Page 971 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
P. 971

For all abandoned Homes a Pilgrimage to occupied Kosovo (june 2001)
Monk Andrew Wermuth
 For all evil thoughts, For all abandoned homes, For all dark minds,
I repent and cry
St. Nikolai Velimirović
The small area of land known as Kosovo, called by history “ancient Serbia,” came to the forefront of the world news media in 1999 when NaTO forces began
bombing what the Serbs have for seven hundred years con- sideredtheir“HolyLand.”Thisattackcontinuedforseven- ty-eight days. Bombs were dropped not only on Kosovo but also on the Serbian capital of Belgrade, other major cities, and neighboring Montenegro. Civilian targets were not spared. Following this one-sided war was the occupa- tion of the disputed land of Kosovo by NaTO forces, which has continued until the present day. Currently, only a small fraction of Serbs remain in Kosovo. The majority have fled north to Serbia, where there is one of the highest concen- trations of refugees in the world. Little publicized in the Western media is the fact that it is not safe for a Serb to appear in public in Kosovo and Metohija due to the threat of violence from the hands of albanian terrorists known as the KLa (Kosovo Liberation army), despite the policing by NaTO. This i witnessed firsthand when i traveled to Kosovo/Metohija this past June on a spiritual pilgrimage to its ancient monasteries and holy places. Due to the volatile atmosphere, i had no other choice than to travel in a con- voy of italian and Spanish armored KFOR1 vehicles.
Border Crossing
arriving at the border, i immediately sensed an atmosphere of intensity-the war zone. as we pulled off the side of the road at the border, our taxi was met by a young italian sol- dier, machine gun in hand. Our guide, Fr. jovan (a priest- monk who serves at the old Patriarchate of Peć), announced our expected party, and we were quickly ushered into a guard station where we were to wait until our convoy was ready. in moments like these, one’s awareness becomes in- tensely acute; each movement and word is calculated; one feels that one wrong move could potentially be fatal. Be-
1 KFOR: NaTO-supported armed forces in Kosovo (short for “Kosovo Forces”).
Remnants of the Samodreža church at Kosovo area, destroyed by the Albanian extremists in 1999
fore long our convoy arrived, and the atmosphere was soft- ened a little by the smiles on the faces of the soldiers upon seeing Fr. jovan—a man whom, over the past year and a half, they have come to know and respect. Within forty- five minutes we arrived outside the ancient walls of the Peć Patriarchate.
Patriarchate of Peć
The Serbian Orthodox Church had its foundation in 1219 when St. Sava, after receiving his spiritual formation on Mt. athos, was consecrated archbishop of Serbia, with his seat at Žiča Monastery in central Serbia. St. Sava then in- structed his closest disciple, the future St. arsenije, to move to the city of Peć in Kosovo (southern Serbia), because he foresaw that Žiča would become vulnerable to foreign in- vasion. Over a century later, in 1346, the Serbs had their first Patriarch, St. joanikije ii, who established his patri- archate in Peć.
The fourteenth century saw the blossoming of Balkan Christian spirituality. inwardly, this revival was effected by the influence of the hesychast disciples of St. Gregory the Sinaite, the great teacher of Prayer of the Heart, who re- posed in Bulgaria just beyond the borders of ancient Ser- bia. Outwardly, the revival was effected by Serbian princes, who sponsored the building of splendid stone and marble churches. Many of these magnificent edifices stand until this day in Kosovo, bearing witness to the Serbian Byzan-

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