Dumitru Stăniloae

Stăniloae on a 2003 Romanian stamp
Stăniloae on a 2016 Romanian stamp

Dumitru Stăniloae (Romanian: [duˈmitru stəniˈlo̯aje]; 29 November [O.S. 16 November] 1903 – 5 October 1993) was a Romanian Orthodox Christian priest, theologian and professor. He worked for over 45 years on a comprehensive Romanian translation of the Greek Philokalia, a collection of writings on prayer by the Church Fathers, together with the hieromonk, Arsenie Boca, who brought manuscripts from Mount Athos. His book, The Dogmatic Orthodox Theology (1978), made him one of the best-known Christian theologians of the second half of the 20th century. He also produced commentaries on earlier Christian thinkers, such as St Gregory of Nyssa, Saint Maximus the Confessor, and St Athanasius of Alexandria.


Dumitru Stăniloae was born on 16 November 1903, in Vlădeni, in what is now Brașov County, Romania. He was the last of five children of Rebeca (mother) and Irimie (father). His mother was a priest's niece. On 10 February 1917 he went to Brașov to study at the Andrei Șaguna High School. He received a fellowship from Gojdu Foundation in 1918 and a fellowship from Cernăuţi University in 1922.[1] Disappointed by the quality of the manuals and the teaching methods, he left for the University of Bucharest after one year. He was offered a fellowship by metropolitan bishop Nicolae Bălan at the Metropolitan Center in Sibiu in 1924 during Lent. Stăniloae graduated from Cernăuți University in 1927, receiving a fellowship to study theology in Athens. In the fall of 1928 he earned his Ph.D. degree at Cernăuţi[1] (Thesis: Life and work of Dositheos II of Jerusalem (1641-1707) and his connections with Romanian Principalities). The Metropolitan Center in Sibiu offered him a fellowship in Byzantology (?) and Dogmatics. He went to Munich to attend the courses of Prof. August Heisenberg (father of physicist Werner Heisenberg), and then went to Berlin, Paris and Istanbul to study the work of Gregory Palamas.

He married on 4 October 1930, and his wife gave birth to twins in 1931, named Dumitru and Maria.

He was ordained a deacon on 8 October 1931 and was ordained priest on 25 September 1932.

He and his wife had another daughter, Lidia, on 8 October of the following year; and that year he became the director of Telegraful Român (Romanian Telegraph) newspaper, meeting and befriending ultra-right ideologist Nichifor Crainic.

In June 1936 he became rector of the Theological Academy in Sibiu. In 1940, at the initiative of poet Sandu Tudor, the Rugul aprins (Burning Bush) group was founded. It was composed of priest-monk Ivan Kulighin (confessor of Russian Metropolitan bishop of Rostov, refugee at Cernica Monastery), priest-monk Benedict Ghius, priest-monk Sofian Boghiu, Prof. Alex. Mironescu, poet Vasile Voiculescu, architect Constantin Joja, Father Andrei Scrima and Ion Marin Sadoveanu. The group gathered regularly at the Cernica and Antim monasteries, maintaining Christian life in Bucharest.

In 1946 he was asked by metropolitan bishop Nicolae Bălan, under pressure from Petru Groza, first Communist premier of Romania,[2] to resign as rector of the Theological Academy in Sibiu. He remained a professor until 1947, when he was transferred to the University of Bucharest's Faculty of Theology, as the Ascetics and Mystics chair.

Because of political unrest in Romania in 1958, following a split in the Romanian Communist Party, Fr Dumitru was arrested by the Securitate on 5 September. While he was in Aiud prison, his only surviving child, Lidia, gave birth to his grandchild, Dumitru Horia. Lidia was asked to leave the University of Bucharest's Faculty of Physics because of the arrest of her father.

He was freed from prison in 1963, and then began work as a clerk at the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church, and began teaching again in October. He attended conferences in Freiburg and Heidelberg at the invitation of Prof. Paul Miron, with the permission of the State Department of Cults, who wanted to change the image of Romania.[3] While lecturing at Oxford University, he became friends with the theologian Donald Allchin.

He retired in 1973.

He received honorary doctorates from the University of Thessaloniki in 1976, the Saint-Serge Orthodox Institute in Paris in 1981, the Faculty of Orthodox Theology in Belgrade in 1982, and the University of Bucharest in 1992. He was awarded the Dr. Leopold Lucas prize of the Faculty of Theology in Tübingen in 1980 and the Cross of St Augustine in Canterbury in 1982.

He died in Bucharest on 5 October 1993, at the age of 90.

See alsoEdit


Christogram with Jesus Prayer in Romanian: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner. The image appears on Romanian Philokalia book cover.
  • Catholicism after the War, Sibiu, 1932
  • Life and teachings of Gregory Palamas, Sibiu, 1938
  • Orthodoxy and Romanianism, Sibiu, 1939
  • The standing of Mr. Lucian Blaga on Christianity and Orthodoxism, Sibiu, 1942
  • Jesus Christ or man's restoration, Sibiu, 1943
  • Philokalia (translation); vol. 1: Sibiu, 1946; vol. 2: Sibiu, 1947; vol. 3: Sibiu, 1948; vol. 4: Sibiu, 1948; vol. 5: Bucharest, 1976; vol. 6: Bucharest, 1977; vol. 7: Bucharest, 1978; vol. 8: Bucharest, 1979; vol. 9: Bucharest, 1980.
  • Uniatism in Transylvania, an attempt to dismember the Romanian people, Bucharest, 1973
  • Treaty of Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, Bucharest, 1978
  • Dieu est Amour, Geneve, 1980
  • Theology and the Church, New York City, 1980
  • Praying, freedom, holiness, Athens, 1980
  • Priere de Jesus et experience de Saint Esprit, Paris, 1981
  • Orthodox Spirituality, Bucharest, 1981
  • Moral Orthodox Theology, vol. 2, Bucharest, 1981
  • St. Gregory of Nyssa – Writings (translation), Bucharest, 1982
  • Orthodoxe Dogmatik, 1985
  • Le genie de l'orthodoxie, Paris, 1985
  • Spirituality a communion in Orthodox lithurgy, Craiova, 1986.
  • God's eternal face, Craiova, 1987
  • St. Athanasius the Great – Writings (translation), Bucharest, 1987
  • Orthodox Dogmatic Theology Studies (Christology of St. Maximus the Confessor, Man and God, St. Symeon The New Theologian, Hymns of God's love), Craiova, 1991
  • St. Cyril of Alexandria – Writings (translation), Bucharest, 1991

