The Visit to Australia of His Holiness Patriarch Pavle Concludes


In 1990, hearing of the election of His Holiness Patriarch Pavle of Serbia, the now-retired Metropolitan Vitaly said: "He is a man of great personal piety... We remember that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was born in Belgrade. At that time, Serbia had been destroyed by World War I, the country was starving, but it took us in and shared with us what it could." (Pravoslavnaya Rus [Orthodox Russia], No. 5, 1991).

On October 27 of this year, His Holiness Patriarch Pavle--the 44th Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which had gained autocephaly in 1219, when her first patriarch was Saint Savva—stepped onto Australian soil, where His Holiness was greeted by Bishop Milutin of Australia and New Zealand, a multitude of clergymen and parishioners of the Serbian Diocese in Australia. His Holiness was accompanied by Bishop Jovan of Sumadija, Bishop George of Canada, Bishop Longin of Novogracanica and deacons and subdeacons.

The Serbian people revere their Patriarch as a monk of spiritual struggle and prayer, a beseecher of God for their Homeland. The austere life of the present Patriarch and his chastity gained for him good will from all who meet this righteous man. The following example may serve to show why people love Patriarch Pavle so. All the bishops of the Serbian Church have a car at their disposal, which they use to visit the churches of their respective dioceses. The only one who did not have a car was Bishop Pavle of Ras-Prizren, the future Patriarch of Serbia. When asked why he did not purchase a car, he replied: "Until every Albanian or Serb living in Kosovo and Metochia has a car, I will not buy one for myself." As is known, His Holiness Patriarch Pavle performes divine liturgy every day in his stavropighial church in Belgrade. Even here, while visiting the parishes of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney, His Holiness performed liturgy daily, at which clergymen of the Serbian Church and Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia concelebrated with him.

During the first days of his visit, His Holiness officiated at services at the Serbian churches of Melbroune, in which, by special invitation of the local Serbian Diocese, several clergymen of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia participated. During liturgy in Canberra, His Holiness was joined by Hieromonk Joachim (Ross) and Protodeacon Basil Yakimov, and on November 8, on the day of St Dimitrius of Thessaloniki, Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney and the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand, Protopriest Michael Protopopoff, Protopriest Michael Li, Hieromonk Joachim (Ross) and Deacon Vadim Gan concelebrated with His Holiness, Bishop Jovan and other Serbian clergymen at a solemn divine liturgy conducted in the Patriarchal rite, at St George's Curch in Cabramatta, a suburb of Sydney.

On November 13, His Holiness Patriarch Pavle and the Serbian delegation departed for their Homeland.

The late Archbishop Anthony of Western America and San Francisco (+2000) wrote in his Nativity Epistle of 1992 on His Holiness Patriarch Pavle and on the fraternal bonds between the Serbian Church and the Russian Church Abroad:

"Along with these greetings on the Nativity, I wish to share with you that joy which was granted to us recently by the recent visit of His Holiness Patriarch Pavle to our Cathedral and the crypt of Holy Vladyka John of Shanghai. The Patriarch arrived in America, seeking from this country, from its influential people and its organizations an even-handed approach to the much-suffering Serbian people in these days of great tragedy. He arrived also as a father to his flock abroad, who have reunited through the mercy of God has, after their former division. Recent events have urged them to return. Every hour of his historic visit to America was scheduled. And still, we had the honor of greeting this humbe, yet spiritually great successor of St Savva of Serbia!

"And this was for the sake of our Vladyka John of blessed memory [glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in 1994—ed.], who is remembered and loved so touchingly by the Serbs, whom the Serbian Chrysostom, Bishop Nikolaj of Zic', so honored.

"The fact that His Holiness Patriarch Pavle wishes to pray at the crypt of Vladyka John was relayed to me even before his visit to America, promising that this would happen at 12 o'clock, then they said, closer to 4 in the afternoon. We knew that the Patriarch's schedule was overfilled, but we awaited him with hope. He came to the Cathedral at about 3:30 pm.

"Greeted by the singing of our hastily-assembled choir members, he was vested into his mantle, and the Patriarch proceeded into the altar, then to the special place prepared for him on the right-hand kliros.

"His Holiness is an austere monk, humble and earnest in his attitude, staunchly strong in spirit, uniting and accommodating within himself his entire flock. He conducts divine liturgy every day, as we learned from those who accompanied him.

"I greet the Patriarch in Serbian, I tell him of how in 1936, in Belgrade, during the burial of Metropolitan Anthony of blessed memory, at the last stop before the cemetery, where the Iveron Church is, Singel Makarius, later Bishop of Sremsk, spoke a few words. He spoke of the fatherly love and tenderness which the Metropolitan had towards the Serbian seminarians in Sremsk-Karlovac, where he lived, and ended his address with the following words: 'Ti nisi bio samo ruski Vladyka, Ti si bio I srpski Vladyka!' ('Your were not only a Russian Bishop, you were also a Serbian Bishop!')

"This is the feeling with which we greeted the Patriarch of Serbia, who found in us sympathetic hearts. Here the Patriarch was presented with two commemorative gold medals cast on the 1000th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia (one made in the German Diocese, the other in the Western American Diocese).

"His Holiness responded warmly and with feeling, speaking on the sufferings of our fraternal peoples.

"A deacon intoned a litany and enthusiastically elevated prayers for the long life of the Patriarch and the Serbian Council of Bishops. Everyone approached His Holiness, kissing the cross and his hand.

"The Patriarch's mantle was removed, and, venerating the altar table, he boldly and quickly (since he already knew the layout of the Cathedral) descended towards the crypt of Holy Archbishop John (Maximovich, +1966). He was joined by Their Eminences Metropolitan Christophor, Metropolitan Irinej and Metropolitan Amphilochij and Bishop Stefan and Bishop Irinej. The elderly Patriarch donned the epitrachelion and served the litany himself for our reposed Vladyka. The wondrous Serbian chant was sung by the bishops. And then "Eternal Memory" rang out. When Metropolitan Amphilochij of Cernogorije-Primorije (former Dean of the Theological Department in Belgrade), student of the famous theologian and podvizhnik [struggler-in-Christ—ed.] Archimandrite Justin (Popovic, +1979), began to sing the troparion, joined by all the bishops and clergymen: "You are a guide of Orthodoxy, a teacher of piety and modesty, a luminary of the world, the God-inspired pride of bishops." And everyone sang this troparion through to the end. That is how they sing to Archimandrite Justin (Popovic) in Serbia. This Nativity gift was brought early by the Serbian archpasotrs to the crypt of our Vladyka John [from the Nativity Epistle of Archbishop Anthony of San Francisco and Western America, 1992]."

Naturally, in associating with the clergymen of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the bishops of the Serbian Church remembered our late Vladyka Anthony, successor of St John (Maximovich) upon the Cathedra of San Francisco, and a friend of the Serbian Church, calling him a great man of prayer at the Divine Throne for the fraternal peoples of Russia and Serbia. The aforementioned Bishop Jovan participated in the funerary services of Archbishop Anthony in 2000, and, as Bishop of Western America, always came to San Francisco for the celebrations in memory of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco.