Rafailo of Sisatovac

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Hieromartyr Rafailo (Momcilović) (also Raphael; Serbian: Свети свептеномученик Рафаило Шишатовачки) was a Serbian who was the igumen and iconographer of the Šišatovac Monastery during World War II and was martyred, in 1941, for his Orthodox faith.


Rafailo (baptismal name Đorđe, or George) Momcilović was born on April 23, 1875, to parents named Velimir and Persida, in a village called Deronje in the Bačka region. He also completed primary school here. When he was ten years old, he went to the Kovilj Monastery and afterwards to the Bođani Monastery. On October 26, 1896, he took monastic vows in the Manasija Monastery, with Igumen Miron (Đorđević) serving. On November 23, 1896, Metropolitan Mihailo ordained Rafailo a hierodeacon. Along with his spiritual rising and accomplishments, Rafailo improved his knowledge of painting by studying on an advanced level. He was educated in art in Belgrade, Moscow, and Italy. He painted the iconostases of churches in Velika Krsna (1902), the Rakovica Monastery (1905/6), Pačir and Gornji Kovilj (1908-10), and in the Ružica Church in Belgrade (1925-26). Hieromonk Rafailo painted many single icons, then portraits of clergymen, and he was also a great landscape painter.


At the beginning of World War II, Archimandrite Rafailo was the igumen of the Šišatovac Monastery located in northern Serbia. On August 25, 1941, the Ustashe (a Croatian nationalist militia) arrested him, together with three other monastics of the Šišatovac Monastery, and transported them by train to Slavonska Požega. During this transport, Igumen Rafailo was tortured in different ways: They hit him with different objects and tore out his beard. In the concentration camp in Slavonska Požega, the afflictions of Hieromonk Rafailo continued. After monstrous tortures he died on September 3, 1941. No one knows where he was buried.

At the regular session of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1999, Abbot Rafailo was glorified, and his name was entered in the List of Names of the Serbian Church as "the Hieromartyr." His memory feast is on September 3—the day of his death.


Troparion to Venerable Rafailo (Tone 8)

The image of God was truly preserved in you, O Father, for you took up the Cross and followed Christ. By doing so, you taught us to disregard the flesh, for it passes away; but to care instead for the soul, since it is immortal. Therefore, your spirit, O holy Father Rafailo, rejoices with the angels.