His Holiness Kyr Irinej Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade-karlovci And Serbian Patriarch Reposed in the Lord on November 20, 2020

Serbian Orthodox Church leader dies from COVID-19, aged 90 | EuronewsHis Holiness Patriarch Irinej (Gavrilovic) of Serbia was born in the village of Vidova, near town of Cacak, Serbia, on 28 August, 1930. His baptismal name was Miroslav. He finished elementary school in his village, and later on high school in Cacak. Thereupon he enrolled and completed Theological Seminary in Prizren, Kosovo and Metohia, and graduated at the Faculty of Orthodox Theology in Belgrade. Upon graduation, he did his army service for a year and a half. The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church appointed him a professor of the Prizren Theological Seminary, but before assuming this assignment he was tonsured by the late Serbian Patriarch Herman (German) and got the monastic name Irinej, at the Rakovica monastery near Belgrade in October 1959.

That same month, on the Feat of St. Paraskeva, October 27, 1959, at the Ruzica church within the Kalemegdan old town of Belgrade, he was ordained hieromonk. While he worked as a professor at the Seminary in Prizren (Kosovo and Metohia) he spent a period of time at post-graduate studies in Athens. In 1969 he was appointed as Principal of the Monastic School in the Monastery of Ostrog, Montenegro, from where he returned back to Prizren and became Principal of the Prizren Seminary. From that office he was elected as Vicar Bishop of the then Patriarch of Serbia with the title of Bishop of Moravica in May, 1974. A year later, in 1975, he was elected as diocesan Bishop of Nis and enthroned in the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Nis on June 15, 1975. As Bishop he headed the Diocese of Nis for the next 35 years.

When the Theological Seminary was forcefully displaced from Prizren due to Albanian revolts in 1999, Patriarch Irinej as Bishop of Nis made it possible that a new building of the Seminary was built in Nis, where the Seminary could continue its life.

The Holy Assembly of Bishops elected Bishop Irinej as Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and Serbian Patriarch on January 22, 2010, as successor of the previous Patriarch Pavle (Stojcevic). Consequently, he is the 45th Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The act of the enthronement of His Holiness Irinej,Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and Serbian Patriarch, took place on January 23, 2010, during the Divine Hierarchical Liturgy in Belgrade’s Cathedral church of St. Archangel Michael. The solemn Liturgy was officiated by the elected Serbian Patriarch Irinej with the concelebration of many bishops, priests and deacons, as well as representatives of the sister Orthodox Churches. Patriarch Irinej was formally enthroned to the ancient throne of the Serbian Patriarchs in the Patriarchate of Pec monastery on October 3 2010, with participation of the representatives of all sister Orthodox Churches.

From the very beginning of His Patriarchal Ministry, though in a very difficult time, His Holiness tirelessly and uncompromisingly advocated peace and stability in the entire region. For reasons unexplainable, many times his activitiesas the Serbian Patriarch were misrepresented or even more so ignored by the main stream media, not the least by the foreign media. In that too, he shared the cross of his people.

On November 10 2010, he stated in an interview that "the Drina River [between Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina] is not a border, but a bridge that connects us. Although, in a way, we are one even today, God willing, we will soon trully be one." Patriarch Irinej elaborated that "it is crucial that we are one as people, as the Orthodox Church, and that we are on the same path that St. Sava has guided, and that is the path that leads us to the Christ". He praised the Serbs of Banja Luka stating that "[they make every effort] to preserve what should be the most basic right, aright to have a name, the Serbian name. Although,nowadays we hear about all sorts of freedoms and all sorts of rights, somehow paradoxically this has not been an easy task for the Serbs to preserve their name;and yet,they are enduring through the longsuffering."

In an interview in 2013 he indicated he would not oppose the first-ever visit by the Roman Catholic Pope to Serbia in 2013 as part of celebrations of the 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan, the law under which Roman emperor Constantine, who was born in Niš, ended the persecution of Christians. His Holiness said that "there is the wish of the Pope" for a meeting in Niš and that it would be a chance "not simply for a meeting, but for a dialogue".

Regarding the accession of Serbia to the European Union, the Serbian Patriarch said that: Serbia should not look with suspicion at the EU, if the EU respects the Serbian identity, culture, borders and religion. If the politicians of Europe today propagate and believe in a Europe without borders, than they ought not to insist on the borders within a sovereign country such as Serbia. Serbian history bears a strong testimony that as people and an ancient culture we are historically an integral part of Europe, and we want to be in that European family of peoples where we naturally and demographically belong. However, in the formalpolitical accession we can accept everything that is not in contradiction with our cultural and historical identity. Because we cannot deny ourselves.

