Catholic Episcopal Cathedral “Saint Virgin Mary, Queen”

The Iași Catholic Episcopal Ensemble is comprised of the Episcopal Palace, “The Assumption of Mary” Church, the “Saint Virgin Mary, Queen” Cathedral, the Cathedral Square and an alignment of buildings with the façade towards Ștefan cel Mare Boulevard, currently rented to some shops.

The “Assumption of Mary” Church or “Old Cathedral” is the oldest Roman-Catholic dwelling kept in Iași, built during 1782-1789. In the 16th century, a Franciscan wooden church existed on the current spot, deeply damaged during the invasions of Kazaks and Tatars and after the fires in 1660 and 1766. The stone edifice was sanctified on the 15th of August 1789 by the prefect of the Franciscan Mission in Moldavia, priest Fidelis Rochi. The church represents a special example of Baroque art in Moldavia. The exterior is marked through the simplicity of shapes: the trefoil plane, the tower’s cylinder shape placed above the entrance and the stone lace shaped as arches under the roof. On the south-west corner of the church we can see a solar clock dating back to 1813. Inside, the main altar, made in Padua, is dominated by a monumental painting representing the Virgin’s Ascension, with three marble medallions brought from Venice. In the left altar St. Francis of Assisi dominates, and on the right, the Franciscan saints: St. Anton of Padua, Buenaventura and Joseph of Copertino, patron of students. The church painting was made in 1869, by the Franciscan monk Giuseppe Carta of Palermo, being inspired by the works of the great Tiziano Vecellio. On the ceiling there is a large, round painting called the “Engagement” (of Virgin Mary to Joseph), copy after the work of the great Renaissance painter Rafael (Raffaello Sanzio).

Nearby, the “Saint Virgin Mary, Queen” Cathedral (2005) is the biggest Roman-Catholic church in Iași, serving today as an Episcopal cathedral. It was built after the plans of the architect Gheorghe Hereș, the foundation stone was placed on the 15th of August 1990 by the Holy Bishop Petru Gherghel and the sanctification took place in 2005. The cathedral is 36 m high and has a circular shape; with the 24 pointed arches and the cross on top pointed towards the sky, the cathedral looks like a crown, invoking the royalty of Christ. The circular shape symbolizes the sky, the infinite, the eternity, the perfection. The 12-star carpet leads to the altar, to the central icon of Virgin Mary. On the icon’s sides, there are four scenes of the Virgin’s life, in mosaic. Vertically, the dome represents the sky and the rays which descend on the four pillars, and the chandelier with the monogram of Christ is a replica of the dome. The balcony mosaïc which begins from the icon of Virgin Mary symbolizes the history of salvation, with the passions of Christ. The visitor will be astounded by the 117 stained-glass windows representing the Genesis on the left, the Sacraments on the right, the mysteries of the rosary on the balconies and the Cosmos on the pointed arches. On the doors, the three stages of Christian initiation are represented: Baptism, Unction, Eucharist, reminding the words of Christ: “I am the door, if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved”.

The Episcopal Palace nearby leads the Diocese in Iași, a territory which covers the region of Moldavia. In its basement, there is a memorial for the martyr bishop Anton Durcovici, victim of the communist terror, beatified in 2014 in Iași during a solemn ceremony. The cathedral’s square is shaped like a fish, invoking the hidden sign used by the first Christians.

Bulevardul Ștefan cel Mare și Sfânt nr. 26, Iași 700064
Photo by Andrei Cucu

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