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Chastised Albanian Vandals Vow to Restore Zociste Monastery

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  • Antonis Papadopoulos
    Politika, Belgrade, Yugoslavia / February 21, 2001 Extraordinary Development in Zociste in Orahovac Albanians to restore the monastery of Zociste Four Albanian
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 28, 2001
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      Politika, Belgrade, Yugoslavia / February 21, 2001

      Extraordinary Development in Zociste in Orahovac Albanians to restore the
      monastery of Zociste

      Four Albanian young men who participated in the destruction of the ancient
      church became psychologically ill, one of them died seven months later.

      Kosovska Mitrovica, February 20, 2001

      The Albanian population of Zociste in Orahovac municipality, reports Archpriest
      Milenko Dragicevic from the neighboring village of Velika Hoca, has founded an
      committee for the restoration of the monastery of Zociste in their village.

      This monastery, whose Church of the Holy Healers, Cosmas and Damian is mentioned
      as a Christian holy site dating back to the 8th century, was first burnt down
      and then, blown up by the Albanians of Zociste on June 17, 1999.

      In the fall of 1999, four Albanian young men who participated in the destruction
      of this holy site became psychologically ill. One of them died seven months
      later and the number of Albanian destroyers from Zociste and neighboring
      Opterusa, who became ill increased to 12. This is the story the Albanians in the
      committee to restore the monastery recently told Father Milenko. The locals are
      convinced that the Albanian people have fallen under a curse.

      Historians claim that the Church of the Holy Healers Cosmas and Damian was built
      at the beginning of the 8th century and restored several times. The most recent
      renovation with a semi-round vault and a wide narthex was built on the
      foundations of the old church. The donors (13th century) were senior church
      officials as this monastery, which was the seat of the diocese at that time.

      During the past ten centuries, this monastery has been the sanctuary of the ill
      who came worship before the holy relics. After the arrival of the Turks in the
      Balkans and the Islamization of the Albanians, the locals of Zociste and all of
      Metohija honored the tradition of protecting this monastery. The monastery
      brotherhood, in accordance with the wishes of the Muslim faithful, permitted
      Albanians who were ailing to sleep on the lounge before the chest containing the
      holy relics and pray for their recovery.

      The last time reporters of Politika visited the monastery in September 1998,
      they were witness to an Albanian pilgrimage to the Church of the Holy Healers.
      The Prior of the Monastery at that time, Jovan, prayed for the recovery of an
      Albanian woman.

      However, then days later, Albanian terrorists kidnapped Prior Jovan and seven
      monks. They were released four days later by the kidnappers following the
      intervention of OSCE and the International Red Cross. At that time the monastery
      was not physically damaged; however, the church was desecrated and all valuables
      were looted from the residence hall and the church treasury.

      After release from a private jail for Serbs which the terrorists had set up in
      Malisevo, the brotherhood spent the night in Gracanica and, without a moment's
      hesitation, again returned to Zociste. Prior Jovan was soon appointed as head of
      the monastery of Celije while Father Romilo was appointed to the position of
      Prior.

      After the burning down and destruction of the monastery of Zociste, the monks
      were temporarily sent to Crna Reka where they and other monasteries of the
      Diocese of Raska and Prizren have now heard word of the intent to restore the
      church. This has made them happy and filled them with hope of returning to the
      Holy site which was spiritually active for 14 centuries.

      * * *
      For more information on destroyed and desecrated Serbian shrines, please see the
      online version of "Crucified Kosovo" at

      http://www.kosovo.com/crucified/default.htm
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