Andrei Şaguna and “The Organic Statute” – Introduction

0.1 Overview of the research on the topic

The studies on the topic Andrei Şaguna – monographs, articles, books – could be basically classified according to the two criteria: the criterion of the theme, and the temporal criterion.

According to the thematic criterion there is – except for the collections of documents, letters, pastorals, etc. kept from Metropolitan Andrei Şaguna and posthumously edited in volumes – on the one hand, a category of works which focuses on the biographical, ecclesiastical, and political aspects of Şaguna’s life; on the other hand, there are works which deal with Şaguna’s ecclesiastical organization. Somewhat new from the viewpoint of the theme is a quite recent book written by Johann Schneider[1], who tries to focus on the theological and ecclesiological fundaments of Andrei Şaguna’s works and activity.

According to the second criterion – the temporal one – there are four major periods of time, when Andrei Şaguna was in attention of the scholarly research:

  1. The period between his death (1873) and the First World War – respectively the fall of the Austrian Empire and the addition of Transylvania to the Old Romanian Kingdom (1918) – is characterized, almost exclusively, by the effort to underline the biographical and political aspects. This period is basically represented by the important monographs about Andrei Şaguna, written by Nicolae Popea[2] – his secretary and vicar – and by the commemorative collective work[3] edited to celebrate the centenary of the metropolitan’s birth. The collection of documents[4] referring to the reestablishment of the Metropolitanate of Transylvania, edited by Ilarion Puşcariu, belongs also to this period, and it could be indirectly considered a very important documentation source on Andrei Şaguna. “The Organic Statute” was for the first time in 1914 reprinted and commented[5] by Ioan A. de Preda. Some valuable articles[6] containing inedited documents were published in theological, cultural, or historical magazines, at the beginning of the twentieth century.
  1. The period between the two World Wars could be named the epoch of Andrei Şaguna as a canonist; the political unification of Romania after the First World War led to a necessary unification of the canonical legislation and organization of the Romanian Orthodox Church, and determined a big interest and debates on the Transylvanian Church’s organization conceived by Andrei Şaguna. In this respect, the most important works are those written by Gheorghe Ciuhandu[7], Ioan Mateiu[8], Valer Moldovan[9], and Liviu Stan. Canonist Liviu Stan (1910-1973) wrote an important historical-canonistical study on the participation of the lay people in exercising the Church power[10] – the most contested point of Şaguna’s ecclesiastical organization until the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). Apart of these canonistical works are also worth considering: the editing of Andrei Şaguna’s memories[11] by the consistory of the Archbishopric of Sibiu; a collection of Şaguna’s pastoral and circular letters[12] edited by Gheorghe Tulbure; a collection of sermons[13] edited by Florea Mureşanu; many articles, some of them commemorative – dedicated to the half-centenary of Andrei Şaguna’s death (1923) -, or on the church organization.
  1. The Communist period in Romania (1947-1989) was not a lucky one for the researches on Andrei Şaguna, who was forbidden up to 1960 because of his political vision which was loyal to the monarchy (all his life the metropolitan was loyal to the Habsburg House and to the Austrian Monarchy), and then over-nationalized by the Communist historiography.[14]

Thus, during this period, the most important works on Andrei Şaguna were written by the North American historian Keith Hitchins[15], who is recognized to be one of the best specialists in the religious and national-political rapports by the Transylvanian Romanians in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.[16]

In this arid period, is not without importance the attentive activity of the theologian Theodor Bodogae, who found in archives, translated and published in theological and historical magazines some pieces of great value of Andrei Şaguna’s correspondence, and documents concerning him.[17] It could be also added some commemorative articles published in theological or literary magazines of the time.

Many articles of this period share with the first period mentioned the same feature: Andrei Şaguna is presented as a nationalist politician (even a revolutionary one). The principle of the ecclesiastical constitutionalism – expressed by the lay people participation in the mixed church assemblies organized by Andrei Şaguna – was subjective and ungrounded transferred to politics, which was not Şaguna’s intention; the metropolitan was an avowed supporter of non-interference of religion and politics.

