Nicholas (Velimirović) of Žiča
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Our father among the saints, Bishop Nikolaj Velimirović (Николај Велимировић, January 5, 1880 - March 18, 1956) 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.
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.
Although recently canonized 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 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.
- 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