Serbian Monastery (Kosovo) – Abbot Struck in Face Over Vaccine Mandates

Snowball Fight

This just in from one of our contributors:

* * *

This was no snowball fight.

Three monks who have been laboring in asceticism at the Serbian Church’s Dečani Monastery in Kosovo for decades were recently forced out due to their unwillingness to get a COVID vaccine.

Hieromonk Serapion, Monk Nikanor, and Monk Luka were all members of the monastery brotherhood for over 20 years each until they came into conflict with the abbot, Fr. Sava, who strongly supports the vaccines and strict lockdown measures.

A source close to the monks relates that although they weren’t officially required to get vaccinated, Fr. Sava kept putting more and more pressure on them, and increasingly attempting to separate them from the rest of the brethren, both physically in terms of the trapeza and in church, and socially, telling some brethren not to have any contact with them,

Fr. Sava even locked the monks out of the workshops for their obediencew. “One was the last iconographer, so he forbade him from doing icons and locked the workshop, and another was the last woodcarver and likewise, Fr. Sava locked the workshop.”

There were also strict lockdowns implemented at the monastery throughout the last two years, even when not required by local government authorities, and other measures such as requiring PCR tests for any monk returning to the monastery after being away on monastery business for a day or more, denying the brethren medical care not related to COVID.

These severe measures seem to have been implemented with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Teodosije of Raška and Prizren.

The tension between the abbot and the three monks somehow came to a head in the last few days, when there was some sort of dispute over yet more restrictions to come, after which Fr. Sava told the monks they had to leave. The abbot made up other excuses for why they had to leave, but the true cause was their continued presence as non-vaccinated monks in his otherwise completely vaccinated brotherhood, the source says.

The argument became so heated that one of the monks apparently struck the abbot in the face.

Two of the monks are going to an empty monastery in the woods in Raška, where one has been hastily appointed abbot, and the third is moving to another diocese.

Mrs. M


  1. Apparently a situation where total obedience to the abbot is up for discussion. When I was much younger a bishop once told me to always cross myself when I heard the priest proclaim….a Christian ending to our lives, painless, blameless, peaceful and with a good defense before the dread judgement seat of Christ……..

    • Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov talked about this very thing, that in modern times there are few or no Spirit-filled elders, so the monastic has to figure it out himself with the Scriptures and Fathers and should only hold an external obedience and should never do something against conscious for the sake of obedience.

      But no one actually takes these writers seriously.

  2. Even if all the New Calendar churches fell away, I don’t think it would be large enough of an event to be the Great Falling Away. The “vaccines” and vaccine/health passports seems to be growing in something big enough to qualify though. If the “very good Germans/Russians/Italians/Australians/Canadians/Americans/etc” among [insert Christian group] keep doing whatever it takes to stay in favor of their respective secular governments, including persecuting and then driving out the un-injected and watching them hauled off to camps.

    • Filip Spaček says

      Can you please tell us where did you get that info? Because im from Serbia and i didnt hear anything from it. Thank you. IC XC NI Ka

    • “watching them hauled off to camps.”

      A national poll has found that forty-five percent of likely Democratic voters would be ok with the government “requiring citizens to temporarily live in designated facilities or locations if they refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine.”

      The figure was registered by Rasmussen Reports and the Heartland Institute, which also found that a MAJORITY “Fifty-nine percent of Democratic voters would favor a government policy requiring that citizens remain confined to their homes at all times, except for emergencies, if they refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine.”

      The survey also found that 48 percent of Democratic voters “think federal and state governments should be able to fine or imprison individuals who publicly question the efficacy of the existing COVID-19 vaccines on social media, television, radio, or in online or digital publications.”

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Yeah, I remember when those surveys and polls said Trump couldn’t possibly win in 2016.

    • Antiochene Son says

      Even the science people are starting to admit that with Omicron the pandemic is basically over. The variant is so virulent and so mild, it is functionally a natural inoculation.

