Saint Dositej of Zagreb

Church of Serbia – 17/1/17

Eighty Years of Indo–Serbian Orthodox Relations & Saint Dositej Vasić of Zagreb

Metropolitan Dositej was born in Belgrade in 1887. He took Master of Theology from Kiev Religious Academy in 1904. He spent two years at the University of Berlin studying theological and philosophical science followed by philosophy studies at Leipzig. From 1907 to 1909 he taught at the Seminary of St. Sava in Belgrade.

He studied at the Sorbonne and the College of Social Sciences, Paris from 1907 to 1909 and in Geneva from 1910 to 1912. Besides his native Serbian, he was fluent in Russian, Czech, German and French. He also learned Bulgarian and English. In 1899, he was ordained to the rank of the monk at the monastery of Manasija. In May 1913, the Holy assembly of bishops of the Kingdom of Serbia elected him as a bishop. Subsequently, he was consecrated as the bishop of Nis on 25 May 1913.

It was a herculean effort to tender his sheep through catastrophic situations created by successive wars and the earthquake of 1927. The Bolshevik revolution of Russia in 1917 also added to his burden. The Russian people in exile was dying of hunger in 1920’s. Bishop Dositej was part of the delegate of the Royal Yugoslavian Government in the International League for the facilitation of hungry Russians, and preached throughout Yugoslavia, urging mercy and brotherly love for the Russian people. In 1931, Bishop Dositej was appointed as the first Metropolitan of the newly established Zagreb Diocese. He was described as an excellent teacher at the seminary, a great organizer, a good orator, well-mannered and full of Christian goodness and a true patriot. He was sent abroad by the Serbian Orthodox Church frequently as the delegate to Geneva, Basel, Athens and Bulgaria. Metropolitan Dositej visited India during the winter of 1936/37.

During the World War II, Metropolitan Dositej was arrested and imprisoned by the Nazi controlled regime of Croatia. He was brutally tortured in the prison. It is accused that the Roman Catholic nuns also actively participated in enhancing his agony while he was hospitalized. Later, the Germans transported the unconscious and terribly battered Metropolitan Dositej by train from Zagreb to Belgrade where he was housed in a Gestapo prison. Later, Metropolitan Dositej was transferred to a sanatorium since he was in critical condition. Even though he escaped a sudden death, he never recovered mentally or physically from the torture.

Metropolitan Dositej spent last days of his life at Belgrade Monastery of the Ascension under the care of the sisters of the Russian abbess Angelina. He entered into eternal rest on 14 January 1945 due to the physical and psychological wounds from the persecution. He was laid to rest at the churchyard of this monastery.

On 22 May 1998 the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church declared Metropolitan Dositeja (Vasic) of Zagreb and Ljubljana as a Confessor. Hero-confessor Dositej of Zagreb and Vavedenje, was added to the list of the Serbian saints by the decision of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church in May 2000.

On May 13, 2008, his sacred relics were transferred to the monastery church from the tomb in which he rested since January 15, 1945.