Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Miracles of Saint Basil of Ostrog (3 of 5)



THE MIRACLES OF ST. BASIL AMONG THE NON-ORTHODOX

An anonymous archivist wrote the following:

"Even the Bosnian Muslims come to Ostrog, just as they go to Studenica, in order that they may venerate the Holy Relics and have prayers read for them. They usually leave a donation. A recent example is a certain Hadzi-Alija Vezirovic from Niksic, who had been childless for many years. He and his wife visited Ostrog many times, attended Holy Liturgy and Vespers, venerated the relics and left generous donations. His wife at long last bore him a son. Since then this Turk has been sending the monastery a box of pure beeswax each year.

Archimandrite Nicifor (Ducic) met this Vezirovic on the feast of Pentecost in 1864, as well as a certain baig Ljubovic with his family from Nevesinje, who had come to Ostrog to venerate the Holy Relics.”

THE HEALING OF A BLIND TURK

Simo Tomov Stanisic from the village of Potocilo (Vrazegrmci) told Hieromonk Seraphim Kasic the following story in 1961 and signed the written testimony:

“My father Tomo and my uncle Rasho, as well as many older people from our village, among them the well known commander Risto Damjanovic, told me this story. They in turn were told of this by their fathers. The story is a about the rich Turk from Skadar who was, as they say, a high official in the Skadar court. This man went blind and had no use of his eyes for a very long time. He sought help in many Turkish places of worship and finally decided to turn to Saint Basil the Wonderworker of Ostrog and to pray to God there, for he knew of the wonders of Saint Basil before and after his repose.

When he arrived at the Upper Monastery the keeper of the relics, a monk, took the Turk to the reliquary which the blind man then venerated. The monk read a prayer and then took him to the fountain of water that springs out of a rock. The Turk washed his face with the water. After this the man said that he could see light. His companions asked the monks for permission to spend the night at the monastery and they were welcomed warmly and hospitably.

The following day the Turk’s eyesight was completely restored and he followed the monk to the reliquary where he venerated it again.

Then he again washed his face in the spring from a rock and returned home to Skadar. Out of respect and gratitude to the Saint he did not want to ride a horse, but walked through Bjelopavlovichi all the way to Skadar.

After returning home with his eyesight fully restored he sent generous gifts to the monastery. As this took place a long time ago the name of this Turk has not been preserved in memory. Perhaps it was during the first days that Archimandrite Nikodim Raicevic was about that this took place, as the old people remember him telling everyone the wondrous story about this Turk.”

AN UNUSUAL CHILDBIRTH

Maksim Jovovic wrote down this story in the 1960’s:

“In the town of Crmnica, people still talk about the unusual childbirth of a Turkish woman in the home of the local priest. It happened in the 1870’s in the village of G., municipality of Bar.

Priest Joko L. was visiting the town of Skadar. In one of the town’s cafes he heard the remarkable story that in one of the surrounding villages a certain Turkish woman had been pregnant for more than a year and could not give birth. The people considered this a punishment from God not only for the family but for the whole village. When the priest heard the story, he asked the villagers who knew the woman to ask her husband and the whole village for permission to take her to Ostrog. He said that there was hope she would return from the monastery in good health, with a baby in her arms.

After he had given his word of honor that he would protect the woman they agreed to let him take her to the Ostrog Monastery. They took the ferry across the Skadar lake, spent the night at the priest’s house and the next day arrived in Ostrog. There the priest read prayers for the woman together with the monks. The following day they stayed at the priest’s house again, where the woman started having labor pains. Finally she gave birth to a healthy male child. The priest’s wife helped her with her child for ten days, after which she returned joyfully with her newborn to Skadar.

The woman’s husband, all the while thanking God and St. Basil, invited the priest to stay at their home. He pledged a lifelong friendship with the priest and they became blood brothers.”

A GERMAN PRINCE IS AWESTRUCK AT OSTROG

Ilija Zlaticanin wrote in 1929:

“A German prince visited Montenegro in 1908. He was most especially interested in seeing the Ostrog Monastery for himself, for he had heard many things about that place which had confused him a great deal. He expressed his wish to Prince Nikola, who asked Metropolitan Mitrophan to accompany them to Ostrog. Upon their return to Podgorica, they stayed at the hotel Rogoshic, where the Very Rev. Dushan Petrovic visited them. Asked how he liked Ostrog, the prince answered:"

'It was out of pure curiosity that I decided to visit Ostrog. I did not go as a believer with a desire to venerate this holy place; I only wanted to see this mountain cave to which people flock from every part of the country to find consolation and remedy for afflictions of their souls and bodies. So I went and now I admit quite frankly: the trip from the Lower to the Upper Monastery wiped out any curiosity I might have felt in the beginning. A compete turnaround took place in my soul and when I entered the Upper Monastery I went in with the utmost respect and fear. I cannot explain it. I entered with piety, as though anticipating something heavenly, something that assured me of the proximity of God and His greatness. I am now bringing this new experience with me to my country: Ostrog is not only a sacred place of the Orthodox, rather it is a beacon to believers of all existing religions in the world.'