      • Yes, but Israel just said that even four jabs can’t defeat it. Once the people have been terrified sufficiently, even when the Science Guys are even saying “it’s over,” it will be very difficult for THEM to let go of all their new powers.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Milgram did a study on this. I saw the video in the early 70s and thought, “No, this can’t be right. Thinking people would not do this.”

          A few years later I had a job implementing a system that required me to go into ICU late at night. No one knew me there. I walked in and said what I needed to do. The person left the desk and told me to help myself to what I needed. She even told me where the charts were. Because my badge said, “IT,” I was allowed total access.

          People defer to people they think are in charge even if it means breaking HIPPA rules (or killing human beings). I should never have been given access to a patient’s chart. But I was “important!” I was “IT.” I worked with computers. I was “smart.” You have to listen to people who are “smart” in positions of authority!

          We have a whole world that believes the WHO, CDC, and like agencies, are “smart.” They also believe they’re good and have our best interests at heart. They don’t want to be disappointed. They’ll wear the masks as long as they don’t have to face the hard truth that the good guys have been infiltrated by some very, very bad people and if we follow what they’re telling us to do, they’ll lead us over a cliff.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Very well said, Basil.

          The dems are at the intersection of evil & stupidity. Evil: the desire to have total control forever.

          Stupidity: not being cynical enough to realize that once the Kung flu succeeded in driving Trump from office, the smart thing would have been to stop all the lockdown nonsense & open up the economy.

          BUT NO…

          So now we’re having to decide whether to eat today or get gas.


  3. My very dear Mrs M:

    Are any of the brothers injured or sick and in need of urgent medical care?

    Is the monastery in urgent need of food, heating, or water, or in need of repairs against the elements?

    Has any of the monastery’s properties been damaged, stolen or destroyed?

    Please respond at your earliest opportunity.

    Thank you!

  4. The Decani Monastery has been the focal point of those Serbs that have wished to stay, or been barred from leaving Kosovo by the Albanians. The monks provide a soup kitchen and food deliveries for the infirm, and initial medical care assessments for the sick.

    The work of the brothers is supported by The Decani Monastery Foundation, Sts Constantine and Helen Orthodox Church (GOA) 2618 Bannock St, Boise ID 83702, Phone 208.345.6147. Archimandrite Fr Nektarios Serfes has been president and founder of the Foundation since 1998, although he has been ill and is recovering from major surgery, which was successful (praise be to God). His Grace Bishop Teodosije of Raška and Prizren is the first vice president, Abbot Sava is the second vice president of the Foundation.

    These brothers are literally the only lifeline for the Serbs which survive in this far western section of Kosovo. They are extremely brave men. Their delivery vehicles bringing food to the isolated Serb families are often pelted with rocks or shot at by the Albanians. Local petty bureaucrats frequently vandalize the monastery itself or tear up the grounds to intimidate them to leave. The Italian soldiers of KFOR have taken special care for the security of the monastery. It is, after all, a World Heritage Site, and one of the few Orthodox structures which still remain standing in Kosovo. They could use our prayers and support.

    Thank you.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I’m glad they’re being supported.

    • This is 100% true but is not related to the problem that is going on in the Monastery.

    • This is all very true, but it doesn’t address the article and the serious issues it raises within the monastery, and it makes it all the more sad that it would seem Fr. Sava’s globalist vaccine agenda is driving away the very brothers who did such good work.

  5. What a shame that a place like Decani, which should be a spiritual fortress, has so given in to the COVID fear madness.

  6. His Grace Bishop Teodosije of Raška and Prizren

    Isn’t this the same bishop who caught on fire during liturgy last year or in 2020? I remember reading (possibly on here) about a bishop who was a hardcore covidist who caught on fire during liturgy.

    • I dont think so, it is another one. Bishop Teodosije is not hard-core covidst he is great Bishop, how come is his iguman we dont know. I think is politics because US has a huge military base near Monastery and is supporting orthodox enemies ethnic Albanians in the area so there is a lot of pressure.
      But this is not excuse, they, Serbian Synod, should question this Iguman and his Bishop for this behaviour.

