Dr Olga Srdanović–Barać

The role of Serbian clergy in the First and Second Serbian Insurrections (1804-1815)

pages: 118-138


The Serbian priests have shared the destiny of their people in all its struggles for national liberation from the Turkish yoke.

As leader of the Serbian people, Archimandrite of Tronosha Monastery, Stefan Yakovlyevich, played a significant role even a decade before the Eirst Insurrection. Due to his efforts the Serbian people unanimously joined the Austrian Army, convinced that the hour had come to be liberated from the Turks. After the Austrians had retreated from Serbia, Archimadrite Stefan tried through many diplomatic efforts to protect Serbians from Turkish retaliation. For his patriotic activities he was poisoned by the Turks. Together with him, in the same period, politically active were also: Archimadrite Vasilye Radosavlyevich of Stu- denitsa Monastery, Protopresbyter Milovich, Archimadrite Arsenye Gagovich of Piva Monastery, who made and sent to the Russian Tzar a plan of a general insurrection of Serbians together with the idea of creation of a Pan-Slavic Empire.

Numerous priests fell as martyrs and many distinguished themselves as fighters and diplomats during the First (of Karageorge) and Second (of Prince Milosh Obrenovich) Insurrections. As victims of Turkish tyranic rulers in Belgrade fell Archimadrites Gerasim and Ruvim, as well as Priest Milovan of Sme- derevo District, Priest Philip from Yadar, Priest Milisav from Zaberdye, Priest Zhivko, Priest Maxim, Hieromonk Nicephor. The insurrected Serbians took oath in the presence of Protopresbyter Athanasye from Bukovik.

Distinguished for bravery were: Protopresbyter Nikola of Ritopek, Protopresbyter Marko Dovlyenchevich of Ostruznica, Archimandrite Melentye Stefanovich, who was later Bishop of Shabac and a member of a Serbian delegation in Russia. Melentye Nikshich excelled as diplomat. He saved from spoliation the relich of St. Stephen the First-Crowned King of Serbia, and was a delegate of Serbia in Constantinople; later on he became Bishop of Uzice. Archimadrite Sa- muilo Yakovlyevich was also a delegate in Constantinople, where he died in captivity. Of all of them the most famous was Protopresbyter Matey (Matthew) Nenadovich, Voyvoda of Valyevo and talented statesman, who was Chairman of the Ruling Council and later on member of the House of Senators, able diplomat in the negotiations with the Turks and also on the Congress of Viena. His »Memoirs« are classical in Serbian literature.

As fighters were known also Monk Isaya from Kalenich Monastery, priest George from Kuchani, Monk Makarye from Kaonik, Priest Peter Popovich, Protopresbyter Milutin Guchanin, Voyvoda of Dragachevo, Priest Philip Petrovich and Priest Stoyan Milich. But Priest Luka Lazarevich, Voyvoda of Tamnava and Po- savina, was a military genius, one of the most prominent heroes of the Eirst Insurrection under Karageorge of Serbia. Melentye Popovich, also a courageous fighter, is the first Serbian who became Metropolitan of Belgrade in the restored state of Serbia.

In the period between the First and Second Insurrection Abbot Paysye and his spiritual son, Saint Avakum, Deacon, suffered martyrdom.





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