CELEBRATION OF 650 YEARS SINCE FOUNDATION OF THE HOLY ARCHANGELS MONASTERY NEAR PRIZREN

MONASTERY FORTRESS HIT IN A GRENADE ATTACK


Approaching the monastery - reconstructed living quarters in the background
Home Page of the Holy Archangels Monastery near Prizren


Gracanica, July 26, 2002 17:00

More than 1000 Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija as well as those who temporarily live as IDP's on the territory of central Serbia and Montenegro took part in today's celebration which marked 650 years since the foundation of the Holy Archangels Monastery, 5 km. south from Prizren. The holy liturgy was served by His Grace Bishop Artemije with priests and monks of the Kosovo and Metohija Orthodox Diocese. With this celebration at the Holy Archangels the action of the Church: Let us rejuvenate our holy sites with prayer has continued.

In his sermon Bishop Artemije pointed out that the celebration of 650 years of the Holy Archangels Monastery, the memorial church of Emperor Dusan (XIV century) is "a great day for this monastery, for the city of Prizren, for Kosovo and Metohija as well as for our Serbian Orthodox people"

"We express our gratitude to KFOR soldiers and UNMIK policemen who provided security for us to come here from different sides in order to celebrate this great jubilee. We hope that the day will come when we would be able to come here freely without any military escort. We also believe that the international community will fulfill the promise which has been made - that we, Orthodox Serbs, can finally live in peace and security in our homes, in our cities and pray to God in our holy shrines. This is our message today to the international community, that we expect fulfillment of that promise so that we could live as free people, as Christians in peace with all, with our neighbors, in piece with God and ourselves, with the whole world", said Bishop Artemije in his speech.


Bishop Artemije preaching to the people gathered in the ruins of the
Monastery church

The Holy Archangels monastery was built by the Emperor Dusan, the most famous Serbian ruler of the 14th century. This holy site was well known in that time for its artistic beauty and spiritual importance. In 17th century, due to pressures and harassments of Ottoman invaders the monastery was deserted and Sinan Pasha (of Albanian origin) finally destroyed the monastery and built a large Sinan Pasha Mosque in Prizren from the church stones. The mosque still stands in the centre of Prizren today. This monastery was partly reconstructed before the Kosovo war and today 9 monks live here in complete isolation and 24hours KFOR military protection.


People light candles in the ruins of the monastery


MONASTERY COMPOUND ATTACKED BY A GRENADE

Although the Holy Archangels monastery was protected today by German KFOR troops, around 11.30 a grenade hit the monastery fortress of Visegrad. The explosion occurred only 100 meters from the location where the people and the Bishop were gathered. According to the initial assessment this was a mortar attack. The attack was most probably made by Kosovo Albanian extremists because in Prizren area, beside a few dozens of elderly Serbs who live in their ghettoes, only Albanians and Moslems live. Since the end of the war the members of the former KLA (UCK) committed many mortar attacks on Serb enclaves and monasteries (especially in this area) despite the KFOR presence. They also mined more than 100 Serb Orthodox churches, 20 of which were located near Prizren. This latest attack clearly shows that Albanian extremists still act with impunity in Kosovo and Metohija. They act either through the official and West sponsored Kosovo Protection Corpse (which is all but a benevolent civil organization) as well as through various splinter groups, usually organized as private "security agencies" of former KLA leaders.

On occasion of this extremist attack Bishop Artemije said to the ERP KIM information service:

"The blood was not spilt but souls of thousand people were injured. Our hearts are deeply wounded and many who will hear of this will be wounded in their hearts too".

Bishop Artemije expressed his most serious protest to the representatives of UNMIK. Investigation is ongoing.

The Church will request from the international authorities to publicly identify the names of the perpetrators of this barbarian attack. This attack could have had much more serious consequences if the grenade landed only a hundred meters closer and it is only by God's grace that casualties were avoided.

Our Information Service learned from the local Serb sources that today Kosovo Albanians organized protests in Prizren because of the celebration at the Holy Archangels Monastery and arrival of Serb visitors. Especially strong reaction of Albanians caused the Serbian Orthodox Church flag with cross which was hung at the Monastery a day before the celebration. Albanians circled with their cars around the monastery making noise with their car trumpets, the monks confirmed to the Information Service ERP KIM.


For many Serbs today prayer at the Holy Archangels
was the first visit to this holy shrines after three years of exile

Commentary by Fr. Sava
The spirit of sinister Sinan Pasha has waken up again!*

Today we have witnessed that terrorism in Kosovo and Metohija still exists despite the presence of KFOR and UNMIK. On occasion of 650 years since the foundation of the Holy Archangels monastery near Prizren an explosive device (grenade) exploded on the monastery fortress of Visegrad, just 100 meters from the location where Bishop and people were gathered for prayer. This attack has openly demonstrated that the security and free life for Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, especially in Prizren area, does not exist and that Albanian extremists do not have any respect for holy sites, not even for a monastery in which the Christian Orthodox Serbs gathered for prayer. Only a few weeks ago Albanian extremists set on fire the remaining buildings of already desecrated Zociste Monastery (14th century), immediately after the holy service which was held by Bishop.

This terrorist attack has also proved that the international mission, despite certain results in this region, has not implemented its major goal, and that is disarmament of KLA/UCK and creating of free and secure environment for all citizens despite of their ethnicity and religion. While KFOR searches with helicopters Serb villages and confiscates even hunting rifles from Serb villagers, who do not have any protection from extremists but their God himself, only a few kilometers from Prizren, the second largest city in Kosovo, in front of eyes of the German general and his elite KFOR troops and UNMIK representatives Kosovo Albanian extremists show who is the real master of war and peace in the Province of Kosovo and make shame of NATO led peacekeepers.

This attack is a serious slap in the face not only of the KFOR and UNMIK mission but primarily of the K/Albanian people. Those who want to built their future on the ruins of churches and desecrated Christian cemeteries should not expect bright future for their children but only the just rage of God and contempt of the entire civilized and cultured world.

(*Sinan Pasha was an Ottoman state official of Albanian origin who destroyed the monastery in the 16th century and built a large mosque in the center of Prizren using the stones of the Holy Archangels church. This person has remained in especially bad memory of the Serbs because Sinan Pasha also burned the holy relics of St. Sava, the First Serb Archbishop, in Belgrade, on location where now rises St. Sava's cathedral)


Serbs came to the Holy Archangels monastery
under a heavy KFOR escort
one Serb convoy with a German military transporter in front