Wearing full regalia, a Romanian archbishop rode a horse-drawn chariot through the Black Sea port of Constanta on Wednesday to commemorate a Christian martyr, snarling traffic and ignoring criticism about the event.
More than 100 people took part in Wednesday’s ceremony, which comes at the start of three days of religious commemorations dedicated to an elderly 2nd century Christian martyr.
Teodosie, the Archbishop of Tomis, wore a gold-encrusted cassock, a miter and held his pastoral staff aloft as he sat in the chariot leading a procession of priests and worshipers who were on foot. The procession snaked through the city during the morning rush hour, blocking traffic to the annoyance of some motorists.
“It’s a tradition and we can’t skip it,” he said curtly when asked about the risks of staging the event during the pandemic. Romania added 3,048 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday more than previous days, and 79 deaths.
The archbishop has gained national notoriety for services he officiated in recent months, sometimes in defiance of Covid-19 restrictions.
He shrugged off criticism about Wednesday’s procession. He posted a permit on Facebook signed by mayor Vergil Chitac allowing him to drive the chariot through the city and hold a service to honor St. Charalambos (known as Haralambie in Romanian) an early Christian martyr who was tortured at an advanced age.
The hardline cleric, who is often at odds with the Romanian Orthodox Church, caused a stir when he celebrated Easter several weeks late last year, after strict lockdown rules canceled Easter services.
The church will hold three days of services in Constanta dedicated to St. Charalambos including a concert.