Yesterday myself and 3 students from University of Manchester, Hulme Hall, arrived in Bucharest to experience Romania and help out at St Gabriel’s Children’s home. We’ve received an incredibly warm welcome from the staff at FARA’s St Gabriel’s. Tomorrow we travel to the countryside to join the children of St Gabriel’s on their holiday.
Today, our friend Ines took us to visit the 2nd biggest building in the world, the House of the People, or as it now know the Palace of Parliament – an incredible sight, staggering wealth in the face of the poverty of the Romanian economy. From the balcony one can see the one remaining house of the village demolished by Ceausescu to build the palace. Inside, over 1000 rooms, walls and floors nearly entirely marble, including the last of the pink marble, ever to be found in Romania, every detail made in Romania, every room different. The Ceausescus’ demise came before the completion of the palace, which is now home to 5,000 Government employees.
A stark contrast to the bustle of central Bucharest is the Village Museum, an outdoor museum of over 300 historical buildings from across Romania dating from neolithic throughout the ages, demonstrating traditional houses, costumes and crafts. The picutre shows a painted Orthodox Chapel from 1773, with many of the paintings still visible, inside and out.
But the gem of our day in Bucharest today for me was peeping into a tiny Orthodox Church in the city. We walked in just as the priest picked up a baby to baptise him – the chapel crowed by family, flowers and candles. Seeing the baby fully submerged in the water 3 times, having been at the School baptism and confirmation on Friday, (see the Blog post here) was a moving experience – a very different ceremony, a very different city, but the same baptism – as carved into the font at St Chrysostoms’, ‘One Faith, One Baptism’… and being with the people of St Gabriel’s shows how much we’re part of the one family.