Moldavian Catholics from the 13th century
In the 13th century the Cuman state adopted Catholism and during this time Hungary settled Hungarian, Szekely and Saxons in the area that was to become Moldavia. It is likely that some of the current Catholic population have their ancestry from the Cuman times.
The populations of Cumania and then of Moldavia were seriously depleted by frequent invasions and plundering by foreign armies over the centuries. Early documents name 33 Catholic localities of which 11 still today, but these are few compared to the over one hundred settlements with Catholics peoples today. The Hungarian toponyms of some medieval villages and towns still continue in the Romanian place names.
It is know that during the 14th to 17th centuries there were both Hungarian and Romanian Catholics, and that in 1646 300 of 1,201 Catholics had Romanian names. The survivors of these medieval Catholics may be those who still speak Hungarian in a few villages around Sabaoani north of Roman and a few villages south of Bacău and amount to some 20,000 persons. Their Hungarian dialect has /s/ replacing /sh/ and /z/ replacing /zh/ and is thought by Hungarian linguists to be an archaic form of Hungarian separated from the mother country for many centuries. The surrounding villages contain communities of non-Hungarian speaking Catholics who are most likely related in ancestry.
The opposing view is that most of the population was depleted after the invasions and the current population is boosted by a mix of Transylvanian Szekely and Transylvanian Romanians, based on the Transylvanian Romanian dialect found here.
Moldavian Catholics and identitly
The Csango will use the various terms of Csango, Catholic, or Romanian for their identity, further confusing the nationalists who wish to assign a Hungarian or Romanian identity. The groups in these villages know they have a different identity to the surrounding peoples, partly defined by their religion, but they have also been part of the Moldavian Romanian nation for more than 600 years, and have lived through the founding of Romania. At best one could say they have dual identity; being nationals of Romania, and belonging to a group best termed Csango or Catholic.
After taking Transylvania the King of Hungary settled Szekely and Saxons for military and political reasons east of the Carpathians, as far as the Siret valley. The land was part of Cumania (the land of the Cumans or Kuns) and many villages still have place names of Magyar origin dating form this period.
At the beginning of the 13th century, the Pope sent Dominican missionaries to the Cumans in order to Christianise them. Theodoric was ordained as the first Bishop of the Cumans.
|1225||Hungarian frontier-guards arrived and are the ancestors of present-day Moldavian Hungarians.|
|1227||Roman Catholic Episcopate was established in Cumania.|
|1234||Pope Grigore IX ordered Teodoric, bishop of the Cumans, to name a bishop of Wallchian origin. This suggests that there were Romanians of Catholic faith at this time.|
|1241||Batu, the grandson of Genghis Khan, destroyed Cumania and devastated Hungary. Few people were left alive in what used to be Cumania. Over the following century the deserted area was slowly to be taken over by Vlachs and Ukrainians.|
|1359||Bogdan Voda of Maramures crossed the Carpathians and founded the principality of Moldavia.|
|1371||Roman Catholic Episcopate was established in Siret by Prince Latcu of Moldavia.|
|1413||In the reign of Alexander a new bishopric was founded in Baia|
|1670||Petru Parcevic (bishop of Bacau) shows that the less than a third of the inhabitants of Moldavia had survived through the frequent invasions and plundering of foreign armies and in particular that of Gengis Khan.|
|1634 - 1653||Voivode Vasile Lupu asked Rome for a spiritual leader for 12,000 Moldavian Catholic believers.|
|1641||Apostolic Vicar Peter Diodat gave a detailed account of the settlements of the Moldavian Catholics and the number of their inhabitants.|
|1646||Bandinus records 1,201 Catholics, 300 of which had Romanian names. Of 33 localities mentioned only 11 still exist today.|
|1671||Del Monte (Italian missionary)
records that the Moldavian Catholics' native language was Romanian.
Szabófalva and five other villages wrote a letter of complaint about the missionaries' abuses of power, and saying that "if the injury is not redressed they will put themselves under the orthodox bishop's authority".
|1680||Vito Piluzio reports to Rome that the inhabitants of some Catholic settlements had all left. For example Sabaoani was uninhabited from 1687 to 1744.|
Ciubotaru, Ion H. (1998), Catolicii din Moldova, Iasi
Giurescu, Constantin (1972) Chronological History of Romania, Bucharest
Guglielmino, C R, De Silvestri, A, Beres, J (2000), Probable ancestors of Hungarian ethnic groups: an admixture analysis, Ann. Human Genetics, 64, pp124-159
Kapalo, James A. (1996), The Moldavian Csángós: 'National Minority' or 'Local Ethnie'?
Martinas, Dumitru (1999), The Origins of the Changos, The Center for Romanian Studies, Iasi
Tánczos, Vilmos (1998), Hungarian in Moldavia, Teleki László Foundation, http://www.kia.hu/konyvtar/erdely/moldvang.htm