Information Service of
the Serbian Orthodox Church

May 17, 2004

RENEWED RESIDENCE QUARTERS OF HOLY TRINITY MONASTERY IN PLJEVLJA CONSECRATED

His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle served Holy Archierchal Liturgy on Sunday, May 16, 2004, in Holy Trinity Monastery in Pljevlja together with Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral, Metropolitan Nikolaj of Dabro-Bosnia, Bishop Irinej of Nis, Bishop Vasilije of Zvornik and Tuzla, Bishop Georgije of Canada, Bishop Longin of America and Canada, Bishop Irinej of Backa, Bishop Dositej of Britain and Scandinavia, Bishop Chrysostom of Bihac and Petrovac, Bishop Lukijan of Osijek and Baranja, Bishop Konstantin of Central Europe, Bishop Luka of Western Europe, Bishop Pahomije of Vranje, Bishop Sava of Slavonija, Bishop Filaret of Milesevo, Bishop Grigorije of Zahumlje and Herzegovina, and Bishop Joanikije of Niksic and Budimlje.

Konferencija za novinareMr. Filip Vujanovic, the president of Montenegro, attended the Holy Archierchal Liturgy as did other senior officials, cultural and political figures in the region. The Medal of St. Sava of the Second Degree was presented at the conclusion of Archierchal Liturgy to the director of the Pljevlja mine for his selfless assistance in the renewal of this shrine. The Church also expressed thanks to the Government of Montenegro for providing assistance for the renewal of the shrine.

After Holy Archierchal Liturgy, the renewed monastery residence quarters were formally consecrated. Addressing numerous reporters at a press conference, the president of Montenegro, Mr. Filip Vujanovic, stated that he had been saddened by the monastery's former appearance and that he was very happy that it has been renewed. He added that the Government of Montenegro will continue to renew monasteries and all church buildings.

Stap Svetog SaveMetropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral emphasized that Holy Trinity Monastery has last been restored 130 years ago and that it had truly been in need of renewal. It is extremely significant that the renewal occurred in cooperation between Church and State for the Church is the keeper of the cult and the State of the culture. The visit of His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle, the successor of the great Serbian Patriarch Varnava Rosic, a native of Pljevlja, is another great joy. Bishop Irinej of Backa said that ideological brainwashing with the purpose of distancing the people from faith and the Church from society and life had gone on too long.

As part of these great spiritual festivities, the foundation of the church of St. Nikolaj of Ochrid and Zica was also consecrated in the Prijepolje suburb of Kolovrat. The celebration was also attended by an exceptionally large number of residents from the region.

COUNCIL OF EUROPE'S EXPERT DELEGATION FINISHES TOUR OF SERBIAN PATRIMONIAL SITES DESTROYED IN MARCH POGROM

In the period from May 12-15, 2004, a team of experts from the Council of Europe visited all the destroyed and damaged Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries in Kosovo and Metohija with the goal of preparing a detailed assessment of damages to the Serbian Orthodox cultural heritage. The arrival of the CoE team of experts was organized by Council of Europe deputies Theodosios Mastrominas (Greece) and Michel de Tize (Belgium) who, together with the head of the CoE office in Pristina, Owen Masters, and representatives of UNMIK met with Bishop Artemije in Gracanica and worked out the details regarding the organization of the visit. Bishop Artemije expressed satisfaction that this visit was much better organized and that representatives of the Serbian Ministry of Culture were able to travel with the foreign experts, which unfortunately was not the case during the recent visit of the UNESCO team of experts. As well, this time representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church accompanied the experts as hosts and prepared additional photo documentation for the use of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren.

The team of experts itself was comprised of Alkiviades Prepis (architect, Greece) and David Johnson (England). They traveled throughout Kosovo and Metohija together with Zoran Garic and Dragoljub Todorovic, representatives of the Serbian Ministry of Culture; restorer Xhavid Lokaj and architect Bujar Demjaha, Albanian representatives of Kosovo provisional institutions; hierodeacon Andrej Sajc and monk Jezekilj Stakic from Visoki Decani Monastery, representatives of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren; and Stefano Sgoba (Italy) and Melinda Taylor (Australia), representatives of UNMIK. In three working days, the CoE experts visited all the damaged cultural monuments, traveling with Serbian and Kosovo Albanian experts and representatives of the Church in two groups at the same time in order to dedicate maximum attention to every location and make an appropriate damage assessment.

