Information Service of
the Serbian Orthodox Church

July 27, 2004


His Beatitude Archbishop Antonios of Krasnoyar and Eniseya presided over Holy Hierarchal Liturgy on July 26, 2004, the feast of St. Gabriel the Archangel, in the Zemun church dedicated to this saint. Consequently this year the church of St. Gabriel in Zemun had the pleasure of an eminent guest at the celebration of its patron saint’s day, said Protopresbyter Dr. Radovan Bigovic, the church priest. Archbishop Antonije of the Russian Orthodox Church is presently visiting His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle. After Holy Liturgy Hieromonk Irinej Dobrijevic, consultant to the Holy Assembly of Bishops and editor of the Serbian Orthodox Church Information Service, broke the slava cake. The Theological Faculty Choir under the direction of Predrag Miodrag sang responses at Liturgy. The host of the slava celebration was Protonamesnik Petar Damjanovic. Protopresbyter Radic Radicevic, namesnik of Belgrade, welcomed the guests.


With the blessing of His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle the wish of Serbian aeronautics enthusiasts to celebrate their patron saint’s day came true. The Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church headed by Patriarch Pavle proposed that the Aeronautics Club celebrate the feast of the Holy Archangel Gabriel, traditionally celebrated in many Orthodox countries together with the Holy Archangel Michael and St. Elijah as the protector of pilots and crew members.

On behalf of the Serbian Church participating in the rite of the celebration of the patron saint’s day was Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Petar Ilic from the church of St. Basil of Ostrog in Bezanijska Kosa, who had the honor and blessing of breaking the slava cake and addressing the members of the Aeronautics Club. Archimandrite Andrej Cilerdzic, the secretary of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Church, received the Club’s award of thanks. An icon of the Holy Archangel Gabriel was painted by Belgrade icon painter Dragomir Marunic and presented as a gift of love to the pilots and their colleagues in air transportation. After the rite of the cutting of the slava cake the Aeronautics Club, which is headed by pilots Sretan Rogic and Branko Jovanovic, prepared a formal slava dinner in the Hotel Slavija-Luks.

The Serbian Orthodox Church is especially pleased by this festive celebration and wishes to congratulate the Aeronautics Club, praying to the Holy Archangel Gabriel to protect and bless all the celebrants and ensure that this joyous event continues for many, many years.


His Grace Bishop Filaret of Milesevo served Holy Hierarchal Liturgy on the feast of the Holy Archangel Gabriel, July 26, 2004 in Kumanica near Bijelo Polje. At this church-people’s assembly, traditionally held each year at the church of the Holy Archangel Gabriel in Kumanica, several tens of thousands faithful gathered. The church was built on the remnants of an Orthodox Christian church dating back to the Nemanjic dynasty and destroyed by the Turks in the eighteenth century.


The monks of Holy Archangels Monastery celebrated this year's patron saints day on the burned remains of their monastery, which was torched during the March pogrom this year. With the blessing of Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren, Vicar Bishop Teodosije, served Holy Hierarchal Liturgy with the clergy of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren in the presence of some 200 faithful who did not mind the effort of celebrating the feast of the Holy Archangel Gabriel of the ruins of the martyred Holy Archangels Monastery near Prizren.

In his sermon Bishop Teodosije reminded the faithful that even after its first destruction, when the stones of the monastery were used to build Sinan Pasha's mosque in Prizren, Holy Archangels in all its beauty was resigned to the heavens but continued to live in the prayerful remembrance of the faithful of Prizren and the surrounding area who continued to come to this sacred place to pray. "We feel the blessing of the Lord who has pledged us to build and rebuild, not to destroy what was built by others. That is why Holy Archangels Monastery continues to live even though those who set fire to it imagined that they would forever destroy the shrine and expel its monks. The example of Holy Archangels, and of Devic Monastery, demonstrates that Christ's Church cannot be destroyed and that Christian shrines are like the phoenix, which rises again from the ashes. Just as life and resurrection stepped out from the grave of Christ, hence too from our torched shrines once again the light of Christian life shines and draws to itself the faithful, representing a sign of encouragement and consolation for all," said Bishop Teodosije during the sermon.

"Today we are here on the ruins of our holy shrine; despite this, we are filled with unutterable joy. That is because here we feel the living presence of the holy ascetic laborers and monks who built themselves into this shrine, which lives on in spirit and shines like torch on the mountain," concluded Bishop Teodosije. He called on all honorable residents of Kosovo and Metohija to oppose the destruction of Christian holy shrines and make it possible for Orthodox Christians to live free lives.

Bishop Teodosije expressed special thanks to the commander of KFOR Brigade South-West, Italian general Errico Danilo, and the commander of the German contingent, colonel Erhard Buehler, whose soldiers provided security today for the prayerful gathering at Holy Archangels. "We are happy that the KFOR commanders are here with us today, as they were a few days ago at Zociste. Their presence, as well as the great efforts they are investing to help our Church, represent a source of encouragement for us all and hope that the tragic events of March will never again be repeated," said Bishop Teodosije.


The international human rights organization Human Rights Watch has called for a full and independent investigation regarding the responsibility of KFOR, UNMIK police and the Kosovo Police Service for the March violence in Kosovo and Metohija.

In a report entitled “Failure to Protect: Anti-Minority Violence in Kosovo, March 2004” Human Rights Watch assessed that KFOR and UNMIK police “failed catastrophically to protect minorities” during two days of violence in the province directed against Serbs and other non-Albanians.

In the report published in New York, the organization recommends that KFOR and UNMIK police receive better training in riot control, better equipment to do so, and requests centralization of KFOR command.

"The protection of minority communities will be a key challenge for the new UN administrator in Kosovo, Mr. Soren Jesen-Petersen, who assumes duty on August 3, 2004,” says the 66-page Human Rights Watch report.


Human Rights Watch points out “the almost complete collapse of Kosovo security structures during the crisis” of March 17-18, when 19 people were killed, 27 Orthodox churches and monasteries burned, and about 4,1000 people, primarily Serbs, Roma and Ashkalis, expelled or evacuated from their homes.

"Investigations have shown that groups of ethnic Albanians acted with fierce effectiveness in order to completely clear many areas of Kosovo of all remaining traces of Serb presence, as well as attacking other minority communities,” says the report.

Human Rights Watch also notes that in many villages literally all Serb, Roma and Ashkali homes were destroyed in spontaneous and organized attacks. “Even the least Serb presence became a target: in Djakovica, the ethnic Albanians laid siege to the Serbian Orthodox church housing the last remaining Serbs in the city, five elderly women. They had to be evacuated,” the report states. It goes on to note that even though KFOR and UNMIK police’s mandate is precisely to ensure safety for all minorities in Kosovo, these organizations failed to protect them during the violence and that “frequently they left Serbs and members of other minority communities under siege for hours prior to reacting”.

[Serbian Translation Services]

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