Arsenius III (Carnojevic) of Pec

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His Eminence Arsenije III Crnojević (also Arsenius; Serbian: Аесеније III Црнојевић) was the Patriarch of Peć (1672-1691). He was one of the most significant figures of Serbian national and Church history. He was also the first autonomous metropolitan of the Serbian people in Austria-Hungary (1690-1706).

Early life

He was born in Cetinje (in modern-day Montenegro) in about 1633. He was a member of a minor branch of the famous Crnojevići noble family. In the past his surname has been written and pronounced Čarnojević, from Russian use.

Arsenije came to Peć as a boy and later was tonsured and ordained a deacon and then a priest. In his early years he was elected archimandrite of Peć Monastery in 1665. When Patriarch Maksim suffered a stroke, Arsenije was elected as Metropolitan of Hvosno and as the coadjutor of the patriarch. He was consecrated bishop by the metropolitans of a patriarchal synod on the Feast of the Ascension, 1669. In the same year, he visited Dečani Monastery in the patriarch's name. When it was clear that the patriarch's condition would not improve, Arsenije was elected patriarch in 1672, probably between Easter and Ascension.


The next year, the new patriarch visited the Serbs in the coast lands who were under the control of Venice. He met the Roman Catholic archbishop of Bar, Andrija Zmajević, who was Serb, and also member of Crnojevici family, in order to contact European powers for the protection of Christians under Turkish rule. He also visited his flock in Bosnia in 1674 and in Braničevo and Srem in 1676. The following year he went to Žiča Monastery, then to Braničevo; he also visited Smederevo in 1680. All these visits were in order to give spiritual support to the Serbian people. In 1682 Arsenije decided to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Before leaving, he visited Metropolitan Teofan of Skoplje and Bishop Ananija of Karatovo.

When he arrived in Jerusalem, Arsenije was the guest of the famous Patriarch of Jerusalem, Dositheos Notarios (1669-1707). While he was in the Holy Land, Arsenije kept a journal.

After arriving home, he found his people in the middle of the Great Turkish War. The Turks arrested him, and he had to pay 10000 talirs (6000 pounds of sterling) for his freedom. He was soon forced to leave Peć because the Turks tried to kill him. He returned after the Austrians captured Peć. Under great pressure from the Austrians, he was forced to call all Serbs to join the Austrian army. About 20,000 Serbs joined the Austrian army, but the Serbs and Austrians were defeated near Skoplje in the winter of 1689. The patriarch, along with 90,000 people, started retreating.

Arsenije called an assembly of both Church and lay leaders in Belgrade in July 1690. In this assembly Serbian noblemen, officers, popular leaders, metropolitans, bishops, archimandrites, igumens, and protopresbyters all participated. They decided to continue in the war as Austrian allies, but they demanded freedom of religion and freedom from serfdom. The Serbs sent an envoy led by Bishop Isaija of Jenopolje, who was fluent in German. Emperor Leopold I proclaimed an edict on August 21 in which he gave the Serbian people and their Church special privileges. After this, Serbs populated southern Hungary, today Vojvodina in Serbia, and the military frontier in Croatia as Austrian soldiers.

Serbs also participated in the decisive battle of Senta, in which the Turks were defeated. After this, a peace treaty was signed, and the Austrians recaptured Hungary and Transylvania.

In Austria

From the beginning, Patr. Arsenije had many problems under Austrian rule. Hungarian nobility, Catholic clergy, and German officers were all hostile toward the Serbs, but the wise patriarch saved his people from Catholic proselytism. He managed to negotiate with bishops who had signed the Union. After this, those bishops re-embraced Orthodoxy. Yet he failed in trying to re-establish an Orthodox bishopric in Transylvania (the Metropolitan of Transylvania signed the Union in 1699). He established relations with the Russian court. He also started to negotiate with the Turks in order to return to Peć. His greatest enemy was Cardinal Leopold Kolonić, state chancellor of Hungary. Arsenije established five new dioceses in Hungary and Croatia, and with these and three previously established ones, he established the Metropolitanate of Karlovci as an autonomous unit of the Peć Patriarchate.

Patriarch Arsenije died in Vienna on October 27 and was burried in Krušedol Monastery in grave of Saint Maxim of Srem and Belgrade. He advised his bishops to re-establish relations with the Patriarch of Peć. Soon the Metropolitanate of Karlovci was formed as the autonomous unit of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Succession box:
Arsenius III (Carnojevic) of Pec
Preceded by:
Metropolitan of Hvosno
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Patriarch of Serbia
Succeeded by:
Kalinik I
Preceded by:
Metropolitan of Krušedol
Succeeded by:
Isaija (Đaković)
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