Gracanica Monastery
Monastery of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theodokos in Gracanica , August 27, 2001
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Celebration of the Dormition of the Mosto Holy Theotokos in the Monastery of Gracanica

Three female novices take monastic vows

Gracanica, August 14/27, 2001

The celebration of the monastery patron saint's day of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theodokos in the Monastery of Gracanica near Pristina began with a traditional holiday wake in the afternoon on Monday, August 27, served by His Eminence the Episcope of Raska and Prizren, Kyr Artemije, with the assistance of the Rt. Reverend Abbot of Decani, Father Teodosije, and many hieromonks and priests from the region of Kosovo and Metohija.

During the past several years, the Monastery of the Most Holy Theodokos in Gracanica, presently the home of 25 nuns, has grown into not only the most numerous monastic sisterhood of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren but has also become the spiritual and national center of the entire Serb Orthodox population of Kosovo and Metohija since the end of the war and the forced relocation of the diocese seat from Prizren to Gracanica. This great Serbian Orthodox shrine was built by the Holy King Stefan Milutin in 1310 and since then the monastery has had a tremendous role in the spiritual and national life of the Serb people of this region, especially during the time of its enslavement by the Turks.

Near the end of the wake, a double row of the faithful holding beeswax candles gathered in the middle of the church while the Rt. Reverend Abbess Efrosinija led three of her young female novices before the royal gates. Upon taking monastic vows, Olivera Marinkovic, born in 1984 in Loznica, received the monastic name OLIMPIJADA, sister Danijela Petrovic, born in 1972 in Prizren, became nun IRINA while novice Maja Ristic, born in 1974 in Obrenovac, received the monastic name MARINA.

The Abbess leads the novices
Abbess Efrosinija leads three novices before the Bishop

After the end of the service, the youngest Gracanica nuns, Olimpijada, Irina and Marina, were congratulated by their sister nuns and all the faithful who were present. In an inspired homily, Bishop Artemije expressed great joy that in this time of great suffering for our Church, monastic life in our monasteries in this region continues to flourish. The new supplicants before the Lord will continue, along with dozens of their sister nuns and brother monks of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren, to bear the Cross together with their people in this difficult and contentious age, testifying that the blessings of God also multiply wherever sin multiplies.

Despite the lack of freedom of movement and travel, this ceremony was attended by monks and nuns from other monasteries in Kosovo and Metohija, who arrived under military escort. The formal service was sung by the monks of Decani and the nuns of Gracanica. Also in attendance were the elderly nuns of the Monastery of Gorioc, who arrived under Spanish military escort. Parked in the monastery courtyard were various KFOR military vehicles with dozens of soldiers of various nationality who followed the service with great interest prior to escorting the monks and nuns back to their monasteries after the wake.

On the morning of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, August 15/28, Episcope Artemije will serve Holy Archierchal Liturgy after which numerous guests and visitors will share in a formal holiday luncheon to be held in the monastery.

Text and photographs:
Decani monks

The tonsure
Taking monastic vows

Three youngest nuns in Gracanica
Three youngest nuns in Gracanica - Irina (b. 1972), Olimpijada (b. 1984) and Marina (b. 1974)

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