The Pride of the Serbian
Orthodox Church in Prizren - Bogorodica
the official Cathedral church of Serbian Orthodox Bishops of Prizren
since medieval times
Orthodox Christian Diocese of Raska and Prizren
Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren comprises the territories of
Raska and Kosovo-Metohija Regions (the area known as Old Serbia) and
is continuing rich spiritual traditions of both former Raska and Prizren
Orthodox Dioceses which were fused into one Diocese in 1808.
In the 10th century, the Raska Diocese was already existent. It encompassed
the areas of central Serbia, by the rivers Raska, Ibar and Lim. It
was first mentioned in 1020, in the second charter of the Byzantine
emperor Basil II (976-1025). At that time, the Diocese of Raska was
within the Archbishopric of Ohrid. Among the first bishop mentioned
are Leontius (around 1123-1126), Cyril (around 1141-1143), Euthemius
(around 1170) and Kalinik (around 1196). It joined the autocephalous
Archbishopric of Zica in 1219, at the time of Saint Sava. On the occasion
of declaring the Patriarchate of Pec in 1346, the eparchy was promoted
to the diocese of a Metropolitan. The residence of the bishop of Ras
was in the vicinity of the church of the Holy
Apostles Peter and Paul near the present town of Novi Pazar (formerly
Trgoviste), or Ras. It is mentioned in historical sources, according
to the names of the places where it was situated, as the eparchy of
Pazar, Novi Pazar or Starovlaska. In the second half of the 17th century,
the Raska Diocese included territories of the old eparchy of Budimlje,
or the newer Diocese of Lim, or Petrovac, together with Bijelo Polje.
This is why it was called the Diocese of Bijelo Polje for a while.
In the 1789, after the death of the Prizren Metropolitan Eusebius,
administration of the eparchy of Prizren was taken over by Metropolitan
Joanicius of Ras. Since 1808, the Diocese of Raska was been joined
with the eparchy of Prizren as - the Diocese of Raska and Prizren.
Diocese of Prizren encompassed the territories of the old Eparchies
of Hvosno, Budimlje and Polim, or Petrovac, that is, the town of Prizren
with the surroundings, Hvosno (territories around Pec and Decani),
and the places around the influences of the rivers Beli Drim and Crni
Drim. It is mentioned in 1019, in the first charter of the Byzantine
emperor Basil II. In 1219, when the diocese was included as a part
of the independent Serbian Archbishopric, the territory of Hvosno
was separated as the Eparchy of Hvosno, situated in the monastery
Mala Studenica, northeast from Pec. The residence of Prizren bishops
was in Prizren in the church of the Most
Holy Theoktos of Ljevis. In the 1346, when the Serbian Orthodox
Church was promoted to the level of Patriarchate, Prizren Diocese
became the diocese of a Metropolitan.
Icon of Mother of God, 14th century
History of the Orthodox Church in the
Region of Kosovo and Metohija
Orthodox diocese of Raska and Prizren covers the vast area of Kosovo,
Metohija and Raska provinces, traditionally known as a cradle of Eastern
Orthodox Christian spirituality since antiquity. It is one of the
oldest Orthodox dioceses in the Serbian Orthodox Church. Its origins
can be traced to the Apostolic times when the Holy Apostles Andrew
and Paul visited these areas and brought the light of Christianity.
The area of present Kosovo and Metohija is well known for many Christian
martyrs who suffered from the pagan Roman authorities. Among the most
famous are Ss. Florus and Laurus who were martyred in Ulpiana (near
Pristina) in the 2nd century A.D. After the Edict of Milan (313) this
region came under the jurisdiction of the Thessalonian vicariate;
it is clearly indicated in a letter of Pope Innocent I to the Thessalonian
Vicar Rufus in 412 that the vicariate included the area of Dardania
(present Kosovo). In 535 a new archdiocese of Iustiniana Prima was
formed and the area of Kosovo came under the new jurisdiction.
Bishop's New Residence
in Prizren - Due to security reasons the Bishop had to leave Prizren.
Now in the Residence live German soldiers who are guarding the Cathedral
and the Residence
Iustiniana Prima did not last a long time. It was destroyed by Slavs
and Avars in the beginning of the 7th century. The dioceses of the
former metropolis were transferred again to the Thessalonian vicariate
and remained under its jurisdiction until 732 when the Byzantine Emperor
Leo III transferred the entire area of the Balkans from the ecclesiastical
jurisdiction of Rome to that of the patriarchate of Constantinople.