  1. The post-Communist epoch (from 1990 up to now) is characterized by a slight return to the research on Andrei Şaguna. Several works could be mentioned: the commemorative collective volume[18] edited by the Archbishopric of Cluj, in 2003; the doctoral thesis of the German Protestant theologian Johann Schneider[19] published in 2005; two volumes of Andrei Şaguna’s correspondence[20], the first volume in two parts edited in 2005, respectively 2007, the second one in 2008, all of them at Cluj-Napoca; the most recent commemorative volume[21] edited by the Metropolitanate of Transylvania and the Theological Faculty “Andrei Şaguna” of Sibiu, in 2008.

Although the bibliography about Andrei Şaguna is quite abundant[22], there is no systematic research on Andrei Şaguna as a canonist and church organizer. The above mentioned work on the constitutional principle within the Church – written by canonist Liviu Stan between the two World Wars – remains fundamental for the understanding of the traditionalist but at the same time visionary[23] character of the canonist and church organizer Andrei Şaguna. But, even if it is very well done, necessary and still actual, this study does not cover the entire dimension of Andrei Şaguna as a canonist.

In addition, the specialized researches from the second half of the twentieth century, made by historian Keith Hitchins, lead to a shift of Andrei Şaguna’s image: the canonist was outshined by the church leader (implicitly a political leader, in the Transylvanian context of the nineteenth century), the former being almost unknown to the canonists’ research of the last six-seven decades.

Moreover, while the results of Keith Hitchins’s researches were internationalized by many English and some German and French articles and books, Andrei Şaguna the canonist remained accessible only to the Romanian language readers, and to a small circle of specialists who could/can still find in few libraries some of Şaguna’s canonistical works translated in German in the nineteenth century.

Not at least, many valuable bibliographical resources on the metropolitan’s personality and on the multi-confessional Transylvanian context remained unknown, or not easy accessible the contemporary researchers, and subsequently less appreciated and under-utilized.

All these reasons together with the fact that at the beginning of 2009 the Romanian Orthodox Church celebrated the bicentenary of Andrei Şaguna’s birth determined us to try another approach on the metropolitan’s personality. The purpose of this thesis is to rediscover and re-evaluate the first modern Romanian Orthodox canonist and church organizer, the forefather of the Romanian Orthodox Church’s constitution.

0.2 The period under research

 The premises of this research go before the epoch of Andrei Şaguna, precisely toward the sixteenth century in Transylvania. The social-political and religious frame where canonist Andrei Şaguna lived and worked dates back to this century and to the later history of Transylvania and Central Europe. One can not fully and objectively evaluates Şaguna’s canonistical conception and church organization without pointing up the social-political-religious context.

Even if they were the majority, the Orthodox Romanians of Transylvania had been deprived of corporative rights since 1514, both as nation and as confession. These two inequities were simultaneous legislated. Then, at the end of the seventeenth century and the beginning of the eighteenth century, the religious problem (with social-political implications) grew worse, by political promoting and sustaining of the Union with the Church of Rome in Transylvania. These historical events, which took place hundreds years before Andrei Şaguna, marked whole his activity in Transylvania, in the second half of the nineteenth century.

The research focuses upon the epoch when Andrei Şaguna lived (1809-1873), especially upon the period when he was the church leader of the Orthodox Romanians of Hungary and Transylvania (1846-1873). Second, it attempts to cover the time after his death, the way Andrei Şaguna the canonist was regarded up to the present, and the perspectives his canonistical thought and works offer for the future.

 0.3 The sources

 In order to achieve an as detailed and objective research as possible, we studied all the Romanian and foreign accessible works published from the nineteenth century to the present day, directly or indirectly connected with the topic Andrei Şaguna.

