Lipovans are descendants of the Old-believers who fled from Russia in the 17-18th centuries. They agreed to tolerate social disorders for the ability to freely conduct the Divine services and occasional religious rites, which were prohibited in Russia on par with the law at that time. Old-believers, who migrated from Russia, settled along the Danube, in Transcarpathia, founded their villages, built churches in them, observed church feasts, talked to each other in Russian, preserved traditions in lifestyle, clothing, family structure, and developed folk crafts.
Professor F. Chirila notes that the emigration of Russian Old-believers to Romania took place in stages. One of the first Russian settlements on the territory of Romania was the village of Lipoveni, which is near the city of Suceava. Here, in the dense linden tree (lipa) forest, the Old-believers took refuge from the persecution of the Russian authorities. Hence, according to some scholars, the term “lipovans” originated . According to another version, the term is derived from the words “Philippovtsy”, “Philippons” – after the so called representatives of one of the Old-believers’ denominations.
In 1743, the village of Manolea was founded (in Lipovan – Manylovka, in Russian – Manuylovka). It has long become the spiritual center of the Old-believer emigrants. Here to this day, there are female and male monasteries. In the male monastery, the famous Russian dogmatist Feodor Evfimovich Melnikov spent his twilight years and wrote the final works of his life. He is still remembered by the old residents of Manuylovka; monks carefully tend to his grave, located on the territory of the monastery.
Later, in the second half of the 18th century, settlements appeared in regions of the country’s southern border: Slava Rusa, Carcaliu, Jurilovca. Over time, Romania officially recognised the Russian Lipovans as its citizens, allowing them to enter their name given at baptism into their passport almost invariably, changing the Russian name to the Romanian style: the Mironovs received the last name Miron, the Filippovs – Filip, etc.
Today in Romania there are more than one hundred thousand Russian Lipovans. On the territory of Romania there are more than 70 villages in which the Russian Lipovan (Old-believer) population predominates. They are located mainly along the northeastern and southeastern territories of Romania (in Bukovina, Moldova, Dobrudja and Muntenia (Wallachia). In a number of cities, entire quarters are populated by Russian Lipovans: these are cities such as Bucharest, Tulcea, Constanza, Braila, Galati, Iasi, Suceava, Botosani and others.
Old-believers in Romania recognise the Belokrinitskaya hierarchy and the legitimacy of the accession to the Church in 1846 of the Bosno-Sarajevan Metropolitan Ambrose. Metropolitan Cyril (Timofeev) was ordained by Metropolitan Ambrose.
Metropolitan Cyril, in turn, ordained Archbishop Anthony (Shutov), who went to Russia and laid the foundation of the Belokrinitskaya hierarchy’s Moscow Metropolitanate. Romania
forms its own Metropolitanate, isolated from Russia due to the persecutions of the Old-believers, the bishops of which have always been in the rank of metropolitans.
Primates of the Orthodox Old-Rite Church in Romania :
• Cyril (Timofeev) (January 4, 1849 – December 2, 1873)
• Athanasius (Makurov) (May 9, 1874 – October 1, 1905)
• Macarius (Lobov) (September 10, 1906 – January 2, 1921)
• Nicodemus (Fedotov) (September 24, 1924 – October 15, 1926)
• Paphnutius (Fedoseev) (June 8, 1928 – April 8, 1939)
• Silvanus (Kravtsov) (July 9, 1939 – January 5, 1941)
• Innocent (Usov) (May 10, 1941 – February 16, 1942)
• Tikhon (Kachalkin) (April 12, 1942 – March 4, 1968)
• Joasaph (Timothy) (December 15, 1968 – February 16, 1985)
• Timon (Gavrilov) (June 1, 1985 – August 8, 1996)
• Leontius (Izot) (from October 27, 1996)
Existing within the borders of the Romanian Metropolitanate today are the following dioceses:
• Belokrinitskaya-Bucharestian Diocese – Metropolitan Leontius (Izot)
• Brailan Vicariate – Bishop Gennadius (Timofey)
• Tulcean Diocese – Bishop Paisius (Halkim)
• Slava Diocese – Archbishop Flavian (Fedya)
• Bukovino-Moldavian Diocese – Archbishop Nathanael (Ikim)
• The Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia – Archbishop Sofrony (Lipalit).
According to its administrative structure, the Old Believers Church of Romania is similar to the Russian Orthodox Old-Rite Church.