  7. Satan is using unchristian fear of Covid and unchristian love of unnecessary control to torment the faithful.

    • Misha, “Satan is using unchristian fear” of medicine to turn zealous people into an obscurantist sect. . .

      • “Misha, ‘Satan is using unchristian fear’ of medicine to turn zealous people into an obscurantist sect. . .”

        Satan’s really done a number on all these PhDs, MDs, RNs, EMTs, firefighters and police. All these people just throwing away their careers because of an irrational fear of medicine, despite them having so much firsthand experience with how well the vaccines are working.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Agreed, Myst. I shouldn’t have let this inane comment slip through.

          • ” I shouldn’t have let this inane comment slip through.”

            Gail, if it applies to my comment, I will say the following:

            I expressed my sincere opinion and I do not think that closing the door to the honest debate is healthy. True consensus comes from such debate and is very different from false unanimity.

            If you do not let this follow-up to “slip through”, you are still welcome to contact me through my personal e-mail.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              You put it on the blog so I’ll answer you on the blog: You accused one of our readers of being used by Satan resulting in an “unchristian fear of medicine turning zealous people (presumably him) into an obscurantist sect.”

              I didn’t strike your comment because it was dishonest. I’m sure you feel this way. It’s fodder for your personal diary.

              I deleted your comment because it was pointed and derogatory. Pejorative statements about anyone on this blog, which, of course, includes George and me are prohibited. If I invited you to a party and you said something like this to one of my guests, you would never be invited back.

              We don’t discuss what your problems are with someone here. I frankly don’t care what your opinions are about another person. Neither does anyone else. If you want to talk about the issues, that’s different. I realize there are blogs where people spar with one another but it will not be done here. Your comment might have been fine if you had phrased it differently. But you put someone’s name on it and “my guests” reacted negatively to it.

              This is not the first time this has happened making me think this blog is not a good fit for you. I completely understand if this is the case.

      • Can you define “medicine” please? I’m not certain “medicine” and “DNA altering injections built by research conducted on the bodies of living fetuses” are one and the same?

        • Oh, the curve has been well flattened,
          ever since the vaccine roll-out began.
          Unfortunately, it flattened along the wrong axis…

      • A picture is worth a thousand words.

  8. If the two monks going to the empty monastery in the woods need any physical provisions please let me know.

  9. Looks like Father Sava is a very good friend with Biden and good politian. He even said once that Biden is a great RC :))
    This is his twitter message on inauguration day about visit that happened in 2009.

    I am honored to have welcomed at Dečani Monastery the new US President
    , first as a Senator and later as a Vice President. He was deeply impressed by our monastery. I am sure the new US administration will have understanding for the #Serbian #Orthodox heritage in #Kosovo

    • Yes, let’s not forget Fr Sava’s congratulations of Biden upon becoming president, as a previous poster already posted link to, and when Madeleine Albright, who was strongly in favor of bombing Serbia, visited Kosovo, he held an umbrella over her head for her! You can see yourself here.

      He certainly spends more time on politics than anything else. I’m not a fan of President Vucic, but once he said in Serbian media that Fr Sava is an “un-elected politician hiding behind monk’s robes” and I think sadly it’s kind of true. I pray God awakens his soul. Many monks he has forced out during his tenure as abbot, and to a degree it isn’t normal. May God and Saint King Stefan awaken him to life and to Christ.

  10. MANY things in this strange account do not add up.

    I do not claim direct knowledge of the events descrbed, but having visited the Visoki Decani monastery more often than most readers of this blog, I could easily spot a few glaring contradictions:

    – Monk Nikanor was NOT a member of the brotherhood “for over 20 years”. He in fact left the monastery in the early 2000s: at my last visit (2013), he was still remembered as a troublemaker, and I very much doubt that in the meantime Fr. Sava tonsured another monk with the same name, given the memory of the previous Nikanor. Possible, but VERY unlikely.