FIRST GROUP

The first group, consisting of Alkiviades Prepis, Melinda Taylor, Dragoljub Todorovic, Bujar Demjaha and monk Jezekilj Stakic, visited the following locations:

First day - Wednesday, May 12, 2004

- Pristina, church of St. Nicholas. The church was heavily damaged by fire on March 18, when the parish home, the baptismal hall were also set on fire and the old cemetery destroyed. The church is without a roof and a valuable iconostasis from the beginning of the 19th century with dozens of old icons burned in it. As well, the frescoes on the walls have been heavily damaged or completely destroyed. The old tombs in the cemetery have been shattered and human bones can be seen inside.
- Kosovo Polje, church of St. Nicholas. The construction is not seriously damaged but in the interior fires were set in several locations.
- Bresje, church of St. Catherine. The church is only partially damaged by fire.
- Lipljan, church of Sts. Florus and Laurus and the old church dedicated to the Entry of the Most Holy Mother of God into the Temple. The churches are partially damaged by hand grenades thrown in their immediate vicinity.
- Stimlje, church of the Holy Archangel Michael. The church has been damaged and looted on several occasions. The entire floor is covered by pigeon droppings. The iconostasis does not exist and the images of saints in the frescoes have been purposely scraped. The upper part of the bell tower has been burned.

Second day, Thursday, May 13, 2004

- Prizren, Mother of God of Ljevis (visited by both teams). The walls are covered with soot from the fire set inside the church. Many frescoes are heavily damaged. Birds are entering the church through the broken windows. Unless conservation work begins soon, the damage will be even greater. The heavy traffic around the church produces a lot of exhaust fumes further damaging this valuable monument of Serbian medieval art.
- Prizren, monastery of Holy Archangels. Clearing of debris from the burned down residence quarters has been completed. The entire installation is heavily damaged and will have to be reinstalled. Monks are presently living in the monastery in portable containers and tents. Services are carried out in a tent pitched on the ruins of the church of Holy Archangels.
- St. George Cathedral in Prizren. The church was burned and damaged with explosives. Derogatory and anti-Serb graffiti have been painted over by German soldiers, including the swastika at the entrance to Runovic's church.
- Runovic's church of St. George in Prizren. The church is heavily damaged by fire and all frescoes from the 14th century have been destroyed by fire. A bishop's tomb has been dug up and remains of human bones can be seen inside.
- Bishop's residence, completely burned and heavily damaged.
- Prizren, Tutic's church of St. Nicholas. The lead roof has been torn off the church; the interior has been set on fire; signs of human feces were found inside, as well as a garbage can and various garbage, as well as the remains of the broken windows. Birds are entering the church unimpeded and further damaging it.
- Prizren, church of Christ the Savior from the 14th century. Heavily damaged by fire. The frescoes have been almost completely destroyed and part of the more recent external structure has burned.
- Prizren, church of St. Kyriake. The interior is heavily damaged by fire. Remains indicate that the Albanians threw mattresses soaked in gasoline into the church and then set them on fire.
- Potkaljaja. The team visited most of the Serb quarter of old Prizren and failed to find almost a single intact house. The only church that remains untouched is the one next to the house purchased from a Serb by Adem Demachi.
- Prizren, Seminary of Sts. Cyril and Methodius.
- The experts did not have time to visit two smaller churches also destroyed in the pogrom: St. Panteleimon and (Sts. Cosmas and Damian) the Unmercenary Physicians in Potkaljaja.

Third day, Friday, May 14, 2004

- Church of the Most Holy Mother of God in Belo Polje near Pec. The roof is visibly damaged and the iconostasis has been knocked over. New signs of burning and ashes after March 17 are visible. Old grave markers from the 16th and 17th centuries have also been knocked over and broken. As well, the new cemetery restored by returnees has also been desecrated. Currently about 10 Serb returnees are living in the restored parish hall next to the church under the protection of Italian KFOR troops.
- Pec, church of St. John the Baptist (Metropolitanate). The interior has been damaged by fire but the construction is still in good shape. Entry into the church is not prevented and consequently human feces and trash brought in by the Albanians can be seen everywhere. The wooden building of the old Metropolitanate has been completely burned and the new parish hall heavily damaged.
- Istok, the church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. The church was damaged in 1999 and further damaged on March 17 by an explosion that damaged a part of the facade with a window. Parts of the main door are lying on the ground and birds are entering the church unhindered.
- Devic Monastery, Srbica. The monastery was completely burned on March 18 and the frescoes in the church have been heavily damaged. The tomb of St. Joanikije of Devic was smashed and dug up. A month after the pogrom the nuns from the monastery returned to live in portable containers under the protection of French KFOR. In the meanwhile the roof on the church has been rebuilt, and the interior of the church has been cleared of debris and ashes. Graffiti with the acronyms UCK (KLA), TMK (KPC) and other extremist organizations still remains on the walls.

SECOND GROUP

The second group, consisting of David Johnson, Zoran Garic, Xhavid Lokaj, hierodeacon Andrej Sajc and Stefano Sgoba, visited the following locations:

First day - Wednesday, May 12, 2004

- Cemetery and cemetery chapel in Urosevac, which were damaged and burned during the March pogrom.
- Church of the Holy Emperor Uros in Urosevac. Damage was done only to the external facade with Molotov cocktails and grenades. The interior of the church is protected. The church is under the protection of Greek KFOR.
- Church in the village of Varos (Urosevac municipality), burned and heavily damaged.
- Church in the village of Softovic (Urosevac municipality), burned and heavily damaged.
- Church in Vitina, without damage. The parish hall is partially damaged, as well as the wall surrounding the churchyard.
- Churches in Kamenica and the nearby village of Donja Sipasnica. The former was stoned with minimal damage to windows, while the latter sustained only minor damage.