The used sources are:

– all canonistical writings of Andrei Şaguna and a big part of his other writings: historical works, correspondence, articles in newspapers – especially in “The Romanian Telegraph” (“Telegraful Român”) -, sermons, political speeches, pastoral letters and circulars;

– documents from the archives of Sibiu, Vienna, Budapest, Bucharest or Serbia, published either in collections (that edited by Ilarion Puşcariu is the most important) or at random, in theological, literary and historical magazines. Because during the twentieth century there were several specialists who strived to find, translate and publish many documents of great value, we have only tried to utilize all that had already been discovered and edited but remained still quasi-unknown, a couple of them being published in small, specialized, difficult to find magazines. Moreover, the repeated attempts to discover new things in the archives of the Metropolitanate of Sibiu showed that this takes both a long time and specialized scientific means[24], and that the historians are the most suitable persons to perform such a research;

– Romanian and foreign monographs about Andrei Şaguna;

– Romanian and foreign collections of laws and canons;

– theological magazines published in Bucharest, Czernowitz, Iaşi, Sibiu, Timişoara, etc. or abroad, and some historical and literary Romanian and foreign publications;

– Romanian and foreign historical, juridical and theological works, compendiums, encyclopaedias and dictionaries;

– e-articles and e-maps, published on Internet, whose web site addresses and access date are added at the final bibliography.

The used bibliography is listed only at the end of the thesis, because we have not thought to be necessary to list it in every chapter.

Because of the dimension of the thesis, in the footnotes we use to mention a shortened bur clear version of the titles of the cited books and articles, the entire title being available (translated into English, when necessary) just in the listed bibliography, at the end. In order to do not complicate the finally list of the used bibliography, some of works used occasionally, in connexion with the main subject of the thesis but not essential for it, are mentioned just in the footnotes with the entire name of the author/s, title, year and place of editing.

0.4 Content and method

 The thesis is structured in two scientific fields: religious law and Orthodox canon law.

The first chapter is a historical one, aiming to present some dates important to the accurate understanding of the topic in discussion.

The chapters II, III and IV belong to the religious law field, entire Andrei Şaguna’s biography being marked by the legal system of the deeply confessionalized Austrian Monarchy. These chapters are organized according to the major periods of the metropolitan’s life.

The chapters V, VI and VII belong to the Orthodox canon law field. The chapter V deals with Andrei Şaguna’s canonistical works and church constitution, the chapter VI clarifies the canonical principles of Andrei Şaguna’s church organization. The specificity, reception and evolution of Şaguna’s ecclesiastical organization are the topic of the chapter VII.

The chapter VIII structures the conclusions of the research and outlines some perspectives which the life and works of the Transylvanian metropolitan open both to the present religious law and canon law.

For the first chapters – those on religious law – the descriptive method is preferential. The purpose is to underline those aspects which were not yet explicitly analysed by the researchers: how the life of an Romanian Orthodox family in Transylvania and Hungary of the nineteenth century mirrors the unjust law system of the confessionalized society (new, less known or misinterpreted biographical aspects from the metropolitan’s childhood and youth); Andrei Şaguna’s approach and his way of action in order to contribute to the change of that unjust law system; in addition to it and based on documents and on Keith Hitchins’ researches, the clarification of  Andrei Şaguna’s political implication, for to undermine the Communist myth about “Andrei Şaguna – the revolutionary nationalist”.

For the chapters on canon law the inductive method is preferential. Firstly the sources were studied; then the topics referring to canon law were collected and well structured, even if they were not found always systematically but also “accidentally” approached in some sources. This helped a systematic presentation of the canonist Andrei Şaguna. It becomes clearer the fact that canonist Andrei Şaguna cannot be reduced to some canon law topics (such as the church constitutionalism), but he is a prolific canonist.

We use to contextualize the actions, works and canonistical conception of Andrei Şaguna, in order to bring a more exactly perspective on his personality. His value as a canonist and church organizer becomes more understandable when is analyzed in the context of the Orthodox canon law and Tradition, but also in connexion with the Church frame in Europe of the nineteenth century and with the Western canon law. Sometimes we explain and compare, especially in the footnotes, some canon law topics common to the East and West, but differently understood and interpreted by the Orthodox and Catholic Church.