In English Translation:

  • The Victory of the Cross: A Talk on Suffering, Fairacres Publications, Oxford, 1970 (ISBN 978-0728300491)
  • Theology and the Church, SVS Press, Crestwood, 1980 (ISBN 978-0913836699)
  • Liturgy of the Community and the Liturgy of the Heart: From the Viewpoint of the Philokalia, Fairacres Publications, Oxford, 1980 (ISBN 978-0948108037)
  • Prayer and Holiness: The Icon of God Renewed in Man, Fairacres Publications, Oxford, 1982 (ISBN 978-0728300934)
  • Eternity and Time, Fairacres Publications, Oxford, 2001 (ISBN 978-0728301535)
  • Orthodox Spirituality: A Practical Guide for the Faithful and a Definitive Manual for the Scholar, STS Press, South Canaan, 2002 (translation of Orthodox Spirituality, Bucharest, 1981) (ISBN 978-1878997661)
  • The Experience of God: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology. Holy Cross Orthodox Press
  • The Holy Trinity: In the Beginning There Was Love, Holy Cross Orthodox Press (Brookline, 2012) (ISBN 978-1935317319)


  1. ^ a b Cernăuți (Romanian) = Чернівці, Chernivtsi (Ukrainian). This article uses the Romanian form for the name of this city in northern Bukovina.
  2. ^ First communist Premier of Romania.
  3. ^ In Communist Romania a trip to Western countries was not possible without approval from the regime structures.

Further readingEdit

  • Kevin M. Berger, Towards a Theological Gnoseology: The Synthesis of Fr. Dumitru Staniloae Vol's 1-2 (2003. UMI, Ann Arbor) Catholic University of America, Doctoral Dissertation
  • Radu Bordeianu, Dumitru Staniloae: An Ecumenical Ecclesiology (2011. T&T Clark, Bloomsbury) ISBN 978-0567334817
  • Andrew Louth, 'The Orthodox Dogmatic Theology of Dumitru Staniloae', in Modern Theology; 2 (1997), p. 253-266
  • Charles Miller, The Gift of the World An introduction to the theology of Dumitru Staniloae (2000)
  • Mihail Neamtu, 'Between the Gospel And the Nation: Dumitru Stăniloae's Ethno-Theology', in ARCHAEUS. Studies in History of Religions; 10:3 (2006)'[1]
  • Ivana Noble, 'Doctrine of Creation within the Theological Project of Dumitru Stăniloae', [2], in Communio Viatorum; 49:2 (2007), pp. 185–209.
  • S.-L. Toma, Η πατερική παράδοσις εις το έργον του π. Δημητρίου Στανιλοάε και ο σύγχρονος κόσμος (2007. Θεσσαλονίκη: Πουρναράς).
  • Lucian Turcescu, 'Dumitru Staniloae', Commentary and Original Source materials in English translation, in The Teachings of Modern Christianity on Law, Politics, and Human Nature, edd. J. Witte and F. Alexander (2 vols. 2005. Columbia Univ. Press, New York), 1:685–711 and 2:537–558. [The two volumes received the Choice Outstanding Academic Titles Award for 2006.]
  • Lucian Turcescu, ed. Dumitru Staniloae: tradition and modernity in theology (2002. Center for Romanian Studies, Iasi) ISBN 973-9432-29-8
  • Iţu, Mircia (2006), "Îndumnezeirea omului in viziunea lui Dumitru Stăniloae" ("Inner godliness of the human being in Dumitru Stăniloae's vision"), in Lumină lină, number 4, New York, pp. 15–23. ISSN 1086-2366

External linksEdit

  • (in Romanian) Dumitru Stăniloae article in Dictionary of Romanian Theologians [3]
  • (in Romanian) Freely downloadable interviews (audio and video) can be found at www.sfaturiortodoxe.ro and www.ortodox.tv
  • (in Romanian) From East to West, interview with Sorin Dumitrescu on Eastern vs. Western spirituality [4]
  • (in Romanian) Dacă n-ar fi iubirea Tatălui și a Duhului, n-ar fi nici Hristos, interview [5]
  • (in Romanian) Teologie Dogmatică Ortodoxă freely downloadable at Bilioteca Teologică Digitală (Digital Theologic Library)
  • (in Romanian) Scurtă interpretare teologică a națiunii by Dumitru Stăniloae
  • (in Romanian) Învierea Domnului și importanța ei universală by Dumitru Stăniloae
  • (in German) Liviu Jitianu: Christologische Symphonie von Mensch und Welt. Grundzüge einer neupatristischen orthodoxen Theologie im Werk von Dumitru Staniloae. Dissertation, Freiburg University, Freiburg 2006 ("Christological symphony of man and world. Outlines of a neo-patristic orthodox theology in the works of Dumitru Staniloae"; online version)