Basil of Ostrog

28 Dec 1610
21 Nov 2018
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Basil of Ostrog ( December 28, 1610—1671) was a Serbian Orthodox bishop of Zahumlje and saint venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church.Stojan Jovanović (Јовановић) was born on December 28, 1610, in the village of Mrkonjići at the bottom of the Popovo field in the Ljubinje nahija (Herzegovina), at the time part of the Ottoman Empire.

His father was Petar Stojanović and his mother was Ana. He was a diligent and obedient child, and he inherited his graciousness and benevolence from his parents. Having raised cattle on the Herzegovinian hills and mountain slopes, he shared all of his food with poorer people.

The Ottomans started to notice him, unenthusiastically monitoring this gifted young man. His parents, in order to avoid any danger, took him to the nearby Zavala Monastery, where his paternal uncle, the hieromonk Serafim served as the hegumen of the monastery. There he would study, and be protected.

Having a rich library at his hands, the young Vasilije especially liked the cells dug into the rocks above the monastery church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

His character quickly made him a master of the Bible and basic Christian mysteries. After a while his uncle sent his protégé to the Monastery of the Most Holy Mother of God, the Tvrdoš Monastery in Trebinje, for further spiritual and theological studies.

St. Basil’s modesty made him reluctant to occupy high positions. However, his piety, humility and dedication to the Church made him well suited for the role and he was elected as Bishop of Zahumlje and Skenderija, which he reluctantly accepted in 1639. He retired from the position ten years later in 1649.

After his death in 1671 he was buried at the Ostrog Monastery he had founded in Montenegro, and his tomb in a cave-church soon became a site of pilgrimage for Christians (both Orthodox and Roman Catholic) and Muslims drawn by reports of miracles occurring through the intercession of the saint.

The Monastery of Ostrog is now one of the major pilgrimage sites in the Balkans, and large numbers of pilgrims gather particularly at Pentecost. St. Basil of Ostrog is commemorated in the Serbian orthodox liturgical calendar on April 29 (May 6 in the Gregorian Calendar).

The Orthodox seminary in East Sarajevo (Pravoslavni bogoslovski fakultet Sveti Vasilije Ostroški), part of the University of East Sarajevo, is named after him. A church in Nalježići, in the Grbalj region is named after him.

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