Some previous opinions and misinterpretations of Andrei Şaguna are openly and directly criticized.

As a permanent work mode it was chosen to quote Andrei Şaguna and to write these quotations in italics, so that they can be easily recognized. There are also abundantly quoted – in Latin, German and English – documents from archives which are quasi-unknown in Romania and abroad, with the purpose to make them popular for more researchers.

As for the question of which form of proper names to use, we have tried to be as clear as possible, using in the most of the cases the original name of the persons, but the form of the name of the cities most likely to be familiar today. This can lead to some inconsistency: so, for example, Czernowitz, Olmütz, Karlowitz or Werschetz (German names of these cities in the Austrian Monarchy, today called Chernivtsi, Olomouc, Sremski Karlovci, Vršac), but Sibiu, Cluj-Napoca, Alba-Iulia (Romanian names of these cities, called in the Austrian Monarchy in German Hermannstadt, Klausenburg, Weißenburg). In spite of this, we hope that it will be clear which is being referred to. We decided to use in the thesis some words which describe organs of the ecclesiastical organization in their Romanian form, because the English translation for such words either does not exist, or reflects another reality as the Romanian one. Moreover, there are some differences of the meaning of them even within Orthodoxy, every local Orthodox Church having its proper church constitution, its proper organization, sometimes proper ecclesiastical organizational terms, which do not cover one and the same reality everywhere in the Ecumenical Orthodox Church. So, for example, we use “protopope” for what in the West is usually called “the church dean”, “protopopiate” for the Western “deanery” or “deanship”.



[1] Johann SCHNEIDER, Der Hermannstädter Metropolit Andrei von Şaguna. Reform und Erneuerung der orthodoxen Kirche in Siebenbürgen und Ungarn nach 1848, Köln 2005.

[2] Nicolau POPEA, Archiepiscopul şi Metropolitul Andreiu baron de Şaguna, Sibiiu 1879; IDEM, Memorialul Archiepiscopului şi Metropolitului Andreiu baron de Şaguna sau luptele naţionale-politice ale românilor, 1846-1873, Tomul I, Sibiiu 1889.

[3] Mitropolitul Andreiu baron de Şaguna. Scriere comemorativă la serbarea centenară a naşterii lui, Sibiiu 1909.

[4] Ilarion PUŞCARIU, Metropolia românilor ortodocşi din Ungaria şi Transilvania. Studiu istoric despre reînfiinţarea metropoliei, dimpreuna cu o colecţiune de acte, Sibiiu 1900.

[5] Ioan A. de PREDA, Constituţia bisericei gr.-or. române din Ungaria şi Transilvania sau Statutul organic comentat şi cu concluzele şi normele referitoare întregit, Sibiiu 1914.

[6] Gheorghe ALEXICI, Date noi la viaţa lui Şaguna, in: Foaia Diecesană XVIII (1903), No. 7, 1-3; Eugen TODORAN, Documente istorice. Acte privitoare la lupta Anastasiei Şaguna pentru apărarea copiilor săi şi a credinţei strămoşeşti, in: Transilvania XLII (1910), No. 4, 184-195; IDEM, Documente istorice. 2. Acte privitoare la Evreta Şaguna, fratele mitropolitului Andreiu. 3. Acte privitoare la Ecaterina Şaguna, sora mitropolitului Andreiu, in: Transilvania XLII (1910), No. 5, 360-372; IDEM, Documente istorice. 4. Acte privitoare la reîntoarcerea lui Atanasiu Şaguna în sînul bisericii strămoşeşti, in: Transilvania XLII (1910), No. 6, 455-461.

