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Line of Miracle or Contamination? Sfânta Parascheva as a Contested PiLgrimage amid Covid-19 Pandemic (2020-2021)


Publication: 10.58367/NECY.PM.H.2022.2
Field of study: Anthropology

Examining the largest pilgrimage in contemporary Romania, this article expands our knowledge of Christian pilgrimage in post-communist Eastern Europe. Ethnographic fieldwork undertaken in 2020 produces a thick description and analysis of the pilgrimage to Sfânta (Saint) Parascheva, Romania’s most important female saint in the Orthodox tradition, held annually in the country’s second city, Iaşi. The unexpected COVID-19 outbreak of 2020 produced a major shift in the pilgrimage. The article also shows how far-right groups, which, through public protest, sought to win mind-space and political legitimacy, exploited COVID-19 public health regulations imposed on the pilgrims. While the basic, well-regulated elements of the pilgrimage remained the same, these unexpected social actors introduced a new chaotic intensity with their contradictory narratives of protest. At Sfânta Parascheva in 2020, religious, nationalist and secular standpoints could be observed, turning the pilgrimage into a polysemic site of competing discourses.

Keywords: pilgrimage, Saint Parascheva, COVID-19, Iaşi, Romania

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