Bishop Ioan Duma

Ioan Duma, O. F. M. Conv., was elected titular bishop of Giuliopoli secretly on November 16, 1948, by Pope Pius XII. He was chosen as auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Iasi, whose bishop Anton Durcovici belonged to the first victims of the new regime. Gerald Patrick O’Hara, Apostolic Nuncio in Romania, consecrated Fr. Duma on December 8, 1948, in the chapel of the nunciature in Bucarest in clandestine as bishop.

Bishop Duma never was acknowledged in his episcopal function by the state and therefore could never serve as bishop officially. When he died on July 16, 1981, the Holy See published his death and confirmed for the first time his episcopal dignity, after the late pope Paul VI had received him in private audience some time before.

Shortly after the clandestine consecrations of 1948/1949, the communist regime already knew of the new bishops‘ existence, after the secret service – maybe by the nuncio’s driver – got in possession of a list with the names of the newly consecrated prelates. Ioan Duma was also confined and had to spend a long time in prison.

His family hands down an episode from his time in prison, which illustrates his martyrdom. So his nephew Ioan Antal reports: „One night, when he was beaten, one guardian broke fingers from his right hand, and he prayed all night. He was wondering, how he could do in future the Holy Mass, and how he could play organ. In the morning his fingers were again in perfect condition.“

On the permanent observation of the bishop by the secret service his grand nephew Andrei Ioan Antal reports: „My father remembers that when he visited bishop Ioan Duma in Targu Jiu, his mother (bishop’s sister) dressed him like a beggar, because in front of his house in Targu Jiu were communists officers. He was searched less if he was dressed like that. If some one of his family dared to pay him a visit, the officers
were present permanently. It was easier to come like a beggar. Bishop’s sister sent to him like this a lot of
money and personal things, and the bishop sent back letters with his poems and some prayers. So my father was a messenger when he was a child.“

„The first picture shows a radio „AKKORD“ (german one). In his house in Targu Jiu, in all the rooms there were microphones of communist ofiicers. So when my father came to him, he turn on the radio very loud, and whispered very quickly to my father some message for another priest of his family. The microphones couldn’t record the whispers, so is was a very good idea. This radio is in a perfect condition and it is in my house. The second picture is a chandelier. It was bishop’s chandelier from his parent’s house. It has probably 150 years. It works with petrol. It is covered with blue cobalt.“

Andrei Ioan Antal, Bishop Duma’s grand nephew

The nephew reports: „I found an old nun, who helped him in his last years. She told us amazing stories. The first picture is from 11 november 1971. The pope Paul VI has invited bishop Ioan Duma in Vatican to join a synod. But the communist officers didn’t allow that and told him: We are very sorry, but there are no places in the airplane for you. So, bishop Ioan Duma has informed Vatican, and the pope himself sent his personal airplane to get bishop Ioan Duma and told: Be calm, they can’t do anything about that. So, bishop Ioan Duma could get in time for the synod.“

Pope St. Paul VI receives Bishop Duma in private audience, 1971

„The second photo is the only picture with his mother. It is the first public appearance after his detention in Aiud. First of all, he wants to visit his mother. It was the person who loved him the most. This picture is from 1957. On 3 march 1958, his mother died. It was a shock for him.“

Bishop Duma with his mother, 1957
First holy communion in Romania
Bishop Duma on the catafalque; in the right center his sister with her husband
Left, middle, right: three sons of the bishop’s sister
July 1981: facing communism, countless faithfulls went to bishop Duma’s funeral
Ioan Antal, nephew of the bishop, with his wife Maria. They gave their permission to publish the photos of the deceased prelate, which where never shown before.

The picture of the first holy communion comes from the archive of Hofrat Dr Manfred Kierein, Vienna. All other photos are private property of the bishop’s relatives.