Second day - Thursday, May 13, 2004

- Prizren, Mother of God of Ljevis (visited by both teams, see above).
- Brnjaca, church of St. Kyriake near Orahovac. Church is in good condition but the parish home has been burned.
- Bistrazin, Djakovica, church of St. Elijah. Church is completely destroyed by explosives and all that remains of it is a pile of stones with a sign that any further damage will be punishable by law.
- Piskote, Djakovica, church of the Holy Emperor Lazarus. The church was dynamited and destroyed to the foundation. All the grave markers in the cemetery have been destroyed and some of the graves have been completely dug up.
- Djakovica, church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God. Completely destroyed and destroyed to the foundation. All that is visible is the remains of the new parish home, which was dynamited.
- Djakovica, church of the Holy Trinity. The ruins of this church were dynamited in the summer of 1999. All that remained were two bell towers until March 17, when the church was once again dynamited and the entire terrain cleared. There is no sign of the church at all and all the debris has been removed.

Third day - Friday, May 14, 2004

- Podujevo, church of St. Andrew the First-Called. The church was burned and the altar section of the church was dynamited, as was the nearby bell tower.
- Mitrovica, the church of St. Sava. The construction of the church remains intact even though the interior was completely burned by the started fire. The church itself is within immediate vicinity of a KFOR base, making the shame of the Moroccan soldiers who failed to protect it all the more ignoble.
- Vucitrn, church of St. Elijah. The church is burned, the roof has collapsed, although the walls could be restored. The cemetery was desecrated and several graves in it dug up.
- Obilic, church of the Holy Archangel Michael. The church interior was burned but the construction of the church remains intact.

Debriefing - Saturday, May 15, 2004, Pristina

On Saturday, May 15, a debriefing of all experts who took part in the tour of damaged cultural monuments was held where they agreed on priority measures for the protection of damaged and restoration of destroyed cultural monuments, as well as methods of compensating for damages. The CoE experts will prepare a detailed report in the near future on the basis of which the process of restoration of the destroyed and damaged cultural heritage will be launched.

On Saturday senior representatives of the NATO alliance, the commander of NATO's south wing, U.S. admiral Gregory Johnson, and KFOR commander, German general Holger Kammerhoff, also visited the monasteries of Devic and Holy Archangels to acquaint themselves with security measures for these two monasteries and plans for their restoration.

According to the assessment of representatives of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren the damage that was done just on March 17-18 to Serbian Orthodox Church buildings in Kosovo and Metohija is inestimable. It is necessary to begin the process of protecting the damaged objects from further deterioration as soon as possible, especially in Prizren, as well as from further destruction by the local population which is gradually removing the ruins and using the building material. Most of the buildings are without any KFOR protection; in some locations, physical access to the damaged holy shrines is not prevented and consequently their desecration still continues. In most of the locations, currently all Serbs have been expelled and consequently, the serious question must be asked to what degree the restoration of all churches will be possible without the presence of the faithful who are supposed to visit them. Despite the difficult security situation, it is the firm position of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren and all Serbian experts that the Kosovo provisional government must pay compensation for damages and that the restoration and protection of the destroyed shrines must be carried out under the full control of the Serbian Ministry of Culture and the Serbian Orthodox Church in cooperation with appropriate UNMIK bodies. The priorities are the medieval churches and the monasteries of Devic and Holy Archangels to which the expelled nuns and monks have returned. The Diocese of Raska and Prizren specifically asked the representatives of the Council of Europe to refer to Serb patrimonial sites in Kosovo and Metohija (and not Kosovo patrimonial sites) in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which also foresees the engagement of Serbian personnel (experts) in its further protection and restoration.

A DEER IN LOST PARADISE

On Tuesday, May 18, 2004 at 7:00 p.m. in the large auditorium of the Syndicate Hall in the organization of the Srpski sabor DVERI (Serbian Assembly of the Portal) and Chelije Monastery, and with the blessing of His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle, a formal spiritual academy will be held in honor of Holy Father Justin Popovich.

Participating in the Academy will be His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral; His Grace Bishop Atanasije (Jevtic) of Zahumlje and Herzegovina (retired), His Grace Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren, His Grace Bishop Irinej of Backa, His Grace Bishop Lavrentije of Sabac and Valjevo, the sisterhood of Chelije Monastery, and Nebojsa Dugalic, theatre actor.


Copyright 1999-2004 by
The Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Church
11000 Belgrade
Kralja Petra I no.5
+381 11 3282 596
e-mail