Patron saint's day of Holy King Stefan of Decani celebrated at Visoki Decani Monastery

Bishop Atanasije of Zahumlje-Herzegovina (retired), Bishop Artemije of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija and over 20 concelebratnts, joined in prayer by more than 650 Orthodox believers, celebrate the religious holiday of St. Stefan of Decani

From Holy Liturgy in the church of Visoki Decani Monastery, Nov. 25, 2003

ERP KIM Info Service
Decani, November 25, 2003

Yesterday (November 24 or November 16 according to the Julian calendar used by the Serbian Orthodox Church) the patron saint's day of Holy King Stefan of Decani, the founder of Visoki Decani Monastery, was celebrated in the monastery. On the eve of the religious holiday, during the vigil service , novice Vladimir Komlenac took his monastic vows and received the new monastic name of Jefrem (Ephraim). Representatives of the Archdiocese of Thessalonica and the Metropolitanate of Florina archmandrites Parthenios, Christiphoros and Bessarion from Greece took part in the evening service. This group of Greek Othodox clerics are currently visiting Kosovo and Metohija and have brought humanitarian aid for the suffering Serbian Orthodox people.

The following day, on November 24, Holy Liturgy was served by Bishop Atanasije of Zahumlje-Herzegovina (retired) and Bishop Artemije of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija more than 20 concelebrants. In addition to the abbots and representatives of the most important monasteries of the Serbian Orthodox Church, as well as parish priests and priest-monks of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren, among concelebrants was an Italian hieromonk Father Ambrogio of Turin (cleric of the Moscow Patriarchate).

Beside Decani monks the holy Liturgy was chanted by a choir of Orthodox Christians from Albania who every year traditionally come to Decani for the patron saint's day bringing the blessings of the Archbishop of Tirana Anastasios. At the Holy Liturgy hierodeacon Danilo Kandic was ordained as hieromonk, and monk Serapion Timsic was ordained as hierodeacon, both monks of Visoki Decani Monastery. The Festal Liturgy and luncheon in the large monastery refectory was also attended by the senior leadership of KFOR led by KFOR Commander (COMKFOR) German Lt. General Holger Kammerhoff; the Commander of Multinational Brigade Southwest (MNB SW), Italian Brig. Beneral Alberto Primicerj; and the KFOR Chief of Staff (COS) gen. Shook, the main KFOR chaplain Rev. Lars Ekblad and their associates.

(Photo: Ordination in the sanctuary of the church of Visoki Decani Monastery, Nov. 24, 2003)

The festal homily was delivered by Bishop Atanasije who said that the true goal of mankind is the Kingdom of heaven, and not the kingdom of earth and its transient values and that mistrust and hatred must be overcome with love to the neighbor. Bishop Atanasije placed special emphasis on the cross-bearing path of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren, the suffering Orthodox Christians in Kosovo and their Bishop Artemije. He also used the opportunity to thank KFOR representatives for enabling believers from different regions to participate in this celebration. "Without KFOR assistance not a single pilgrim would be able to visit this holy site and share the joy of the feast day", he said.

At the festive luncheon guests had the opportunity to hear several songs by the chorus from the Albanian and Serbian Orthodox chanters, and the ceremony Churches with "In many years" (Eis polla eti -Ad multos annos - Na mnogaya lyeta) in alternating Slavic and Albanian languages.

On the day of the holiday the Monastery was visited by over 650 guests, primarily from central Serbia and Kosovo and Metohija. The guests who arrived for the celebration were accompanied by KFOR escorts and the entire area of the Monastery was guarded by ground forces and helicopters. Thanks to professional KFOR security organization the celebration passed without a single incident.

Thanking the hosts for their invitation and for what he described as "an unforgettable spiritual experience", KFOR commander general Holger Kammerhoff stated that he and his colleagues were departing "spiritually enriched" and "impressed by the feeling of community, love and multiethnicity" that they experienced during the celebration. Bishop Artemije thanked generals Kammerhoff and Primicerj for their help in organizing and preparing for the feast, and expressed the hope that the process of return for Serb refugees would gain momentum and that next year the feast of the Holy King would be celebrated in an atmosphere of greater security and freedom of movement for Orthodox Christians.

(photo: Abbot Teodosije of Visoki Decani)

The abbot of Decani Monastery, Father Teodosije Sibalic, on behalf of his brotherhood thanked the bishops, the visiting priests and the KFOR representatives for their participation in the celebration, pointing out that the role of Decani Monastery has been and remains to bring people from different regions and ethnicities together spiritually, joined around the spiritual values that the Holy King Stefan of Decani embodied in practice during his earthly life.

In his letters addressed to the Italian diplomatic representatives in Belgrade and Pristina as well as the new Italian commander of the Brigade South-West, gen. Primicerj, Abbot Theodosije had expressed his condolences over the recent loss of life of Italian servicemen in Iraq a few days before.

In the evening the guests left Decani Monastery and the territory of Kosovo and Metohija accompanied by a KFOR escort, taking with them the experience of spiritual joy and communion in Lord Jesus Christ

Bishop Artemije talks with KFOR commander general Kammerhoff and
Italian general Primicerj, the commander of the KFOR Multinational brigade South-West, Nov. 24, 2003

More about Decani Monastery: and the life of St. King Stefan of Decani: