Holy Archangels' Monastery near Prizren, Serbia

"You showed me the church of Yours as the source of health", Dusan's gift charter. -Full reconstruction was interrupted... -In June 1999 a monk from the monastery, Fr. Chariton, was abducted. -Now - a spiritual center gathering the remaining Orthodox people from Prizren and around. The young monastic brotherhood is full of religious enthusiasm and remains confident that one day Holy Archangels will be completely reconstructed.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Banana Republic of Kosova!

by Prishtina team

No comment!


Saturday, May 27, 2006

A housing boom with no buyers

(from archive - exactly 2 years ago)
by Mark Almond
29 May 2004, New Statesman

"Hands up!" the young east German soldier ordered at the sturdy military bridge leading to the ruins of the monastery of the Archangels outside Prizren. "Empty your pockets." He was looking for explosives or incendiary devices.

Nowadays Brits are so used to NOT talking about the war and regarding modern Germans as models of a post-military society that it came as a shock to be barked at by a real German.

"Fotografieren verboten!" the sergeant shouted.

As if to emphasise their no-nonsense approach to peacekeeping in this south-western corner of Kosovo, the German KFOR troops had put up signs proclaiming:
"This building/site is protected by law. Any act of vandalism and looting will be considered as a criminal offence of the utmost gravity" and "KFOR Area - Prohibited Area ! Danger authorized use of firearms."

What the German is for "locking the stable door after the horse has bolted" I forget, but this Prussian severity was made comic rather than intimidating by the tragic scene next to the Bundeswehr's formidable armoured cars. The Monastery of the Archangels was a burned out ruin.

Placed between a fast flowing river sweeping down from the high mountains dividing Kosovo from Macedonia and protected by a steep cliff behind were the remains of not one but two Monasteries of the Archangels. The older one was built in the mid-fourteenth century and then largely demolished by the Ottomans to provide stone for the elegant Sinan mosque in the centre of Prizren.

The monks only moved back in in 1998 _ hardly the most auspicious moment to re-establish monastic life there. But their newly built church and cells survived the collapse of Serbian rule in June, 1999, unscathed. In fact, the Byzantine and medieval Serbian orthodox churches in Prizren were virtually unscarred by the war as were the local mosques. Only the important Albanian monument to the nationalist League of Prizren was blown up after NATO started bombing _ and it has been restored now.

Almost exactly five years after NATO's war against Milosevic began widespread violence erupted again in Kosovo. On 17th March, the monks received a mobile phone call from an Albanian (as they judged from his accent in Serbian) warning them that a mob of 500 Albanians were marching up the road from Prizren three miles away. Already the churches of Prizren and scores of Serbian houses which had survived the 1999 war were on fire..

German troops had guarded the monks since 1999 and had built the broad bridge across the river to carry their heavy vehicles and supplies. At the other end of the monastery a high gate blocked access by the traditional route across the river. However, though the Germans loaded the monks into an armoured car and took them to safety (for which they were very obviously grateful), according to their sergeant they had "no mandate" to block the bridge or to use force against the arsonists who poured into the monastery grounds. Helping themselves to fuel from the KFOR camp supply, the crowd set fire to the church and monks' cells.

Since the situation has cooled down, the German soldiers have reverted to Hun mode in an effort to make up for the ineffectiveness on the day when local policemen in Prizren complain too that they were left trying to control the sudden eruption of anti-Serb violence without military assistance. Their mantra about the lack of mandate recalled the sorry days of the EU's foray into peacekeeping in Croatia and Bosnia more than a decade ago when it was the Croat or Bosnian victims of Serb paramilitaries who went unprotected because no-one authorised their defence by the tens of thousands of NATO soldiers on the ground. Now in Kosovo it is the Serbs turn to suffer from the mandate.

