Chastised Albanian Vandals Vow to Restore Zociste Monastery
- 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
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
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.
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For more information on destroyed and desecrated Serbian shrines, please see the
online version of "Crucified Kosovo" at