Eparchy of Raška and Prizren

Eparchy of Raška and Prizren (Serbian: Епархија рашко-призренска / Eparhija raško-prizrenska, Albanian: Eparkia Rashkë - Prizren) or Eparchy of Raška-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija (Serbian: Епархија рашко-призренска и косовско-метохијска / Eparhija raško-prizrenska i kosovsko-metohijska), is one of the oldest eparchies of the Serbian Orthodox Church, featuring the seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Serbian Patriarchal Monastery of Peć, as well as Serbian Orthodox Monastery of Visoki Dečani, which together are part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Serbia.

Eparchy of Raška-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija

Епархија рашко-призренска и косовско-метохијска
Sv. Djordje Prizren.jpg
TerritoryRaška, Kosovo and Metohija
HeadquartersPrizren, Kosovo
DenominationEastern Orthodox
Sui iuris churchSerbian Orthodox Church
Patriarchate of Peć (Serbia)
Established13th century
LanguageChurch Slavonic
Current leadership
BishopTeodosije Šibalić
Map of Eparchies of Serbian Orthodox Church (including Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric)-en.svg
Eparchy of Raška and Prizren, which includes the region of Raška and whole of Kosovo and Metohija

Jurisdiction of the Eparchy is reflected in its name: it has diocesan jurisdiction over Eastern Orthodox Christians in historical regions of Raška, Kosovo and Metohija. The official see of the Eparchy is in Prizren, Kosovo.[a]


Under the jurisdiction of Archbishopric of Justiniana PrimaEdit

Within the territory of the present day Eparchy of Raška and Prizren several older eparchies existed throughout history. One of them was the ancient Bishopric of Ulpiana also known as Iustiniana Secunda situated near the modern town of Lipljan, where the remains of episcopal Basilica dating from the first half of 6th century have been found and excavated. Originally, the episcopal see of Ulpiana was under the supreme jurisdiction of the Archbishopric of Thessaloniki, and in 535 it was transferred to newly created Archbishopric of Justiniana Prima. Byzantine rule in that region collapsed at the beginning of the 7th century and the church life was later renewed after the Christianization of Serbs.[1]

Episcopal sees in Serbian landsEdit

The Bishopric of Ras was named after the old Serbian fortress of Ras that was situated near modern-day Novi Pazar. From the name of Ras the name of entire region was also derived (ser. Рашка (Raška), lat. Rascia).[2] The Bishopric of Ras emerged sometime during the 9th century, in the time that was marked by great missionary work of saints Cyril and Methodius and their disciples among Slavs, from Great Moravia in the north to Bulgaria in the east. During the rule of prince Mutimir of Serbia and Byzantine emperor Basil I (867–886) process of Christianization of Serbs was finalized. One of Mutimirs sons was baptized as Stefan (Stefan Mutimirović) and other members of the ruling Serbian dynasty also received Christian names like princes Petar Gojniković, Pavle Branović and Zaharija Pribislavljević.[3]

Serbian bishopric of Ras was founded in the time of major ecclesiastical events that took place around the Council of Constantinople in 869–870 and the Council of Constantinople in 879–880.[4] Two land-marking decisions have been made in that time. First, the decision of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to create autonomous Archbishopric for Bulgaria after the Conversion of Bulgarians to Christianity and second, the decision of 870 that confirmed the attachment of Bulgarian Church to Eastern Orthodoxy.[5] By 878, episcopal sees in nearby cities of Belgrade and Braničevo have already been firmly established. It can be concluded that the Bishopric of Ras was also founded by that time. Close ties between Serbia and Byzantine Empire secured the communion of Serbian Church with the Eastern Orthodoxy and its main center in Constantinople, with one important distinction: Serbs adopted the use of Old Church Slavonic liturgy instead of Greek.

In the time of emperor John I Tzimiskes (969–976), Byzantine rule was restored in the region and protospatharios John was appointed as governor (catepan) of Ras.[6][7]

Under the jurisdiction of Archbishopric of OhridEdit

Map depicting the Archbishopric of Ohrid in ca. 1020.

After the victorious Byzantine conquest of Bulgaria in 1018, by order of emperor Basil II an autonomous Bulgarian Archbishopric of Ohrid was established in 1019, by lowering the rank of the autocephalous Bulgarian Patriarchate due to its subjugation to Constantinople, placing it under the supreme ecclesiastical jurisdiction the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Imperial charters of 1019 and 1020 mention three bishoprics on the territory of present-day Eparchy of Raška and Prizren with episcopal seats in the cities of Ras, Prizren and Lipljan. All three were designated as distinct dioceses of the autonomous Archbishopric of Ohrid. Until the beginning of the 13th century, archbishops of Ochrid were regarded as Archbishopric of Justiniana Prima and all Bulgaria.[8]

