neamului
Top dome (lantern) - September 2019
|Location||13 September (4-60) Street, Sector 5, Bucharest|
|Construction cost||€121 mil (2018)[note 1]|
€200 mil (cathedral)[note 2]
|Capacity||7,000 [note 3]|
|Length||126.1 m (interior)|
140.5 m (stairs)
|Width||67.7 m |
|Height||134.5 m (ground-cross) [note 4]|
127.1 m (ground-dome)
|Nave height||43 m (interior)|
|Other dimensions||323,000 m3 [note 5]|
|Floor area||6,100 m2 [note 6]|
7,500 m2 (stairs)[note 6]
|Dome height (inner)||105.4 m (floor-dom ceiling)|
|Dome diameter (outer)||29.4 m (colonnade)|
The People's Salvation Cathedral (Romanian: Catedrala Mântuirii Neamului) refers to an Orthodox cathedral in Bucharest that is meant to become the patriarchal cathedral of the Romanian Orthodox Church. It is the tallest and largest Orthodox church in the world by volume. It is the largest Eastern Orthodox church in the world by area, according to the full church criterion, and the second in the world including the partial church criterion. Or the third in the world by area including the Oriental Orthodox church criterion. It is located in central Bucharest on Spirea's Hill (Arsenal Square), facing the same courtyard as the Palace of the Parliament the heaviest building in the world, the cathedral having the tenth part of its weight. The standard ground level of the People's Salvation Cathedral above the Black Sea is 86.2 meters. At 135 meters, the cathedral holds a dominant position in Bucharest's cityscape and is visible from all approaches to the city.
The cathedral is dedicated to the Ascension of Christ and to Saint Andrew the Apostle, protector of Romania. The Cathedral was consecrated on 25 November 2018 by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, Patriarch Daniel of Romania and Metropolitan Chrysostomos (gr) of Patras from the Greek Orthodox Church. On the same day as the consecration, the very first church service of the cathedral took place and was led by both Patriarch Bartholomew and Patriarch Daniel. The first patronal feast of the People’s Salvation Cathedral was celebrated on 30 November, on the day of Saint Andrew the First Called, and the Liturgy was officiated by Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem and Patriarch Daniel of Romania. The first Te Deum of the cathedral was celebrated on 1 December 2018.
The idea of a national cathedral first emerged following the Romanian War of Independence (1877–1878), which was mainly fought between the Russian and Ottoman Empires. The church was to symbolise the victory of Orthodox Christians over the Ottoman Muslims. The idea was shelved for lack of consensus on design, location and funding.(pp56–57) The Unification of the Romanian Principalities in 1859, entailed a unitary organization of church structures in Moldavia and Wallachia within the Holy Synod (1872), thus the assembly of hierarchs increased to 12 members, including: the Primate Metropolitan (chairman), the Metropolitan of Moldavia and their suffragan bishops of Râmnic, Buzău, Argeș, Roman, Huși and Lower Danube (Galați) and one auxiliary vicar-bishop for every diocese.(pp86–103) The old Metropolitan Cathedral had proved overcrowded, especially during the national holidays, such as the Proclamation of the Kingdom of Romania and the crowning of the First King Carol I (10 May 1881), when none of the over one hundred churches in Bucharest were able to receive those who would have wanted to participate in the official service. Therefore, at King Carol I’s desire, Romania’s Assembly of Deputies and the Senate voted in favour of the Law no.1750 on the construction of the Cathedral Church in Bucharest, promulgated by King Carol I on 5 June 1884.
In 10 May 1920, King Ferdinand sent a royal letter to the Metropolitan bishop Miron Cristea, supporting the project, but this had no effect. In 1925, after the Romanian Orthodox Church became an independent patriarchate, Patriarch Miron Cristea suggested Carol Park as a site but his idea was defeated in favour of Bibescu Vodă Square (Unirii Square). There, in 1929, a cross (calvary) was raised. Lack of funds meant the construction was postponed and later forgotten.(pp56–57)The steps have stopped because of the economic crisis, the Second World War and then the establishment of the communist regime in Romania.
