Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Semi-official Biography of His Holiness Patriarch Pavle

Patriarch Pavle Stojčević (1914-2009)

On 1 December 1990, both clergy and laity greeted Bishop Pavle Stojčević’s election as the Archbishop of Peć, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovac, and Patriarch of all Serbia with great joy and expectation.

The late spiritual leader of the Serbian Orthodox people was born 11 September 1914 to Stevan and Ana Stojčević, in the village of Kućanci, in the county of Donji Miholjac, in Slavonija. {There are very few Orthodox left in the Donji Miholjac region after the papist Ustaše terrorists carried out a systemic extermination of Orthodox Serbs in Croatia in World War II (If this is not one of the “unspoken” enormities of the 20th century, I don’t know what it is). The area is now over 95 percent Roman Catholic by faith after this bloodletting.} His baptismal name was Gojko. The Patriarch graduated with high honours from the Fourth Male Gymnasium (high school/junior college) in Belgrade. He did postgraduate studies at the Orthodox Theological Faculty at the University of Athens from 1955 to 1957. During his stay in Greece, he studied the New Testament and sharpened his expertise in liturgics, which resulted in the Patriarch becoming one of the most prolific writers on that subject in the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC). For his many years of work and eminent reputation in the field of theology, the Theological Faculty of the SOC awarded His Holiness an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity.

From 1944 to 1955, he was a monastic of Rača Monastery, performing different disciplines. During the 1950/51 academic year, the then-Hierodeacon Pavle became a lecturer at the Prizen Seminary, a place that he retained until his election as Patriarch. He received the monastic tonsure and ordination as a hierodeacon in 1948. In 1954, he became a hieromonk and protosingelos. Bishop Emilian of Slavonija made him an  archimandrite in 1957. On 29 May 1957, the Holy Synod of the SOC elected Archimandrite Pavle as a bishop, he became the ruling archpastor of the Diocese of Raška and Prizen.

From that day to the present, he faithfully shared the plight of his suffering people. Bishop Pavle’s writings warned us of the present exodus of Serbs from Kosovo, the attacks of Albanians on Serbian monasteries, the rape of nuns, the terrorising of ordinary citizens, Muslims ransacking and desecrating Serbian cemeteries, and of the general danger, affliction, and misery facing the Orthodox population in Kosovo and in Metohija. In 1989, in Kosovo, several Albanian toughs assaulted the then-Bishop Pavle. His injuries were so severe that he required nearly 3 months of hospitalisation. However, in the spirit of Christian forgiveness, he refused to press charges against them.

It is not without reason that people called Patriarch Pavle, “The saint who walks everywhere”. Everyone who met him remarked on how simple his lifestyle was and the personal humility of this virtuous man. Every bishop of the SOC has a personal car, which he uses to travel through his diocese… with one exception… Patriarch Pavle. When people asked him why he didn’t have a car, he replied, “I won’t get one until every Albanian and Serbian household in Kosovo and Metohija has one”.

His Holiness published Devich, The Monastery of St Joanikije of Devich (1989) and Questions and Answers to the Church Reader (1988). For the past 20 years, he was responsible for the column in the Journal of the Serbian Patriarchate known as Questions and Answers, dealing with liturgical and sacramental questions. Through his efforts, the Holy Synod published a new version of Srbljak in 1968. He also coordinated a reissuing of a classic work in liturgics, Christian Feasts by M. Skabalanovich, published originally in Kiev in 1915 in 6 volumes. The most monumental contribution of His Holiness Patriarch Pavle was his work on the modern Serbian translation of the New Testament. He supervised its production until its publication in 1984. This was the first official Serbian translation of the New Testament approved by the SOC. If we collected all of Bishop Pavle’s works into an anthology, it would run to thousands of pages contained in many volumes. Patriarch Pavle exemplified simplicity through his humility and personal holiness. He was a most worthy helmsman to steer the “Ship of the Church” in these troubled times.

Official Website of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA and Canada


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