May 12, 2015

Today we celebrate St Basil of Ostrog

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The Serbian Orthodox Church and its believers celebrate today the holiday of St Basil of Ostrog, whose body is enshrined in a reliquary, kept in the Ostrog Monstery, in Montenegro, and is a site of pilgrimage for believers of all confessions. Christians and Muslims alike come to the Ostrog reliquary with St Basil’s miracle-working Relics, believing in their healing power. St Basil was born in the village of Mrkonjić, in Popovo field, in Herzegovina. He left the village and entered the monastery of the “Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God,” in Trebinje, and there received the monastic tonsure and started leading austere ascetic life. St Basil is also the Slava of the Charity organization Serbs for Serbs.

His baptismal name was Stojan. By nature, he was of a very clear mind. His piety was strengthened through fast, prayer and regular attendance of the Divine Liturgy. His family was very poor, but the little bread he got to eat, he never ate alone, but shared it with other shepherds while gathering sheep. Some evil people, his neighbors, apostates, despised young Stojan because of his piety and wisdom, so his parents were forced to take him to the “Ascension of the Mother of God” Monastery Zavala, where he started his education. In this peaceful place, he had the time to read Church books and the Holy Scriptures and then he felt deep love for God and ascetic life so he decided to become a monk at the same monastery. After a while, he moved to the Monastery of the “Most Holy Mother of God,” the Tvrdos Monastery, which then was the see of the Trebinje Diocese.

Stojan was tonsured a monk with the name Basil and, in his ascetic life, he looked up to Holy and great hierarch of the Church of God, Basil the Great. After a while, he went to Montenegro, to Metropolitan Mardarije, who kept him in Cetinje until some disagreements arose between them. He continued fighting for the salvation of the Orthodox faith in the people at the Tvrdos Monastery. From his praying monastic cell, he contemplated all the afflictions and miseries suffered by his much troubled people. Moving among people, as his forefather Saint Sava did, he performed the Divine Liturgy and church services around the world and strengthened people in their faith and suffering. This bothered the apostates and they intended to kill him. To avoid this, he went to Orthodox Russia. He came back several years later, bringing a lot of church books and money and he gave it all away to impoverished churches in Herzegovina.    

When the Turks murdered the then Metropolitan of Eastern Herzegovina, Pajsije Trebjesanin, Saint Basil was consecrated Metropolitan. Getting away from the Turkish invasion, he settled down in the Ostrog Monastery. There he lived austere ascetic and sacred life in a cave above the Upper Ostrog Monastery, as did the previous metropolitan, the old faithful man Isaiah. In Ostrog, he gathered many monks and remodeled the church of the “Presentation of the Most Holy.” This great follower of God performed many miracles during his life, and these miracles continued even after his death. Monks found his body intact and numerous miracles of healing have continued to happen to the present day at his grave. Even today pilgrims of all nationalities and religions come to venerate his holy and wonderworking Relics and get cured. People of all confessions come in great numbers to this monastery to pray to this saint. Prayers arise daily from the holy reliquary and also numerous oaths and vows are given there even today.

Our people pay their respect to this great follower of God by erecting numerous temples in his honor.  The miracles at the grave of St Basil are without number. He helps all those who address him with sincere prayer and piety. We are going to mention only some of them, but the best testimony can be given by those who felt the blessing of his prayer. There are numerous people who were written off by everyone, but are still alive and well today.

The prayer to St Basil

Saint Basil, o great follower of God, help all as well as me. Defender of orthodoxy, defend us, too, that follow your faith and stand beside you. Great follower of God, pray to him for all your people, as well as for unworthy me. Strong knight and leader of Ostrog, save us from the seen and unseen. Raised by Serbian soil do be the light in front of God, be our light and light up our road and make darkness disappear.

With prayer and tears you have warmed the cold cliffs of Ostrog, please warm our hearths with Gods spirit, so we can be saved. From all corners of the world to your grave come the weak and the ill, and you helped them, got rid of their demons as well as the devil, and healed their souls and bodies. Please continue to help, the baptized and the no baptized, everybody and me as well. You brought peace to fighting brothers, please continue to bring peace, help the divided, make the sad happy, calm the stubborn, heal the sick. Saint Basil, o miracle worker, father of our spirit, listen and hear your children’s spirits in the name of Jesus Christ.
Amen.

Through prayers of Saint Basil, our Father, may the Lord pardon and save all Orthodox Christians and all people of good will. Amen.

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