Patriarch Teoctist was the one who re-launched the project of building a National Cathedral, in this sense sanctifying a cross on 5 February 1999 as the cornerstone of the future cathedral, in the place of Unirii Square that had previously been sanctified by Patriarch Miron Cristea. Meanwhile, there has been an epochal event, during the visit to Pope John Paul II in Romania (7-9 May 1999).
On 16 February 2005, the Bucharest City Hall proposed to the Patriarchate "as the most suitable place to be available" for the construction, which is the Arsenal Hill, considered the highest place in Bucharest. Following the Patriarchate's approval, the Government of Romania promoted the Ordinance no.19/17 March 2005 for the realization of the People's Salvation Cathedral. Then the Chamber of Deputies voted to give the building site of 110,000 m2 to the Romanian Patriarchate by the protocol of 13 February 2006. The Arsenal Hill was recommended after three other locations were proposed at different stages (Unirii Square 1999, Alba-Iulia Square 2001, Carol Park 2004). For lack of alternative, the Romanian Patriarchate accepted this location, although it offers a reduced visibility due to the immensity of the Palace Parliament, the current headquarters of the Romanian Parliament. This location has been chosen as a moral repair or ‘a resurrection light’ for the five ‘crucified’ churches. Three churches were demolished (Alba Postăvari, Spirea Veche, and Izvorul Tămăduirii), and two churches have been translated (Schitul Maicilor and Mihai Vodă) by the communist regime to build the Palace of the Parliament (Casa Poporului). The cornerstone for the construction of the People's Salvation Cathedral was sanctified on 29 November 2007, being officiated by Patriarch Daniel, the sixth Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church.
Building began in 2010, and after almost a decade of construction, the cathedral was consecrated on 25 November 2018. The consecration was held in the presence of 100 priests, including 60 bishops. Special guests were the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I and Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Patras. Approximately 55,000 people attended at the Divine Liturgy which took place inside the cathedral just after its consecration.
The Ascension of God is the first celebration of the day, because it is also the day of the Romanian heroes of all time and of all places, and the second is the celebration of Saint Apostle Andrew the first called, Protector of Romania. Patriarch Daniel said about the first celebration: "The homage to the memory of the romanian heroes during the First World War, which fought for national freedom, unity and dignity, must be today a source of inspiration and renewal for patriotic romanians. That is why, the main dedication of the People's Salvation Cathedral is the Lord's Ascension when we celebrate the Day of Heroes. Thus, besides the practical necessity of the future National Cathedral, this is also a national spiritual symbol, being dedicated to the worship of those who have sacrificed themselves for the defense of the homeland and the Orthodox ancestral faith and for the freedom of the romanian people". Patriarch Daniel said about the second celebration: "This building will be a symbol of national unity because the feast of Saint Apostle Andrew, which was placed the day before the National Day on 1 December, shows that the national unity has settled with us on the romanians primarily on spiritual unity, on unity of faith, thought and sentiment. Our church greatly contributed to the development romanian language and romanian culture."
Romanian Patriarchy launched on 28 December 2009 the tender for the selection of the project of the People's Salvation Cathedral. The design proposal should include the feasibility study (SF) and the technical documentation for the construction authorization (DTAC). The delivery term of the documentation accompanied by the proposed model layout was established on 31 May 2010. In June, the Patriarchal Commission for coordination and verification of design works, together with the technical subcommittees for evaluation on architecture, resilience and facilities specialties analyzed the projects presented and determined the scores obtained by the participants. Later, between 30 June and 1 July (2010), the commission of final evaluation of projects under the chairmanship of Patriarch Daniel met at the Patriarchal Palace. SC WANEL EXIM SRL (Bacău) was declared winner.
