Mother Nicodima was always ready to give her portion of food or her shirt to those who were destitute

I was arrested in Bucharest, where I had settled after graduating from university, but since the group I belonged to was organised in Turnu Severin, the investigation and trial were to take place in Craiova. […]

Thus, on 17 November 1958, I crossed the threshold of the Craiova Security Service. […]

In the cell we had two nuns who, at our insistence, taught us a prayer. […]

The two nuns in our cell were one Orthodox, Mother Nicodema, and the other Greek Catholic, Mother Vianeea.

Mother Nicodema, Aneta Vasilache, was a nun in the convent of Tismana. She was a woman of about 45 years old from Brăila. She was married, and since the married couple did not get along, they quietly separated with the decision that they would both take the path of the convent, and so they did. Father Vasilache, who had become an archimandrite, was also sentenced to hard years in prison by the communists and ended his days in prison. Aneta Vasilache became a nun and ended up in the Tismana convent under the name of Mother Nicodema. In her youth she followed the path of Legionary spirituality, later combining the thought of saving the nation with the path of monasticism and prayer. She was arrested along with Father Veniamin, the monastery’s confessor, and Mother Tatiana, the abbess, for harbouring fugitives. Investigations had begun for the trial of the monasteries of Northern Oltenia, Tismana and Polovragi. At the trial, Mother Nicodema was sentenced to 25 years’ hard labour. Proud and impulsive by nature, she had chosen humility as a virtue for her monastic life. She was kind, reserved and modest. She did her good deeds discreetly so as not to be noticed. She was always ready to give her share of food or her shirt to those in need. She kept her fast days in her own way: she ate one bite of each dish and that was all. She thought it was a much harder exercise in self-control to eat a bite when you’re hungry than not to eat at all.

I met her again during the last part of my detention in Oradea. She was just as brave and firm in her decisions. On Good Friday she refused to go to the cinema with the other prisoners, saying that she could not go beyond her duties as a nun. She was punished and also had to endure the murmurs of some inmates who felt that her attitude was making things difficult for everyone. When she saw a photomontage of the achievements of 20 years of communist rule, the teacher tried to challenge her:

– Tell me, Vasilache Aneta, do you compare what the communists have done in 20 years with what your legionaries have done?

She replied simply and calmly:

– How can you compare, Mr. Educator, the achievements of 20 years with those of four months? Besides, the world goes on, and no matter what regime is in power, the development of technology and civilisation cannot be stopped.

Neither the educator nor the political officer liked the answer.

Shortly afterwards, the pardon of 1964 followed and Mother Nicodema returned to Tismana Monastery. A few years later, I met her by chance in the cathedral of Craiova, smiling, with the same clear, unwavering gaze. We embraced with great warmth… She died in the monastery of Tismana, where for years she had prayed and hoped for the spiritual renewal of this troubled nation.

(Testimony of Viorica Stănulețiu Călinescu – Tear of Persecution, Vol. II, Gama Publishing House, 1997, pp. 195-196, 198-199)

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