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.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Germans and St. Bishop Nikolaj of Serbia – Life After Death (part II)


...His sojourn in Dahau, the camp of death, presents to the world the best book ever written about Nazism and German people - “The Neverland”. He clearly makes distinctions between these two notions, pointing out that basic instincts have led German Reich towards the suicide of its own people, and that in every man, or in every German, there is a Christwise soul which longs for Justice and Truth. At the same time, this is the most delicate book ever written about its enemy and the most bitter critique of the modern rooted corruption.

The Second World War was over, after being released from Duhau, St. Nikolaj was declared by communist regime to have been the greatest enemy of the communist Yugoslavia and was exiled to America, but the spiritual bond between him and Germans was not broken by that act. Furthermore, it was further intensified after his death. After a certain time distance, the meeting between late but alive Nikolaj and Germans were continued in a new way. This is a story which could not be made up by even the most imaginative writers:

Years have past after the bishop’s death in 1956, but his glory and the awareness of the importance of his work increased among the members of an Orthodox church. Many people saw him as a saint even when he was still living and turned to him in their prayers as to a bold intercessor to God, which continued after his death. People were delighted by him, called him in their prayers, painted icons of him, although he was not formally pronounced a saint. (At the same time, his name was besmirched in communist Yugoslavia). Being aware of the power that this not deceased man had, a well-known writer and a communist servant Miroslav Krleza advised the leaders of communist propaganda that: “It is better not to write anything about Nikolaj and to forget him, since it is impossible to dispute with him”. Nevertheless, his books were published abroad (in Germany and America), religious people kept his books in hiding places, and his icons were painted all over America. Authoritarian regime died in Yugoslavia, as well as everywhere else in the world, when Lord was pleased. In spring 1991. Serbian Orthodox Church and Nikolaj’s nephew Tiosav moved the bishop’s relics from America to native Lelic near Valjevo – to a country wounded by sinful acts.

At the time, a new monastery “Soko-grad” (Falcon-city) was built in his native land, a monastery which was to be dedicated to St. Nikolaj. But it raised a question – to whom it was dedicated – to Nikolaj of Myr- Licia or the Serbian one who was not named saint yet. The first nun in this monastery became an orthodox German woman, the descendant of a German general Ler, who was the commander of Belgrade during The Second World War. In the other part of the country, in Kosovo and Metohija near Prizren, or Serbian Jerusalem, former communist authorities allowed bishop Artemije (who was, just like Nikolaj, born in village Lelic) to renovate medieval monastery “Holy Archangels”. The great church demolished by Islamists during the five centuries long captivity was impossible to renovate. Therefore, a small chapel was built for the purpose of monks’ religious services. Bishop Artemije unscrupulously took an unexpected step: He dedicated the first church to the honor of St. Nikolaj of Zica, Ohrid and Serbia. The sanctification of church and dormitory took place during the war, in the last moment which was possible – when Kosovo was the scene of conflict between Milosevic’s police and Albanian separatists. In no time, NATO supported Albanian separatist and took over province Kosovo. Albanian terrorists murdered many Serbian people as a revenge for their losses during the war. The first monk who entered the monastic order in “St. Nikolaj’s” church was kidnapped and murdered, after which a general who was in charge for the Prizren region made a decision: among the other orthodox objects German army will protect Holy Archangels’ monastery as well.

Monks have spent five years with Germans who protected St. Nikolaj’s church. Among other icons, there was the icon of St. Nikolaj who watched them. Soldiers passed like tourists by the church and Nikolaj’s relics which were stored in this monastery, acknowledging that the artist who painted it was indeed a great artist. I do not know if any of them have ever heard of him or prayed in front of this icon. But…

“O God, thou are beautiful within your saints”. 1999. or perhaps 2000. Among those who protect the monastery there is a young atheist soldier. “There is no God. I do not believe” – he was explicit in his religion. Nevertheless, he accepted the suggestion of other soldiers to enter the church, since a monk was about to sing something for the religious service. During the service nobody present noticed anything strange. Everybody except the “atheist” started leaving church. “Why do you look so frightened?” – his friends asked him. - He looked at me. “Who?” – HE! – the frightened soldier answered while an internal change was taking place within him. - He turned the head on the icon, looked at me and then moved the head to the former position – answered the German, pointing out at bishop Nikolaj.

After his mission, he bought incense and some other religious things and promised that he would go to church when he comes back to Germany. Will he meet there St. Nikolaj and God as well?...




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