"We'll defend Ostrog if necessary!" Monks ready relics of Vasilije of Ostrog, Saturday is D-Day
People's representatives in the Assembly of Montenegro are not giving up on a plan to pass the law on December 26 that is opposed by most of the population, as well as religious communities and international public
"If necessary, we will defend Ostrog!" With this message, like a covenant, believers from Montenegro as well as from other countries who visit the home of St. Vasilije of Ostrog, are welcoming a large church-people's gathering for the defense of faith, scheduled for Saturday in Niksic. At this gathering, believers and citizens of Montenegro will vote against the adoption of the proposed law on freedom of religion, according to which the property of the Serbian Orthodox Church will become the property of the state of Montenegro.
Just a day after a clash in parliament between Prime Minister Dusko Markovic and opposition parties seeking unconditional withdrawal of the dangerous law, Ostrog enjoyed the peace of St. Nicholas Day, but there was also "firm faith" that a rally in Niksic would hear that the people will defend their Church.
On St. Nicholas Day, the priests made the last preparations for the journey of St. Vasilije's relics. The Montenegrin-Littoral Metropolitan Council urged all believers to unite before the saint's reliquary, to reconcile and send a message that the plan of the authorities - will not pass.
The priests in Ostrog are not expressing their views without the blessing of Metropolitan Amfilohije.
"It's all been said and all is clear. There is nothing to add," the priests of the Ostrog holy place say.
In Niksic, tens of thousands of believers are expected to gather at the Cathedral Church, as well as in Vojvode Saka Petrovic Square. Arrivals from all over Montenegro have been announced. The rally - announced as a "council for defense of religion and holy sites" - as organizers point out, will be the last red line in protecting the spiritual and religious identity of the people of Montenegro.
"We will stand peacefully on Saturday, because with the fear of God in a prayer column we will go to bow before the relics of a miracle worker. We all want St. Vasilije of Ostrog to reconcile Orthodox Montenegrins, brothers and sisters, sons and fathers. And never again allow religion to have to be defended," organizers point out.
People's representatives in the Assembly of Montenegro from the ruling majority made up of the DPS, the Social Democrats, the Liberal Party, the Bosniak Party, the Croatian Citizens' Initiative and the Albanians, are not giving up on a plan to pass the law on December 26 that is opposed by most of the population, as well as religious communities and international public.
At the monastery, they say that taking the saints' relics out is neither a miracle nor a precedent, as some are saying.
"Whenever there's trouble, the Miracle Worker is called for help. He is not only a healer and protector of the city of Niksic and its inhabitants, but also of the entire universe," the monks say.
Prvoslav Bojovic from Kursumlija was in Ostrog on Thursday. His ancestors come from Andrijevica in Montenegro and he is the founder of a boundary are church in Merdare, dedicated to Stefan Decanski:
"See you in Niksic! That's where our place is."
Although there have been no announcements yet about organized transport to the large church-people's council in Niksic, citizens of eastern Herzegovina are coming in large numbers to bow before the relics of St. Vasilije of Otrog and Tvrdos - the Miracle Worker.
People from Herzegovina aren't hiding their particular feelings towards St. Vasilije and the Ostrog monastery.
"For us from Herzegovina there is no border with Montenegro when it comes to faith and St. Vasilije of Ostrog. We are not going to Niksic to prove anything. We are going to be with our brothers and to all gather around the same thing, out of love for God, for our Church," said Ilija from Gacko.
A large number of people from eastern Herzegovina, from Trebinje to Nevesinje, will head to Niksic so that the whole world can see a magnificent picture from the large church-people's assembly. The speculation about possible longer delays at border crossings, they say, will be no obstacle.
The EU Delegation to Montenegro announced on Thursday that the regulation of religious communities cannot be done outside the recommendations of the Venice Commission and international human rights standards. Regulating religious communities is a national competence, the statement said, adding that the issue, however, should be regulated in a way that brings together the stakeholders.
Video: Russians arrive at ancient monastery for St. Vasilije of Ostrog