Lelić, Serbia, March 23, 2021
On March 18, 1956, St. Nikolai (Velimirović) of Žiča, one of the greatest saints of the 20th century, reposed in the Lord at St. Tikhon’s Seminary in Pennsylvania, where he served as a professor and rector.
On March 18 this year, the 65th anniversary of his holy repose was celebrated in Lelić, Serbia, where his relics are treasured at the local monastery. The Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Abbot Georgije with clergy from Valjevo, followed by the celebration of the slava, reports the Diocese of Valjevo.
2021 also marks the 140 anniversary of his birth and the 30th anniversary of the transfer of his holy relics to the endowment he erected in his hometown in honor of his Heavenly patron, St. Nicholas the Wonderworker.
“St. Bishop Nikolai, the greatest among Serbs born after St. Sava, was an Easterner in terms of the depth of his personality and the richness of the legacy of his family. However, he managed to present his nature to the Western world,” remarked Fr. Darko Đurđević.
St. Nikolai noticed during his time in America that there is a tendency to connect “being” with “working,” but he taught rather that “We cannot know what we are doing in life if we do not know who we are and where we are going,” Fr. Darko explained. “Maybe our work, although great and significant, will lead us astray. That is why St. Bishop Nikolai, connecting the East and the West, soaring over both in his thought, said that a person should connect both—to be and see what he is, and only then what to do in life,” Fr. Darko said.
These questions are especially relevant now, during Great Lent, he said.
“Every man has a treasure buried within him. When he finds it, he will be able to work and create. Bp. Nikolai found that in himself. And that is why he managed to work and create all over the world. He wrote thousands of pages, gave thousands of brilliant sermons and did many good deeds, but the most valuable are his holy relics, which we venerate today and which are a living testimony of his belonging to eternity,” Fr. Darko concluded.
St. Tikhon’s Seminary is holding its first annual St. Nikolai lecture this year. The inaugural address, “St. Nikolai: His Later Years,” will be given today by His Grace Bishop Irenej (Dobrijević) of the Eastern American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church.