Marcus Monastery is a blessed place, one that Father Arsenie Boca described as a ‘holy place’. In this place, 60 years ago, Abbess Serafima’s grandmother, Suzana, built a monastery that later was demolished during the Communist times. The monastery was built after a dream in which Our Lady showed her where to lay the foundation. Scared, grandma Suzana asked Father Arsenie Boca for advice: “Suzana, you will build a monastery there, but it will not last long. This regime will be gone, another world will emerge, but someone from your family will rebuild it and it will last”. These were the words of Father Arsenie Boca said to Suzana Comsa. Father Arsenie loved this place and used to pray here very often. Suzana Comsa’s grandmother died in 1994 and got to see the first works to the new monastery.
Mother Serafima rebuilt the sanctuary, establishing a Nuns Convent there, but also took on the responsibility of raising 11 orphans, who were given into her care at the very young ages of 2, 3 and 4 months old. The children were abandoned in hospitals, many of them in poor health, suffering from rickets, mental and emotional disabilities and with no one to comfort them.
The holiness of this place is perhaps most immediately visible in the joy of these little children. During the Divine Liturgy they recite powerful prayers along with the Creed, filling the pilgrims’ eyes with tears. The monastery is filled with little angels, with ages between 11 months and 8 years (10 girls from 7 to 8 years of age, one of 11 months and one boy). They know the liturgical hymns by heart; they receive Communion every Sunday and obey the rituals of the monastery with great respect, under the guidance of Abbess Serafima, whom they call, with great love, ‘Mom’.
“During one meal, children eat ‘a whole bar of salami’ says the Abbess, who is very concerned with providing the daily food for these children. In these extremely harsh economic times, with wages 40% lower than before, with major protests, popular discontent and increased prices on food, fuel and energy, she is also worried about getting the wood for the winter and gasoline for transportation. “It’s a huge difference” says the Abbess “considering the donations from pilgrims on our days and the ones from previous years. People are so affected by this economical crisis, that they come to the monastery and donate one “leu” (equivalent of 30 cents). The situation becomes more difficult in the winter when pilgrims cannot reach the monastery because the road is not accessible due to weather conditions, despite the mayor’s promises to fix the road and facilitate the access to the monastery.
Mother Serafima is strict and careful about every detail regarding children’s education. She is also kind and loving to them, despite her overwhelming worries about the near future. In the same time, hope is sparkling in Abbess Serafima’s eyes, warmly welcoming the pilgrims, and inviting them to share a meal with the family that she hostess at Marcus Monastery.
During Divine Liturgy, the hills of Marcus joyfully resound with the crystalline voices of ten little children that are praying to their Heavenly Father:”I believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and hearth …” They ask for their daily bread reciting “Our Father” with pure and melodious voices along with Holy God and the Hymn of the Holy Theotokos. We join them as we call on all those who have an open heart to help the needy and the ones who strongly believe that eternal life is gained through sacrifice. The monastery is located on the National Highway Marcus Saint Gheorghe-Ozun-Brasov, close to Marcus village, 19 km from Sf. Gheorghe and 22 km from Brasov. Let us create a bridge of light between this place and all of us living overseas, and let us meet somewhere in the middle and lift our hearts in prayers to the One that gives us the Light, Christ our Savior.
Prayers and blessings of this monastery will accompany those who want to help this wonderful mission. Donations can be made to the orphanage through Saint Paraskeva Orthodox Charity or directly to “Saint Justina” Association, founded by Abbess Serafima Comsa.