A Biography of St. Arsenie Boca

On January 23, 2012 by admin

Father Arsenie Boca: on the Path of a Saint

At Prislop Monastery in Romania situated near Ancient Dacia in an outstanding landscape, a wood cross is reigning over a tomb covered with flowers in permanent blooming. The man buried inside is an unknown miracle; Father Arsenie Boca, one of the greatest illuminates of Orthodoxy, considered a saint by all the fortunate souls who had the chance to meet him during their lifetime. Strong, unshaken in faith, he passed the “red” desserts of atheism and the terrors of the communist prisons without deviating from the righteous path he followed along with many Christians. Adored by people for his sermons and miracles, feared by the authorities of the times due to his high influence, Father Arsenie died as a martyr; yet the trail of light he left to us is blinking even in our days among us.

Father Arsenie Boca came into this world in a small village in the Carpatian mountains. Born on September 29, 1910 in Vata de Sus (Romania), he was the only child of a good standing family. He finished the high school in Brad, where he is distinguished by his profound thinking and intuition. He entered the Theology seminary in Sibiu finishing the studies in Ceranauti, currently Moldavia; He has proved to be a great artistic talent and as a consequence he was sent to Bucharest for a second degree in fine arts.

 

One of his paintings

After graduating the Fine Arts, he attended the 3rd school- thge University of Medicine.

When he finished the three years he was sent by His Holyness Metropolitan Balan to Mount Athos to a Romanian skete (a very small monastery with a few monks).

His short staying in Athos brought him the first spiritual experiences. There he kept fasting for periods up to forty days, as he would later recall to a few Christians (note: in his case fasting probably meant eating nothing at all or only a bit of bread to drink water).

In Mount Athos he will experience Divine visions and consolations.

Many people would come from faraway places, even on foot just to meet Father Arsenie.

The people who desired the Holy Communion were taken by Father Arsenie to a spring up on the mountain. There he would keep them for 7 days and nights eating only bread and honey. All this time they prayed together and listen to sermons. Whoever was not fasting and ate something else, like meat…he was invited to leave the place. In the morning Father Arsenie came into the cells where the Christians slept together like brothers and selected only the ones he thought were prepared for confession and sharing with the Holy Communion.

During the war many people came to Father Arsenie, especially young men who had to leave for war. He told some of them: “your soul walks along a different path, go after it”. He felt that their souls were not in the Church; for them the pilgrimage was a formality. To others he sayed, “yes, come in”. He invited them in the Church to listen to the Holy Liturgy. He gave the Holy Cross to kiss but not to all of them. Some he would anoint with mirth, others he would not. Once someone asked him; “father, why do you give the Holy Cross only to some people?”. He responded: “my child, those to whom I give the cross to kiss will not return home. You will return and we will meet again. And those he mentioned never returned, except the ones who did not kiss the Cross.

… Many people loved Father Arsenie Boca because he genuinely cared about the spiritual side of the human being. He asked from people to return to God and live a life devoted to Christ. Even before the 2nd World War he was a suspect for the communist (atheistic) regime since many people appealed to him for advice. The Security Secret Service suspected him of conspiracy, as a main catalyst of the movement against communism.

During the restrictive times of communism (Christianity became illegal) Father Arsenie continued his mission of spiritual father. At this time miracles were needed to escape the authoritarian communist persecutions which ferociously hit against anything that did not fit the narrow communist ideology; and Father Arsenie was a man the Holy Spirit did many miracles. After 89 in front of Sambata de Sus monastery a cross was placed with all those who died fighting in the anticommunist resistance in Fagaras Mountains. The first name on the cross is Father Arsenie Boca, even though he never advised anyone to take arms and fight, nor did he ever touch a weapon. However, he breathed courage and faith to those who did choose to fight. It is said that many people were helped through his prayers when they were persecuted by the security.

Water out of Stone

Father Arsenie had a cell in the mountains above Sambata monastery where he retreated for fasting and prayer in solitude. It is said that the space and path towards the cell were sanctified and Father Arsenie would never speak of it, and he took only a few people he considered pure at heart. Up at the cell there was no water, only small brooks formed during spring out of the snow. One time those who were climbing with Father Arsenie said to him: “Father, we are really thirsty, and we have finished the water we brought with us”. Father Arsenie looking thoughtfully at them, took a small rod from the ground and started praying. Afterward he asked them with compassion: Do you wish to drink water?”. “Yes we wish!”. He then smited a stone and water started coming out of a stone creek; and even today water drops out of that rock; not a lot, but permanent water drops.

 

St. Arsenie Cell

In 1948 Prislop monastery re-enters in the possession of the Christian Orthodox Church. Father Arsenie is sent to Prislop monastery and in a short time he brings life to the monastery. Even today, after so many years we can see the way the flowers were arranged by Father Arsenie Boca, or how each stone was placed with care in the place he thought it would  fit.

In a short time people heard about the grace of Father Arsenie Boca and they flooded him in big number for consolation and spiritual healing. Father Arsenie had time for everyone and never rejetced anyone. The abbes of the monastery told us: “He would descend to everyone’s level and spoke to them in a language they personally understood. On one hand he captivated and enticed you, and on the other hand he was screening your conscience. He described your own spiritual state; explained to you where you stood, who you were, and what you may become.

He knew you so well”.

He is captured by the security from Prislop in 1958 and forced to hard labor in Dobrogea labor camp where he would spend the rest of two years.

The Saint in Shackles:

Even though he was put in jail and sent to the Danube Channel labor camp, Father Arsenie Boca was never condemned, simply because the security could never find any fault. Judging by the allegations we wonder whether Father Arsenie has accepted his sentence to be able to comfort and help the souls of those in prison. One of the people close to Father Arsenie Boca tells us:

“In Dobrogea, at the Danube Labour Camp, where Father Arsenie was sent the second time, it was very hard. They had a norm to shovel, the workers were drained since they were given extremely poor food, so they had no power. Father Arsenie sayed to them: “my good children, we’ll make it” and it is unknown how they did it for they finished their norm and survived.

At night Father Arsenie disappeared, nobody knew how. The guards started speaking among themselves: “there is one who disappears at night!” One time when Father returned to his cell he told to one of the guardians, “do not be afraid, no one will harm you”. Today it was like this, the next day the same, eventually the guardian told the rest of the guards: “either I’m going crazy or I’m having visions, there is a man here who disappears”. One night the guards went to see him, since he used to do his Holy Liturgy by himself at night. They saw him outside the jail, moving his lips, praying. They wanted to stop him but they did not dare. The large jail cell door with heavy locks would open in front of him without anyone touching them, both at night when he left and in the morning when he returned. During this time Father Arsenie also created sketches of his plans for building the shrine at Prislop monastery. …

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