Cotmeana: Manastirea Cotmeana (Cotmeana Monastery)


Cotmeana Monastery

The Cotmeana monastery, situated in Arges, is the oldest monastery of the Wallachia, whose first documentary attestation dates back from May 20, 1388, specifically in a charter (royal act that served as a property title in the Middle Ages) of Mircea the Old King to the Cozia monastery. Initially, Cotmeana Monastery was built by the Romanian ruler, Radu I (1377-1386) and later on Mircea the Old (1386-1418) decided to restore the church’s monastery, the works being carried on for two years, from 1387 until 1389. In fact, in medieval times, this Orthodox facility, with a community of monks, served as camp.
Founded by Mircea the Elder and dedicated to the Annunciation and Beheading of St. John the Baptist, the feudal assembly was restored by Constantin Brancoveanu (1688-1714), ruler of Wallachia, in 1711. He ordered the replacement of window’s stone frames, because he wanted, according to the documents of that time, a place that would not perish over time. Indeed, during Hieromonk Hilarion, it is decided the increase of the narthex. Also, porch is added on the north side of the church, that even today can be admired. Anyway, regarding the length of the church, there are many theories, one claiming that the settlement would date back since 1292, the proof being the architectural style and even the name Cotmeana.
The church, built of brick, is decorated outside, under the jagged cornice, with colored ceramics discs used for a decorative purpose for the first time in Wallachia. In the church patrimony, there is the oldest bell in Wallachia, given by master Dragomir in 1385. The bell has a quite exciting history. As it is well-known, during World War I, the German-Hungarian allies melted almost all the bells, regardless of age, except one, who was the oldest, namely that in the Cotmeana monastery. Also the despair of the communists should be recalled, who in 1960, in turn, melted the bells, too.
The monastery’s walls are as old as the miracle-working icon of Virgin Mary. Many Christians choose Cotmeana monastery to pray. This Orthodox group is quite controversial, due to the exorcisms performed by the father Ioasaf. The scenes drawn from these rituals are beyond the imagination of any movie director, and every Friday, the monastery courtyard is full of people. There are also other types of people who pay a visit to Cotmeana monastery: people suffering from serious illness, looking for solace and healing. Some of them are so unfortunate, that it will take a mere visit to the monastery, in a Friday, to cause us to thank God for our health.

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