There is a local legend about the wooden church in Poienile Izei due to the presence of a metal crescent under the crucifix that crowns the tower of the church. The legend says that the crescent was added by one of the locals to keep the church from being desecrated by the Turkish and Tatar Muslims. The legend was reinforced by the fact that during the Tatar invasion in 1717, the church in Poienile Izei was one of the few that escaped undamaged. But in reality the crescent moon that generated this legend is not a Muslim symbol, but Byzantine. The village Poienile Izei was mentioned under various names, from 1430 onwards. The church was built in 1632 on the site of an ancient place of worship. The altar, being a sacred place, was preserved from the old church. This is shaped like a rectangular apse, in spite of the fact that during those times polygonal apses were used when building new churches. Also, the small bell of the three tower bells dates back to the thirteenth century, when the first place of worship was probably erected. The other two bells were cast in 1673, according to their inscriptions. The wooden church from Poienile Izei has undergone several transformations over the years. In the eighteenth century, it was super elevated. In 1785, the local community, which founded the place of worship, hired the renowned painter Radu Munteanu to decorate the Proskomedia.The villagers did not have enough money to pay the whole sum to the artist decorating the church, and this had to be carried out by a local painter, identified by some art historians as Gheroghe from Dragomireşti. He finished the work in 1794. In the first half of the nineteenth century, the church added a porch on the west side, and in the nineteenth century, at the end, windows were cut in the wall that separates the nave from the narthex.
A double dedication
The church has a double dedication. Most likely, the dedication of the first place of worship, The Assumption, was inherited. Later on, Saint Parascheva was added as a patron, given that her holy relics were brought to Iasi. Adopting this second patron shows just how strong the links between Maramureş and Moldova were at the time.
The church plan is rectangular. The tower is supported by the narthex. A remarkable feature of this Greek Catholic church is represented by the royal doors, made in a fretwork system, depicting a grape-vine. On the nave’s vault we see the Holy Trinity painted in a Western manner that includes angel heads, stars and flowers.
Another significant element is the inclusion of the folkloric motif of the Pelican. According to popular belief, he tore his breast to feed his young, so it is a metaphor for Jesus Christ. In the church’s patrimony we can also find movable icons made in the monastery of Moisei where there was a famous school of painting.
Travel info: The distance Bucharest - Poienile Izei is 548 km and from Cluj-Napoca distance it is 180 km.
Photo: George Trandafir, [url=http://]www.touringromania.com[/url]