Information Service of
the Serbian Orthodox Church

December 17, 2004


On the occasion of the presentation of the Order of St. Sava of the First Degree to the Ambassador of Austria in Belgrade, His Excellency Dr. Hannes Porias, we invite representatives of the press and media to attend this ceremony to be conducted by His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle and members of the Holy Synod of Bishops on Tuesday, December 21, 2004 at 12:00 noon in the Belgrade Patriarchate.


The newly built church of the Holy New Martyr Stanko of Ostrog will be consecrated on Saturday, December 18, 2004 at 8:00 a.m. in the monastery of Ostrog. This will be followed by the entombment of the mortal remains of 27 officers of the Serbian Royal Army who perished in the defense of Ostrog on October 18, 1943. His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral will serve Holy Hierarchal Liturgy.

In commemoration of this event, Svetigora, the publishing house of the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral, has published a book called “Ostroska golgota” (Ostrog Golgotha) by historian Aleksandar Stamatovic.


More than five years after extremists of the Kosovo Liberation Army destroyed the monastery of Sts. Cosmas and Damian in Zociste near Orahovac, the brother monks of this monastery returned to the holy shrine with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Artemije in order to renew monastic life there. The repair of the monastery began in November and so far a part of the torched living quarters has been rebuilt, although the 14th century church is still in ruins. The return of the monks was made possible by the initiative shown by the commanders of the Italian and German contingents at that time, general Danilo Errico and colonel Erhardt Buehler, respectively.

At the end of the mandate of these two officers, who wholeheartedly supported the initiative of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren to restore this holy shrine, local representatives of Austrian KFOR began to make it increasingly clear that they were not happy with the idea of the restoration of Zociste Monastery. The local Albanian community began to set increasingly radical conditions, demanding that under no circumstances can they help the monks with the restoration in any way. The Austrian troops took the Albanian threats so literally that at first they would not allow them the use of their portable toilet nor charge the batteries on their mobile phone.

However, despite all obstacles Protosingel Petar, the abbot of the monastery of Djurdjevi Stupovi (the Pillars of St. George) near Prizren, and acting abbot of the monastery of Zociste, and two other brother monks continued with the restoration. With the help of builders from the nearby village of Velika Hoca, the first construction work began and the roof was repaired on one part of the living quarters. However, a few days ago a local Austrian KFOR commander informed the monks in no uncertain terms that further rebuilding was not permitted, and even went so far as to ask the monks to take down a part of the newly repaired roof out of deference to the demands of "the Albanian population".

This decision deeply disturbed the monks. In the opinion of Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren, the order to remove a part of the newly repaired roof is contrary to the standards policy, which foresees the unconditional restoration of destroyed churches and houses, and an unprecedented concession to the extremists who destroyed the monastery. "It is absurd that the very people who destroyed this Orthodox monastery are now demanding from the international peacekeeping forces that a part of the repaired roof be taken down just because extremists do not want this holy shrine to be rebuilt. This is a very clear example that the standards policy is not being implemented, and that despite official statements of 'great success' in the restoration of destroyed buildings, monks are being prevented from living a normal life in this centuries-old holy shrine," said Bishop Artemije in a statement.


The Belgrade Tourism Office and the icon-painting workshop of Petar Bilic are organizing an icon exhibition at the workshop, Branicevska Street no. 5, on Friday, December 17, 2004 at 7:00 p.m. Slobodan Mileusnic, director of the Serbian Orthodox Church Museum, will be opening the exhibition.

[Serbian Translation Services]

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