Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Djakovica, Kosovo

Around noon on Sunday, we left Decani Monastery with Bishop Teodosije and drove to the town of Djakovica, which is 95% Albanian. According to one source, there were 3,000 Serbs in the town before 1999; now, these 6 women we visited may be the last.

This excellent short article tells their story better than I can.

All I can tell you is what I experienced there. First, I should note that Bishop Maxim was quite excited to meet these women, even using the word "saints" to describe them, particularly their leader, Tetka (Aunt) Polyka.

When we arrived, all I could see from the outside was tall, plain walls -- there was no indication of what was inside. When we knocked on the gate, we were let inside where we spoke with a heavily armed guard. Once he confirmed with the women that we were there to see them, we were allowed to bring our car inside the gate, which was quickly shut again.

The women then came out, with umbrellas, to greet us and ask for blessings in the rain, and we were taken inside their house (in the background in the photo above). Once inside, we were again asked for blessings, which is their custom, I was told.

Being Serbs, they of course insisted on offering us all sorts of food and drink, but we were happy mainly just to see them and speak with them (see photos above).

They then took us to see the small church they are building next to the house, within the walls of their compound. You can see me, Bishop Teodosije, and Fr. Sava inside the church in the photo two above. In the photo immediately above, you can see three of the sisters walking along the east side of the church, as we are pulling out of the gate in our car.

Not far from their house is this "park," which actually was Holy Trinity Cathedral, until it was desecrated and destroyed in 1999. Just last month, the local diocese noted with sadness that every last trace of the existence of the historic church had been eliminated from the new park.

No comments: