Early life and education
Born in Lodroman village, Alba County, Aftenie began theological studies in 1919 and was later sent to Rome. He took a doctorate in philosophy and theology in 1925 and was ordained a priest the following year by Metropolitan Vasile Suciu.
Soon afterward, Aftenie was named professor at the Blaj theological academy. He was later named archpriest in Bucharest and then assigned to the Blaj cathedral. In 1939, he became rector of the Blaj theological academy. In 1940, he was consecrated titular bishop of Ulpiana, auxiliary of Metropolitan Alexandru Nicolescu, and returned to Bucharest as vicar bishop.
Arrest, torture, death, and legacy
In 1948, the new Communist regime that outlawed his church, and the authorities' efforts to compromise him failed. Aftenie was arrested that October and taken, together with the other five Greek-Catholic bishops, first to Dragoslavele and then to Căldăruşani Monastery, which had been refashioned into a prison. He refused the offer of an Orthodox metropolitanate in exchange for conversion. In May 1949 he was taken to the Interior Ministry, held in isolation and tortured. Disfigured by beatings, he was thrown into Văcăreşti prison, where he died. He was buried in the Bellu Catholic cemetery following a service held by a Roman Catholic priest. The priest was from the Bucharest Bărăția and conducted the rites in secret several days after Aftenie was buried by night under the eyes of the Securitate secret police. Another priest brought a cross with his initials several days after that. Aftenie was exhumed in 2010, his remains taken into a church for storage, a request for his beatification having been submitted the year before.