Sokolica Monastery Saved - Nuns Returned As Kfor Guards Holy Shrine

The Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija has learned that KFOR has decided to guard Sokolica Monastery. Previous statements by some international representatives indicated that KFOR had abandoned the monastery after the forcible evacuation of Mother Makarija and the Sokolica sisterhood. Thanks to the intervention of Bishop Artemije and his monks and priests with KFOR representatives in Mitrovica, it was agreed that KFOR would stay to guard the monastery. Finally KFOR agreed to return the nuns to the monastery and with them the sisterhood of Devic Monastery, which was evacuated and destroyed yesterday. 

Bishop Artemije, who personally went to Sokolica to stop the destruction of the monastery by his physical presence, is currently in northern Mitrovica and is in constant telephone contact. According to Bishop Artemije, a much firmer position on the part of KFOR can be observed today with respect to the protection of churches and monasteries than yesterday and two days ago. 

Visoki Decani Monastery was visited by KFOR commander Emilio Primiceri who assured the monks that KFOR is undertaking maximum security measures. At the same time, work is being done in the political field by establishing an atmosphere of trust among representatives of local Albanians to prevent an escalation of violence. According to the Italian general a handful of Italian paratroopers heroically fought yesterday to defend the Church of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple in Djakovica after the evacuation of four elderly Serb women. However, when the church and courtyard were surrounded by an enormous crowd of Albanians armed with Kalashnikovs, Molotov cocktails and hand grenades, the Italian paratroopers were forced to evacuate despite the arrival of reinforcements. The church is difficult to defend as it is located in the very center of the city and is surrounded by houses from which guns were being fired. The church was then set on fire and everything inside it - precious icons, books and iconostasis from the 19th century - was destroyed.