Page 421 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
P. 421

nian hordes set out to torch and destroy the Holy Shrines of Kosovo and Metohija (based on information we were able to verify, to date they have burned down, destroyed, desecrat- ed, and demolished 112 churches and monasteries9). it is likely that the toll is even higher but we are unable to visit them and document their condition because Serbs in Kosovo and Me- tohija lack security and freedom of movement, and KFOR is frequently unwilling to provide escorts.) especially horrible for the Serbian people and the Church, and disastrous for the international community, is the destruction of the old- est Kosovo and Metohija Holy Shrines, which have been renewed many times over the course of the centuries, the very ones attesting to the vitality of the Serbian people and its life and presence in Kosovo, its physical and spiritual rootedness and cultural creativity in this Holy Land of St. Sava and Holy Prince Lazar and the glorious constellation of other Serbian Saints and Martyrs, champions of justice and freedom, both spiritual and physical, national and hu- man. Hence His Beatitude Russian Patriarch alexei10 was right when he wrote the following about Kosovo and Me- tohija: “For the Orthodox Serbs Kosovo is not just a geo- graphical concept or an object on the map but the Holy Shrine of their fathers, a land scattered with ancient Ortho- dox churches and monasteries, which have an eternal spiri- tual and cultural importance ” Similar letters of protest against injustice and barbarism in Kosovo, appeals for peace, justice and freedom for all, as well as support for the suffering Serbian people came from other Orthodox Patri- archs as well: from Constantinople, alexandria, the arch- bishop of athens. They, too, testified that Kosovo for the Serbian people really is what jerusalem is for the jewish people, and this was also repeated and confirmed by the jewish Rabbi for Serbia and Montenegro in Belgrade, Mr. isaak asiel.
if the Serbs have “a tendency toward mythomania,” as we have been maliciously characterized by some dry West- ern rationalists, as well as by some of their uncritical Serb epigones, and if the Serbian “myth of Kosovo” was created only to serve the purpose of something variously identified and labeled as Serbian “nationalism”—when it is, in fact, the centuries-old Serbian Kosovo covenant, the expression of our human and Christian memory, historical continuity and creativity, and still vital striving for desperately needed renewal of our house and our freedom, our dignity and our spirituality, our biblical-Christian, divine-secular patrio- tism (Hebrews 12:22–24), which signifies the theanthropic symphonia of all people and peoples in Christ, and is not “nationalism” or impersonal Communist “international- ism” or anglo-american colonial syncretism—then how does this supposed “mythomania” explain the fact that in a
9 During the March pogrom (17–19 March 2004) thirty more church- es and monasteries were destroyed or seriously damaged by Kosovo albanian mob, so the number of desecrated shines has risen to 142.
10 in a letter to Serbian Patriarch Pavle on March 25, 1999, the second day of the NaTO bombing of the Serbian nation and Kosovo.
MeMORaNDUM onKosovoandMetohija
relatively small area like Kosovo and Metohija, barely 100 kilometers total in length and breadth, the Serbian Ortho- dox people and its Church have 1,300, to wit, ONE THOU- SAND THREE HUNDRED churches and monasteries dating from the 12th to the 21st century, built and renewed con- tinuously for eight hundred years, whether in freedom or slavery, whether in glory or suffering, during centuries of suffering unacknowledged by Christian europe, starting with five hundred years of suffering under the Ottomans, followed more recently by half a century of suffering under the Communists and, most recently, at the turn of the cen- tury and the millennium, suffering under the albanians and NaTO. among these churches and monasteries there are, both in the cities and outside them, several dozen churches and monasteries imposing by their size, proud in the beauty of their architecture and the masterpieces among their paintings, sumptuous in their interior appointment and the wealth of their treasuries, comparable to few in europe or the world (Peć, Dečani, Gračanica, the Mother of God of Ljeviša, Holy archangels, Crkolez, Budisavci and the first ten already destroyed holy shrines included in the list at the end of this Memorandum). To this number of 1,300 churches and monasteries, let us also add about 80 Serbian Kosovo cities and palaces from the 11th to the 15th century, and sev- eral silver and gold mines in Kosovo and Metohija opera- tional since the Middle ages. all this attests that this tradi- tionally Serbian district developed quickly into “a condensed nucleus of Serbian civilization and into the holy land of Serbian spirituality where, together with piety and theology, literature, philosophy and all sciences of the time were nur- tured in the palaces, bishops’ residences and monasteries”.11
Kosovo and Metohija art historian and long-time ex- pert associate of the institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments in Kosovo and Metohija, Milan ivanović, who is a native of Peć, presented the following facts in his 1986 study Church Monuments of Kosovo and Metohija, 13th-20th century:
Of the present officially recorded 1,445 settlements in Kosovo and Metohija, this study established the existence of preserved Serbian Church monuments or their remnants in 1,090 settlements In the remaining (now Albanian) villages, in most cases information is missing because they were not accessible to either previous or present researchers In these almost 1,100 settlements information was collected for ap- proximately 1,300 monasteries, churches, sites of former churches and other Serbian Church monuments Artifacts, of course, are a completely different story: icons, books, tex- tiles and metal If we keep in mind that during the course of its regular spiritual and religious life, every church had to have an iconostasis, icons, books, vestments and at least three or four vessels (cross, icon lamp, diskos, chalice, incense burner) then we can conclude that in these churches there
11 Radovan Samardžić, Kosovo i Metohija u srpskoj istoriji (Kosovo and Metohija in Serbian history), Belgrade, 1989, p. 7

   419   420   421   422   423