Locals call the compound at Bārsana a monastery, though strictly speaking it should be translated into English as 'convent.' This is true of the painted monasteries in Bucovina as well.
They began expanding soon after the revolution, and their non-stop construction means they still have an entire building devoted to milling raw tree trunks into planks and beams.
For the entire place is inhabited by brand new churches, chapels, dormitories, shrines, bell towers, dining halls and visitor centers all made in traditional Maramures timber-frame style.
Glimmering with gold finished frescoes, the basement of the new church is where a lone priest gives daily services to resident sisters and visiting Romanians.
They say having a good singing voice is a prerequisite for service in the Romanian Orthodox church. A reward from that requirement is given to any person who comes to listen to their daily singing liturgy.
Because they typically recite from several texts, this sister reads her music from a rotating bookstand.
Villagers from all along the Mara and Izei valleys make pilgrimage to Bārsana.
After their duties are performed, the reclusive sisters retreat to their central dormitory.
The roof lines and timber construction that seem to fuse all at once Victorian, Japanese and American Frontier architecture, leave us wanting to build one of these for our own home.
Adding a tranquil touch are extensive gardens.
Garden elements incorporate many styles, from artificial fish ponds with walking bridges,
to gazebos covering a holy water spring (which takes full advantage of modern technology to pump the sacred water from fauceted spouts.)
These empty spaces truly come alive only on special holidays.
At the end of June every year, they celebrate Saint Peter's day, and Bārsana specializes in this pilgrimage.
Local volunteers make communion bread by the bucketful.
Roving hucksters sell anything remotely holy by the armful. (Candy, in this case.)
Young people come dressed up by the truckload.
Priests arrive from all over Romania by the vanload.
And the measure for the number of people who sit on the ground all day for services and blessings would have to be: 'stadiumful.'
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