Under the jurisdiction of Serbian Orthodox ChurchEdit

The autocephaly of Serbian Orthodox Church was established in 1219 by Saint Sava, who was consecrated as first Serbian archbishop by the Byzantine patriarch residing at that time in Nicaea. Since then, all of the three old bishoprics of Raška, Prizren[9] and Lipljan were under the constant jurisdiction of Archbishop of Serbia. New Bishopric of Hvosno was also created in northern parts of the region of Metohija.[10] The see of Serbian archbishop was soon transferred from Monastery of Žiča to Peć in Metohija.[11]

In 1346, Serbian Archbishopric was raised to the rank of Patriarchate with its see remaining in Peć. At the same time the bishoprics of Prizren and Lipljan were raised by title to the rank of metropolitanates. Bishops of Lipljan kept under their jurisdiction the region of central Kosovo with Gračanica and Novo Brdo. Period from the beginning of 13 century to the end of 14 century was the golden age for Orthodox Church in the regions of Raška, Kosovo and Metohija with many monasteries and churches built by Serbian rulers and local Serbian nobility.

In the time of Turkish conquests, in the middle of the 15th century, Serbian Orthodox Church suffered great devastation. Regions of Raška, Kosovo and Metohija finally fell under Turkish rule around 1455. Serbian Patriarchate was renewed in 1557 by patriarch Makarije Sokolović.[12] In that time (16th–17th century) on the territory of modern Eparchy there were: Patriarchal see in Peć and five eparchies: Raška, Prizren, Lipljan, Vučitrn and Hvosno. of All of the regional sees in Raška, Kosovo and Metohija remained under constant jurisdiction of Serbian Patriarchate until its abolition in 1766.[13]

During that time, two major events tragically impacted Orthodox Church in the region. In the time of Austro-Turkish war (1683–1699) relations between Muslims and Christians in European provinces of Ottoman Empire were radicalized. As a result of Turkish oppression, destruction of Churches and Monasteries and violence against non-Muslim civilian population, Serbian Christians and their church leaders headed by Serbian Patriarch Arsenije III sided with Austrians in 1689 and again in 1737 under Serbian Patriarch Arsenije IV.[14] In the following punitive campaigns, Turkish forces conducted systematic atrocities against Christian population in Serbian regions, mainly in Metohija, Kosovo and Raška, resulting in Great Migrations of the Serbs.[15]

One of the consequences of devastation and depopulation in the regions of Kosovo and Metohija during Austro-Turkish wars was the reorganization of local Serbian eparchies. The old Eparchy of Lipljan (with Gračanica and Novo Brdo) was merged with the Eparchy of Prizren and they remained united to the present day.

Modern historyEdit

Jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Peć in the 16th and 17th century

In 1766, Serbian Patriarchate of Peć and all of its eparchies that were on territories under Ottoman rule were placed under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. That included both eparchies of Raška and Prizren. During the transfer of jurisdictions, Serbian patriarchal archeparchy of Peć was abolished, and its territory was added to the Eparchy of Prizren. In 1789, that eparchy was placed under administration of metropolitan Joanikije of Raška. In 1808, the eparchies of Raška and Prizren were officially merged into the current Eparchy of Raška and Prizren. In 1894, the region of Pljevlja was also added to this eparchy.[16] Turkish rule ended in 1912, and territory of eparchy was divided between Kingdom of Serbia and Kingdom of Montenegro. Prizren belonged to Serbia, and Peć belonged to Montenegro. Political division was followed by reorganization of church administration. In the region that belonged to Montenegro, separate Eparchy of Peć was created. During the First World War (1914-1918) territories of both eparchies were occupied by the army of Austria-Hungary. After the liberation in 1918, new Kingdom of Yugoslavia was created, and included all territories of Serbia and Montenegro.[17] After the Serbian Patriarchate was renewed in 1920, Eparchy of Raška and Prizren was returned to the jurisdiction of the Serbian Orthodox Church. In 1931, Eparchy of Peć was reincorporated into the Eparchy of Raška and Prizren. In 1941, Yugoslavia was attacked and occupied by Nazi Germany and its allies.[18] The territory of the Eparchy of Raška and Prizren was occupied by Germans (northern part), Italians (central part) and Bulgarians (eastern part). Italian occupation zone was annexed to Fascist Albania. That marked the beginning of mass persecution of ethnic Serbs in the annexed regions of Metohija and central Kosovo. Many Serbian churches of the Eparchy of Raška and Prizren were looted and destroyed. Reign of terror was enforced by Albanian fascist organization Balli Kombëtar and by Albanian SS Division "Skanderbeg", created by Heinrich Himmler.[19] By the time of the liberation in 1944, Serbian population of the region was decimated.