On 10 December 2010, construction of the cathedral began. To build the cathedral will be used 100,000 m³ of concrete, 45,000 tons of rigid armature and about 25,000 tons of flexible armature, ten times more than a ten-storey block. Energy efficiency is assured by massive walls of resistance and brick used on the inside and outside of them. The cathedral is designed to withstand earthquakes of 8.5 on the Richter scale. The plan of the cathedral complex includes a cathedral building; below the cathedral building, a soup kitchen with capacity for 1,000; two hotels; and parking for about 500 cars.
The cathedral should receive its final touch, the paintwork, by 2024 according to the Romanian Orthodox Church.
The chapel of the cathedral was built in 2011, exclusively from sponsorships. In this chapel, there are liturgical services for the good works of the People's Salvation Cathedral, for the workers, but also for the founders and donors. In the chapel is a copy of the Icon Theotokos Acheiropoieta (Prodromiţa) from the Romanian Skete Prodromos in Mount Athos. Also, here is the reliquary with the relics of Saint John Chrysostom, the 37th archbishop of Constantinople.
The design of the new cathedral was debated by parties including the Romanian Senate and the Mayor of Bucharest. The winning design featured elements of architectural details from all the Romanian provinces and territories in an area that would make the cathedral complex one of the largest religious sites in the world. It was envisaged that 10,000 peoples could stand in the main cathedral building together with the underground galleries, and the whole complex could accommodate 125,000 visitors over an area of 11 hectares. The main cathedral building is designed with seating for approximately 7,000 worshipers (pilgrims choirs, clergy), a greater than tenfold increase on the current patriarchal cathedral. The cathedral is 126 metres (413 ft) long, 68 metres (223 ft) wide, and 135 metres (443 ft) (ground level) high. The main building is elevated 6.8 metres (22 ft) with the basement area extending to 17 metres (56 ft) below ground level. The first two levels of underground, form a main hall with a height of 11 meters, which can hold 3,000 standing worshippers. The planned ground area is larger (152m by 92m / 13,668 square meters), divided into spaces including a main hall, other halls and rooms for events; an icon and religious clothing shop; a workshop (for carpentry, upholstery and metal work for example); a museum, gallery-exhibition, liturgical performance media shop; as well as storage rooms, a refectory, parking access, religious/sacremental objects and employees rooms. The basement area which extending below the ground level, has 7,200 square meters.
The cathedral's courtyard has four annexes: Saint Andrew's House for clergy pilgrims with 90 rooms; Saint Peter's House with a capacity of one hundred people; Saint Paul's House, will be the missionary cultural center with classrooms and seminars, a library, exhibition spaces and Aula Magna Hall; Saint Luca's House, will be a medical social center with consulting rooms, an emergency reception center, an analytical laboratory and intensive care center, and a residential accommodation center for the elderly and the sick.
The entire mosaic work of the People’s Salvation Cathedral is rooted in the hesychast tradition and in the old Byzantine and post-Byzantine art, while being in consonance with the architectural space and the needs of the contemporary Orthodox sacramental rituals.
The vaulted nave reaches an interior height of 43 meters, being the Orthodox church with the highest interior nave and among the highest in the world.
The floor of the cathedral will be covered with marble by Rușchița, the best marble in Romania. This marble has been used for many famous buildings: Romanian Parliament Building, Milan Cathedral, Hungarian Parliament Building, Istana Nurul Iman etc. The exterior (stairs and colonnade) of the cathedral will be covered with marble by Vratsa, famous marble from Bulgaria.
With total height of 134.5 m (ground-top cross), will become the third tallest domed church in the world, after Basilica of Our Lady of Peace and St.Peter's Basilica. Also with 127 meters, it has the second tallest top dome without the cross in the world, after the dome of St.Peter's Basilica.
On 24 May 2019, the concrete section of the cathedral was finished at 112.8 metres height from the ground. Also started building the metal cupola, which will increase the height of the dome to 127.1 metres from the ground.
