The Wooden Church from Bicaz, Maramures, Romania #Im4Ro

Dating back to 1779, the Wooden Church from Bicaz, Maramures county, Romania, still mothers a congregation, and as tiny as it may be it still represents the heart of a community of people with dreams, and hopes, and stories to tell.

Bicaz wooden church, Maramures, image source CodruCulturaMm
The carved entrance door of the Bicaz wooden church, Maramures, image source CodruCulturaMm

A Story inspired by the Wooden Church from Bicaz, Maramures

The church creaks as the five women stroll past; it isn’t the song of the wind that touches their sunburned faces. Their gait is hampered by age, their faces alight with the blessing of the moment.

The first one smiles as she touches the pillar by the wooden step. She’d made it through yet another day. Made it to the church stairs that have been set by her father, when she’s been but a fledgling. The meadow hugging the church was filled with dandelions that day and she’d filled her arms with them.

‘Dandelion fuzz
My hopes abuzz
The wind to blow,
My dreams to soar,’
she mouths the old rhyme.

Then the five women make their way between the ancient tree and the wooden church. The last one stops and rests her hand against the rough bark. Wrinkle on wrinkle. And smiles as she remembers the day she was asked, right here, to Sunday dance. It was by this tree. And the day she felt the first pangs of birth and leaned against its strong trunk. Yet not that strong for it didn’t hold her husband as he reached for his heart. Autumn last. She slaps her hand against the tree, It’s not his fault that her husband of a lifetime was gone. She sighs, it’s all she’s got left. And starts walking again.

The steps groan underfoot, the same sound that welcomed them since they were babes in their mothers’ arms. Brought here to be baptized. The same song that welcomed them on their wedding day. The same whisper of a prayer that matched theirs, as they brought their babies here for baptism. The same sob that escaped them as they climbed these steps to attend a funeral.

Five of them left.

They sit together on the porch, their feet barely touching the ground, as they did when they were lasses. As they did when they were maidens. As they did when clouds rolled on the sky, and bells sang people to the sermon.

They sit together, their common memory a thread that they still twist one more time. To hold as long as stars shine overhead.

Like the twisted rope engraved in the church’s steeple, to symbolize the strength of the sky.

Like the rosettes carved in the church’s wood, as stars, and the patterns of triangles that form crosses, like ribbons of stars. The promise of the afterlife.

Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.

You can take a virtual tour of this tiny Wooden Church from Bicaz, Maramures.

You can read more (in Romanian) about the wooden church of Bicaz, about Zona Codrului, Woodland Realm, and the project “Biserici de Lemn din Zona Codrului” here.

28 Replies to “The Wooden Church from Bicaz, Maramures, Romania #Im4Ro”

    1. Ah, thank you so much 🙂 This makes me happy!

      The video was created by the team behind ‘Codru Cultura Maramures’. 🙂
      Isn’t it incredible, that such a corner of the world still exists? 🙂

  1. Your stories are so… Romanian. Although they’re written in prose, they have the rhythm and the ancestral longing of a doina. Old custom, faith and communion intertwine and make for a fascinating story. Bravo!

      1. Not necessarily. Your stories should sound wonderful to the ear of non-Romanians as well. Besides, the visual imagery is outstanding as well. I so liked how you suggested that the husband died: „Yet not that strong for it didn’t hold her husband as he reached for his heart.” You’re good!

  2. That’s a beautiful story, Pat.

    By the way, I bought a copy of your 100-Word stories. I had the electronic copy, but I wanted to hold the book, look at the pictures and read before bed, I am enjoying it very much.

    I hope you have a nice weekend.

  3. Goodness, Dan, thank you so much!!! My heart if full, hearing that you wanted to hold my book 🙂 I am so pleased. Amazon does a good printing job. I hope you will approve 😉

    So glad you like the story, Dan. I watched the short video presenting the wooden church of Bicaz and the tale just took shape…

    1. I thought so too. 🙂 Although the community has a stone church too, as they call it. So I suppose the wooden one is a summer church. If you take the virtual tour you can see how tiny (and neat) it really is.
      Thanks, Jim!

  4. Certain places and structures carry so much significance and history. They are literally as important as people and they evoke much nostalgia. I loved how the five women relived the memories of their past days. A lovely one, Patricia. 🙂

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