Celebrations were held in Kosovo and Metohija to honor the heroes of the battle of Kosovo Polje (“the field of blackbirds”) of 1389. June 28, Vidovdan, the commemoration of St. Vitus day, is one of the most important holidays for Serbs, filled not only with grief, but also with the triumph of the Christian spirit over the values of this world. True, the Serbian army, led by holy Prince Lazar, was then defeated by the Turks, but the heroes preferred to remain faithful to Christ, achieving not only worldly, but, more importantly, heavenly glory. It is impossible to imagine a Serb who would remain indifferent to this special day—the day of an earthly defeat, but a heavenly victory. Hence the annual celebrations throughout Serbia, especially, of course, in Kosovo and Metohija, despite the tough, if not brutal resistance of the representatives of “independent Kosovo”. Celebrations were held in Serbian villages of Kosovo: in Prilepac where St. Lazar was born, in Veliko Ropotovo and Silovo. And in Gracanica, where the famous monastery is located not far from the former battlefield, the Divine liturgy was presided over by His Holiness Patriarch Porfirije of Serbia.
According to eyewitnesses, the service was mostly attended by young Serbs who came from Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“With the whole Church, with the angels, with all the saints we are rejoicing that the Lord has gathered us here,” the Serbian Patriarch addressed the people. “We are celebrating the deep inner meaning of this holiday—the meaning that this holy feast was, is and will be filled with... Every time I come to Kosovo I feel that I have returned home: as in the Parable of the Prodigal Son who went to a faraway land, losing himself, God and his brothers.”
More and more young Christian Serbs are beginning to understand the spirit of the Battle of Kosovo Polje, its deep inner meaning. If earlier they could think that Vidovdan is “just a forgotten tradition,” now it can safely be said that this is the inner core of the Orthodox people of Serbia. That is, today’s Orthodox youth are being brought up in search of the Gospel freedom, not lies, empty words and slogans. For us Serbs the Battle of Kosovo Polje is a symbol of such freedom, freedom of choice in favor of Christ.
It has never been easy to follow this path—holy Prince Lazar and his army are witnesses of this. The path of love and truth is always difficult, but suffering with faith in the Resurrection, the rejection of the values of this world, even the sacrifice of one’s life for Christ’s sake lead a person to Him. Suffering for the seemingly “meaningless”, “obsolete” covenants of the old Battle of Kosovo Polje, we remain with Christ.
Unfortunately, evidence of a spiritual awakening in the Serbs, just as the Serbs themselves, is very disturbing and annoying for many Albanians living in Kosovo. The police of “independent Kosovo” did their best to prevent the commemorative events in Gazimestan, at the very site of the Battle of Kosovo Polje, where a memorial service was celebrated for the repose of all the fallen heroes. Policemen tore the T-shirts with the national Serbian flag off people, and searched and interrogated the participants. One of the most outrageous episodes occurred with Rista Jovanovic who came from Montenegro. He dared to loudly ask the Albanian policemen why on earth they were searching a nun and weren’t they ashamed of it. For this Rista was arrested for a month.
It is known that the Kosovo Serbs live in an environment of arbitrariness and violence. Attacks, intimidation, damage to property, and open calls to leave Kosovo and go away forever are common. In the past few weeks alone, twenty attacks on Orthodox Serbs, their property and churches have been officially registered.
A teenager who was beaten Quite recently, unidentified people beat a thirteen-year-old boy in the village of Gojbulja [which is predominantly inhabited by Serbs and is one of the Serbian enclaves in the region.—Trans.] and tore off his cross. The Serbs who had just returned to their homes were expelled from the town of Jakovica. In Gracanica, the Serbian flag was torn off the monastery wall and then demonstratively burned down. A wheat crop was set on fire in Vitina. And all this is happening here and now, in front of “the entire civilized world”. When the beaten teenage boy was being bandaged, he said: “Now I’ll definitely never leave Kosovo and Metohija!” If this is obstinacy, then it is healthy and noble. I think he understood the words of Patriarch Porfirije:
“When we are told: ‘Get out of Kosovo and Metohija!’, We object: ‘Gentlemen, can you take out your eyes, cut off your ears and rip out your hearts? Of course, you can’t. Kosovo is for us our eyes, ears and heart’.”
And it is impossible for the Serbs to abandon Kosovo. It’s not about geography, believe me.