Berane, Montenegro, May 7, 2020
The holy, glorious Great Martyr, Victory-bearer, and Wonderworker George is one of the most beloved saints throughout the Orthodox world, and on his feast day yesterday, May 6, Montenegrin faithful in the city of Berane took to the streets to honor their venerable intercessor despite the nationwide quarantine restrictions.
St. George is the patron saint of a monastery located near Berane.
A large number of Orthodox faithful and priests of the Budimlja Diocese spontaneously gathered on the central city street with cries of, “We won’t give up our shrines!” despite the measures prescribed by the state, which forbid open-air gatherings, reports Glas Srpske.
Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, hundreds of thousands of Orthodox faithful were hitting the streets twice a week in defense of their beloved Orthodox holy sites in the Balkan nation where Church and state have a contentious relationship and the state favors a miniscule schismatic group.
In late December, a law passed granting authorities the power to seize property from the Serbian Orthodox Church, sparking the nationwide protests. The Church has been complying with the quarantine measures, though that has not stopped police from harassing and detaining His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and other clerics on more than one occasion.
Yesterday’s procession in honor of St. George was the first since quarantine measures were introduced.
His Grace Bishop Joanikije of Budimlja and Nikšić expressed the people’s love for St. George in his archpastoral message at the Vigil for the feast, saying that true faith is manifested when trials like the martyrdom of St. George occur.
“The holy Great Martyr George is a helper and patron for the entire Church of God and all Orthodox believers. May this feast bring joy; may St. George help everyone,” the hierarch said.