Archbishop ANTHONY (Medvedev)
Milkovo Monastery of the Entrance into the Temple
(from the history of Russian monasticism abroad)
The Milkovo Monastery in Serbia was founded by St. King Stephen in the beginning of the 15th century. He built the Manasia Lavra with several sketes. One of these was Milkovo, at first called Bukovici. Subsequently, Bukovici was restored by repentent thieves named Milko and Todor. For the former, and from the name of the pious Priest Milko, named Meletii after his tonsure, came the name Milkovo.
In its time, the monastery was inspected by Bishop Benjamin (Fedchenkov) of Sevastopol with the aim of establishing a Russian monastery, but he preferred the better-established and wealthier Petkovica.
The monastery is located at the foot of a mountain on the shores of the Moravi River, near a railroad crossing at Lapovo.
The monastery is poor. A small church of the Entrance into the Temple of the Most-Holy Mother of God has been rebuilt in the middle of the last century, but the iconostasis is of worm-eaten soft wood, which is already crumbling today. The forest was cleared during the war, and a young forest is growing. Actually, the Moravian land is very lush. Usually 2-3 Serbian monks live here. The most famous of these is the abbott, Schema-Archimandrite Amvrosii (Kurganov), a "young starets [elder]..."
Many old monks from Russian or Mt. Athos monasteries have come here, the first of whom were a larger number of monks from Valaam, driven out of their home monastery for their rejection of the new calendar; then younger monks arrived...
In Milkovo, refraining from accusing your neighbor was deemed a necessary good. In order to prevent accusations, Fr. Amvrosii (Batushka) as an example taught monks to seek out the good in every soul. For example, we have a hieromonk from Petkovici. As a taylor, he sewed things without blessing for money to private individuals. Batushka struggled against this evil, and finally won him over, but to us he would say: "But, you know, he is so chaste."
This attitude towards our weaknesses produced mutual love...
There was plenty of work in the monastery, but Batushka helped. He would stop in on everyone, encourage them, advise them, and occasionally would say to someone; "Look how good we have it; it's a real monastery: Luke paints icons, Sergei tends to the swine. Feofanushka makes candles, and Alyokha bakes bread."
Batushka took upon himself two special obediences: to sing the liturgy when others were busy, and make the monastery's ovens.
For me the spirit of the Milkovo services were incomparable. Batushka made us love these services and strove to participate in them. For this, the baker, Fr. Stephen, arose at night, in order to bake small cakes on holidays before liturgy and make it in time to sing on the kliros, though no one required this of him; for this the shepherd, Fr. Raphael, having herded his flock, rushed to milk the cow and at least make it in time for the middle of vigil. And an elderly Valaam monk, accustomed to the services of the Valaam rule and who had come to miss them, arriving in Milkovo would say, "Now this is a monastery!"
Batushka sensed the Lord's beauty in the divine services, in the singing, and especially in the old znamenny chant.
The Milkovo Monastery of the Entrance into the Temple of the Most-Holy Mother of God was like Optina. Batushka fervently tended to the glorification of the Mother of God in the Monastery. After the end of morning and evening services, they sang the troparion to the Entrance, and then went to the narthex and, before the locally-venerated icon of the Heavenly Queen, sang the endearing sticheron in the Valaam chant: "Do not abandon me to the trials of mankind."
But to have seen the spiritual joy of Batushka, when he met the holy icon of the Russian people, the Miracle-working Kursk-Root Icon of the Most-Holy Mother of God! All-night vigil was begun in time to be able to exit to the Moravi River after the first kathisma. When the icon was carried in with the inspired singing of the troparion, "Having attained thee as an unattainable wall," and Batushka greeted the Icon with prostrations and carried it into the church, performing a service of supplication on the way.
The rebirth of Milkovo occurred circa 1931.
It should be noted that of the tonsured monks of Milkovo-Entrance Monastery was Archbishop Tikhon of Western American and St. John of Shanghai and San
Francisco the Miracle-worker of blessed memory.
From the article by Archbishop Anthony, "Young Starets."