Religion of Serbia

The main religion of Serbia is Christian Orthodox. Beside the Christian Orthodox population, there are also other religious communities in Serbia: Islamic, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and others. Diversity of religions in Serbia has left through the past centuries their traces as remarkable artistic and cultural masterpieces, erected in the most beautiful areas of Serbia, always impressively respecting each other in harmony. Cultural and religious inheritance of Serbia, wonderfully decorated with all the beauties that celebrate the God’s Wisdom, make harmonious representation of various versions on essences, that face substantial impacts of integrity they belong, and thus deserve special attention of spectators.

“Our faith in God is not a magical act which automatically keeps us safe from every danger. It is primarily teaching us how to care and show love for our neighbors, how to trust God that all that we are passing through in our lives we experience with spiritual optimism.” Father Sava Janjic

The Russian archives from the 10-12th century record that Slavic people lived in Pannonia, Srem and Illyric, during the time of the Apostle Paul who preached the Christianity to their – Russian – ancestors. This tradition from the PVL –  “Povest vremenih let” – The Nestor Primary Chronicle /earliest East Slavic chronicle/ complies with the archaeological evidences on migration of Slavs – Illyrs from the predominantly Serbian Podunavlje towards the Dnieper River areas. Djordje Janković

“The task in the life of Christians is not to avoid temptations, not to flee from injustice and enmity, but in all trials, even when evil overwhelms us like a stream, to preserve purity, warmth, sincerity and love in our hearts.  There are people who seem to be called upon to constantly endure unkind attitude towards themselves. They cannot change their position. Even in their own home, they have an atmosphere of unfriendliness. There are always circumstances in their lives that can exacerbate them. These people are treated unfairly and dishonestly. They always hear harsh words. And only as long as they keep love in their hearts, until then they are invulnerable. Love was Christ’s refuge in the midst of all the hatred and malice that splashed around Him like waves of the sea.  If your soul is in a beautiful harbor of love, you are safe.  

Some houses always have a kind of gloomy atmosphere. Religion makes some harsh and morose. But that’s not Christian. The religion inspired by the word of Christ is sunny and joyful. Joy is the difference of a Christian. A Christian should never be discouraged; he should never doubt that good will run over evil. The crying, complaining, frightened Christian betrays his God. In innumerable ways the word of Christ, sunk in the heart, is manifested in life. In trouble, it brings comfort to us, in moments of weakness – strength.  It makes faces shine, makes men patriots and women patient and kind. It brings blessings to homes, to life – beauty”. Saint Tsarina Alexandra

Likewise the Jerusalem, the Serbian church is older than the Roman church, as it was founded in 34 AD /the Christ era/, while the Roman church was established only by arrival of Saint Peter in Rome, nearly some ten years later. It was in 42 AD when the first time Saint Peter came to the Serbs where he strengthened the Serbian church already established by his brother Andrew the Apostle the First-Called and Jacob James the Great Zebedee who were the Christ apostles. Only afterwards Saint Peter went to Rome to establish foundations of the Roman church. Since 34 AD Saint Apostle Andew had already preached and had spread Christianity in the Pomoravlje area, while after his departure to Russia to the east, he left the bishop and the created Moravian Bishopric – Patriarchy /?/ in the town of Troyan. As per date of the foundation it is clear that the Moravian church is also older than the Roman church. 

Many pre-Christian customs passed down in Serbia for thousands of years from generation to generation were extinguished during the long history of Slavs – Serbs. Some of those customs are still customary and regain belief that only the innate connection between nature and man, as well as the mutual interaction between people, and religions and nations – can turn the world to a better mood. Conversion of Slavs to Christianity was not an easy task, primarily for the very strong old-Slavic religion which was founded in deities and strong beliefs inextricably related to the rhythm and cycles of nature, birth and death, so the new-coming religion utterly eradicated their relationship with the religion and life.

The earliest Serbian Orthodox Monasteries have been probably built in the 9th century on the territory of what is today Macedonia. Since the mid 12th century and the rule of Nemanjic Dynasty members, founders of the first state of Serbs – Raška, along the valleys of rivers of Lim, upper Drina along with Piva and Tara, and Ibar and Zapadna Morava Rivers, with its capital of Ras /named after it Raška/, Serbian Monasteries became the educational and cultural centers of the Old Serbia, as well as particular hospitals and rescue place to help ill and poor people. The Orthodox Monasteries of Serbia as the distinctive oasis of culture, history, literacy and identity of Serbian people have been built since the 12th century throughout Serbia by the Serbian visionary and enlightened rulers and endeavors. The Serbian Orthodox Church includes a number of churches and monasteries that were the Serbian Universities: Chilandar, Peć Patriarchate, Visoki Dečani Monastery, Studenica Monastery, Žiča Monastery, Gračanica Monastery, Sopoćani Monastery, Devič Monastery, Mileševa Monastery, Ravanica Monastery, Ljubostinja Monastery, Ćelije Monastery, Tronoša Monastery, Ostrog Monastery, Cetinje Monastery, Vujan Monastery, Hopovo Monastery, Krušedol Monastery, Vraćevšnica Monastery, Manasija Monastery, Đurđevi stupovi Monastery, Lepavina Monastery, Krka Monastery, Krupa Monastery, Dragović Monastery, Banjska Monastery, Piva Monastery, Savina Monastery, Soko Monastery, Gornjak Monastery, Vitovnica Monastery, Radovašnica Monastery, Tavna Monastery, Moštanica Monastery, Dobrun Monastery and other