In the period 927-971 the region of Kosovo belonged to the Bulgarian
patriarchate created by the Bulgarian Tsar Symeon (893-927). Following
the conquest of Bulgaria the Byzantine Emperor Basil II abolished
the Bulgarian patriarchate and created the new autocephalous archdiocese
of Ochrid. The Byzantine empire regained the region of Prizren and
subjected it under the archdiocese of Ochrid (976-1018). The new archdiocese
was directly under the control of the emperor who had right to appoint
the candidate for the throne of Ochrid while the Constantinopolitan
patriarch consecrated the archbishops. The first written document
mentioning the diocese of Prizren is the chrysobull of Basil II in
which it was recorded that the diocese of Prizren belonged to the
metropolitan jurisdiction of the archdiocese of Ochrid.
The diocese of Prizren, which comprised the greater part of Kosovo
and Metohija, became a constituent part of the Serbian state in 1189
when Grand Zupan Stefan Nemanja (1168-1196) conquered Prizren and
substantially enlarged the young Serbian state. In the beginning of
the 13th century the Bulgarians again took over this area. But very
soon it became the part of the Byzantine empire again and finally,
in 1214, during the reign of the Serbian King Stefan the First-Crowned
(1196-1227), brother of St. Sava the first Serbian archbishop, the
diocese of Prizren was definitely included in the Serbian Orthodox
Church and remained within the Serbian kingdom until the arrival of
Turks on June 21, 1455.
isolated by photo filter from the surrounding houses built in recent
During the period of the
Serbian Nemanjic dynasty the diocese of Prizren became one of the
most flourishing within the Serbian Church. Numerous churches, monasteries,
and hermitages were built. Hundreds of well educated monks inhabited
the monasteries which developed extensive spiritual and intellectual
activities. The Church opened numerous schools, hospitals, and orphanages.
This period was renowned for great masterpieces of Orthodox Church
art, icon and fresco painting, as well as various other crafts. The
emperors substantially supported the life of the Church which enjoyed
all the privileges of the official religion. In 1346 when the Serbian
archdiocese was raised to the dignity of a patriarchate with its seat
at Pec, the bishop of Prizren was granted the title of metropolitan.
1455 Kosovo and Metohija were conquered by the Turks, remaining within
the Ottoman Empire until the Balkan Wars (1912-1913). After the definite
fall of Serbia in 1459 and the death of Patriarch Arseny II the Serbian
Church was transferred to the jurisdiction of Constantinople by the
Turkish authorities and again became part of the archdiocese of Ochrid.
In 1528 the Serbian Metropolitan Nyphon started the campaign for the
independence of the Serbian Church from the archdiocese of Ochrid.
In 1557, in the time of Patriarch Macary Sokolovic, brother of janissar
Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic, the Patriarchate of Pec was restored and a
series of the Serbian bishops replaced the Greek clergy.
On September 11, 1766, the Turkish authorities promulgated the decree
abolishing the Patriarchate of Pec once again and the Serbian Church
was given back to the Ecumenical Throne. This was the period of the
so-called Phanariot bishops who were mostly Greeks and had very little
understanding of the spiritual needs of the Serbian Orthodox people.
Church services were often held in Greek and the absence of vernacular
evangelization greatly influenced many Orthodox Serbs to convert to
Islam under the tax pressures imposed by the Turkish authorities.
In 1807 the dioceses of Raska and of Prizren were united under the
Metropolitan Joanikios. It was only in 1891 that the Serbs were granted
the right by Constantinople to have their kinsmen as bishops in the
areas of the former Serbian patriarchate.
The New 19th century Orthodox
Cathedral of St. George, near the Bishop's Residence in Prizren
area of Kosovo and Metohija was finally liberated from the Turks during
the Balkan Wars after which the Turkish possessions in Europe were
confined to a small area of eastern Thrace. In 1912 the diocese of
Raska and Prizren automatically became the part of an autocephalous
Serbian archdiocese (restored in 1879). During the First World War
the area of Kosovo and Metohija was under Bulgarian occupation and
many Serbs were confined and persecuted, among them members of the
Serbian Orthodox clergy. After the
war, in 1918, this province became the part of the kingdom of Serbs,
Croats and Slovenes. Two years later, in 1920, the Serbian Church
regained the status of a patriarchate. During the Second World War
many Orthodox Serbs were brutally persecuted by the Albanian fascists
who incorporated the area of Kosovo and Metohija in Greater Albania.
Many churches and graveyards were desecrated. Bishop Seraphim was
arrested and died the martyr's death in Albania.
Theological Seminary in Prizren
(now a refugee center for the remaining Serbs in Prizren)
the Second World War the Serbian Orthodox Church was faced with new
persecutions under the Communist dictatorship of Josip Broz Tito.
