One of the factors which contributed to the support of the Romanians and their culture in Bessarabia was the Church, and Metropolitan Gavriil Bănulescu-Bodoni (born 1746 <1750?> died 1821, ChiТinău) was deeply aware of it, bringing the area between the Prut and Dniester to the consciousness and spirituality of the Romanian space before and especially after 1812.
In 1808-1812, after his appointment as a member of the Holy Synod of St. Petersburg and exarch of Moldavia and Wallachia (March 27 1808), in terms of establishing a Russian military occupation regime in the Romanian principalities, the great hierarch initiated the cultural program for the dissemination of Romanian books published in Moldavian printing centers (Iași, Neamț). He successfully led the Archdiocese of Moldavia prior to the signing of the Treaty of Bucharest on May 16, 1812.
As a patron, editor, preface writer and translator, Gavriil Bănulescu-Bodoni published several Romanian books during this period. Copies of some publications we found in the secular and monastic collections in Northern Dobrudja: Cărticică pentru datoria și stăpânirea blagocinilor (Booklet about the duty and power of rural deans) (Iaѯi, 1808) and Carte de rugăciuni pentru cerere de biruință (Book of Prayers for Victory) (IaТi, 1809) at the Gavrilă Simion Eco-Museum Research Institute from Tulcea; Kyriakodromion (Sunday Book) (Neamt, 1811) and volumes from the Lives of the Saints (Viețile Sﬁnților) (Neamt, 1807-1815) at the monasteries of Celic Dere and CocoТ, established in the ﬁrst decades of the 19th century. These publications must have been common in Bessarabia too, but most of them were destroyed during the Russian rule.
But the most important cultural and historical activities of Metropolitan Gavriil Bănulescu-Bodoni occurred in the ﬁrst years after the annexation of Bessarabia to the Russian Empire in 1812, after the creation of the new Archbishopry of ChiТinău and Khotin, the head of which he was appointed on August 21, 1813 and remained until the end of his life. On May 31, 1814 the Diocesan Printing House was opened in ChiТinău, with the purpose of printing religious books in Romanian, which should have been translated from the Old Church Slavonic. Under the Metropolitan's leadership, sometimes deceiving the vigilance of the Holy Synod, there were published several books, including Liturghierul (Liturgikon) in 1815, a copy of which is kept in the monastery of Celic Dere, the Tulcea County.
On both sides of the Prut there also circulated editions of the New Testament (1817, 1819) and the Bible (1819) printed by the Russian Bible Society in St. Petersburg and intended for the Romanians in Bessarabia; their publisher and proofreader was also Gavriil. The collection of Tulcea museum contains one copy of the Bible and the New Testament of 1819 edition, and in Celic Dere there are three copies of the New Testament of 1817 edition.
In our opinion, the presence of books published under the patronage of Gavriil Bănulescu-Bodoni in Northern Dobrudja can only be explained by two major aspects: by the personality of the Metropolitan, who fought for the preservation of Romanian spirit in Bessarabia by means of language, culture and the Church, and by the fact that the books entered this area from or through Moldavia more intensely than from other Romanian provinces.
List of illustrations:
1. Booklet about the duty and power of rural deans, Iaѯi, 1808. Title page (Gavrilă Simion Eco-Museum Research Institute, Tulcea).
2-3. Book of Prayers for victory, IaТi, 1809. Front and back sides of the title page (Gavrilă Simion Eco-Museum Research Institute, Tulcea).
4. Kyriakodromion, Neamt, 1811. Title page (Cocoѯ Monastery, Tulcea).
5. The Lives of the Saints for the month of October, Neamț, 1809. Title page (Celic Dere Monastery, Tulcea). 6-7. Liturgikon, ChiТinău, 1815. Front and back sides of the title page (Celic Dere Monastery, Tulcea).