The last emperor of the East Roman Empire – the Byzantium was of the Serbia origin – Constantine XI Paliologos Dragash, born in 1405 in Constaninople – present Istanbul. His father was Manuel II Palaiologos and mother was Jelena Dragas, the daughter of the local lord Constantine Dragash Dejanovic. The Emperor Constantine XI Dragash was descendant of the Nemanjic Dynasty along the mother’s lineage whose grand-grand-grand father was King of Serbia – Stefan Decanski – Stephen of Decani Monastery who was the founder of the Dejanovic ruling Family and father of Constantine Dragash Dejanovic.

The Medieval Monastic complexes in Serbia of incomparable beauties live the particular life of wisdom, calmness, love, enlightenment, compassion towards all suffering injustice, wonderful scent of incense, exaltation, repentance, ever-lighted candles and prayers, and provide necessary living conditions for the brethren or nuns and often produce food and wine for themselves and visitors. The medieval monasteries of Serbia are priceless shrines that keep and capture the immense history of Serbia presented in magnificent fresco paintings, icons, reliquaries, hidden manuscripts and wisdom gospels and monks highly devoted to prayers and ascetism as the treasurers of Serbian identity. The word fresco is loan-word from the Italian language /buon fresco/ which is the expression for the technique that created a picture on a wet mortar without any adhesive materials and tools. Such technique had been used with slight changes since 1500 years BC until th 18th century.

Above all, the Serbian Monasteries are still home to monks and nuns who greet visitors and sometimes accommodate them. Ancient traditions of Orthodox Christianity have survived until this day in the remote, mountainous regions of Serbia. Today there are 152 sacral Monastic monuments in Serbia, among them several listed in the UNESCO World Heritage list of protected Monuments. Thus Serbian Medieval Monasteries are the main issues of many Panacomp arrangements so to contribute to overall mental ecology.

On the 15th of February the Serbian Orthodox Church celebrates the Presentation of the Jesus at the Temple – Candlemas – Sretenje which marks the day when the Holy Virgin first time brought the young Jesus to the Jerusalem temple. The Presentation of the Jesus at the Temple – meeting the Lord is always celebrated 40 days after the Christmas, since every first male heir is dedicated to God as per the Moses Law. This event represents the first encounter of the Divine with the Human – Terrestrial being and is depiction of the young Jesus meeting with the righteous Simon, so this feast is named Sretenje – meeting.  

Miroslavljevo Jevandjelje (The Miroslav’s Gospel) is the earliest and the most beautiful illuminated manuscript of Serbia written in Serbian in the Cyrillic script, beautifully illustrated with magnificent ornaments and stylistic decorations, written from 1180-1187 in the Monastery of SS Peter and Paul in Bijelo Polje. The Miroslavljevo Jevandjelje – Miroslav’s Gospel has been inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register in 2005. Miroslavljevo Jevandjelje was inscribed in gold for the celebrated prince Miroslav, son of Zavida and brother of Grand Zhupan Stefan Nemanja. Miroslavljevo Jevandjelje – Miroslav’s Gospel is one of the richest manuscripts of its kind and the oldest Serbian book in Cyrillic alphabet, the most valuable testimony of the Serbian Cyrillic literacy from the 12th century. The 181 bound sheet book with miniatures and penmanship of outstanding beauty of the Miroslavljevo Jevandjelje – Miroslav’s Gospel belongs to a group of illuminated manuscripts of specific style and iconography resulting from the fusion of elements of the West (Italy) and the East (Byzantine). The Serbian script is actually one of the important testimonies of the paths of artistic influences from the West to the East and back. The Miroslavljevo Jevandjelje manuscript documents the liturgical structure of the Evangelistria and a development stage of the Serbian orthography, and also speaks about the Christian princes in the Balkans at the end of the 12th century. This invaluable material, precious parchment and gilding, wealth of painted ornamentation and illuminated initials, linguistic complexity and variety of models written for Medieval Serbian Knez (Duke) Miroslav has been preserved almost completely. Judging by the few traces of candle wax the Miroslav Gospel was not often used for liturgical purposes. During the Ottoman rule the Miroslavljevo Jevandjelje – Miroslav’s Gospel manuscript was kept in the Chilandari Monastery on Mt. Athos (The Holy Mountain). Today Miroslavljevo Jevandjelje (The Miroslav’s Gospel) is treasured in the National Museum in Belgrade dealing with the turbulent eight century story of this magnificent Manuscript that is the treasury of universal value. Miroslavljevo Jevandjelje is the second Serbian entry to the Memory of the World, after the 2003 inscription of the entire archives of prominent genius Serbian-born American inventor and scientist Nikola Tesla (1856-1943).