The legend of the stream (beck/ bourn)
From the traditions of Bucovina we found that beyond the cloister, in Ursoaia there may have been a hermitage where the rules were very strict and harsh which didn’t permit women to come closer than the stream Pârâul Icoanei (The Religious Icon’s Stream). Nearby the stream in the woods belonging to the cloister, there was a tree on which was an image of The Virgin Mary. The stream has been known ever since as Pârâul Icoanei. Until 1929-1930, in Ursoaia a stone cross could be seen, which marked the altar of the cloister.
About this stream, a legend says that a long time ago a nobleman’s beautiful daughter fell in love with a handsome peasant and wouldn’t accept anyone else. The parents found out and the news wasn’t at all pleasing because they were old and hoping to marry their daughter with someone of their rank. They found an old disagreeable man for her, to which they married her. The peasant heard about these things and committed himself to asceticism in a cloister near Putna. After a while the girl left her husband with which she lived an unhappy life and started looking for the one she loved. She searched for him until she found the cloister and when they met again their joy was so great that he left the cloister to be with the girl. The other hermits were amazed and shocked by his behavior and decided to keep all women away from the cloister. That is why they put the image of the Virgin Mary on a tree nearby and set curse on any woman which dared to pass beyond that tree.
Another piece of evidence might be the sanctum of Daniil Sihastrul (Daniil the Hermit) which came to Putna from the monastery of Saint Lawrence in Vicovu de Sus, long before the monastery was built . There he set his own sanctum carved in rock.
One more legend says that the great Stefan cel Mare (Ştefan the Great) built a monastery at Daniil’s request after he visited him after losing a battle with the Turks. One year after Chilia was conquered by the Hungarians, in June 1466, they began the construction of The Putna Monastery, the first one Stefan cel Mare ever built. The monastery was finished in 1470 after the victory form Lipnic against the Mongols. Stefan gave it many vineyards, domains and gifts.
The oak church
While the building of the monastery, Stefan cel Mare began to move from Volovat to Putna, the small oak church built by Dragos Voda in 1346. This was done so that the church would be a place where the monks which came in large numbers to Putna, the workers and Romanians, could pray in. The true reason for which Stefan decided to move the church was that he wanted to prevent it from being destroyed, the church being the oldest monument of Moldova and at the same time, vulnerable in case of a foreign attack. A safe place for the oak church was found in the old woods surrounding the Putna Monastery which has been Stefan cel Mare and his family’s last resting place.
The local tradition provides us another legend which tells us that the church was rather stolen from Volovat rather than moved for its own safety. It seems that in only one night, it was taken from its place and put on a large cart, specially built for this operation, and pulled by 18 oxes. After 3 days and 3 nights, the cart with the church was safely transferred (information provided by Miron Rotar, 79 years old, in 1966). It’s very hard to say if this legend contains a grain of truth if we take into account the fact that at that time there weren’t any large access ways to allow this huge transport through woods which haven’t been walked by human feet.
Another tale which seems more plausible shows that this church was indeed taken away one night without the consent of the villagers. The church was undone piece by piece and transported to Putna with horses. There it was remade near Putna monastery and taken care of by monks (information provided by the priest Ion Boghean from Radauti in 1988).
In Volovat, at the place this church used to be, Stefan cel Mare made a stone church, which can be seen even today.
In 1786, when 118 families lived in Putna, the oak church brought from Volovat became an official church with priests for the inhabitants of Putna, until 1901 when the new church was built.
Legends about treasures
Ever since a long, long time ago there have been rumors among people which said that in some places around the mountains which surround Putna, unfound treasures were hidden by God knows who. Until after, World War II, people have been looking everywhere in hope to find those treasures. Some found money and gold which may have been hidden by thieves who couldn’t return to claim them.
