A Biography of Traian Popovici
by Florintin Lehaci
President of 'Traian Popovici Association'
Traian Popovici was born on 17 October in Rusi Manastioara
(Udesti) village, near Suceava town. His father was a priest
(Ioan Popovici) and also he was Andrei Popovici's grandson, a famous
priest in Udesti who refused to swear loyalty to the Austrich
domination in 1777.
His opposition was made inside the church in presence of the
parishioners and in presence of the representative of the Empire. Of
course, the priest was arrested and lead to Suceava. But he was helped
by his own parishioners and he succeed in escaping from prison,
crossing the Suceava river during the night.
His mother (Eufrosina Popovici) was born in Bodnarescu family, who had
7 children. Traian Popovici's great-grandfather, Mihai Bodnarescu, was
also a patriot, being deputy in Radauti. Mihai succed in obtaining the
right to go in front of Frantz Iosef emperor. Due to his efforts, he
obtained in 1848 an autonomy decree for Bukowina.
Other personality from this family was Leonida Bodnarescu (a famous
pedagogue and principal). Mother's father was also a priest.
Ioan and Eufrosina married in Rusi Manastioarei, she being 17 years
old. Later they moved in Fundu Moldovei village, where he was appointed
a priest. In their family were born 4 children. The eldest one was
Traian, then Leon, Eugen and Constanta(surnamed Stanuca). Leon died
during the first world war, when he was 20 years old.
Traian studied at the superior gymnasium in Suceava (1903-1911), then
he attended the courses of the Faculty of Law in Cernauti. During
1913-1914 he was the president of 'Junimea' (a student Society) in
Cernowitz. In 1919 he gratued the faculty of Law, then obtaining the
All the children had got a rough education. in family. Especially,
their father was very authoritatively with them, punishing their
mistakes. It is famous their calling in a specially room where their
father first quarreled them and then they were pulled by ears. But very
often they were punished with a stick, getting at least 10 and the most
25 kicks. Also, they had to number their own kicks but without tears.
If they quarreled, then the counting was beginning again. After this
ritual, they were learned to request the parent's apologizes and the
father's blessing. And then, the poor mother was trying to give the
children some cakes for sweetening of their pains. Of course, this
punish was applied in case of the big mistakes. It must be said that
this way of punishing was used only in the first classes until they
were in the 4th or 5 th grade.
As you notice, there were a ritual for their whole family.
Following the same model, there were their meals, after an unchanged
programme. Thus, at 7 o'clock they had coffee, at half past twelve they
had lunch and dinner at half past 7 p.m. As you see they had a very
Also, each of them had very well established places
during the meal. In front of the table, the father there was, place
which was respected by all and after the their father' s death. At the
left of father was the mother. Opposite the father, was Traian because
he was the eldest of his brothers. Nobody was sitting at the table
before father's coming.
The rules were rigid and even when they had to
eat. Thus, they were not allowed to stay with their elbows on the
table. During the lunch, the discussions were very shorts and and in
these they were allowed to participate only the parents and Traian.
Those who didn't respect this rules had to leave that room and eat in
the kitchen. In the evening, they used
to read something from the Romanian classic literature or the
whole chapters from 'The Romanian history' written by the famous
historian A.D. Xenopol.
This task belonged to Traian. Also, he had a
real poetical talent and he used to read to the whole family poems
written by Eminescu, Cosbuc, Goga and so on. Moreover, he knew by heart
many of their poems, especially those with historical background. He
liked very much to recite 'The battle from Rovine' a magnificent poem
written by Eminescu. Before sleeping, mother used to sing the
melancholy Romanian folk songs.
At 9 p.m. (in the summer later), they
had to go to bed, because the second day they had to get up early.
Father got up at about 5 a.m., while the children had to get up at 6
a.m. Till 7 a.m., when they had to coffee, they had to do cleaning in
their room, wash, clean the boots and , the most important, do the
Every day, Traian Popovici's father read the newspaper which he
subscribed Gazeta Transilvaniei, Romanul, even newspapers from
Wiena (like the newspaper of the socialist Christian Party from
Austria). Sometimes he used to read for the entire family the most
Their father was a nationalist, like all the Romanian priest, hating
the foreign domination from Bukowina. But, this nationalism wasn't
chauvinist, but he respected the rights of the others ethnics from
Romania. This fact is showed by the event from November 1918, when the
industrial jew (S. Gelber), from village which neighbored Fundu
Moldovei. Gelber refugied in their house , being hosted a few days by
their father. Then, father took him by chariot as far as Cimpulung
town, saving him from huligan's violence.
During the holiday or during the Sundays, the children together with
the parents used to go the reading club from Fundu Moldovei, named 'The
light', which were organized by some famous teachers from there.
Another custom was walking with two chariots along Bistrita valey.
If it rained, they remained inside the house, reading especially ' The
Lives of the Saints', written with Cyrillic letters. Another
entertainment was the chess, organized by Traian in which his friends
The time of school
The beginning of the school represented moments of great spiritual
pain, because the children had to go to school in Suceava, 70 km away
from Fundu Moldovei.
Before their departure, there was another ritual initiated by the
father. The last one called all the four children in one special room
(which they called the teacher's room), the mother standing on the
This ritual took place every year, on 31st of August, at 9 o'clock and
a mobilizing speech was held by the father: 'Boys, starting from
tomorrow another academic year begins and starting from tomorrow you
are not allowed to have another concern but to learn. You need to know
one thing that you don't learn for me, but only for you and your own
good, to become civilized people, useful for you and or the nation you
come from. And if your heart doesn't lead you to learning, tell us
straight, because not everyone is made for school. However painful it
may be for us, you will have the opportunity to become a good
craftsman, good and cherished by everybody, being known that the craft
art is a golden bracelet. The most important thing in life is not what
you become but to be people who know their place, honest and human. I
tell you once again: study hard and do not dishonor my name! I don't
want to hear bad things about you, because this will bury me and your
mother alive. Don't forget to tell your morning and evening prayers
constantly, because every thought comes true only with God's blessing.
And because we all are simply passengers through the life, I might die
unexpectedly. For that hard time, I tell my last wish: listen to your
mother, help her and ease her poor life. And I also tell you this. I
don't leave you earthly goods, because I don't have them. All I have is
an honest name bound by your ancestors both to history and to
Bukovina.Traian dear, you the eldest one, be the guardian of this saint
And then with tears in their eyes, they all knelled and one of them
said the prayer 'Our Father'. After that the children kissed their
parents' hands and then they got on the cart, leaving for Suceava.
To be continued....