The iconostasis of the People's Salvation Cathedral with the size of 23.8 m (length) x 17.1 m (height), it is the largest Orthodox iconostasis in the world. It has an area of 408 square meters and is covered with over 4 million tesserae of mosaic weighing 8 tons. The Murano glass is processed by the Venetian foundry Orsoni, which produce 24K gold leaf mosaics, blown gold and Venetian smalti in more than 3,500 colors.
Iconostasis has 45 icons placed on four registers. The first register has 6 royal icons, the second register has 13 icons with royal feasts, the third register has the icon of the Holy Trinity (center) and the twelve Apostles, and the fourth register has the Theotokos (center) and the twelve Prophets of the Old Testament. On the four side doors are the four archangels, and on the royal door are the Annunciation and the four Evangelists. The royal icons have the dimensions of 3.75 m (height) × 2.15 m (length) with a surface area of 8 square meters. All icons of the iconostasis have a total of 130 portraits. The cross from the top of the iconostasis with a height of 4.5 meters will be raised in 2019.
For the realization of the iconostasis of the cathedral in Bucharest, a team of over 45 mosaic and fresco specialists worked for 10 months. The leader of this team was Daniel Codrescu. Originally, the team had thought of marble frames for each large icon, but because of the fact that the weight of the material could have affected the structure of the iconostasis resistance, the idea was abandoned. This iconostasis is made entirely of mosaic and fresco in Byzantine style. The team involved in the project was divided into two groups: the first involved in making the mosaics in the workshop, and the second in fitting them on the stonework. A source of inspiration was the famous mosaics in Ravenna, represented by the Basilica of San Vitale. Daniel Codrescu said: "Everything is worked in the smallest details. The team tried to take the realization to another level of greatness. With the help of God, this monumental work is a gift to the centenary of Romania. This iconostasis is the summary of the kingdom of heavens."
Commonly, on the iconostasis are four royal icons, but here we have six, which has helped us to represent the two patronal feasts, "Ascension of the Lord" and "Saint Apostle Andrew". On the left is placed the icons of Saint Nicholas and Saint John the Baptist, two of the most beloved saints in Romanian space. Like a peculiarity, in the registry of the Saints Apostles is represented the Holy Trinity, which in this case occupies the place of the Judge Right. The latter, has been moved to the royal icon of the Savior Jesus Christ. Together with the icon of the Theotokos and Saint John the Baptist is symbolized the Deesis icon. The Holy Trinity was chosen by Patriarch Daniel, to emphasize the Scripture quote that says, "Going, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). The Saints Apostles preach the teaching of the Holy Trinity, being the representatives who baptizes the nations.
On 7 May 2019, the Theotokos Platytera icon was completed in the conch of the altar apse. According to officials, it is the largest mosaic icon (representation) of the Theotokos in the Orthodox world, having 16 meters high and 150 square meters. To make the Platytera icon, one million pieces of mosaic were used. The original idea from which it started, is the famous representation of the Theotokos in the Hagia Sofia Basilica. The Mother of God is sitting on a throne without a back, holding the Child Jesus on her lap. Her feet rest on a pedestal. Both the pedestal and the throne are adorned with precious stones. The mosaic are set on the golden background. But against to this mosaic icon from Hagia Sophia, the iconographers wanted that the mosaic icon of the People's Salvation Cathedral, to be bigger and a unique neo Byzantine piece of the 21st century.
The Theotokos Platytera icon is surrounded by the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, each having 12.5 meters high with 5 meters width. The source of inspiration, was the mosaics from the Panagia Angeloktisti church in Larnaca. The mosaic from the Panagia Angeloktisti church is a rare 6th century mosaic of the Theotokos and Child between two Archangels, in the Justinian period. Only in Cyprus and in Mount Sinai mosaics of this period survived the iconoclastic decrees ordering the destruction of most icons. The Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite celebrate their feast day on 8 November (Julian Calendar), or 21 November (Gregorian Calendar).
In the Holy Mass of the Altar, are relics of Romanian saints and the list of 350,000 names of the Romanian heroes. The relics are from the saints: Constantin Brâncoveanu and the saints from Niculiţel: Zoticos, Attalos, Kamasis and Filippos.