The name most mentioned was the name of an outlaw Darie which was known to often set foot onto Putna’s lands. Putna was even visited by thieves who, in 1844 have robbed the village’s church and in 1845 stolen from the monastery, robbing the monks of their money. These thieves were found and surrendered to justice. The thieves who used to rob caravans carrying merchandise on the “royal” road (which connected Lamberg to Suceava through Cernauti and Siret), could have also hidden their treasures near Putna. Old Mihai Caba, son of Talica heard (from his grandfather Petre Caba, son of Bodranga) that in the old times, there were two kinds of thieves: thieves who stole only once, when they could make the robbery of their lives. These ones weren’t known nor suspected by anyone. Thieves like these ones existed even in Putna, but even if people suspected them, they wouldn’t do anything about it, being afraid to say something bad about a nobleman. The second type was the “permanent” thieves which would have done almost anything not to get caught. Through these parts there was only one outlaw and that was Darie always accompanied by a few brave fellows. They used to rob rich men and give the money to the poor.
Eudochia, daughter of Dumitru Cenusa, born in 1892, once said that all the hills of Putna had been searched by people who thought of treasures and nothing more. The most searched and desired treasure of them all, was the one which Darie buried near Magura Mare. It is said that Darie may have had a gypsy in his crew, who had the task to keep the treasure safe. Darie tested their loyalty, and each member of the crew swore not to touch the treasure. The greedy gypsy couldn’t help it and he stole part of it. Darie couldn’t stand this and immediately cut the gypsy’s head, which was left on the treasure to guard it. The circumstances didn’t permit Darie to come to the place where he left the treasure and so, it remained untouched throughout the years. People who found it and saw the gypsy’s head used to run away from it and say that was the place of the devil.
Eudochia also said: “My husband, went searching for that treasure in the 1920’s, and he took a monk from the monastery with him, to sanctify the place. But it seems he stepped by that place without finding the treasure because one night, he saw 4 demons in his dreams, which told him to stop looking for treasures. After that he never went searching for treasures in Magura.”
For a long time, rumor had it, that on the Solotruc ( the Stone Hill) secret treasures were hidden. Gheorghe Fodor says that as a child, his father and his uncle Toader Fodor took him along with them to dig in a place where the earth sounded hollow. They soon found a stone wall and figured out that they found the place where Darie hid his treasures. There they found a broom made out of fir branches, tied with wire and other objects which proved that someone had lived there. The most important object found was a large metal tray, which they dusted and examined. They found out that it was shiny and it made a nice sound and they managed to give it to a German lady named Rezla, in exchange to a large sack of potatoes.
It is said that Darie had built a cellarage on the Alunisului Spring. Until not so long ago, the trails of that cellarage could be seen. After the forest was cut the cellarage was destroyed but the place remained under the name of “Darie’s hideout”. In the woods of “Camari” which belonged to Dumitru Scantei, Darie used to hide the things he stole in numerous chambers. This is the place from which the forest takes its name (“camari”= chambers).
Also, well known is the story of Darie, helping a widow and her children. Darie helped the poor woman by giving her money to go to Radauti and buy the most beautiful cow, and pay the seller whatever price he asks. He stood by. The woman bought the cow and she went, pleased, home. Darie waited for the salesman at a crossroad and stole all his money, telling him that he took too much money from the poor woman.
There were cases when the rumors about treasures turned out to be true. Lazar Timis stated that before 1900, Vasile, son of Dilitoaia (which worked as a cottar for a wealthy man) discovered some yellow coins which he gave to his boss saying:” Look what I found. Could we decorate the horses’ harness with them?”. His master acted like he wasn’t surprised, told him he was right and asked the man to show him the place here he found the coins. The wealthy man started digging in that place, and whenever Vasile asked him about the coins he’d be too busy digging.
Costan Schipor, born in 1895, said that a rich man from the Brutaceni family had a young man from Vicov, named Pricopie Balici, also known as “Chioru”(the Blind One), as a cottar. Pricopie found woods small golden coins in Sihastriei, which he took to his master. That night the man gave his cottar a nice meal and he complimented him. As for the coins, his master said they were worthless. The next day, he and Procopie went to the place where the coins were found, and afterwards, sent the boy back to do chores. He started digging out the treasure, which later made him a rich man.
Many stories have been told about Craciun Cenusa and Scantei Coroama and many have laughed at them. These two men discovered a pipkin full of golden and silver coins, sometime between 1890-1895, near Sihastria and noticing that they can’t be used, gave it to the town hall, stating that they were of no use.