The activities of the Church, especially in the Albanian dominated
province of Kosovo and Metohija, were reduced almost ompletely to
bare existence. Patriarch Pavle, who occupied the throne of the Prizren
bishops for more than thirty post-war years, was a witness to the
enormous pressures and various forms of subtle persecutions perpetrated
by the local Albanian authorities, especially in the period of their
[sic] autonomy (1974-1989). Many Orthodox Serbs were forced to leave
Kosovo and Metohija. The monasteries lived under almost constant siege;
their crops were burned. In 1981 the palace of the patriarch in Pec
was barbarously burned by the Albanian secessionists, many gravestones
were overturned, and even the bones of the deceased were exhumed and
abused. The Jeremian lament of the Kosovo Serbs was not heard by anyone.
The Communist authorities completely ignored the cries of the suffering
people. It was only in 1989 when the Albanian autonomy in Kosovo and
Metohija was suppressed that the Serbs could live a normal life again.
Of course, the new situation brought new challenges to the Albanian
population and great dissatisfaction with the new Serbian regime.
Almost ten years later, the people of the diocese of Raska and Prizren
are again faced with new pressures and terrorist threats.
war 1998-1999 and the arrival of the international peace-keepers our
Diocese was exposed to unrestrained destruction of our churches and
monasteries. Between June 13 and December 31, 1999 more than 70 churches
and monasteries in our Diocese have been either destroyed or seriously
(See our Web Page on Destruction of our shrines)
The wish of the Serbian Orthodox people of our diocese is to share
this land of God with all the people of good will and to preserve
their centuries-old shrines, beautiful works of art, and their Christian
tradition as the common heritage of Christian Europe.
Martyrs of Our Diocese (1941-1999)
Page devoted to those of us who died martyr's death for their faith
and the Lord
from the hands of ungodly Albanian militants and communist authorities
in the History of the Serbian Church, by Veselin Kesich
church of the Savior - Sv. Spas (14th century) Prizren
An old photo
of the Prizren town - Potkaljaja
left - St. George Cathedral - St. Saviour church is visible to the
Prizren old fortress in the background. This mainly Serb Christian
quarter of Prizren
was severely damaged by looting and arson attacks which were organized
by Kosovo Albanian extremists after the Kosovo war, although Prizren
was almost completely spared from any damage during the war.
and social life of Serbs in Prizren, costumes, jewlery, photos
and Metohija on the Crossroads of Two Centuries
and Metohia-once a central land of Nemanjic kingdom, a seat
of a patriarch and also a seat of spiritual culture, holy land
for each Serb, welcomed the beginning of the XX century under
the five hundred years long Turkish yoke. Liberated Serbia didn't
feel that liberation a complete one, because Kosovo and Metohia
still were ruled by a stranger.
centuries of the Turkish rule groundly changed Kosovo and Metohia.This
region enriched by ores and fertile ground, at the end of the
XIX century became just a primitive turkish province, ruled
made of beautiful churches, monasteries, fortresses and castles,
(photo) was substituted by panorama of houses, simply made of
rods and mud, and of hard albanian towers with slits for guns
only . Monotony of this sight sometimes interrupts a here or
there built slender mosque, and ruined churches and monasteries
converted in mosques. (photo) Imperial clothing was substituted
by albanian traditional garment, which was worn by Albanians
in order to show their supremacy, but by some Serbs also, because
it was their chance to survive. The period from last 20 years
of XIX century until the liberation in 1912., for Serbs in Kosovo
and Metohia means a time of the worse persecutions, physical
destruction and expatriation. In last 20 years of XIX century,
60 000 Serbs from south Kosovo only, emigrated to Serbia. From
the whole old serbian teritory, from 1876. to 1912., emigrated
about 400 000 Serbs. After Kosovo and Metohia liberation, there
was a regulation brought in order to deal with planed colonization
of Serbs on Kosovo teritory. Until 1941., about 60 000 Serbs
settled Kosovo and Metohia, mostly from undeveloped regions.
This helped a little in fixing disturbed relations, that had
been happening a few centuries ago and that had been happening
at a disadvantage of Serbs. All these circumstances influenced
the social life of Kosovo and Metohia. That influence is well
pictured in an exhibition "Urban and rural costume on the
crossroads of two centuries".
Batakovic Kosovo and Metohija on the crossroads of two
The Art of Decani MonasteryThe Art
of Gracanica Monastery
The Art of the Patriarchate of PecThe Holy Virgin
of Ljevis Cathedral
The Art of Banjska MonasteryThe Art of
the Holy Archangels'
History of Kosovo and Metohija
of the Serb Orthodox Churches in Kosovo
(since June 1999)
Rights Abuses in Kosovo Against Serbs
A Pilgrimage to Kosovo Today by Nun Natalia
BEAUTIES OF KOSOVO AND METOHIA