[7] Gheorghe CIUHANDU, Reorganizarea Mitropoliei transilvane, Arad 1920; IDEM, Câteva observări în chestiunea unificării bisericeşti în legătură cu Statutul organic ardelean, in: BOR XL (1922), No. 12, 882-897; IDEM, Reorganizarea centrelor noastre ierarhice şi unificarea bisericească, Bucureşti 1923.

[8] Ioan MATEIU, Contribuţiuni la istoria dreptului bisericesc, Bucureşti 1922; IDEM, Cercetări privitoare la Constituţia Bisericii Ortodoxe din Ardeal, Cluj 1922; IDEM, Mirenii şi drepturile lor în Biserică, Cluj 1938; IDEM, Şaguna şi restaurarea Mitropoliei transilvane, Sibiu 1943.

[9] Valer MOLDOVAN, Biserica Ortodoxă Română şi problema unificării. Studiu de drept bisericesc, Cluj 1921; IDEM, Principiile fundamentale ale organizaţiei bisericeşti de astăzi, Cluj 1933.

[10] Liviu STAN, Mirenii în biserică. Importanţa elementului mirean în Biserică şi participarea lui la exercitarea puterii bisericeşti, Sibiu 1939.

[11] Andrei ŞAGUNA, Memoriile din anii 1846-1871, publicate de consistoriul Arhidiecezei Ortodoxe Române de Alba-Iulia şi Sibiu, la aniversarea a 50-a dela adormirea în Domnul a marelui arhiereu, Sibiu 1923.

[12] Gheorghe TULBURE, Mitropolitul Şaguna. Opera literară. Scrisori pastorale. Circulări şcolare. Diverse, Sibiu 1938.

[13] Andreiu ŞAGUNA, Predici. Cu un studiu introductiv de preotul Florea Mureşanu, Cluj 1945.

[14] More about this period see at J. SCHNEIDER, Der Hermannstädter Metropolit, 20-23; P. BRUSANOWSKI, Reforma constituţională, 11.

[15] Keith HITCHINS, The Early Career of Andreiu Şaguna, 1808-1849, in: Revue des Études Roumaines, IX-X (1961-1962), 47-76; IDEM, The Rumanians of Transylvania and the Constitutional Experiment in the Habsburg Monarchy, 1860-1865, in: Balkan Studies V (1964), 89-108; IDEM, Andrei Şaguna and the Restoration of the Rumanian Orthodox Metropolis in Transylvania, 1846-1868, in: Balkan Studies VI (1965), 3-22; IDEM, Andrei Şaguna şi românii din Transilvania în timpul decadei absolutiste, 1849-1859, in: Idem, Studii privind istoria modernă a Transilvaniei, Cluj-Napoca 1970, 13-58; IDEM, Andreiu Şaguna and Joseph Rajačić: the Rumanian and Serbian Churches in the Decade of Absolutism, in: Revue des Études Sud-Est européennes X (1972), No. 3, 567-579; IDEM, Orthodoxy and Nationality. Andreiu Şaguna and the Rumanians of Transylvania 1846-1873, Harvard 1977 (=Ortodoxie şi naţionalitate. Andrei Şaguna şi românii din Transilvania 1846-1873, Bucureşti 1995); IDEM, Andrei Şaguna şi revoluţia de la 1848, in: MA XXIX (1984), No. 3-4, 196-205; IDEM, Biserică şi naţiune în gândirea lui Andrei Şaguna, in: Mitropolitul Andrei Şaguna – creator de epocă în istoria Bisericii Ortodoxe din Transilvania, Sibiu 2008, 73-77.

[16] Keith Hitchins’s credibility and value consists, among other things, in his studies on the history of south-east Europe at Harvard, continued at Paris, in his researches at Vienna, Budapest and Sibiu, in the fact that he masters an essential Romanian, Hungarian and Austrian bibliography, and knows rare, valuable archive materials. “Nobody before him was more insistent, as far as the history of Transylvania of the nineteenth century is concerned, to research the fabulous richness of archives and libraries. […] Helped by the progress of the studies on the [Austrian] Empire and its metamorphosis, issued by Austrian and American researchers, and studying the national historiographies of the successive countries, Keith Hitchins systematically compared the internal facts to the general context.” P. TEODOR, Preface at K. HITCHINS, Ortodoxie şi naţionalitate, 9-10.

