Nikolaj Velimirović was born in the small village of Lelich in Western Serbia. He attended the Seminary of St. Sava in Belgrade and graduated in 1905. He obtained doctorates from the University of Berne (1908), while the thesis was published in German in 1910, whereas the doctor's degree in philosophy was prepared at Oxford and defended in Geneva (''Filosofija Berklija'' - ''Berkeley's Philosophy'', in French) in 1909. At the end of 1909 he entered a monastic order. In 1919, then [[Archimandrite]] Nikolai was consecrated Bishop of Žiča in the [[Church of Serbia]].
In April 1915 (during WWI) he was delegated to England and America by the Serbian Church, where he held numerous lectures, fighting for the unison of the Serbs and South Slavic peoples. At the beginning of 1919 he returned to Serbia, and in 1920 was posted to the Ohrid archbishopric in Macedonia, where in 1935, in Bitola he reconstructed the cemetery of the killed German soldiers.
During the Second World War in 1941 Bp. Nikolai was arrested by the Nazis in the [[Monastery]] of Žiča (which was soon afterwards robbed and ruined), after which he was confined in the Monastery of Ljubostinja (where, on the occasion of mass deaths by firing squad, he reacted saying: "Is this the German culture, to shoot hundred innocent Serbs, for one dead German soldier! The Turks have always proved to be more just..."). Later, this "new [[John Chrysostom|Chrysostom]]" was transferred to the Monastery of Vojlovica (near Pančevo) in which he was confined together with the Serbian patriarch, [[Gabriel (Dozic) of Serbia|Gavrilo (Dožić)]] until the end of 1944.
On [[December 14]], 1944 he was sent to
[Dachau ], together with Serbian [[Patriarch]] Gavrilo, where some sources, especially the standard Church references, record that he suffered both imprisonment and torture.[http://www.serfes.org/lives/holyhierarchsaintnicholai.htm]
After the War he left Communist Yugoslavia and immigrated as a refugee to the United States in 1946 where he taught at several Orthodox Christian [[seminary|seminaries]] such as [[St. Sava's Serbian Orthodox Seminary (Libertyville, Illinois)|St. Sava's Serbian Orthodox Seminary]] in Libertyville, Illinois and [[St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary (South Canaan, Pennsylvania)|St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary]] and Monastery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania (where he was [[rector]] and also where he died) and [[St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary (Crestwood, New York)|St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary]] now in Crestwood, New York. He died on [[March 18]], 1956.
Although recently [[Glorification|glorified]] as a saint by the [[Church of Serbia]], his writings remain highly controversial. Nikolaj Velimirovic was allegedly anti-semitic and he is supposed to have approved of the holocaust. (See Bishop Nikolaj Velimirovic: ''Addresses to the Serbian People—Through the Prison Window''. Himmelsthur, Germany: Serbian Orthodox Eparchy for Western Europe, 1985, pp. 161-162).
Others regard his address from Dachau as having been under duress[http://www.balkan-archive.org.yu/kosta/pisma/l-serbs.are.new.jews.html][http://www.balkan-archive.org.yu/kosta/pisma/l-a.little.more.truth.html] and point to the lack of other anti-semitic statements in the rest of his large corpus of writings.
He is recorded variously to have said that the Jews "crucified [[Christ]]," but such a statement is historically no different from that in the [[Bible]] or what [[Christians]] have been saying for centuries.
On [[May 19]], 2003, the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, with one heart and one voice, unanimously decided to enter Bishop Nicholai (Velimirovic) of Ohrid and Ziča into the calendar of saints of our Holy Orthodox Church.
St. Nikolai Velimirovich is often referred to as Serbia's New Chrysostom. St. [[John Maximovitch]], who had been a young instructor at a seminary in Bishop Nikolai's diocese of Ohrid, called him "a great saint and Chrysostom of our day [whose] significance for Orthodoxy in our time can be compared only with that of Metropolitan Anthony
[Khrapovitsky]. ... They were both universal teachers of the Orthodox Church."