Lorain, OH - With the blessing of His Grace Bishop Mitrophan, and under the direction of Fr Aleksa Pavichevich, parish priest at St. George Serbian Orthodox Church in Lorain, Ohio, 17 pilgrims from multiple states departed for a ten-day journey to the holy and historical sites of Serbia and Montenegro.
The group spent a day enjoying the highlights of Serbia’s capital city, Belgrade, then departed for Monastery Lelic to celebrate Divine Liturgy for the great feast of Ss Peter and Paul. It was a powerful experience and tremendous blessing to venerate the holy relics of St Nicholai Velimirovich and enjoy lunch with Abbot Avakum.
After visiting monasteries Gradac, Celine, St Nicholas and Zica, the group spent the evening at Studenica. The pilgrims prepared for and partook of Holy Communion at the very church that was the center of medieval Serbian culture and spirituality. The next day they were able to enjoy dinner and services with the monastic community at Monastery Crna Reka. Many remember this as a highlight, due in part to the hospitality received, but also because of the picturesque beauty of the monastery and intimacy of the chapel.
The group then departed for the heart of Serbian Orthodoxy and history: the holy sites of Kosovo. After crossing the border, the pilgrims had a police escort to the town of Gracanica, an endowment of the great medieval Serbian King Milutin. They continued onward to Pec and Decani. Due to a communication error, the group was not expected at either location. However, thanks to the hospitality and blessings of Bishop Teodosije, accommodations were found for overnight stays for the entire group.
The women stayed at Pec, where they had a wonderful and spiritually refreshing conversation with a few of the nuns who “radiated with joy and love.” The men, who stayed at Decani, enjoyed the singing of the evening canon to St Stevan and the hospitality of Father Sava. In the morning, before departing for Morava and Ostrog, Father Aleksa was privileged to serve the Divine Liturgy with the faithful in attendance.
The group safely navigated the mountains of Montenegro via bus, visiting churches and monasteries and finishing the evening at Ostrog. As true pilgrims, the group spent the night sleeping outside of this holy place under the stars. Early in the morning they awoke to Divine Liturgy, after which they venerated the holy, miracle-working relics of St Basil.
Continuing onward, they departed for Monastery Mileseva, home to the White Angel, one of the most recognizable pieces of medieval Byzantine art and iconography. Along the way, they visited monasteries dotting the hills of Uzica and enjoyed refreshments at the home of their driver, Zoran.
Before departing for home, the group visited the Uvac nature preserve, where they enjoyed a boat ride, swimming, spelunking and a train ride through the mountains. They also visited the place where Milos Obrenovic began the second Serbian uprising against the Turkish oppressors. By God’s blessing, the travellers arrived home safely on July 21st.
This pilgrimage was truly a blessing for all who attended, as well as for their families, friends and fellow parishioners. They will benefit from the experiences, hardships and joys shared from this visit to their ancestral and spiritual homeland.