Cf. Keith HITCHINS, The Rumanian national movement in Transylvania, 1780-1849, Harvard 1969; IDEM, Conştiinţă naţională şi acţiune politică la românii din Transilvania (1700-1868), Cluj-Napoca 1987; IDEM, The Idea of Nation among the Romanians of Transylvania, 1700-1849, in: Nation and National Ideology. Past, Present and Prospects, Proceedings of the international Symposium held at the New Europe College of Bucharest, April 6-7, 2001, Bucharest 2002, 78-110.

[17] Theodor BODOGAE, Dintr-o corespondenţă  timişoreană de acum 100 de ani. 15 scrisori de la Andrei Saguna către protopopul Meletie Drăghici, in: MB IX (1959), No. 3-4, 27-40; IDEM, Două scrisori ale lui Şaguna către Vuk Karagici, in: MA X (1965), No. 10, 678-682; IDEM, Un capitol din istoria relaţiilor culturale sîrbo române.  Acte inedite din corespondenţa lui Şaguna, in: MA XV (1970), No. 7-8, 525-556; IDEM, Neue Angaben hinsichtlich der Beziehungen des Metropoliten Andreas Şaguna zu Baron Simeon Sina, in: Revue des Études Sud-Est européennes IX (1971), No. 1, 121-129; IDEM, Documente inedite privitoare la istoria învăţămîntului teologic din Transilvania, in: BOR XC (1972), No. 11-12, 1217-1226.

[18] In memoriam: Mitropolitul Andrei Şaguna 1873-2003, Cluj-Napoca 2003.

[19] Johann SCHNEIDER, Der Hermannstädter Metropolit Andrei von Şaguna. Reform und Erneuerung der orthodoxen Kirche in Siebenbürgen und Ungarn nach 1848, Köln 2005.

[20] Andrei ŞAGUNA, Corespondenţa I/1, ediţie, studiu introductiv şi note de Nicolae Bocşan, Ioan-Vasile Leb, Gabriel Gârdan, Pavel Vesa, Bogdan Ivanov, Cluj-Napoca 2005; IDEM, Corespondenţa I/2, ediţie, studiu introductiv şi note de Nicolae Bocşan, Ioan-Vasile Leb, Gabriel-Viorel Gârdan, Bogdan Ivanov, Vasa Lupulovici, Ioan Herbil, Cluj-Napoca 2007; IDEM, Corespondenţa II, ediţie, studiu introductiv şi note de Nicolae Bocşan, Gabriel-Viorel Gârdan, Ioan-Vasile Leb, Beatrice Dobozi, Cluj-Napoca 2008.

[21] Mitropolitul Andrei Şaguna – creator de epocă în istoria Bisericii Ortodoxe din Transilvania, Sibiu 2008.

[22] Cf. Mircea PĂCURARIU, Mitropolitul Andrei Şaguna în istoriografie, in: Mitropolitul Andrei Şaguna – creator de epocă în istoria Bisericii Ortodoxe din Transilvania, Sibiu 2008, 41-54; Ana GRAMA, Memoria urmaşilor: Secvenţe, in: Transilvania XXXVII/CXIII (2008), No. 9-10, 119-129.

[23] The Roman Catholic Church will revive the active participation of the lay people in the Church life and organization only a century after Andrei Şaguna, by the Second Vatican Council.

[24] In this respect see Ana GRAMA, Fondurile şaguniene – o moştenire inestimabilă în Arhiva Mitropoliei Ardealului, in: Mitropolitul Andrei Şaguna – creator de epocă în istoria Bisericii Ortodoxe din Transilvania, Sibiu 2008, 388-422.


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