By contrast the local Albanian para-military mafias have understood the situation in Ksovo and globally. By mid-March the US and British armies were sinking into the Iraqi quagmire. Kosovo was not a priority any more. Of course, a few reinforcements were rushed out to calm the storm, but everyone knew they were not coming to stay. German and American soldiers both said to me, "We cannot stay for ever."$$$

Knowing how desperate NATO is to avoid trouble on the Balkan front, the rioting in March was a classic mafia way of upping the price for quiet. And it is being paid. After a tailing off in aid supplies over the last five years, now each day a mile long queue of trucks waits to enter Kosovo from Macedonia. It was like a return to the boom days of 1999 when international aid flowed to the 1.6 million Kosovars as if they were twenty times that number.

While Serb historical monuments go un-repaired and will probably fade from view due to neglect and vandalism, the landscape of Kosovo has been transformed by shed-loads of bright red German bricks donated by the EU and other aid agencies. Where once fields, orchards or vineyards stood, now the outlines of countless three or four story houses march across the land.

A housing boom on green field sites unimagined even by John Prescott is transforming Kosovo into a suburban sprawl. Yet there is something odd about the new houses. It is not that they are large, nor even that they are empty. It is that so many are unfinished and don't seem designed for human habitation. They lack sewage channels and water pipes or points for electricity cables. Many have straw on the floors even of upper stories and are obviously used as stalls for animals.

Since many Albanians admit that their young people, especially young men have gone abroad to Western Europe, there are fewer people needing these grand houses but up they go nevertheless. Sometimes a father has three or four multi-story shells around his old house waiting solemnly for the return of his sons.

For Albanians Kosovo has become a cargo cult which actually delivers but the province is in reality an architectural and ecological disaster. But the landscape is haunted by empty jerry built structures with no obvious purpose, a kind of Balkan Easter Island.

In two thousand years time, archaeologists and anthropologists will puzzle over the purpose of these buildings and why people sent tons of bricks and mortar every year from northern Europe as tribute to the cult. Maybe they'll even find the ruins of the Archangels' monastery and be confused by carbon dating placing its un-restored remains in precisely the same era as the building boom.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

"Orthodox Christians" also may to persecute

We are witnesses of a huge torture continuously being enforced against our bishop and spiritual father, his grace Artemy. He is being obstructed in every possible way, even by members of Serbian Orthodox Church. By putting pressure towards him they know that they are at risk of the Kosovo&Metohija region staying a Christian land. This proves that those people do not hesitate by any means in their aim to eliminate him.
The reason to prosecute him is his zeal for morality in Church. (A month ago it was published by some media that Albanian narco-mafia blackmailed Serbian bishops: “If you don’t stop Artemy in his battle for Kosovo we will publish proofs of sexual immorality of some of your church's bishops.”)
Another reason may be his zeal for truthful doctrine of the Church. He clearly unmasks heresy of “Ecumenism”. Because of this he is a thorn in the eye of many. Last year, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, on Orthodox bishops' session from throughout the world, acclaimed him: -It was referred to me by Belgrade: "Unfortunately, bishop of Ras-Prizren and Kosovo&Metohija went to schism.”
Fortunately, his Belgrade sneaks were not well informed.
With that being said and also knowing that many of his spiritual children are trembling before “mighty” rulers of this world we MUST say our word and defend our spiritual father and eminent Christian leader. The following text, which we are taking from Orthodox Christian Information Center clearly reveals not only uncompromising veraciousness of our beloved bishop but also reasons of enemies of Christianity to hate him:
The Serbian Orthodox Church Vis-á-Vis Ecumenism

A talk presented at the September, 2004 conference "Ecumenism: Origins, Expectations, Disenchantment", sponsored by the School of Pastoral Theology, The Aristotelian University, Thessaloniki, Greece. Translated by Snezana Ivanisevic De Berthet.
Ecumenism is a child of the 20th century. It was born at its outset, experienced a metamorphosis in the World Council of Churches around the middle of the century and by its end, it was on its last breath being fiercely rejected. Unfortunately, it survived this crisis, and continues to trouble the Church of God in the 21st century.
This theological conference on ecumenism, in our humble opinion, is long overdue but not hopelessly so. Therefore, we thank God, as well as all those who worked to make this eminent gathering possible, in order that the issue of ecumenism may be considered from various perspectives, which should be of great help to all local Orthodox Churches, as well as the Church as a whole and every faithful person. It will help the Church take the proper position toward this, not only the latest, but also the most dangerous ecclesiological heresy, which our well-known theologian, Fr. Justin Popovich, consequently called pan-heresy because it encompasses all heresies previously known in the history of the Church...more


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Why Serbia's elite are willing to give up everything for God

(from archive)
Neda doesn't like talking about the rift with her parents. The denim-clad 24-year-old bows her head and shrugs; she cannot understand why her family disapproves of her lifestyle.

