Dumitru Stăniloae (1903–1993)
The youngest of five children, Dumitru Stăniloae was born on November 16, 1903, in the village of Vladeni in Transylvania, then a region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, absorbed into Romania at the end of World War I. Partly because of his rural upbringing, partly because of Romanian intellectual and cultural movements that exalted the peasant, Stăniloae loved peasant culture and reflected it in his writings. Stăniloae's parents were both devout Orthodox Christians; his father was a church chanter. Both parents exerted a lasting influence on him and on his choice of an ecclesiastical and theological career.
From 1922 to 1927, Stăniloae studied theology at the Faculty of Theology in Cernauti, now in the Ukraine, receiving some financial support from Nicolae Balan, Orthodox Metropolitan of Transylvania (1920–55). Several of his professors in Cernauti were locally prominent theologians. Dumitru, however, did not like the Westernized style of academic theology that prevailed throughout the Orthodox world at the time, with its characteristic scholasticism and nineteenth-century religious rationalism. In 1927, he went to Athens for a few months of research, again with the financial support of Metropolitan Balan.
In 1928, Stăniloae returned to Cernauti and hastily completed and defended a very brief doctoral dissertation in church history entitled “The Life and Work of Patriarch Dositheos of Jerusalem and his Relations with the Romanian Lands.” In this work, he presented the Romanian lands as a meeting place between the Greek and Slav worlds, and as a guardian of the Byzantine heritage. He has also emphasized his country's special position within the world as the only predominantly Orthodox country that used Latin.
For another full year after obtaining his doctorate in theology, Stăniloae traveled to Munich, Berlin, and Paris for additional study and research. He was drawn especially to the dialogical theology of Martin Buber and the