    – Hieromonk Serapion is indeed an iconographer, but I would doubt his characterization as “the last iconographer” of the monastery. He has been painting icons for a long time, so he is perhaps the last of the first group of iconographers who worked 20 years ago, but certainly not the last one of a very busy icon workshop.

    – Whoever is described as “the last woodcarver”, or whoever described him as such, should ask forgiveness to Monk Avvakum, a respected elder monk of Decani (as well as one of the few native Serbs of Pec who still reside in Kosovo) and excellent master woodcarver.

    Even with NO knowledge of what happened in Decani during the recent pandemic times, I can easily spot a lot of holes in this narrative… but since The Decani monastery is one of the most active Orthodox monastic presence on the Net and even on social networks, why not asking some clarification directly to the Decani brotherhood?

    And oh, by the way… the monks in the picture look smiling and relaxed. Perhaps the snowball fight is just a snowball fight, after all!

    • Gail Sheppard says


    • I don’t think the picture was well-chosen by the editors of monomakhos, it took place in Greece and has nothing to do with Decani, and even looks fun, whereas this is a serious story.

      To respond to Hieromonk Ambrose:

      1) Yes, Serapion was the last iconographer. The either left of their own accord, were sent out to be abbots elsewhere (Fr. Ilarion, who is a very beautiful soul), or were forced out, and Serapion was the last. Now there is no one doing icons in Decani.

      2) Yes, you are right, there is Fr. Avakum, forgive my imprecision. But he is older and only does smaller projects, and also the Decani wood workshop used to be a big business, and all those monks left during the tenure of Fr Sava, with Luka being the last who was capable of bigger projects.

      3) Fr Nikanor was only absent from the Monastery for four years. He came in 2000, left in 2010, and returned in 2014. He was not so much a troublemaker as a troubled soul that Fr Sava didn’t take care of at all, like so many, hence why Decani has lost so many brothers during the tenure of Fr Sava.

      4) Go ahead and ask for clarification. Probably you’ll get some Orwellian doublespeak but go ahead and ask…

      • Gail Sheppard says

        You have submitted your thoughts on the matter multiple times. Thank you. We posted it.

    • 1) Yes, Serapion was the last iconographer. The others either left of their own accord, were sent out to be abbots elsewhere (Fr. Ilarion, who is a very beautiful soul), or were forced out, and Serapion was the last. Now there is no one doing icons in Decani.

      2) Yes, you are right, there is Fr. Avakum, I forgot about that. But he is older and only does smaller projects, and also the Decani wood workshop used to be a big business, and all those monks left during the tenure of Fr Sava, like Fr Dimitrije a few years ago, for example, with Fr Luka now being the last who were capable of bigger projects.

      3) Fr Nikanor was only absent from the Monastery for four years. He came in 2000, left during the confusing period of troubles with Artemije in 2010, and returned in 2014. He was not so much a troublemaker as a troubled soul that Fr Sava didn’t take care of at all, like so many, hence why Decani has lost so many brothers during the tenure of Fr Sava.

      4) Go ahead and ask for clarification. Probably you’ll get some Orwellian doublespeak but go ahead and ask…And the internet presence is mostly Fr Sava himself.

      5) I agree with all the positive things you say about Decani and what it has been, which is why it is ALL THE MORE SAD what is happening now, and what has been going on.

      • Thank you, Marko, for all the additional details.

        I suppose all boils down to a like or dislike of Fr. Sava as hegumen. And since I know him quite well, let me reply to all the current or potential “Sava-bashers” that an abbot is a human being (…surprise!) and that many of his choices depend on his character. Fr. Sava, even before becoming hegumen, has always preferred to err on the side of caution rather than on the side of bravery (and given the status of Orthodox monasteries in Kosovo and Metohija, this is perhaps the best choice). In any case, if you exceed even a little bit with caution you are deemed as a coward; if you exceed with bravery, you are deemed as foolhardy… whichever choice you make, it’s the same: “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”. Yet, if Fr. Sava’s actions are dictated by (even excessive) caution, he’s still on a good path (at least, the last time I looked at the list of cardinal virtues, prudence was still one of them… and there’s also that other virtue, obedience to your monastic superior).

