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 Metropolitans of the Serbian people in Austria-Hungary (1690-1706).
He was born in Cetinje, c. 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 deacon and priest. In his early years he was elected archimandrite of Peć Monastery in 1665. When Patriarch Maksim suffered a stroke, Arsenije was elected for Metropolitan of Hvosno and 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 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 coastlands who were under Venice. He met the Roman Catholic archbishop of Bar Andrija Zmajević, who was Serbian, in order to contact European powers for the protection of Christians under Turkish rule. He also visited his flock in Bosnia in 1674, in Braničevo and Srem in 1676. The following year he was in Žiča Monastery, than Braničevo; again, he also visited Smederevo in 1680. All these visitations 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 of Skoplje Teofan and bishop Ananija of Karatovo.
When he arrived in Jerusalem, Arsenije was the guest of the famous Patriarch of Jerusalem, Dositeus Notarios (1669-1707). When 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. He was forced to leave Peć because Turks tried to kill him. He came back after Austrians captured Peć. Under great presure of 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, with 90,000 people started retreating.
Arsenije called a popular-church assembly in Belgrade in July 1690. In this assembly were participating Serbian noblemen, officers, popular leaders, metropolitans, bishops, archimandrites, igumens, and protopresbyters. 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 soutern part of Hungary, todays Vojvodina in Serbia, and 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 Austrians recaptured Hungary and Transylvania.
From the beginning he had many problems under Austrian rule. Hungarian nobility, Catholic clergy, and German officers were all hostile toward Serbs, but the wise patriarch saved his people from Catholic proselytism. He managed to negotiate with bishops who the signed Union. After this, those bishops reembraced Orthodoxy. Yet he failed in trying to reestablish an Orthodox bishopric in Transylvania (Metropolitan of Transylvania signed the Union in 1699.). He established relations with 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 from the old , he established Metropolitanate of Karlovci as an autonomous unit of Peć Patriarchate.
Patriarch Arsenije died in Vienna on October 27. He advised his bishops to reestablish broken relations with Patriarch of Peć. Soon the Metropolitanate of Karlovci was formed as autonomous unit of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
Arsenius III (Carnojevic) of Pec
|Metropolitan of Hvosno
|Patriarch of Serbia
|Metropolitan of Krušedol