Saint Stephen the Great or Why Europe Has Such a Diverse Map

Yesterday, July 2nd, Saint Stephen the Great [en, wiki] was commemorated in Romania.

There is a large amount of information, mainly in Romanian, about Stephen the Great (we call him Ștefan cel Mare), but I am sure you all know how to use the “translate” function of Google Chrome.

It is rare in the history of a country to find a character who has defended an entire continent. Half of a millennium ago, Stephen the Great fought with the Ottoman Empire, which was the greatest threat to Europe. You can understand the effects of the Ottoman danger in Europe if you notice what happened on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. Many small countries and people are divided among them by criteria of religion, always fighting, and always having an issue for war. It is something characteristic of the inner essence of the people. The whole of Europe might have been the same if the geostrategic point of the Romanian countries, back then, Moldova (which incorporated what is now 3 other countries: Bucovina [en, wiki] region from Ukraine and Bessarabia region where there is now the Republic of Moldova [en, wiki] and Transnistria [en, wiki] a.k.a. The Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic), Transylvania and Muntenia (which also had the Cadrilater [en, wiki] region now appertaining to Bulgaria) would not have stood in the way of the Ottoman empire.

The main reason for the fight of Stephen the Great against the Turks was religion. The most significant part of Western Europe (Romania is in the center of the continent if you consider the actual dimensions of the continent, which geographically spreads from Gibraltar to Kazakhstan [en, wiki]) was Christian. The Ottoman Empire brought the Muslim religion wherever it reigned (see former Yugoslavia). Therefore, there were a lot of historical alliances between Moldova and Poland, Moldova and Hungary, and Moldova and the Vatican to ensure the safety of the Christian nations inside the continent. In those times, Poland was neighboring Moldova, a power in Central Europe.

Stephen the Great raised tens of churches and monasteries in all three Romanian countries and was cousin to Vlad Ţepeş, the legendary ruler of Muntenia.

The many storytellers who have written about Stephen the Great have neglected the historical facts and invented a lot of relationships that Stephen the Great allegedly had, out of which only one can be established for sure: his son, Petru Rareş [en, wiki], conceived outside matrimony was also the one who succeeded him in leading the country. Besides this historically recognized fact, Stephen the Great was a family man. Two of his wives and five of his children died. A tragic history, a heavy personal cross to bear for such a leader.

Stephen the Great lived for 40 years with a wound in one of his legs, which provoked great trouble. However, even in those circumstances, he had won impressive battles against the Ottoman Empire, proving the advantage of tactical strategy and using the ground for his benefit, even though the foreign armies were 2 or 3 times bigger than his.

Stephen the Great was declared a saint in 1992 [ro, htm] for the following things:

  • he defended the religion and his people to the death

  • he fought with grave difficulties and dangers to ensure greater freedom of faith

  • he has lived according to moral and religious principles

  • he has heroically defended and served the Church

  • he has won the appreciation of people without any pressure

Stephen the Great was voted in 2006 as the most significant Romanian who ever lived in history, by the people’s vote, after a national ranking and research being done for more than a year by the Romanian National Television.

You are free to do what you do right now due to this historical figure.

When I went to Chişinău [en, wiki], I was totally impressed when I saw that in front of the statue of Stephen the Great (see the picture in this article), in the Stephen the Great central park (the one where they have wireless AND sockets for laptops near the benches) there were always flowers. Each morning, people came and bent in front of the statue as a sign of respect. It was one of the most touching things I have ever assisted as a Romanian. I have never seen such respect for history and Romanian tradition as in the Republic of Moldova. If you want to study the values of Romanian, go there. It is a land of respect, much more than Romania today, for its values.

After Stephen, the Great, streets were named in all of Romania, but I haven’t seen one called “Ștefan cel Mare şi Sfânt” (Stephen the Great and the Saint). But the most crucial street in Chişinău mentions the quality of saint that Stephen the Great earned almost 20 years ago.

I sadly found only a few dozen of people at the Church when I went yesterday. So where were the rest of the Romanians, which now enjoyed the fact they could live in a free world?

Alas, a people forgetting his heroes is a people with no history.

Yesterday, as usual, only three people wished me a “happy anniversary” My birth (baptism) name is also Ştefan. And I have three main onomastic days: July 2nd (Saint Stephen the Great), December 27th (Saint Stephen), and November 28th (Saint Stephen the New Martyr).

(keep reading ↓)

Ștefan cel Mare – the film by Mircea Drăgan [full version]

Read more about Stephen the Great (in Romanian):

Saint Stephen the Great’s official website

Saint Stephen the Great’s akhatist

Sinaxar (The Orthodox Church’s entry for July 2nd)


The historical data and facts, chronologically

Alexandru Stanciulescu Barda

Marcus Victor Grant

Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant 2011-present, all rights reserved.

The materials on this blog are subject to this disclaimer.



3 thoughts on “Saint Stephen the Great or Why Europe Has Such a Diverse Map

  1. La Multi Ani! But really, how do you get to be a saint after killing so many people? That’s crazy talk. Don’t forget, Muslims are people too. And, remarkably, the wars in the former Yugoslavia were’t the fault of the Turks. Come on, now.


  2. The Moldavians did not invade The Ottoman Empire, it was the other way around. And Moldavians were people, too. They had rights. Like freedom and not be invaded. The wars in Yugoslavia are not the fault of the turks, they are a direct result from the results turks had by massacrating the original population and forcing them to convert to Islam. A part of the population of the countires of former Yugoslavia is Orthodox and another part is Muslim. From this, the wars came. Anyone studying the history will find this.


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