BELGRADE: The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC), His Holiness Patriarch Pavle, has died in Belgrade at the age of 95, it has been announced.
The patriarch passed away at 10:45 CET on Sunday, at Belgrade’s military clinic VMA, where he had been receiving medical treatment since November 2007. The clinic announced that he died in his sleep.
The bells of the Cathedral Church of St. Michael the Archangel are tolling today 15 minutes before each full hour to mark the passing. The government declared Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday days of mourning in Serbia.
Metropolitan Amfilohije confirmed the news this Sunday by saying that the patriarch received his communion this morning, after which “his holy, Christ-loving heart stopped beating”.
The body of the patriarch was taken to the Patriarchy building just before 15:00 CET, where the Holy Synod members served a memorial service.
The casket was then carried to Belgrade’s Cathedral Church of St. Michael the Archangel by priests and President Boris Tadić.
The service was also attended by Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić and Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Konuzin.
They were joined by PM Mirko Cvetković and his cabinet ministers, while Serbian Army CoGS Lt. Gen. Miloje Miletić and Parliament Speaker Slavica Đukić-Dejanović arrived earlier, as did the chief rabbi of the Jewish community in Serbia, Isak Asijel.
The highest officials of the Roman Catholic Church in Serbia, Archbishop Stanislav Hočevar and the Apostolic Nuncio Orlando Antonini were also seen at the Patriarchy this afternoon.
A large number of citizens gathered in the yard of the Cathedral Church, with traffic blocked in the part of Kneza Sime Markovića Street where the church is located.
The late patriarch will lie in state, with prayer services set to continue throughout the night.
The funeral details have also been disclosed. The Holy Synod met in Belgrade this evening and decided that the patriarch would be laid to rest on Thursday, Nov. 19, at the Rakovica monastery near Belgrade.
The spiritual leader of the Serbian Orthodox Christians was born as Gojko Stojčević in 1914 in what is today Slavonia, Croatia.
He became a monastic in 1948.
Nine years later, the Holy Assembly of Bishops elected Archimandrite Pavle as Bishop of Raška-Prizren.
He subsequently spent 33 years in Kosovo. Reuters news agency reminds today that this came as the province already had an ethnic Albanian majority. Pavle openly spoke of the hardships faced by the province’s minority Serbs, and on one occasion in the 1970s was attacked and beaten.
In December 1990, Pavle was chosen as the 44th patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC), replacing the ailing Patriarch German.
Source : B92.net