The cathedral has the world's largest free-swinging church bell, surpassing the Saint Peter's bell (Petersglocke) in the Cologne Cathedral. With a weight of 25,190 kg, a clapper of 750 kg, a diameter of 3,355 mm, a height of 3,130 mm, thickness of 273 mm, the bell was cast on 11 November 2016 in Innsbruck by Grassmayr and is elevated to 65 meters. The casting time was 9 minutes and 23 seconds. The bell is made of 78% copper and 22% tin, both 99.99% purity and has a very low beat C3 (en) - C0 (de) - Do2 (ro) with 130.8 Hz. The cathedral has 6 bells. The sound of the big bell is heard from 15–20 km. The five bells have the following characteristics: C1-Do3, Ø 1,695 mm, 3,296 Kg; E1-Mi3, Ø 1,361 mm, 1,685 Kg; G1-Sol3, Ø 1,127 mm, 933 Kg; A1-La3, Ø 1,033 mm, 709 Kg; C2-Do4, Ø 875 mm, 430 Kg. The total weight of all 6 bells is 32,243 Kg.
A team of 25 experts from Italy, Germany, Austria, Croatia and Romania, worked on the great bell of the People's Salvation Cathedral. The leader of the team was the Italian campanologist Flavio Zambotto. Flavio Zambotto said about the bell: "The collaboration for the bell of the Cathedral in Bucharest is my greatest professional achievement. For this bell the team worked 8 months. The bell is made of the premium alloys, at the highest standards. Work was done in the smallest details, and at a purity of 99.99%, the acoustic tolerance is 0%. I had the honor of working at some famous bells and every bell is like a son to me. But the bell of the Cathedral in Bucharest is magnificent, among the best in the world. All acoustic parameters are superlative. The sound is sober, very strong, long and it marks you." 
The sound of the big bell in the People's Salvation Cathedral of Bucharest was chosen especially by the sound of the famous bell Pummerin in the Saint Stephen's Cathedral of Vienna. As against to Pummerin, the sound is more low, stronger and longer. The sound of the 6 bells forms three complete octaves.
Often in the national media, critics associate the People's Salvation Cathedral and the Palace of the Parliament, the colossuses of the Romania that share the same courtyard. The sheer size of the building drew criticism from various sources, including the french newspaper , which named it "a pharaonic project" and "worthy of the megalomania of Nicolae Ceauşescu". A journalist called the cathedral a "God mall". He said it was not churches, either big nor small, that Romania was lacking.
The Romanian Orthodox Church's answer to such criticism was that the new cathedral would not imitate the gigantic buildings of the communist era, but would "correct them, through a decent and harmonious volumetry".
On 23 November 2018, the Ecumenical Patriarch arrived in Romania to lead the consecration of the People's Salvation Cathedral which was planned on Sunday 25 November; the Ecumenical Patriarch was officially welcomed by Patriarch Daniel of Romania. In his welcoming speech, Patriarch Daniel talked about the "spiritual connection between the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Mother-Church, and the Romanian Orthodox Church, Daughter-Church"
On 24 November, at the Patriarchal Residence in Bucharest, during the meeting of the synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Daniel of Romania made a speech to the Ecumenical Patriarch, thanking him for the cooperation between the Romanian Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. During the same meeting, the Ecumenical Patriarch made a speech to the Romanian Orthodox synod, stating that he was "sure the Romanian Orthodox Church will be involved in preserving the church unity and justice."
On Sunday 25 November, the Ecumenical Patriarch and Patriarch Daniel of Romania consecrated together the Romanian People's Salvation Cathedral with myrrh and holy water. The Ecumenical Patriarch chaired the first mass of the Romanian People's Salvation Cathedral. Both the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Patriarch Daniel of Romania led the church service this day; it was the very first church service in the cathedral. During his homily at the cathedral, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said he was "connected" to Patriarch Daniel of Romania with his "old personal, pure and sincerely tested friendship, but also with the unshaken, brotherly love in Christ and good understanding." On 26 November, Patriarch Bartholomew went back to Istanbul. Thousands of people travelled from all parts of the country to attend the consecration, disregarding the cold weather and waiting times to get a chance to enter the cathedral. Although they travelled hundreds of kilometres to participate in the consecration of the National Cathedral, the cathedral appeared to them as a chimney shrouded in fog, which they had to look at from afar, climbing on fences and surrounded by the gendarmes.
