Page 972 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
P. 972

Monk andrew Wermuth
tine culture in that area. in the fourteenth century, when emperor Dušan gave part of Kosovo to the Church as a land holding, this area was named “Metohija” (from the Greek word metochion, which refers to a church land hold- ing). Thus, when the media today refers to “Kosovo and Metohija,”theyareusingnamesthatharkbacktothedeep spiritual roots of this place.
Today at the Patriarchate of Peć there is a convent with over twenty nuns. They are mostly elderly, having lived in this same place for decades. But even since the 1999 war and the subsequent NaTO occupation, young sisters have come with the intention to stay. They have made this deci- sion despite the fact that it is nearly impossible to leave the walls of the monastery, and then only under the protection of the italian army.
The Patriarchate also serves as a diplomatic base for the Serbs. There are two employed translators who speak eng- lish and deal with NaTO and UNMiK,2 representing the Serb population in Kosovo and taking care of the needs of the nuns as well. Outside the front gate there is a base of the italian army, which stands watch over the monastery and helps with providing necessities. The soldiers them- selves are very helpful and friendly, having come to know and appreciate the real Serbian people. They, as well as sol- diers from other countries who are guarding other sectors, found something they were not expecting on coming to Kosovo. Several american soldiers were outraged, having been briefed before arriving on the scene that they were to be protecting the albanians from the Serbs, and in reality finding the exact opposite situation. When they came home from their time of service, they were intent on writing let- ters of complaint regarding their false indoctrination.
The monastery court of Peć is absolutely beautiful, adorned with flowers, foliage, and ancient stone paths. There is a mulberry, “St. Sava’s tree,” said to be from the thirteenth century. its limbs are so overgrown that they must be supported by wooden braces. The peaceful atmo- sphere reigning within these walls is not something that can simply be planted overnight. Here one senses a seren- ity cultivated through the more than eight hundred years in which Christian ascetics have been offering their prayers in this holy place. The main treasure of the monastery is the miracle-working icon of the Mother of God of Peć. Be- fore the image of the Heavenly Queen the nuns faithfully continue to pray here in the center of Serbia’s “jerusalem,” pleadingforthe“peaceoftheworld,”whileoutsidethemon- astery walls mankind pushes itself toward the brink of in- sanity in war and hatred.
Terrorist Roots in Kosovo
There was a time in the not-so-distant past when the albanians and Serbs co-existed in relative peace. Histori- cally, many of the albanians even shared the Orthodox
2 United Nations Mission in Kosovo—UNMiK. 970
Christian Faith with their Serbian neighbors. even after becoming Muslims (under pressure from their Turkish con- querors), many continued to visit the shrines of Orthodox saints, at which they received healing from wonderwork- ing relics. at times the albanians even defended Orthodox monasteries and cemeteries from the Ottomans, under whom both they and the Serbs were subjugated for nearly five hundred years. The ethnic conflict between the alba- nians and Serbs was born in more recent times, after the end of the Turkish domination, and was provoked by ex- ternal interference.
in the peace settlements following World War i and the breakup of the austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires, a new state was created: the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later renamed “Yugoslavia”). Nationalist parties soon arose to oppose the new state, among which were the albanian extremists in Kosovo and their allies in Croatia, the Ustashis. Both the albanian extremists and the Ustashis received support from the newly founded Communist Par- ty in Yugoslavia, headed by General Secretary josip Broz Tito.
During World War ii, the Nazis gained control of Ko- sovo, Bosnia, and Croatia, from where they fought against the Serbian army, who were part of the allied forces. The Ustashis now became the tentacle of the Nazis in Croatia and Bosnia, while the albanians assisted the Nazis by form- ing a volunteer SS unit called the Skanderbey Division, which carried out raids against the non-albanian popula- tion in Kosovo.
at the end of the war Yugoslavia came under Commu- nist domination. a policy of unchecked and brutal repres- sion ensued in order to keep up the façade of a unified Com- munist Yugoslavia, for which Tito was undeservedly praised by the world. When Tito died in 1980, each ethnic group sought to gain ascendancy in Kosovo, but the albanians remained the majority. Through violent means, albanian terrorists began a policy of systematically driving out Serbs from Kosovo. (The then Bishop of Prizren and future Pa- triarch of Serbia, Pavle, witnessed this firsthand and was himself beaten on several occasions.) Slobodan Milošević used this crisis as a base upon which to build his platform of a false nationalism, gaining for himself the presidency as a “Socialist,” while remaining in truth a Communist. as President of Yugoslavia, he took measures to suppress the ethnic albanians in Kosovo-measures which only gave fod- der for the terrorist actions of albanian extremists. at the same time Milošević retained the Communist policy of weakening and disrupting the unity of the Orthodox Church, whose leaders denounced him and his disastrous policies in Kosovo.3
The spiritual leader of Serbia, Patriarch Pavle, never sup- ported Milošević. in 1997 he supported a public demon-
3 Veselin Kesich, “Kosovo in the History of the Serbian Orthodox Church,” St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly, vol. 44, nos. 3–4, 2000.

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