        I am glad you characterize Fr. Ilarion as a beautiful soul: I wholly agree, and I would also add to the list of beautiful souls Bishop Teodosije. Every time I met him, there was no word of him that I did not perceive as wise, well thought and (if I may dare say so) inspired. Please remember that even the choice of Fr. Sava as hegumen was one of his decisions.

        Z Bogom!

        • Your blessing, Padre.

          Thank you for your comments. In these times of almost total negativity, it’s good to have a sober and balanced perspective. It helps calm the soul.

  11. Yeah, except the monk on the left is throwing snow, and the monk on the right has a snowball in his hand, and appears to be laughing/smiling.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      It’s not a picture of what happened. See the caption. It’s a snowball fight where monks are, as you said, “laughing and smiling”; the exact opposite of what happened at the monastery, I would imagine.

      There is no way one would be able to take a picture of a monk hitting an abbot in the face unless someone was camera-ready to take the picture, which is generally not the case in these situations.

      • I wish to repeat that this picture is not from Decani, it’s from Mount Athos, from last winter. I think it was a poor photo choice on the part of the editors at monomakhos.

        It was a very tense scene and very serious, I heard it from several sources.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Under the picture, it says “snowball fight.” The first sentence into the piece reads: “This was no snowball fight.” In other words, it was not an inadvertent hit in the face during playtime.

          I would NEVER post a picture of a monk punching his abbot in the face, not that I could find one. Had I posted idyllic pictures of the monastery, it would have communicated the opposite of “tense and serious.”

          It was BECAUSE it was “tense and serious” that I chose the picture that I did. If I had chosen something to match how bad it was, it would have demonized everyone there. The monastery, as a whole, doesn’t deserve that.

          By the same token, the story had to be told. Others passed on it, I am told.

          However, it’s lunacy, IMO, to require vaccinations that are now known to have absolutely no impact on transmission. Knowing there are an unprecedented number of disabilities and deaths, especially among young, healthy men, why would anyone think this would be a good idea?

          That would be like your spiritual father telling you to jump into the deep end of the pool knowing you couldn’t swim.

          The abbot is not thinking clearly and his decisions are resulting in a lot of unfortunate situations where people are leaving. For an abbot, that’s not a good sign.

          Having said that, I agree this is serious, but probably not for the same reasons you do.

          I am curious, though. What would have made a better picture in your mind? Please send me the link. I would appreciate it.

  12. Dear brothers and sisters, this article was very sad to read. Sad because it shows the dissension that the father of lies is able to spread and take our focus from where it should be. My philosophy is that, while I believe the Covid vaccines are safe and effective, and have had my family vaccinated, I have only love and respect for other freedom-loving Americans who after doing their own research and study have made a different conclusion. I love freedom, and do not believe in Vaxx passports or anything like that.

    In a monastery one promises to live in obedience to the abbot. The abbot answers to the local bishop who ultimately answers to the Patriarch and Sacred Synod. Respectfully, I do not believe it is profitable for our souls to comment on whatever rule an abbot has laid down for his monastery. If he is incorrect, the correction will come from the Bishop or Patriarch, not from me.

    I would beg everyone to instead focus on the plight and fight for survival of this sacred place of our Holy Orthodox faith. Although I am Greek, not Serb, I had the great privilege of making a pilgrimage to this monastery more than thirty years, together with and as the guest of Serbian Patriarch Pavle – a living saint.

    One need only look at the monastery’s Twitter account today to see the pressure being put even today on the monastery by the Islamists in the Kosovar Albanian population. Pray for these monks, and then write to every senator and congressman you know. We must make the world aware of their plight to help ease this persecution.

    Sadly the uncanonical and schism-inducing actions by the Patriarch of Constantinople have split the world’s Orthodox Churches so that we can no longer speak with one voice on important issues like this. As a fourth generation Greek-American I sadly will no longer commune in any Church that commemorates the EP. That saddens me because I am friends with many Greek priests, some of whom I love dearly. I pray that the EP will soon repent of his arrogance and misdeeds, although I am not hopeful. He seems to just get worse.