The Ecumenical Patriarch and Patriarch Daniel signed the Document of Consecration.
The presence of Patriarch Bartholomew and the absence of Patriarch Kiril of Moscow at the cathedral inauguration "appears to suggest that Romania is siding with Constantinople in the dispute." To the questions: "Will Patriarch Kiril in Romania come to the sanctification of the painting?" and "How will the presence of His Holiness Bartholomew I affect the relationship between the ROC [Romanian Orthodox Church] and the Russian Patriarchate [Russian Orthodox Church]?", the Romanian Patriarchate spokesman Vasile Bănescu answered: "I am absolutely convinced that Patriarch Kiril will return to Romania on the occasion of the sanctification of the painting and will not withdraw because the ROC had the wisdom to plead for a dialogue to heal the wound of this separation between the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia. [...] We hope that this relationship, currently interrupted, will be resumed. The Romanian Patriarchate has a natural relationship with the Moscow Patriarchate and there are no tensions at the moment"
First patronal feast
The Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem arrived on 29 November 2018 and was officially welcomed by Patriarch Daniel of Romania. Patriarch Theophilos led the service for the first national feast-day of the cathedral, the feast of Saint Andrew, the patron saint of the cathedral. The first patronal feast of the People’s Salvation Cathedral was celebrated on 30 November, on the day of Saint Andrew the First Called, and the Liturgy was officiated by both Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem and Patriarch Daniel of Romania.
On 31 May 2019, the Pope Francis arrived in Romania, visiting the cathedral the same day. The Pope Francis expressed the hope that "Romania can always be a home of all, a place of meeting, a garden in which reconciliation and communion flourish." The Pope emphasized brotherhood and communion among all who prayed to the same Heavenly Father. The head of the Roman Catholic Church said that: "Each time we pray, we ask that our trespasses, our debts, be forgiven. This takes courage, for it means that we must forgive the trespasses of others, the debts that others have incurred in our regard. We need to find the strength to forgive our brother or sister from the heart (Mt 18:35), even as you, Father, forgive our trespasses: to leave the past behind us and, together, to embrace the present. Help us, Father, not to yield to fear, not to see openness as a threat, to find the strength to forgive each other and move on, and the courage not to settle for a quiet life but to keep seeking, with transparency and sincerity, the face of our brothers and sisters ... I come as a pilgrim desirous of seeing the Lord’s Face in the faces of my Brothers." 
- List of large Orthodox cathedrals
- List of largest church buildings in the world
- List of tallest Orthodox church buildings
- List of tallest church buildings in the world
- List of highest church naves
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- Government: €82 mil;
Bucharest (6 sectors and the mayoralty): €24 mil;
Other authorities in Romania and donations: €15 mil.
- Cathedral: €200 mil; Courtyard: €100 mil.
- The cathedral is projected for 10,000 people in the main cathedral building and underground galleries. A total of 7,000 peoples/worshipers can attend at the holy liturgy in the same time, with 1,000 - choirs, clergy, three levels of balconies right-left, and 6,000 pilgrims. In the underground galleries can be accommodate 3,000 peoples.
- The height of the cross is 7.4 meters. The level stairs is 6.8 meters. The height of the bell tower is 91.8 meters.
- Dom & pedestal ~ 50,000 m3; Cathedral & underground ~ 532,000 m3.
- Cathedral (nave floor) ~ 6,100 m2; Cathedral (stairs) ~ 7,500 m2; Main building (annexes-ground) ~ 13,668.5 m2; Basement (underground) ~ 7,200 m2.
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