A re-print from last year on this day:
Today is the leaving-taking of the Nativity. We also commemorate today a new(er) Saint of the Church: Confessor Dositej, Metropolitan of Zagreb (Croatia).
Born on December 5, 1887, the metropolitan completed his early schooling in his hometown in Belgrade, while the Spiritual Academy he completed in Kiev in 1904. In Berlin he studied theology and philosophy, he also studied experimental philosophy in Leipzig. He took his monastic vows during his days as a seminarian. He continued his studies at Sorbonne. Later, he went to Berlin where he stayed until the declaration of the Balkan War. In 1913 he was elected bishop and sent to the Diocese of Nis (Serbia). He was elected vice president of the Central Hierarchical Assembly and, in that position, participated in negotiations with Constantinople and spent three years engaged in missionary work in Czechoslovakia.
In 1931 he was appointed the first hierarch of the newly established Zagreb Diocese, in Croatia. He founded an Orthodox Monastery dedicated to St. Paraskeva in this town. He administrated over other neighboring dioceses and even managed the affairs of the Serbian Church during the patriarch’s illness. After Patriarch’s death, namely until the new Patriarch was elected in 1938, Bishop Dositej administrated the Belgrade-Karlovci Archdiocese.
After World War II broke out, Metropolitan Dositej was taken from his diocesan residence, together with his deacon, Lazar Zivadinovic, and they were jailed under very harsh conditions. In fact, it is recorded that the Belgian consul was in the prison and upon seeing the metropolitan and how he was treated, he commented, “By God, these people are beasts.” Due to his terrible health condition he was transferred to the Merciful Sisters hospital where, instead being treated, his torture continued this time through the abuse of the “merciful” sisters. According to the report of Bozidar Cerovski, an Ustashe police chief, “the metropolitan was put through so much suffering, both physical and mental, that when he was put on a train to Belgrade he barely made it alive.” He died at the Monastery of the Holy Theotokos in Belgrade on January 13, 1945.
This eminent hierarch of the Serbian church spoke five languages and was a true intellectual, yet he showed that all the studies and glories are but vanities of this world and instead of denying his faith he showed true intelligence, true knowledge and wisdom and suffered for it instead. He suffered for being Orthodox, persecuted for being a Christian at the hands of fellow Christians. Granted, he suffered the most probably for no other reason than the fact he was Serbian, at a terrible time of racism, a racism which, unfortunately, exists still to this day. There is such a great temptation upon the Serbs to judge and even hate their neighbors for what has happened in the past. And, yes, to this day there is much prejudice against Serbs in Croatia but….let us always bear in mind the words from the inserts in the litanies during the wars in the former Yugoslavia issued by the Holy Assembly of Bishops – “…If we must suffer, let it be in the ways of Thy justice and Thy truth – let it not be because of our injustice or hatred against anyone. Let us all fervently say: Lord have mercy”.
Through the prayers of the holy Confessor Dositej and all Serbian Martyrs and New Martyrs may God have mercy on us all.