The arguments do not centre on drink, drugs or Neda's choice of boyfriends; in most households in Britain the young artist would be considered a paragon of virtue. But Neda Kovinic lives in Serbia and her mother and father are upset because their daughter has become a devout Christian. Worse, she is considering becoming a nun.

The bright-eyed young woman is typical of a huge number of well-educated twenty and thirtysomethings who are turning to the country's Orthodox Church to find meaning in lives blighted by war, NATO bombings and the heavy hand of the Belgrade regime. In the past many disillusioned young Serbs moved abroad to escape what has become a sanctions-strapped pariah state. Now a groundswell of youth has found a new escape route from shortages and the corruption endemic in the Serbia ruled by President Milosevic - they are retreating to Orthodox convents and monasteries.

Their parents are often hurt and baffled; many middle-aged Serbs were brought up as atheists or agnostics during the Communist heyday of the Tito era, and they regard the Orthodox Church with suspicion or hostility. They also realise that they are unlikely to become grandparents if their offspring become nuns and monks.

"My parents were not at all religious," says Neda. "I first became interested when older friends started attending church about ten years ago."

Neda, a student of fine art, architecture and interior design, explains: "I thought that art would help me to find my place in the world and teach me how to express myself. I have now realised that art is not serious enough to express the deep things in my life."

Neda sits in a small, neat apartment in Belgrade with her friends Vesna Vesic and Dusan Radunovic, who are also contemplating taking religious vows. Unusually for Serbs, they do not smoke and they drink coffee, eschewing the bottle of slivovitz offered to guests.

"Now I fast and go to church every week," says Neda. "It is the only way I can understand the dangers of life in Serbia. Fear of death, which can paralyse people, can be overcome with faith in eternal life. Fear of death is everywhere in the world but, here in Serbia, especially during the bombing, it has been extreme. Living as a nun would offer me a very pure way of living."

Vesna, also 24, was baptised into the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo three years ago: "It completely changed my life," she says. "It changed the nature of my life and work. Before that I was looking for meaning in classical music and philosophy, but it was not enough."

Vesna, a student of fine art and sculpture, produced one of only two Yugoslav entries chosen for the Venice Film Festival last year - a video she made of her own tears. "It is a close-up of my tears of repentance. I wanted to do a video about fear, but after my baptism it became clear to me that I needed to concentrate on repentance. I wanted to make a film about real tears, not simulation. The repentance is my personal repentance for my sins."

Dusan is a serious, postgraduate student of comparative literature at Belgrade University and his Roman Catholic girlfriend, Sanja Buhan, sits at his side as he explains why he is considering becoming a monk. "My family is agnostic," he says. "I am trying to find some deeper, more ethical way of life. The crisis in this country over the past few years has created a deeper need for a spiritual life. I often go to a monastery to talk to the community there and try to fulfil my intellectual and emotional needs. Will I become a monk? You always have that thought in your mind."

Neda cuts in: "This change in young people is connected with the naked life we live here now, without comfort. We cannot travel, so we travel within ourselves."

"We all have big problems with our families," says Vesna. "Our faith isn't strong enough to stop bad things happening. If our faith was stronger, maybe these things wouldn't have happened."

Five or ten years ago Serbian Orthodox churches were usually full only at Easter and other key dates in the Orthodox calendar. Now it is estimated that three times as many people attend church regularly, most of them young, urban and educated. They can be seen on weekdays as well as Sundays emerging from the ornate churches of Belgrade having attended long Orthodox services where the congregation stands throughout.

"People are giving up successful careers to go into the Church," says Dusan.

