The “Īnălţarea Domnului” Monastery of Zemeş, also known to pilgrims as “Stirigoi Monastery”, was established in 1937. But in order to bring light on the early origins of the monastic settlement we must first look into one of the most eloquent of sources, the folklore. The folklore of the area tells us that in the 18th century, there lived here a number of hermit monks who praised the name of God in isolation and prayer. They are said to have lived, each one of them separate from the other, on one of the cliffs of the mountain and so according to the oral heritage the name of the mountain came into being: Muntele Chiliilor/ Cell’s Mountains.

        

         Moreover, according to historical sources, we must look prior to 1937, namely in 1924, the year in which 12 runaway nuns, from other monasteries, built themselves a settlement here, which included housing for themselves and a prayer and religious ceremony room where they used to perform the religious services according to the old calendar. Their activity bore the stamp of sectarianism and thus, in the year of 1936 measures are taken to bring this to a halt. The nuns were cast away and sent to their place of prostration, the shelters destroyed and the religious artifacts handed over to the Tazlău parish
         The monastery proper comes into being a year later, namely in 1937. The founders wanted to build a monastery of nuns in this wonderful, hard to reach veritable corner of heaven. The trials of those times unfortunately made as so that only after 19 years, namely 1956, the monastic settlement was destroyed by a dreadful fire, which turned to ruin both church and body of cells. The enlightened year of 1957 ends with the reconstruction of the holly settlement, made possible by the devotion and faith of the community and by substantial spiritual and material efforts. The sanctification ceremony was held in a solemn manner by the P.S. Bishop Teofil Herineanu, to the delight of the faithful community dwellers present on that occasion, which were also involved in completing the construction. Unfortunately for the congregation of the hermitage and the hundreds of Christians that came on pilgrimage here, the sense of spiritual fulfillment would be short lived.
         In the year of 1959, as a consequence of the 410 Decree, several monasteries were to be closed by the communist regime. Unfortunately our monastery was among them. Although still under the oppression of the totalitarian and atheistic regime, 27 years later, namely in 1987, pressure from the local community and under the guidance of Natanail Amuceliniţei, high priest monk, the monastery was reopened. The second sanctification ceremony was to be held though, 7 years later, after the events of December 1989, in 1993. The ceremony was officiated by priest Ioachim Vasluianul, at that time vicar bishop of the “Romanului” and “Huşilor” episcopates, a ceremony still alive and vibrant in the memory of those present.
         The “modern” history of the monastic settlement starts in February of 1994, when “protosinghel”(priest monk) Emilian Ciobanu is named abbot of the “Stirigoi” Monastery. Under the new management, the place of prayer continued its daily religious endeavors. However trials have yet to loosen the grip on the Zemes congregation and in the first month of 2008, another fie burned the old wooden church to the ground. Currently, with the much welcomed help of the local council, efforts are made for the construction of the new place of worship.

Translated by Alexandru-Emanuel Pavel