Decani Monastery
St. Stefan of Decani Celebration

24. November 2002

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FEAST OF HOLY KING STEFAN OF DECANI CELEBRATED IN VISOKI DECANI MONASTERY

Over 500 guests from all sides participate in celebration of the patron saint's day of Visoki Decani Monastery

GRACANICA
November 24, 2002

Today the patron saint's day of the Holy King Stefan of Decani was celebrated in Visoki Decani Monastery. As in previous years, despite the exceptionally difficult conditions in which the monastery has been living in 1999, this was an opportunity for many members of the clergy, monks and the faithful to celebrate the Lord and his saint, the Holy King Stefan of Decani.

Last night on November 23 at the patron saint's day wake ceremony two young brothers of Decani Monastery took their monastic vows and took the names of Nikanor and Damaskin. This morning during holiday archierchal liturgy served by Bishops Artemije (Radosavljevic), Atanasije (Jevtic) and Grigorije (Duric) with the assistance of some twenty priests and priest-monks, Monk Andrej (Sajc) was ordained to the rank of hierodeacon. Holy liturgy was sung in alterating Church Slavic and Albanian by the monks of Visoki Decani and a group of Orthodox believers from neighboring Albania who came to the monastery's patron saint's day with the blessing of the Rt. Rev. Archibishop Anastasius of Tirana. Aslo present at holy liturgy were Italian General Fabio Mini, the commander of KFOR, and General Wolf Dieter Skodowsky, the commander of the south-west brigade, with their closest associates. Attending the monastery's patron saint's day on behalf of the Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija were Svetislav Stefanovic and Aleksandra Fulgosi, whereas the POVRATAK coalition was represented by Dr. Rada Trajkovic, Oliver Ivanovi, Randjel Nojkic and Dragan Velic. A formal monastery banquet in the great patron saint's day hall was shared with numerous guests who arrived in Decani with a military escort from various parts of Kosovo and Metohija, as well as from central Serbia and Montenegro.

Italian and German forces secured the monastery grounds in the most professional way. Increased measures of security were specially visible on all access roads leading to Decani. These unprecedented security measures reflect both the significance which the international mission attaches to this monastery, as one of the major centers of Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo, as well as the general deterioration of security conditions after the recent destruction of Serbian Orthodox churches and attack on the Serb pensioners in Pec.

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