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Varnava (Rosic) of Serbia

His Holiness Varnava (Rosić) of Serbia ( Његова светост патријарх српски Варнава ) was Patriarch of Serbia from 1930 to 1937. Patriarch Varnava was also one of the main figures in the Concordate crisis and also its victim.

Early Life

He was born in Pljevlja on August 29/September 11, 1880, as Petar into the family of Đorđe and Krsmana Rosić (Ђорђе и Крсмана Росић). He finished primary school in Pljevlja in 1892, and seminary in Prizren in 1899. Also in 1899, he became a stipendist of the Russian Synod. He continued his studies at St. Petersburg Theological Academy and earned the title of "Candidate of Theology" in 1905. He was tonsured in St. Petersburg on April 30, 1905, by his Rector Bishop Sergije and was given the name Varnava. He was ordained deacon on May 6, and presbyter on June 6 of the same year. Fr. Varnava returned to Contantinople and was appointed chaplain in the Serbian Embassy and also was the principal of the Serbian School there.


The Holy Synod elected him on March 18/31, 1910 as an auxiliary bishop to the Metropolitan of Veles with the title Bishop of Glavnica. He was consecrated on April 10/23, 1910 which was Lazarus Saturday, by metropolitans: Philaretos of Didomitice, Dorotheos of Sosgatople, Polycarp of Eleason, Sophronios of Pryconya and Anthim of Sarandeclesia in Constantinople at the Cathedral Church of Saint George.

The territory of his diocese was conquered by Serbia during the First Balkan War (1912-1913) and he was given administration of several dioceses. Bp. Varnava organized Spiritual Courts, rebuilt churches, and established schools. When World War I began Bp. Varnava retreated with the Serbian Army into Greece through Albania. In 1917, bishop Varnava participated, as a representative of the Church of Serbia, in the Moscow synod. The synod restored the institution of the Patriarch in the Church of Russia.

After the war he was appointed administrator of all of the dioceses in Macedonia. He participated in reestablishing the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1920. He was soon elected Metropolitan of Skoplje on November 17/30, 1920.


After the death of Patriarch Dimitrije in 1930, the Electorial Assembly of the Serbian Orthodox Church elected Metr. Varnava to the position of Patriarch on April 12/25, which was Lazarus Saturday. He unified the administrative system of Serbian Orthodox Church. He also started building the Memorial St. Sava's Temple in Belgrade. Patr. Varnava built the Patriarchal building which serves as Administrative Center of the church in Belgrade and Patriarchal Palace. He planned to establish an academy for chanting. When the Holy Assembly of bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church voted on the Constitution of the Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Varnava tried to establish an academy for chant and church music, but he failed, because there was a lack of financial support.

In 1936, Patr. Varnava convened a consultation of the representatives of the Russian dioceses and exiles not administered by the Patriarchate of Moscow in order to prevent further splits.

Concordate crisis

In 1937, the government of Milan Stojadinović wanted to sign a concordant with the Vatican. This treaty would give enormous privileges to the Roman Catholic Church which was actually a minority church in Yugoslavia (Acording to 1931 census 48,7 % of population were Orthodox, 38 % Roman Catholic). The Holy Synod strongly opposed this treaty and announced that the Prime Minister and all members of parliament who voted for it would be excluded from the Church. The Popular Assembly voted for the Concordant but the Senate voted against so the Concordant was never realised. The Patriarch, who strongly opposed the concordant, died under unclear circumstances.

Patr. Varnava died on July 23, 1936. He was buried in the small Church of St. Sava. When the Temple of St. Sava is finished, Patr. Varnava's remains will be buried there.

Succession box:
Varnava (Rosic) of Serbia
Preceded by:
Bishop of Glavnica - Vicar
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Metropolitan of Skoplje
Succeeded by:
Josif (Cvijović)
Preceded by:
Patriarch of Serbia
Succeeded by:
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