Church buildingsEdit

Church of Saints Peter and Paul, Seat of the Bishopric of Ras and the oldest known medieval church building of Serbia

Church of Saint Apostles Peter and Paul in RasEdit

The Church of Peter and Paul in Ras is one of the most important Serbian Christian monuments from the Middle Age period of Serbia. The church was declared a Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1979, and it is protected by Serbia. The church served as a seat of the Bishopric of Ras, named after near by medieval capital of Serbia. The present church (9th–10th century) has been built on several earlier churches of which remains have been well preserved. The foundation of the church, the massive columns, ground-plan and the octagonal tower which conceals an inner cupola are examples of the circular mausolean architectural type used after Emperor Constantine (306–312). Saint Sava (1175–1235), a Serbian prince, brother of the Serbian king Stefan Prvovenčani and the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church was baptized in the church. Stefan Nemanja held the council that outlawed the Bogumils at the church. The remains of frescoes date from the 10th to the 13th century; some of them were repainted in the mid-13th century.[20]

Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, Suva RekaEdit

Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, Suva Reka


English Serbian Cyrillic Founded
In Kosovo and Metohia
Saint Archangels Monastery Манастир Свети Арханђели 1343
Banjska Monastery Бањска 1312
Binač (Buzovik) Monastery Бинач/Бузовик 14th century
Our Lady of Ljeviš Богородица Љевишка 1307
Budisavci Monastery Будисавци 14th century
Devič Monastery Девич 1434
Dobra Voda Monastery Добра вода 14th century
Dolac Monastery Долац 14th century
Draganac Monastery Драганац 1381
Duboki Potok Monastery 14th century
Globarica Monastery Глобарица 16th century
Gorioč Monastery Гориоч early 14th century
Grabovac Monastery Грабовац 14th century
Gračanica monastery Грачаница 1310
Kmetovce Monastery Кметовце early 14th century
Mušutište Monastery Мушутиште early 14th century
Patriarchal Monastery of Peć Манастир Пећка патријаршија early 13th century
Saint Barbara Monastery
Saint Marko Koriški Свети Марко Коришки 1467
Saint Uroš Monastery Свети Урош >1371
Sokolica Monastery Соколица 14th century
Studenica Hvostanska Студеница Хвостанска early 13th century
Tamnica Monastery Тамница 14th century
Ubožac Monastery Убожац late 13th century
Visoki Dečani Monastery Високи Дечани 1327
Vračevo Monastery
Zočište Monastery Зочиште before 1327

Bishops and MetropolitansEdit

Serbian Patriarch Arsenije III, leader of the First Great Serb migration in 1690
Serbian Patriarch Arsenije IV, leader of the Second Great Serb migration in 1737
Early bishops of Ras:
  • Leontius (fl. 1123–1126)
  • Cyril (fl. 1141–1143)
  • Euthemius (fl. 1170)
  • Callinicus (fl. 1196)

Early bishops of Prizren:

  • Ioannis (12th century)
  • Avramios (fl. 1204)
  • Nicephoros (fl. 1216)

Under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople 1766–1920

Metropolitans of Prizren, 1766–1808:

  • Gavrilo (1766–1774)
  • Sofronije (around 1780)
  • Jevsevije (died 1789)
  • Joanikije of Raška, administrator of Prizren (1789–1808)

Metropolitans of Raška and Prizren, since the unification of the two eparchies in 1808:

Since the restoration of the Serbian Patriarchate in 1920:


a. ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008. Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement. Kosovo is currently recognized as an independent state by 98 out of the 193 United Nations member states. In total, 113 UN member states recognized Kosovo at some point, of which 15 later withdrew their recognition.


  1. ^ Curta 2001, p. 125, 130.
  2. ^ Ćirković 2004, p. 29-33.
  3. ^ Ćirković 2004, p. 16-17.
  4. ^ Vlasto 1970, p. 67-68, 208–209.
  5. ^ Zlatarski, History of the Bulgarian State during the Middle Ages, vol. 1, ch. 2, Sofia, 1971, p. 159
  6. ^ Stephenson 2003, p. 42.
  7. ^ Stephenson 2003a, p. 122.
  8. ^ Bulić 2013, p. 221-222.
  9. ^ Јањић 2013, p. 157-170.
  10. ^ Јањић 2009, p. 183-194.
  11. ^ Ćirković 2004, p. 40-43.
  12. ^ Ćirković 2004, p. 135-137.
  13. ^ Ćirković 2004, p. 177.
  14. ^ Ćirković 2004, p. 144, 244.
  15. ^ Pavlowitch 2002, p. 19-20.
  16. ^ Ракочевић 1983, p. 279.
  17. ^ Ćirković 2004, p. 252-253.
  18. ^ Ćirković 2004, p. 268-269.
  19. ^ Tomasevich 2001, p. 154.
  20. ^ Ćirković 2004, p. 17, 21, 30.


Further readingEdit

External linksEdit