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Revision as of 12:56, February 17, 2007

St. Nikolai Velimirovich (1880-1956)
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Our father among the saints, Bishop Nikolaj Velimirović (Николај Велимировић, January 5, 1880 - March 18, 1956, also rendered Nicholas) was bishop of Žiča in Serbia and the author of several Orthodox books. His most widely-known work is the Prologue from Ohrid. His first name is pronounced and sometimes written Nikolai.


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 (Filozofija 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 Chrysostom" was transferred to the Monastery of Vojlovica (near Pančevo) in which he was confined together with the Serbian patriarch, 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.[1]

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 seminaries such as St. Sava's Serbian Orthodox Seminary in Libertyville, Illinois and 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 now in Crestwood, New York. He died on March 18, 1956.

Alleged Anti-Semitism

Although recently 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[2][3] 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, which is more an allegation of historical fact rather than the racism which is the heart of anti-semitism.


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 Zicha 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 Zica, 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."


Troparion (Tone 8)

O golden-tongued preacher proclaiming the risen Christ,
Everlasting guide of the cross-bearing Serbian people,
Resounding harp of the Holy Spirit, and dear to monastics who rejoice in you,
Pride and boast of the priesthood, teacher of repentance, master for all nations,
Guide of those in the army of Christ as they pray to God,
Holy Nicholas teacher in America and pride of the Serbian people,
With all the saints, implore the only Lover of mankind
To grant us peace and joy in his heavenly kingdom!

Kontakion (Tone 3)

Born at Lelich in Serbia,
You served as archpastor at the church of Saint Nahum in Ochrid.
Taking your place on the throne of Saint Sabbas at Zhicha,
You taught God's people and enlightened them with the Gospel.
You brought people to repentance and the love of Christ,
And for Christ you endured suffering at Dachau.
Therefore we glorify you, a new Nicholas well–pleasing to God.


"We should not desire the death of a sinner but his repentance. Nothing so grieves the Lord, Who suffered on the Cross for sinners, than when we pray to Him for the death of a sinner, thereby to remove the sinner from our path. It happened that the Apostle Carpus lost his patience and began to pray that God would send down death upon two sinful men: one a pagan and the other an apostate from the Faith. Then the Lord Christ Himself appeared to Carpus and said: 'Strike me; I am prepared to be crucified again for the salvation of mankind.' St. Carpus related this event to St. Dionysius the Areopagite, who wrote it down as a lesson to all in the Church that prayers are needed for sinners to be saved and not for them to be destroyed, for the Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (II Peter 3:9)." -- The Prologue of Ohrid.


"Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

"Enemies have driven me into your embrace more than friends have.

"Friends have bound me to earth, enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.

"Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world. Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath your tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.

"Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

"They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world.

"They have punished me, whenever I have hesitated to punish myself.

"They have tormented me, whenever I have tried to flee torments.

"They have scolded me, whenever I have flattered myself.

"They have spat upon me, whenever I have filled myself with arrogance.

"Bless my enemies, O Lord, Even I bless them and do not curse them.

"Whenever I have made myself wise, they have called me foolish.

"Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were a dwarf.

"Whenever I have wanted to lead people, they have shoved me into the background.

"Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself, they have prevented me with an iron hand.

"Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully, they have wakened me from sleep.

"Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life, they have demolished it and driven me out.

"Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of your garment.

"Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

"Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitterly against me:

"so that my fleeing to You may have no return;

"so that all hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs;

"so that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul;

"so that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins, arrogance and anger;

"so that I might amass all my treasure in heaven;

"ah, so that I may for once be freed from self-deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life.

"Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself.

"One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.

"It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world: friends or enemies.

"Therefore bless, O Lord, both my friends and enemies.

"A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand. But a son blesses them, for he understands.

"For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life.

"Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them." -- From Prayers by the Lake, published by the Serbian Orthodox Metropolitanate of New Gracanica, 1999[4]



  • Beyond Sin and Death (1914)
  • The Spiritual Rebirth of Europe (1917)
  • Orations on the Universal Man (1920)
  • Thoughts on Good and Evil (1923)
  • Homilias, volumes I and II (1925)
  • Prologue from Ohrid (1926)
  • The Faith of Educated People (1928)
  • The War and the Bible (1931)
  • The Symbols and Signs (1932)
  • "Immanuel" (1937)
  • The Religion of Njegos
  • Speeches under the Mount
  • The Faith of the Saints (1949) (an Orthodox Catechism in English)
  • Cassiana - the Science on Love (1952)
  • The Only Love of Mankind (1958)
  • The First Gods Law and the Pyramid of Paradise (1959)
  • The Life of St. Sava. St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1989. ISBN 0881410659


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Nicholas (Velimirović) of Žiča
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Succession box:
Nicholas (Velimirović) of Žiča
Preceded by:
Bishop of Ochrid
Succeeded by:
himself as Bishop of Ochrid and Bitolla
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