Head of Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) speaks about the attempt of authorities in Kosovo to present Serbian churches and temples in the province as Kosovan heritage. The Saint Sava Cathedral crypt should be completed by the end of the year. Many churches outside of Serbia are in danger.


The appropriation of Serbian churches in Kosovo and Metohija is absolutely in character of the Albanian rulers. Unfortunately, it also fits very well with the character of the European Union and the United States.


This is what Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church Irinej had to say —  in an exclusive interview for "Novosti" — about the initiative of the authorities in Priština, who are trying to push the state of Kosovo to join UNESCO. Churches and temples in the southern Serbian province belonging to Serbian Orthodox Church would then be registered as Kosovan, not Serbian heritage.


Pointing out that most eparchies and mytropolies of the Serbian Orthodox Church are actually based outside of Serbia, patriarch openly says that there's a real danger that many places of prayer could be taken away from the Serbian people. “Brute force puts a saddle on both horses and cities” — he cites an old proverb — and says he can't even try to predict the outcome of the new diplomatic battle which is soon expected to be fought on the East River — when Priština's politicians start doing whatever they can in order to push Kosovo within the boundaries of the UNESCO membership.


 Patriarch was speaking to Novosti at the Saint Sava Cathedral in Belgrade, where "Four Centuries of the Imperial House of the Romanovs — Awakening of Memories" exhibit has been set up. 


The display takes place inside the crypt of the Vračar Cathedral. It is the first time ever that the unique temple is being used in this fashion. Over the course of two weeks, more than 30,000 visitors came to see it — and SPC head expresses his pride:


There are a hundred years of history being shown here! The beautiful pictures of the Romanov family speak volumes. Any word spoken is just a pale shadow compared to this historic reality. The crypt of the Cathedral is the best exhibition space in the Serbian capital. And this is a historic exhibit.”


Patriarch Irinej expects the crypt to be fully completed by the end of the year, answering the question — when will the Temple itself finally be complete?— he just nodded and said: “Only God knows that.”


Russian ambassador, Alexander Chepurin met patriarch Irinej at the closing of the exhibit inside the crypt. Young princes Peter and Aleksandar Karađorđević as well as members of the Society for Support of the Saint Sava Cathedral Project were present at the closing ceremony. The highly respected guests were greeted by the chief architect Vojislav Milovanović and the head of the Cathedral, father Radivoj Panić. They were taken through the exhibit by Dragomir Acović, Architect and President of the Serbian Society for Heraldry.


Russian craftsmen still far away


Russian authorities promised to send skilled craftsmen to paint the inside of the Cathedral. Patriarch says that there are promises, but there's reality too: “We have no idea when they will arrive. It's hard to be a prophet. This kind  of grandiose, magnificent work takes many, many years. In any case, the Saint Sava Cathedral will be finished in my time — whether I'm alive, or not, that doesn't really matter.”


Media silence



When the priests informed the patriarch that Serbian media were, in general, “extremely shy” in their reporting about the Romanov exhibit, the head of SPC commented: “The media seem to be less and less interested in what's happening with the Church. It seems that there are people around who intentionally refuse to publish a story about the picturesque history of the Romanov family.”