"As with a sword my bones,
my enemies reproach me:
while they say daily unto
me Where is thy God?"
of the first Diocese of Bosnia after the Serbs accepted Christianity was
established near the church of Saint Peter in Ban Brdo. When Saint Sava
organized the Serbian Church in 1219, he established a Diocese for Bosnia in
Dabar; and after the fall of Bosnia to the Turks in 1463, the Metropolitan of
the Diocese of Dabar-Bosnia received spiritual authority over the Orthodox
faithful throughout Bosnia, as "Exarch of all Bosnia".
The See of the
Dabar-Bosnian Metropolitan was first in Dabar, in Monastery Banja; then it
was moved westwards, being located for some time in Monastery Rmanj at the
juncture of Bosnia-Dalmatia-Croatia. Finally the See was instituted in
Sarajevo, in 1713, where it remains to this day.
After the dissolution
of the Patriarchate of Pec in 1766, Greek Bishops occupied the throne of the
Diocese of Dabar-Bosnia. It was only in 1880 that, according to a convention
between the Austro-Hungarian State and the Patriarchate of Constantinople,
the Orthodox Church in Bosnia and Hercegovina became an autonomous
Metropolitanate, comprising not only the Diocese of Dabar-Bosnia, but also
the Dioceses of Zvornik, of Zahum-Hercegovina, and later of Banja Luka-Bihac.
At that time, the Orthodox Church in Bosnia and Hercegovina received its own
national Hierarchy. The first Serbian Metropolitan of Dabar-Bosnia was Sava
Kosanovic (1881–1885); but due to his conflicts with aggressive Austro-Roman
Catholic proselytizers, he was forced to resign. His successors continued the
struggle for the defense of ecclesial autonomy and national enlightenment.
Upon the unification of
the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1920, the Metropolitanate of Dabar-Bosnia, as
well as the other Dioceses in Bosnia and Hercegovina, were incorporated into
the restored Serbian Patriarchate.
Seminary, located in Reljevo until the First World War and moved then to
Sarajevo between the two World Wars, came to an end during the sufferings of
the Serbian Orthodox Church and its faithful after 1941. The old Church
Museum in Sarajevo, through its exhibits, speaks eloquently about the pious
and cultural endeavors of the Orthodox Serbs in Sarajevo, and in the Diocese
of Dabar-Bosnia, for centuries past.
The Metropolitans of
Dabar-Bosnia known to have who resided in Banja are: Josif (1575) and Gavrilo
Avramovic (1575–1588) – who relocated the See in Monastery Rmanj, then
crossed Lika to Slavonska Krajina, under Austrian rule at the time. The
following Hierarchs resided in various Monasteries in western Bosnia:
Aksentije (1589–1601), Teodor (1601–1619), Makarije (1620), Isaija II
(1628–1635), Longin (1657), Hristifor (1671–1681), Atanasije Ljubojevic
(1681–1688), Visarion (1690–1708), Isaija III (1708–1709) and Mojsije
Following the dissolution
of the Patriarchate of Pec (1766), the Patriarchate of Constantinople
assigned mainly Greek Metropolitans (Phanariots) to the Diocese of
Dabar-Bosnia. These were: Danilo (1769), Kiril (1776–1779), Benedikt
Kraljevic (1805–1808), Kalinik (1809–1817), Venijamin (1817–1835), Amvrosije
(1835–1840), Ignjatije I (1841–1850), Prokopije (1851–1853), Dionisije I
(1856–1860), Ignjatije II (1861–1868), Dionisije II Ilic (1868–1871), Pajsije
(1871–1874) and Antim (1874–1880).
After the convention of
1880 between Austro-Hungary and the Patriarchate of Constantinople,
Metropolitan Antim was forced to resign, and in his place was taken by
Metropolitan Sava Kosanovic (1881–1885), followed by Djordje Nikolajevic
(1885–1896), Nikolaj Mandic (1896–1907), Evgenije Letica (1907–1920), Petar
Zimonjic (1921–1941), who was martyred at the hands of the Ustashas,
Nektarije Krulj (1947–1966) and Vladislav Mitrovic (1967–1992). The present
Metropolitan is Nikolaj (Mrdja).
The Metropolitanate of
Dabar-Bosnia experienced great difficulties during the Second World War.
Sixteen priests and three monks suffered martyrdom. When Metropolitan Petar
Zimonjic was warned by his close associates that he was in great danger from
the Ustashas, he answered: "I am the shepherd of the people, and my duty
is to be with my people in good and in evil." He was imprisoned by the
Ustashas on 12 May, 1941, and taken to Sarajevo. Before being arrested, he
had conveyed a message to his priests: "Stay in your parishes, and
whatever happens to the people, let it be your destiny as well." From
Sarajevo he was transferred to Zagreb, where he was assigned prisoner number
34; from Zagreb he was moved to Korenica, and then to Gospic on 15 June,
1941. While in prison he underwent every type of torture and humiliation.
Together with 55 Orthodox priests, he was thrown into Jadovno pit on Mount
In the Diocese of
Dabar-Bosnia during this last war (1991–1995), 23 churches were destroyed,
and 13 damaged. Eleven parish homes and other church buildings were destroyed,
and three parish homes were damaged. On the territory of the Diocese of
Dabar-Bosnia, the national heritage of the Serbs was obliterated with equal
intensity by both Muslim and Croatians nationalists. Numerous examples bear
witness to these evil deeds. The Church of Saint George in Kopaci (Donja
Sopotnica) – the endowment of Herceg Stjepan from 1446 – was plundered, and
then burnt down by Muslim fundamentalists in 1993. They destroyed the
Memorial plaque near the church, and bulldozed the Serbian cemetery. Within
the complex of the above-mentioned church was a Serbian printing shop from
1529 to 1531.
The Church of the
Transfiguration of the Lord in Jabuka, near Srbinje (Foca) was renovated and
consecrated on 15 August, 1991. After less than a year, on 23 July, 1992, the
Ustashas dynamited and completely demolished it. The Serbian cemetery nearby
was destroyed as well.
The Church of
Greatmartyr Saint George in Trnovo was erected in 1886, and reconstructed in
1986; the Muslims plundered and then in July of 1992 burnt it down. The
priest, Nedeljko Popovic, was tortured and then murdered in Godinjske Bare,
near Trnovo, on 10 June, 1992. His grave was located after the liberation of
Trnovo, and his remains were transferred to Trnovo and buried in the churchyard.