Today marks the 106th anniversary of the birth of the blessed Serb Patriarch Pavle, who was a favorite of the people and considered a saint during his lifetime, and whose messages are still relevant today.
Patriarch Pavle, whose secular name was Gojko Stojčević, was born on the great Orthodox holiday of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist – on September 11, 1914, in Kućanci, near Donji Miholjac in Slavonia.
He and his brother Dušan were left without both parents early on, and their father’s sister Senka, whom the patriarch called his second mother, took care of them.
He finished elementary school in Kućanci, a lower grammar school in Tuzla, high school, and a six-grade seminary in Sarajevo.
He enrolled at the Faculty of Theology in Belgrade in 1936, and he also completed the higher grades of the Sixth Belgrade Gymnasium, so that he could enroll at the Faculty of Medicine at the same time, where he reached the second year of study.
He graduated from the Faculty of Theology in Belgrade, where he was caught in World War II.
In the spring of 1942, his school friend Hieromonk Jelisej took him to the Holy Trinity Monastery in Ovčara, and from 1944 he worked as a religious teacher and educator in Banja Koviljača, in a home for children fleeing from Bosnia.
That year he contracted tuberculosis. From there, for health reasons, he went to the Vujan monastery, in the village of Prislonica, between Čačak and Gornji Milanovac, where he was until 1946 and was cured of tuberculosis.
He became a monk in 1948 in the monastery of the Annunciation in the Ovčar-Kablar gorge and was given the name Pavle, which was given to him by the abbot Julijan Knezević, and in that year he was ordained to the rank of hierodeacon ( a monk who has been ordained a deacon).
He was a brother of the monastery of Rača in Podrinje, and he also worked as an assistant teacher at the seminary “Saints Cyril and Methodius” in Prizren. He became a hieromonk in 1954, soon an archangel, and in 1957 an archimandrite. From 1955 he was in postgraduate studies in Athens for two years.
He was elected Bishop of Raska and Prizren on May 29, 1957, and spent 33 years in Kosovo and Metohija.
On December 1, 1990, he was elected the 44th Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, replacing the ailing Patriarch German.
Patriarch Pavle was enthroned on December 2, 1990, in the Cathedral Church of the Holy Archangel Michael in Belgrade, and then he said that his only work program was the Gospel.
He was on the throne of Saint Sava as the Serbian patriarch for 19 years, and in his time the Academy of the Serbian Orthodox Church for Art and Conservation was founded, religious education was returned to public schools, and the Faculty of Theology was returned to the University.
He visited numerous Orthodox churches – Constantinople, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Georgia, as well as Serbian dioceses and parishes in America, Canada, Australia, Hungary and Romania, and is the holder of the highest church and state decorations.
He was an honorary doctor of the Faculty of Theology and the Academy of St. Vladimir in New York. He spoke Greek, Russian and German.
He was awarded the State Order of Lack of First Degree, the Order of Karadjordj’s Star of the First Degree and the Russian Order of Dignity for “the importance it had in the days of temptation that the Serbian people and the Church went through.”
On January 13, 2005, the Serbian government-appointed Patriarch Pavle as the honorary president of the Fund for Kosovo and Metohija.
During his visit to Russia in January 2002, Patriarch Pavle was presented with two significant awards – the International Fund for the Promotion of the Unity of the Orthodox People and the Fund of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called.
He published two books – “Questions and answers to the reader before the production” and “Devic, the monastery of St. Ioannicius the Virgin”. Thanks to Patriarch Pavle, the amended edition of “Srbljak” was published.
The personal library of Patriarch Pavle belonged to the fund of the Library of the Patriarchate of the Serbian Orthodox Church and has the status of a cultural good, and it is kept in the premises of the residence of the Monastery of the Holy Archangel Michael in Rakovica.
The messages of the blessed Patriarch Pavle, among which the most famous is “Let’s be people”, are still relevant today and do not lose their force.
Serb Patriarch Pavle passed away on November 15, 2009, at the age of 95, at the Military Medical Academy in Belgrade.
According to his own wish, he was buried in the Rakovica Monastery, where more than half a million people accompanied him to his final resting place. Today, the tomb of the blessed Patriarch Pavle is visited by thousands of Orthodox believers.