Hancu Monastery (Manastirea Hancu)

Hancu Monastery is a nunnery situated in the Republic of Moldova. Founded in the second half of the 17th century (1678) by a Moldovan boyar, the house of worship initially bore the name of the guardian of Moldova, Holy St. Parascheva. But in time, the monastery started to go by the name of Hancu Monastery, after its founder, Mihalcea Hancu.

However, the monastic ensemble, meaning both the monastery and the adjacent buildings, was completely destroyed during the Tartar invasion, when the construction was set on fire. In these circumstances the nuns saw themselves obligated to leave behind their home in order to seek refuge. It was not until 1784 that new hermitages were constructed and the nuns were able to return to this place, where a wooden church was erected so as to allow the continuation of the religious service in the region.

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The monastery had carried on its peaceful monastic life for two centuries, but the 20th century had brought about troublesome times. Some of the monks were evicted, being sent to other monasteries while others were taken into custody and sent to prison in Braila. In this timeframe, the treasures of the monastery were taken over Prut River. The denouement was obvious: the monastery was closed – the unfortunate event occurred in September, 1949.

 

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The 20th century marks a grim period in the life of the monastic ensemble. The place was used for anything else except for the purpose for which it was intended. A hospice for pulmonary disease was constructed here and the summer church was transformed into an entertainment club for students. But the most damaging effects were distinguished in the graveyard. The tombs were dug up and all the valuable possessions encountered within the graves were stolen. Even more so, the crosses themselves were taken, thus the tombs remaining anonymous.

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The doors of the monastery stood closed for 43 years, but these reopened in 1992 when the monastery began its activity for the second time around. It was in this same year that the monastic life of the monastery was organized and the Hancu Monastery was properly established.

One of the most important hieromonks that have lived here was Dorotei, the one who had initiated an elaborate project in order to beautify and enhance the monastic ensemble. Besides the monastery, the hieromonk gave order for a building to be constructed where the members of the friary were to dwell. This edifice was equipped with 3 porches and included 12 rooms. The complex contained 6 separated homes – each containing 4 rooms.

 

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The additional buildings were hangars, carpentry workshops, a blacksmith’s shop as well as a distillery.  The monastery was encircled by means of 5 fountains. It was in this period that the monastery expanded greatly and became the most famous monastery located in Moldova.