Kurt Scharr, Ioannes Novi und Stefan der Große – Märtyrer und Landesfürst: Zur Ambivalenz von Erinnerungsverortung in der Bukowina

Until now, it has been impossible to identify any evidence of the existence of a collective identity for the major part of the peasant population of Bukovina, despite some previous attempts at highlighting these imagined identities and their presence in the memory of social groups. Both Stephen, the sovereign, and Ioannes, the saint, belong to Bukovina and have their central memory places there. The Romanian elites tended to look upon Stephen the Great and Putna as a tangible foundation for building an all-Romanian identity. There is also a second concept—almost diametrically opposed to the former one: the traditional notion of identity of the “Romanian” peasants in Bukovina, likely engendering in the local imagination a regionally superior, homogeneous connection with a possible “national body of all Romania.” Saint Ioannes Novi of Suceava embodies this perspective and was probably only of limited suitability in anchoring the modern idea of nation. However, even Stephen the Great is remembered as a “sacral decoupled national figure of identification by a large number of Romanians,” and did not become a patron saint of the country. On the contrary, his canonization in 1992 is rather an attempt to highlight the importance of the autocephalous Romanian Orthodox Church, which—after the collapse of the socialist system—created its first saint.

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