NEW BOOK: The Temple of Nativity of the Saint John the Baptist, Radovan Pilipovic, Belgrade 2008.

The temple dedicated to the Nativity of the Saint John the Baptist is located on the Central Cemetery (Zaplanjska 47a Street). The peculiarity of the temple can be found in its origin. It had the significant role in the recent spiritual past of Belgrade. The adaptation of the common, mundane building due to the requirements of the Church, which was built in the cemetery area, caused the construction of the temple. Firstly, in 1948 one of the premises was turned into the chapel, what was followed by the construction of the administrative affairs office. The permission which allowed the public worship in the remaining part of the facility concluded the whole issue on the temple. The church bell tower was built in 1969. It left the strong architectural imprint and provided the actual exterior appearance of the church.

The Church on the Central Cemetery presents one of the two Orthodox temples in the city of Belgrade built during the patriarchate of the Patriarch German (1958-1990). Apart from the church dedicated to the Serbian Saints Council on Karaburma, sanctified in 1998, it presents an exception which was built during the period of the communist regime. The government of that time did not allow the Serbian Orthodox Church neither to continue with the construction of the already begun Temple of the Saint Sava on Vracar, nor the erection of new places of worship in the urban area.

The Patriarch German was particularly connected to the Church of the Nativity of the Saint John the Baptist. Above all, he appreciated the efforts of the senior archpriest Gvozden Vidojevic (1964-1983). He was regularly visiting the temple on the occasions of the temple saint’s day, accompanied by the vicar bishops and Belgrade priesthood. There was a specific kind of the Patriarch German’s personal connection to this church. The Patriarch’s brother was buried on the Central Cemetery, whereas one of the rectors of the temple, Gavrilo Adamovic, namely, was one of his confessors. In the same time, the Serbian Patriarch German was celebrating the Saint John as his baptized name.

The church contains an iconostasis created for the chapel. The said iconostasis was made in the prisoner-of-war camp of the Yugoslavian royal army, Badsulzi located in the vicinity of Buhenvald. The iconostasis was created by the reserve officer and an architect Grigorije Ivanovic Samojlov (1904-1989). He was the one who monitored wood engraving works and also developed the icons. Having the ardent support of his war companions, this Serb of the Russian origin managed to present the Serbian culture by developing the iconostasis, despite the mocking of the Serbs by Germans, who considered them as the backward nation. Although created in the meagre conditions, being made of primitive material, the iconostasis presents an example of human creation, Christian confession and artistic sensitivity. After the Second World War the iconostasis was taken to its homeland, being permanently placed in the Temple of the Nativity of the Saint John the Baptist.

The direct successor of the Patriarch German, His Holiness the Serbian Patriarch Pavle, in the archpastor and prayer like manner sits up over the temple which has succeeded to resist the pressures of the communist godlessness. All the ceremonies in the church (since 1991) have not been held without the presence of the prevailing Serbian Patriarch.

Due to the contribution of the prevailing temple’s superior, the archpriest Dragan Pavlovic, the temple has been provided with all the conditions necessary for the undisturbed and dignified work of an Orthodox temple in the 21st century. The temple’s brotherhood has been taking care of the parish community, gathering it around the same faith, the same Tradition, the same baptism and the same Holy Liturgy. The temple on the Central Cemetery continues to maintain the cooperation between the church and the state due to the support provided by the Vozdovac municipal authorities, thus providing benefit and joy to the whole Serbian nation and all good-willing people.

Translated by Ivana Andreevski