Zočište Monastery | July 14, 2007

St. Cosmas and Damian’s Monastery (Serbian: Манастир Св. Козме и Дамјана, romanized: Manastir Sv. Kozme i Damjana) is a Serbian-Orthodox monastery outside of the village of Zočište, some 5 kilometers to the south-east of the municipal town of Orahovac in Kosovo. Its foundational church was built in the 13th century and is dedicated to St. Nicolas.

The monastery houses relics of the Saints Cosmas and Damian, believed to provide a miraculous cure for eye diseases and mental and psychosomatic disorders. It counts as one of the most important cultural places for Serbian and Christian places in the Metohija region.

After the Kosovo War the monastery was destroyed, pillaged, and torched by militiamen of the Kosovo Liberation Army on September 13 and 14, 1999. In 2004 reconstruction of the monastery started, whereby old stones and fragments of the ancient church were used to rebuild it.

After an intermission in 2005 when the reconstruction work was stopped by KFOR because of the opposition of the local muslim-Albanian population, the restauration of the ancient church was finished in 2007. On July 14 of that year a formal celebration took place in the presence of Bishop Artemije of the Eparchy of Raška and Prizren, a high official from the Serbian Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija, local Serbian villagers, journalists, and representatives of the international KFOR security force.

First a hours long orthodox Holy Mass was celebrated in front of all the visitors by Bishop Artemije. Then the notables retreated into the ceremonial room of the complex to attend a banquet on the occasion.

Visitors carrying icons.
Bishop Artemije, fellow priests, and nuns circle the church building prior to the Holy Mass.
KFOR-soldiers and civilian guest take refuge from the baking sun under a pavillion.

Above and below: The commanding general of KFOR arrives and greets the abbot of Zočište Monastery. COMKFOR had a tight diplomatic rope to walk since his attendance was not well received by the Albanian-muslim population and his absence would have been not well received by Serbian-orthodox interests. He I guess wisely chose a middle path in paying his visit, watching part of the Holy Mass, and leaving again (officially due to a conflict of schedule) before the banquet began. Since the CG of the locally responsible Multinational Task Force South (MNTF-S) did not show up at all, its chief of staff was the senior KFOR-official to attend the banquet.

An attending official from the Serbian Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija talks to a TV-journalist.
Bishop Artemije adresses the attendants of the banquet.
The abbot of Zočište Monastery adresses the attendants of the banquet.
Local Serbian women talk to a female journalist from Belgrade.

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