Information Service of
the Serbian Orthodox Church

July 30, 2004


On July 29, 2004 His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral awarded the Order of St. Sava of the Second Degree to the Italian Folgore Parachute Brigade at a ceremony in Livorno. The brigade was recognized by the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church for its extraordinary contribution to the protection of our holy shrines in Kosovo and Metohija.

In addition to Metropolitan Amfilohije the delegation of the Serbian Orthodox Church included Bishop Teodosije of Lipljan, Hieromonk Jovan (Culibrk), and Fr. Ksenofont of Visoki Decani Monastery.

''With the blessing of His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle the delegation presented the decoration to the brigade for its dedicated concern for our holy shrines, especially in March of this year when the Pec Patriarchate and Visoki Decani Monastery were endangered. Today at a grand ceremony on the occasion of the change of command of the brigade, namely, the arrival of general Konstantin to replace general Bertolini, who is assuming a new position, it was our pleasure to present the Folgore Parachute Brigade with the Order of St. Sava of the Second Degree in the presence of the Italian defense minister, senior officers, representatives of civil society and the Roman Catholic Church,” said Metropolitan Amfilohije for Radio Svetigora. Upon presenting the decoration on behalf of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Amfilohije addressed the audience with a few words about St. Sava, emphasizing what the Order represents and explaining why the Serbian Orthodox Church for the first time in its history has presented such a high honor to a military unit. After the ceremony a reception was held at the brigade’s headquarters.

As part of its visit to Italy our church delegation will also visit Siena, where it will pay its respects to the finger of St. John the Baptist, a relic that has been guarded in this city since the 15th century. “Until the arrival of the Turks on the Balkan peninsula the finger was guarded in the palace of the Nemanjic dynasty. Through the mediation of a Nemanjic princess and a Byzantine bishop, Despot Thomas the Paleologist, it was turned over to Pope Sextus V, who in honor of the gift built a great cathedral in Sienna. As far as we know the relic bears the inscription “Have mercy, o Lord, on Sava the archbishop”, which suggests that the finger was most likely brought by St. Sava from Jerusalem to the palace of the Nemanjic dynasty, whom it protected until the arrival of the Turks. Now we have an opportunity to venerate this finger and determine whether it belongs to the hand of St. John the Baptist preserved in the monastery of Cetinje, from which two fingers are missing. One of the fingers, as far as we know, is in a museum in Constantinople or possibly on Mt. Athos, and it appears that the second is the one protected in Sienna. The relic is publicly displayed only once a year on St. John’s Day but during this visit we will have the opportunity to kiss it,” said Metropolitan Amfilohije.


On Sunday, July 25, 2004 all Serbs in Zagreb rejoiced at the visit of His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle to their city. After the consecration of the new Bishop Gerasim of Gornji Karlovac in the monastery of Gomirje, His Holiness visited Zagreb upon the invitation of His Eminence Metropolitan Jovan of Zagreb-Ljubljana and All-Italy. In the late afternoon a welcome for His Holiness was prepared at the Zagreb Metropolitanate. Metropolitan Jovan of Veles and Povardarje, and Bishop Konstantin of Central Europe accompanied Patriarch Pavle. After resting briefly all guests accompanied their host Metropolitan Jovan to evening services. After services His Holiness briefly addressed those present and urged them to guard their faith and testify their Orthodox faith by their lives and works before their Roman Catholic brothers.

The following day, July 26, His Holiness served Holy Hierarchal Liturgy in the monastery of St. Paraskeva (Sv. Petka) in Zagreb. The Holy Liturgy presided over by the Serbian Patriarch represented a great spiritual encouragement for all Serbs in Zagreb. In his sermon His Holiness said:

“Brothers and sisters, we prayed to God in this holy shrine, praying to God and His saints from our own people to support us in everything that is holy and honorable and to dear God accessible, as our people say. That we may persevere to the end on this narrow and constraining road which we as Christians must pass fearing no one and nothing except sin which distances us from God who is our Creator, Meditator and Savior following the example of our ancestors even during our five hundred year long enslavement and during our battle for freedom and to this very day.

“Let us never forget the words of Christ: That your light may be sanctified before the people who upon seeing your good deeds will celebrate your Father who is in the heavens. In this fashion even when we are silent we preach the knowledge of Christ in our deeds, our behavior and actions, taking care that we today represent our people and our holy Orthodox faith. That is the task of us all, always and everywhere.

“Lord, help us that when we stand before you and before our holy ancestors that they too may recognize and know us as their faithful servants, and that You too may recognize us as your faithful servants. That is purpose and goal of our lives, that while yet here on Earth we begin to achieve the state of blessing we will continue in Eternal Heaven. Lord, help us to be good pupils of our faithful teachers. Lord, glory and thanks onto you, always, now and for time eternal. Amen.”

After Holy Liturgy His Holiness visited the cathedral of the Holy Transformation of Our Lord Jesus Christ which is currently undergoing extensive work on its interior and reconstruction; the new diocese museum which is completely finished; the new library which is currently preparing a catalog of its 5,000 volumes; the new diocese archives room, which are being prepared; the new adapted wing of the building in Ilica no. 7 with storage space and a section for restoration of icons and other church artifacts. Visibly satisfied, the Patriarch blessed all these works and the effort to develop and improve upon church life.

Milan Topic
Parish priest in Zagreb

[Serbian Translation Services]

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