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The Sacralization of Martyric Death in Romanian Legionary Movement: Self-sacrificial Patriotism, Vicarious Atonement, and Thanatic Nationalism


politics religion & ideologyJournal abstract

The paper explores the radical morphing of Romanian patriotism in the aftermath of the Great War within the Legionary movement. It shows, first, how the war martialized the rhetoric of self-sacrificial patriotism articulated discursively during the second part of the long nineteenth century that accompanied the making of the Romanian national statehood. Second, the paper focuses on unraveling the postwar cultural matrix that made possible a radical, self-sacrificial, patriotism to emerge within the Romanian Iron Guard’s fascist worldview. Within the Legion’s redemptive political theology, the wartime national patriotism aiming at redeeming the nation by making the Greater Romania was rendered into a mystical self-sacrificial patriotism driven by a messianic thrust and infused with soteriological tropes and martyrological themes of Orthodox inspiration. The paper argues that an ethics of self-sacrificial patriotism with the cult of death at its centerpiece was instituted in the Legion’s conception of heroic martyrdom which corresponds to an ideology of thanatic ultra-nationalism.

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