OF OUR DIOCESE
Decani / Gracanica / Sopocani / Pecka Patrijarsija /
THE RASKA AND PRIZREN DIOCESE
The Diocese of Raska and Prizren can be rightfully called a monastic diocese because there is a great number of Medieval monasteries and lavras on its territory. It is very difficult to say exactly how many monasteries have been built in this Diocese since many of them were destroyed long ago and others have remained deserted up to the present day and are now without monastic life. With the arrival of His Grace Bishop Artemije to the throne of his predecessors a general renewal of the spiritual and ecclesiastic life in the diocese began, especially the renewal of monasticism. Certain monasteries in which older monks and nuns lived have been rejuvenated by the arrival of new brethren and sisters. At the same time many deserted monasteries have been reconstructed or completely rebuilt.
The renewal of monasticism in the Diocese has both spiritual and material aspects. First of all a special attention was given to the restauration of coenobtic typicon (rule) and liturgical life. All are monasteries of the diocese are coenobia which means that monks or nuns live together as a common organism and no individual possesions or self-willed behaviour are allowed. The monastery is directed by a superior (abbot or abbess) and all members of the monastic community live in obedience to their elder. Bishop Artemije is the spiritual father of all the monastics of the diocese so that all monastic communities make one spiritual family united in spirit and purpose. All the monastic duties are performed strictly with the blessing of the superior according to talents and abilities community members. All the brethren or sisters take their active part in church services, common meals and various activities. The monasteries help one another and the special attention is paid to the strengthening of the spiritual ties between the monasteries. In the most of the monasteries a daily Liturgy is served together with a full daily liturgical cycle (midnight prayer, matins, hours, vespers and compline). Beside the communal prayer monks and nuns are obligatory to pray their personal rule in their cells as well as to devote a part of their time to reading of the spiritual literature.
The material renewal of the monastic life in the diocese consists of the reconstruction and repair of the existing buildings and the building of new residental quarters, churches and chapels. There is also a major emphasis on developing various monastic activities which will provide regular sources of income.
During the war in Kosovo 1998-1999 some monasteries suffered damage. But the systematic destruction of our holy sites began actually after the end of the war when more than 100 churches and monasteries were destroyed or desecrated. Among them are the monasteries of St. Cosmas and Damian in Zociste, the Holy Trinity Monastery in Musutiste the Binac monastery and the monastery of St. Mark. The monks and nuns from these monasteries had to leave and at the moment are in other monasteries of the Diocese. Two monks of our Diocese: hieromonk Stefan and monk Hariton were brutally murdered by Albanian extremists despite the presence of the NATO led peacekeepers.
The post war conditions of isolation and everyday threat from Albanian militants has not affected the interior spiritual life of the monastic communities which remain even more enthusiastic to bear witness of their faith in Lord Jesus Christ being ready to suffer death for the Lord if necessary. The monastic communities have shown great level of solidarity in these times not only amont themselves but also with the suffering people. Some monasteries sheltered the civilians of all ethnicities while others provide spiritual and missionary assistance to their suffering people. Since the regular telephone and internet lines are not available in all communities, monks and nuns share their own radio network exchanging information and keeping contact among themselves.
to all malicious predictions the number of monks and nuns grew considerably
after the war and at the moment around 200 monks and nuns live and
pray in our monasteries. Once again in history it has become evident
that the suffering and martyrdom is the best incentive to the monastic
and spiritual life of Christians.
The monasteries of Raska and Prizren Diocese can be divided into 5 categories:
the spiritual grandfather
Bearing a Cross of Suffering
The monasteries of the Raska and Prizren Diocese have suffered from various conquerors and enemies of the Serbian people for ages. Sacrilege and the destructionwere initiated by the Turks, and were continued by Moslem Albanians. During the World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1941-1945), many churches and monasteries in Kosovo and Metohija were pillaged and shelled by Nazis and Albanians, as well as the other church destroyers and invaders. After World War II, devastation of Serbian Holy places Kosovo and Metohija was continued by local Albanians.
The Communist Government by no means protected Serbian Orthodox Church and its heritage: monastery property was nationalized, priests were persecuted, and the people of Serbia, who had been expelled from Kosovo and Metohija during World War II were prohibited return to their ancestral homes. However, the Serbian Orthodox Church, that is, the Diocese of Raska and Prizren, has remained the guardian of Kosovo and Metohija holy places and the spiritual heritage which had been created over the centuries, From St. Sava to the present day. Monasteries are the most credible witness of the spiritual being and the presence of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija region.
The Art of our Famous Monasteries
The Art of Decani MonasteryThe Art of Gracanica
Understand Serbs - look at their art in Kosovo
IN KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
Serbia's Elite are Willing to Give up Everything for God
MONASTIC COMMUNITIES IN WAR
NYT, Monastic Refuge For Kosovars, June 16- 99
AP, Serb Monastery Protects All Peoples, June 17-99
KRN, Decani Monks' Courage Saved Lives of Many Kosovars, June 23-99
Chicago Tribune, Abbess Helps Serbs and Ethnic Albanians, June 23-99
Those Who Stayed
NATO Turns the Blind Eye as Scores of Ancient Christian Churches
Are Reduced to Rubble, The Independent, UK, Nov 20, 99
LA Times, Christian Sites Being Decimated in Kosovo
Boston Globe, Serb Kosovo Heritage in Peril
SPECTATOR - Christmas Desecrations in Kosovo
BHHR, Christmas in Kosovo
The Map of Destroyed Churches and Monasteries in Kosovo and Metohia
Decani Monastery guarded by Italian KFOR
Without KFOR protection all Serb Orthodox monasteries and churches
would be destroyed by Albanians.
IN KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
Help the reconstruction of the monasteries of Raska and Prizren Diocese
Liturgy in Gracanica Monastery, Kosovo
Read an inspiring travelogue by riassaphore nun Natalia about
the monasteries and churches of Kosovo and Metohija
The Brotherhood of the Visoki Decani Monastery, 2000
The Diocese of Raska and Prizren Home Page