The church of Pătrăuți, built in 1487 by the voivode Stephen the Great, holds the secret to a unique colour in the world. The Pătrăuţi Yellow is a sort of golden ocher, created by one of the Byzantine artists who fled here after the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453. According to the French Byzantinologist Andre Grabar, this was the artist George Trice. He settled in Moldova, where he had a pivotal influence on the Moldavian painting school. He died in 1530 in Moldova and is buried in St. George’s church in Hârlău. His most brilliant student was Toma of Suceava. The church of Pătrăuţi is the oldest church built by Stephen the Great preserved in its original form. The Slavonic inscription above the door says that the place of worship was founded in June 12, 1487, in the presence of the ruler. Stephen the Great created in Pătrăuţi the only convent founded at his initiative. This monastery also had a hospital that offered assistance to those wounded in the battles taking place at Suceava Fortress, the princely residence, located about 10 km away. Stephen the Great gave the monastery the estates of Mihoveni and Pătrăuţi, as well as a series of worship jugs and valuable books. Unfortunately, they were plundered by the Cossacks and the Poles, and after the last robbery, in 1684, the monastery was abandoned.
The Bells that Dispel Hail Clouds
In 1711, the bishop of Rădăuţilor Calistru decided to re-establish the Pătrăuţi monastery. A wooden belfry was erected in 1725, on the west side of the church. Inside there are three silver and bronze bells, cast in the nineteenth century. Locals believe that the ringing of these bells can ward off hail clouds. In 1783, the monastery was closed. The cells fell into ruin, and the local community took over the church. It is currently used as a parish church.
The edifice is built from rough stone, with some brick used for the nave. There are three rooms: a narthex, nave and altar, which follow a triconch plan with a tower built above the nave. The side apses and the altar apses are semicircular on the inside and polygonal on the outside. The apses are decorated with elongated alcoves, five extending in the lateral apse and seven in the altar apse. Above them we find a row of green ceramic tiles, then a row of niches. The church tower has a square base. It is decorated with a row of 12 alcoves, symbolizing the 12 Apostles, a row of green ceramic tiles and a row of niches.
The frames and portals are Gothic. The church is illuminated by nine rectangular windows and showcases the first exterior painting in Moldova, found on the west wall. One of the most valuable paintings is the Cavalcade of the Holy Cross, which depicts the Emperor Constantine the Great, accompanied by 16 military saints. It’s also significant as a votive picture, portraying Stephen the Great, his wife, Maria Voichiţa his son, Prince Bogdan III and Princesses Mary and Anne.
The distance Bucharest - Pătrăuţi is 443 kilometres, with 319 km between Cluj-Napoca and Pătrăuţi.