    George and Gail I don’t know where you find the time to maintain (and research for) this amazing website, but it is a blessing to so many of us. Many years in health, happiness, prosperity and the friendship of God.

    If I have offended anyone, forgive me.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Thank you, Michael. I truly appreciate your gracious comment.

      RE: “If he is incorrect, the correction will come from the Bishop or Patriarch, not from me.” Will it, Michael? I’m afraid I’m jaded on this point. I’ve witnessed too many occasions where the bishops, including the patriarchs, have chosen to avoid important, critical issues; issues, unfortunately, that can only be addressed by them.

      I don’t know who this particular bishop is. I don’t know anything about this situation other than what’s been reported. I usually try to keep my distance from such stories so I don’t have an opinion. What happened wasn’t right. No monk should feel the need to act on such an impulse and no abbot should have to submit to it; however, that doesn’t mean the issue is as clear cut.

      When it comes to Ukraine or the vaccines, the facts are ALL that should matter. We’re talking about things that could end a life; the life of an Orthodox Christian or loved one in the case of the vaccine, and our Church, in the case of Ukraine. The stakes don’t get much higher than that. Not for me. I love the Church and my Church family with my whole heart. I will do whatever it takes to be the voice of truth. I support what I say and in time, I am usually vindicated.

      But it’s often too late.

      I have failed on all fronts. Failed to be convincing enough to the people whom I most care about. I keep myself up at night wondering how I could have said something differently to be more convincing. What words could I have used? Did I say too much? Did I say too little? Did they just not read it because it came from me?

      I don’t think anything else compares to these issues in terms of their importance to me.

      And I pray. I pray constantly that I can execute God’s will.

      I will continue to try.

      • One fact is that Serbian Synod in the beginning and then Sabor (reaffirms later) are in line against VAX passports and mandatory vaccination so the comments that Satan is now within old calendar churches are premature and funny :). In Serbian Churches people rarely wear masks and there is no way any Bishop will ask for VAX paper at the entrance if this is not mandated by the State where he is.
        What happened wasn’t right.
        That is correct in this case. Even having in mind harsh circumstances around monastery, there is no excuse for abbot’s decision to force vaccination of the monks in Decani where dying and suffering for faith was way of life for centuries and today is not different.
        We have to obey our Bishops but we also have to guard over our tradition stubbornly like a mule and persistently like a hawk and to unmistakably detect any deformation in our faith.

  13. I think it is definitely insanity whoever wants the mandatory vaccine. So many people died or get seriously ill from blood clogging, heart inflammation, walking difficulty and even internal brain bleeding death. How many young innocent kids and adults had already been killed by the vaccine silently, all the governments will never tell the truth ! Some countries’ governments even control the poor religious monks to get vaccinated or forced them to pay a huge monthly fines. What if the vaccines are really poisonous and contain lead substance, may be even have very tiny invisible microchips or nano chips. Some of the holy innocent monks are definitely going to be severely ill or be killed by the vaccines and that’s what the Devil always want ! Besides, many double vaccinated people (from all different countries) just have recovered from Omicron and they were told by the doctors to get the third booster or they may be infected again ! By the time when all people getting their 3 rd booster, Omicron may start mutating again and even the 3rd booster may not be strong enough to protect them from the newly mutated virus; it means they must take the 4th booster or there ‘s a chance that they may die in ICU……There is no point for the Top Doctors and Politicians pushing mandatory vaccine or vaccine passports because it is nonsense and insane !!!! They are nothing but just the tools of the Devil to cause our division in every place, cause our mental confusion. Consider the suicidal rate and divorce rate is extremely high since every country’s government LOCK DOWN and then MANDATORY VACCINE plus VACCINE PASSPORTS. We deserve better democracy that this because we are human beings, not dogs !!! We trust in God, but not science !!!