Page 15 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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Bishop † Paul (Pavle) of Raška and Prizren (1957–1990)
archbishop of Peć, Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovci, and Serbian Patriarch (1990–2009)
For centuries the territory of the Ras-Prizren Diocese has been the center of our na- tional and ecclesial life. it has remained so even after all the destruction by conquerors, for on it are found the remnants of the most important accomplishments of Serbian
Church architecture, art, and literature. These Kosovo remnants are scattered among of the remaining faithful, who are also scattered throughout the Kosovo region.
The Christian ethos of the faith of Saint Sava, the faith which the people accepted and lived, testifies even today that these buildings were constructed with full knowledge of the eternal measure of man’s worth and his labors, as well as the value of the labors of an entire nation based upon the Lord’s words concerning the exalted good of service for the love of God and for one’s fellow man.
This same ideal, service to God and fellow man, moved not only the powerful and rich, kings and noblemen, to erect churches and monasteries, but the common people as well, to build them—and, when necessary, to again rebuild them from the ruins and ashes—as in the case of the artists, scribes, printers, and those nameless donors, like those of the hand-written Menaiа (liturgical books) in the Dečani Monastery, a gift to the church by Slavа the Blind, and the“poorpeopleofPrizren,”greatandsmall,whodonatedthesilvercrosstothechurchofSaint George, in Prizren, exemplifies this unselfish generosity.
in this way, long before the Battle of Kosovo, our people learned and strove for a heavenly understanding of life and death. This means that love of God is predicated upon love for our fellow man; that allegiance to the eternal Kingdom of Heaven does not mean the denial of our transitory life on earth, and that despite our faith in the immortal soul we do not deny our stewardship of our historical being.
Belonging to a people with such an understanding, the Holy Prince Lazar merely con-
firmed the importance of this allegiance: more willing to disappear as men than to live as inhumans. For us there is no other choice: better a dead man than a living inhuman. For a man, though dead, is not dead before the living God. in His sight, the inhuman is dead even while walking the earth.
Today, when dark clouds have again enveloped Kosovo and Metohija, we need to remind ourselves and others of the truth that no one ever asked us whether we wished to be born in this or that people, in this or that land. For this we can- not be commended nor blamed. But, whether we will remain as people or inhumans, that depends on us—just as it de- pends upon us whether we shall live or disappear before God and mankind.
i believe that all those who participated in the publishing of this book did their best to present that which we accom- plished through the centuries of our existence in this region, as well as our contribution to the struggle for freedom and justice in the world. it is good to ponder: what would the Serbian people be without their churches and monasteries in freedom or in bondage? What would we be without them, even today, before ourselves and before the world?
i owe a deep debt to these individuals who gave of their labor, as well as to those who donated their means, that this truly encompassing book could be produced. in the legacy of our Serbian land, Kosovo is our debt before God and before these suffering people who—living in their scattered homes—protect these holy places that belong not only to Serbs but to all of enlightened humanity.
Pavle of Raška and Prizren
Forward to the first edition of Zadužbine Kosova (The Endowments of Kosovo—Monuments and Testimonies of the Serbian people, Prizren-Belgrade, 1987). The late Patriarch Pavle (1914–2009) spent 33 years in Kosovo as a bishop and he often expressed his concern for the people and cultural heritage in the area.

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