Certainly one of Eastern Europe's most oppressed nations, Romania suffered much during the years of Communism. The infamous dictator Ceausescu, who killed, tortured and imprisoned over two million people, was himself killed in December 1989. The transition to freedom was tumultuous and the country was left impoverished, resulting in hundreds of thousands of Romanians leaving for a better life in countries such as the U.S., Canada, Austria and other European nations.
About the Shrine at Csiksomlyo:
But faith is something that survives, no how brutal a regime might be. Such is the case of the major Marian Shrine at Csiksomlyo, which is in fact the only major Catholic Shrine in the country. The shrine dates from the 14th Century when the Franciscans founded it, and actually consists of the Pilgrimage Church , the Franciscan Monastery.
The statue of Our Lady was a feature in the church from that time, although the origins of the statue are unclear. Regardless, many came to pray before the statue and reports of miracles due to Our Lady's intercession from the 16th Century onward.
In the ensuing centuries the shrine itself was attacked and burnt to the ground on several occasions, yet the statue miraculously survived. There is also a report of one enemy soldier who attempted to pierce the statue with his lance but was not able to do so. The shrine draws thousands of faithful each year, not only from Romania but from many other countries as well. The statue is on display above the High Altar in the church, which itself is one of the most beautiful in Europe.
Each year, on Pentecost Sunday, the annual pilgrimage takes place. As crowds grew, their was not enough room inside, so an outside altar was built on the hillside and Mass takes place there.
If you are traveling independently, trains from Bucharest to Miercurea- Ciuc take about 4-5 hours if you catch a direct train. From there it is about one mile to the shrine. there is also an overnight train, leaving around 11:30 p.m. (23:30) and arriving next morning at 9:20 a.m.
Drive time from Bucharest is estimated to be about 4 hours as well.