As the Head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Patriarch represents the highest spiritual authority among the Serbian people in Serbia and abroad. 

Serbian Patriarchate under His Holiness’ leadership has published an exceptional number of academic, liturgical, religious, as well as popular books for education and spiritual uplifting of the faithful. His Holiness was well known as a great homilist and he used every opportunity to preach the Word of God to all people. Most recently, the Diocese of Nis has published a collection of his sermons delivered in the Diocese of Nis, while he was Diocesan Bishop there.

On the occasion of the repose of the Serbian Patriarch Irinej of blessed memory, the requiem Liturgy was served on Sunday, November 22, 2020, in Saint Sava’s Cathedral in Vracar. His Eminence Hrizostom, Metropolitan of Dabar-Bosnia and Locum Tenens of the Throne of the Serbian Patriarch, presided over the service, with the concelebration of hierarchs and clergy of the Serbian Orthodox Church and guests from other local Orthodox Churches.

Patriarch Irinej’s earthly remains were placed in the crypt of the magnificent Saint Sava’s Cathedral, in Belgrade. He is the first Serbian Patriarch to be buried in the crypt of the newly completed St. Sava’s Cathedral.

Wherever the faithful people, entrusted to Him as their Patriarch, were on the trial, there was the Serbian Patriarch’s heart and mind as well. In addition to his uncompromising love for justice and canonical order within the Church, and his tireless and sincere commitment to peace and harmony among his own people, as well as to the preservation of peace with all peoples, beginning with the neighboring countries, he will be remembered as a people’s Patriarch, who sincerely loved people and was approachable to ordinary visitor as to the highest dignitaries.

Among His Holiness Patriarch Irinej’s numerous activities during his Ministry on the Throne of the Serbian Patriarch, we single outthe following:

  • His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej paid irenic and canonical visits to the Heads of the Local Orthodox Churches as it is customary according to the Diptychs, beginning with His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew immediately after his enthronement;
  • Likewise His Holiness Patriarch Irinej welcomed with the sincere fraternal love the Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches who paid the irenic visits to the Serbian patriarchate;
  •   He visited at least once almost all continents where the Serbian Orthodox Church has its presence and maintainsthe mission;
  • Upon the invitation of the brother hierarchs he was visiting on the regular basis all the Dioceses of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Serbia and abroad;
  • He consecrated a number of newly-elected bishops for the Serbian Church who are now faithful servants of the Church and members of the Assembly of Bishops;
  • He consecrated many newly built or renovated churches. It is throughthe constant and selfless efforts of Patriarch Irinej that the unique and complex project of the construction and beautification of St. Sava’s Cathedral was finally completed after many decades of work.
  • In 2013 Serbian Patriarch participated in the celebration of the 1250th anniversary of baptism of Russia;
  • In 2013 Serbian Patriarch paid a visit to Mount Athos and Monastery Chilandar;
  • In 2013 Serbian Patriarch paid a historic visit to the United Nations in New York and gave a remarkablespeech on Peace;
  • In October 2013 Serbian Patriarch led an Interreligious delegation from Serbia that participated in the second Inter-religious dialogue in Jakarta, at the State-level between Serbia and Indonesia;
  • He actively supported the Inter-Christian dialogue between Christian denominations of East and West and communicated with Heads, Leaders and Church Dignitaries of other confessions and religions at the highest level;
  • In May 2014, upon the invitation of His Beatitude Anastasios of Albania, His Holiness Patriarch Irinej visited Tirana at the occasion of consecration of the Cathedral church of the Holy Resurrection;
  • In October 2014 His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej hosted the Pan-Orthodox 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan in Nis, Serbia, the birth-place of Emperor Constantine.
  • He took an active part in the Pan-Orthodox gathering in Constantinople in March 2014when it was decided to begin with preparations for a Great and Holy Pan-Orthodox Council to be held in 2016.
  • In January 2016, His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej led the official delegation of the Serbian Orthodox Church to the Synaxis of the Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches in Geneva in order to discuss and finalize the conditions under which the Great Council will take place.
  • In June 2016, Serbian Patriarch led the official delegation of the Serbian Orthodox Church to the Great Council in Crete.
  • His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej fully respected and uncompromisingly supported the canonical order within the Orthodox Church, thus he gave unambiguous support to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the primate of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
  • Serbian Patriarch was decorated by His Royal Highness Prince Davit Bagration Mukhraneli Batonishvilli of Georgia with The Grand Collar of The Order of The Eagle of Georgia and The Seamless Tunic of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Arranged by: protonamesnik Vladimir Vranic