"This does not usually mean jobs that pay well, because those jobs are scarce in Serbia and often involve criminals and the mafia," says a photographer friend of Dusan. "But most of those joining convents and monasteries are people with fulfilling work, those with good degrees and who enjoy their professions. They are not escaping from dead-end jobs."

The Church Synod has called on President Milosevic to resign, but religion is generally treated with indifference bordering on contempt by the ruling family, especially by Milosevic's wife, Mira Markovic, who is a stalwart Communist of the old order. The Church is also highly critical of NATO, blaming the alliance for failing to protect scores of churches that have been destroyed in Kosovo by vengeful ethnic Albanians.

Serbia's young people are sickened by the destruction of the monasteries and churches in Kosovo and cannot understand why the West has raised barely a whisper of complaint. They take heart, instead, from the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church, who has launched an appeal to protect historic Christian monuments in Kosovo. "Since the arrival of . . . peacekeeping troops in Kosovo, Albanian extremists have damaged and totally destroyed more than 80 Orthodox churches and monasteries in the region, [some] of them dating back to the Middle Ages," Archbishop Christodoulos said last month in a letter to Tony Blair. A Greek Orthodox official in Athens said that the same text had been sent to President Clinton, the United Nations and leaders of other European Union and NATO nations.

The monastery that Dusan is considering joining as a monk lies on the edge of the sleepy, snow-blanketed village of Kovilj, a few miles south of Novi Sad. [A New Zealander, Fr Sava, has been at Kovilj for 8 years] Twenty monks, with an average age of 29, spend their days in quiet contemplation, reading, farming, making icons and candles, which they sell, and praying. All the monks have faced opposition from their families over their decision to join the monastery.

"Some parents have come here to try to force their sons to leave," says Father Isihije [Hesychios], a senior brother known as the priest-monk. "Some do not talk to their sons for six or seven years."

Father Isihije, whose name dervies from the Greek word for "quietness", was ostracized by his own family, including his father, who was a diplomat. The 6ft 2in priest-monk speaks fluent English "because my family spent time in Washington".

So what sort of lives do these ostracised young men lead? The monks rise at 4.30 in the morning, then pray for nearly four hours before eating a simple breakfast at 8.30. Their only other meal is at 6.30 in the evening.

"The centre of our life is Church services," says Father Isihije. "We have services for five hours a day and we spend several hours doing our daily chores, which we call obediences. Everyone takes a turn in the kitchen, painting icons, making candles or looking after the cattle. We also have private prayers in our cells using our prayer ropes [an Orthodox version of rosary beads]."

During their private prayers the monks sometimes prostrate themselves on the floor. The lifestyle is not intended to be punishing, however, merely modest. "We have central heating and we do not go hungry," says Father Isihije.

Before taking their final vows, monks and nuns spend between two and five years as novices and up to half of them drop out during this probationary period. This still leaves a vast number who go on to pledge their lives to the Church. Figures are not kept for the whole of Yugoslavia, according to a church spokesman, but members of the synod estimate that the number of young people entering monasteries and convents has tripled in the past ten years.

With no end in sight to the woes and upheavals in the Balkans, it is a trend that seems set to continue.

Eve-Ann Prentice
The Times, March 7, 2000
Taken from http://holy-trin.org/serbia.html

RECENT NEWS: The Washington Times: Kosovo consternation, By James "Ace" Lyons Jr., May 9, 2006
Renew America: Why opposite Policies for Christian Serbs and Kosovo Albanians, Mary Mostert, May 11, 2006

Friday, May 05, 2006

BOOM of natality in "Independent State of Kosova", or something else?

In 1999. Kosovo became de facto independent Albanian state, with UN administration. During last seven years all but 20 elder Serbs left town, number of Turks, Roma comunity, Slav-Muslims decreasing, but...

type of geographical entity
city, town or place

name variants: local, historical, original or foreign names

geo-coordinates in degrees (decimal)

population figures
1981------61 801------census----other
1991------92 303------census---secondary
2006-----165 227----calculation

NEWS: By Aleksandar Pavic © 2006 WorldNetDaily.com
Kosovo: The real test of U.S. foreign policy