- GRACANICA 2000
June 29, 2000
Pavle serves liturgy in Gracanica
and parastos in Gazimestan
with enforced KFOR accompaniment
Gazimestan - Yesterday in Kosovo and Metohija the holy day of the Holy
Martyr Lazar, Vidovdan was commemorated by holy liturgy in the Church
of the Ascension of the Holy Mother of God in the monastery of Gracanica
and a commemorative service (parastos) in Gazimestan served by the Serbian
Patriarch Kyr Pavle together with the archpriests of the Serbian Orthodox
Church and the emissary
of the Russian Patriarch, the bishop of Krasna Gora, Sava. The honorable
official of the Russian Church, who is currently visiting the Russian
troops which are a part of KFOR, bequeathed to the bishop of Raska and
Prizren, Artemije (Radosavljevic), a church banner with the images of
the holy Aleksandar Nevski and the holy prince Lazar in the hope that
"the assistance and the grace of God will be the travelling companions
on the path of the Serb people in Kosovo".
candles, flowers and prayers for the deceased, several dozen Kosovo
Serbs accompanied by reinforced KFOR forces paid their respects yesterday
to the heroes of Kosovo and all Serbs who perished from the Battle of
Kosovo to the present day.
the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, parastos and liturgy in the
monastery of Gracanica were served by Bishop Artemije and the bishop
of Vranje, Pahomije (Gacic) and the former bishop of Zahumlje and Herzegovina,
Pavle and Bishop Artemije
Bishop Artemije blessing the Vidovdan "bread"
are bodies. We are of this earth. But we are also spirits because we
of heaven. Were life on the Earth to last a thousand years, it would
pass. While the kingdom of heaven has no end and if we are deserving
of it, we are near to God and together also with all those holy to us.
Our ancestors knew this and they were able to endure 500 years of slavery,"
Patriarch Pavle said during a sermon following liturgy in the monastery
on the statements of a domestic politician who justified genocide by
the Bible, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church reminded that the
teaching of Christ is that "it is better to lose one's head than
to sin against one's soul". "This does not mean passivity
but only that we defend ourselves from criminals as men, always and
everywhere," emphasized Patriarch Pavle, praying to the Lord for
"peace to our country but also to our enemies because they are
needful of it even though they do not know it, and that our Lord support
us in everything good so that we may be a nation of honor".
Vidovdan Poetic Evening - Dr. Rada Trajkovic, BishopAthanasije, Bishop
Artemije, Patriarch Pavle and Bishop Pahomije
a happy Vidovdan to all the faithful, Bishop Artemije reminded that
on yesterday's date, 611 years ago, "the heavens touched the earth",
and that the Serbs chose "the kingdom of heaven" and elected
Traditional Commemoration at the site of the Battle,
delegation present at parastos
commemorative service (parastos) in Gazimestan yesterday was also
representatives of the office of the federal government for relations
international mission in Kosovo, as well as representatives of
the ruling parties.
There was a noticeable "buffer zone" with occasional
KFOR soldiers between the
people who came with the church and the state delegation which
* * * *
Patriarch did not choose Milosevic
the qusetions of foreign reporters in Gazimestan whether he would
Slobodan Milosevic, Patriarch Pavle said that he did not choose
the president of the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. "I did not choose Milosevic.
recognized the elections. Now the West does not recognize him
and asks me to
renounce him although I did not vote under [Josip Tito] Broz nor
explained Patriarch Pavle.
in the residence hall of the monastery of Gracanica, he spoke
Kouchner, the head of the UN civil mission in Kosovo and general
commander, regarding the situation in Kosovo and Metohija. Yesterday
also visited the Pec Patriarchate.
by Snezana Lazovic (Vidovdan, 2000)
LAZAR GREAT MARTYR OF KOSOVO
Lazar was born in 1329 in Prilepac to the aristocrat family Hrebeljanovic.
Pribac was a Logotet-secretary doing very confidential work for King
Dusan the Powerful in the royal palace. Young Lazar was raised in the
palace, and was respected by the King who entrusted him with the rule
of two parts of his kingdom: Srem and Macva. Lazar married Milica the
daughter of an important aristocrat named Vratko also known as Yug Bogdan
- a very wise and honorable man from the Nemanjic family. Lazar had
three sons: Stevan, Vuk and Lazar and five daughters: Jelena, Mara,
Despa, Vukosava and Mileva.
King Dusan the Powerful died unexpectantly in 1355 at the age of 48.
This led to a weakening of Serbia's central government. Many dukes used
this opportunity to secede from the Kingdom with the land that had been
entrusted to them. The young son of Dusan Uros took over the throne
and soon was killed. Vukasin Mrnjacevic proclaimed himself the King
of Serbia. At this time, Turks were advancing toward the Kingdom of
Serbia. In a battle on the river Marica in 1371, Vukasin was killed
leaving behind him a weakened, poor and torn Serbia. Serbia was in desperate
need of a gifted statesman, rich in virtue and deserving of God's Grace:
a man similar to St.Sava and his father St. Stefan Nemanja who had founded
the Serbian state. The Church recognized just such a man in Prince Lazar.
His talent for leadership, wisdom and experience lifted him above those
who would seize the throne by force and sought their own glory and importance.
Prince Lazar, first sought to consolidate and strengthen the Kingdom.
As was the custom of that day and age, he married his daughters to the
rebellious Serbian aristocrats. This enlarged and stabilized Serbia.
Having thus secured the loyalty of dissident aristocrats, Prince Lazar
turned to those countries which bordered his own, seeking to deepen
Serbia's relationship with them.
At this time, the Serbian Orthodox Church was in a dispute with the
Patriarch of Constantinople. King Dusan the Powerful wanted Serbia to
have an independent Church. He single-handedly sought to elevate the
Serbian archbishop to the level of a patriarch. The Patriarch of Constantinople
utterly rejected this act and broke relations with the Church in Serbia.
This was a very serious problem and one which King Lazar managed to
solve by reconciling the Serbian Church and that of Constantinople.
It was a result of this reconciliation that gave the Serbian Church
its first canonical Patriarch.
The expansion of that Ottoman state, and increasingly frequent Turkish
raids into his land, warned Prince Lazar that the time for a decisive
battle was drawing near. Lengthy preparation on both sides preceded
this confrontation. The fact that the armies were led by the Turkish
ruler Murad 1 and by King Lazar of Serbia illustrates the importance
of this battle. It was decided that the site of the battle would be
a field in Kosovo (Kosovo Polje).
Prince Lazar knew that his chances against the Turkish aggressor were
small and on the eve of the Battle of Kosovo he gathered his upper aristocracy
and asked if they should fight for the Holy cross and Golden Freedom
or surrender to their adversaries and live as slaves of the Muslims.
They had to chose between the Heavenly Kingdom and earthly one. In the
true spirit of Christianity they preferred to place their hope in Christ
and Eternal Life. The Prince and all of this warriors took Holy communion
and went into battle on Saint Vitus Day, Tuesday June 15th 1389.
In the beginning of the battle Serbian warriors were able to advance.
Milos Obilic, the most famous hero of this Kosovo Battle, killed the
Turkish King Murad. Despite this unexpected development, the Turkish
army re-grouped and over ran the Serbs. They captured Prince Lazar alive,
but beheaded him shortly thereafter.
Today his earthly remains are amazingly preserved intact and kept in
the monastery Ravanica which was founded by him, along with many others
churches and monasteries. The faithful gather from all Serbia just as
they have through centuries to venerate his Holy relics and to get comfort
and healing and to inspire them in the hope and belief that better days
Traces of the rich history - a medieval tower