ST. BASIL APPEARS TO A NORWEGIAN WOMAN IN AMERICA AND HEALS HER

M.P. from Nikshich told the following story to Maksim Jovovic in the 1960’s:

“It has been many years since I emigrated to America and married a Norwegian woman of my own age. After several years of married life my wife suddenly fell victim to a severe dysfunction of the nervous system. I took her to all the best clinics and consulted the best physicians but there was no improvement in her condition. At last an eminent specialist told me that there was nothing left to do but to put her into a hospital for the mentally ill.

As she lay there in hospital, one night an Elder who seemed to be clothed in vestments of gold appeared to her in a ray of bright light. He said to her, 'Do not be afraid! I will heal you!' My wife asked him who he was and where he came from. 'I am Basil of Montenegro!' answered the Elder. He drew close to her bedside and laid his hand on her head. He appeared to her for three nights and each time he would lay his hand on her head. She felt better each day.

Her doctor was amazed to see that her condition had improved significantly. He said to her, 'Do not worry! We will heal you!' My wife told him that she knew she would be healed, thanks to another 'doctor' who had 'treated' her. The doctor smiled at her and assured her that there were no other doctors except the ones who were treating her and that the hospital was well guarded, so that no one could enter from outside. My wife answered that her doctor did not need to ask the guards for permission to enter and that no one could prevent him from entering. She soon recovered and was discharged from that hospital.

As her husband recommended, this woman sent a donation to the Ostrog Monastery, vowing to do this as often as she could and to visit the holy shrine at Ostrog as soon as possible.”

THE HEALING OF THE WIFE OF AN AUSTRIAN OFFICIAL

The Very Rev. Jovan Boskovic told this story in 1940 to the archivist Maksim Jovovic:

“One year I chanced to be in Ostrog for the feast of Pentecost. Metropolitan Mitrophan from Cetinje was there, too. A great number of people were present. Suddenly we saw a group of people leading seven horses. Tied up and sitting on the saddle of one horse was a woman, supported by men on each side of the horse. The other horses were loaded with food and luggage. One of the men, whom I knew, said to me, 'Please help us. She is from Mostar and is the wife of the chief director of the Taxation Office for Hercegovina. She is totally insane. We brought her to Saint Basil; help us to get through to the relics and find a monk who will read prayers for her.'

I told him to see the Metropolitan, who appointed me to take care of the woman. I remember that her name was Milchika. I believe she was Roman Catholic.

We placed her under the reliquary and afterwards we had to put her in a dark cell. She made a dreadful racket, smashed things and attacked people. Prayers were read for her every day for three days. On the third day she finally calmed down. We opened the cell. She was as quiet as a lamb. She asked us, 'Tell me please, for the sake of God, tell me: where am I?' When we told her she started to cry. Her senses had returned; she had become healthy and was very quiet.

I was an eyewitness to this healing.

After some time this lady visited Ostrog again with her husband. They brought gifts for the monastery. The husband wore the Austrian uniform. Some Montenegrin said jokingly: 'Here’s a Jerry; let’s kill him.' The man, frightened, left his gifts before the monastery gates and departed.”

THE HEALING OF A YOUNG ALBANIAN

Filip Zekovic from Niksic told this story to Hieromonk Seraphim Kasic, the monastery archivist, and verified the written story with his own signature:

“It was the feast of Pentecost, in 1911, when many people from all parts of the country gather together at Ostrog. I was there when they brought a young Albanian man from Northern Albania whose hands and feet were tied up.

This was on Sunday. The following day, Monday, I saw the same man, only this time he was completely normal. All the people at the feast saw the miracle, too. The healed man prayed and even crossed himself many times.

Since then I have gone on a pilgrimage to Ostrog nearly every year.”

THE HEALING OF AN ANADOLIAN HODJA

Bajro B. from Stari Bar told this story to Hieromonk Seraphim Kasic, who documented the testimony in the archives:

“During the reign of the Montenegrin king Nikola, in 1913, a large steamship from Constantinople docked at the port of Bar. Along with a few other passengers, a young hodja from Anadolia (in Asia Minor) came ashore. He was tall, thin and very pale. He walked with crutches, as his legs had been paralyzed for some years. Although he was rich he could find no remedy for his illness.

He found a room in Stari Bar where he met many of his countrymen with whom he could communicate in his own tongue. He told them that he had had a dream in which he was told to go to the Montenegrian Monastery of Ostrog and that he would be healed there. This was the reason for his long journey – he believed he would be healed in that holy place.

It was spring when he arrived at Ostrog. He later related how amazed he was by the majesty of this remarkable place and by the beauty of nature which surrounded it. A prayer was read for him before the reliquary of Saint Basil after which he felt much better. He left a generous donation for the monastery as well as his crutches and walked all the way to Podgorica, where he took a train to Bar. He spent a few days in Stari Bar, walking around with ease without crutches or any other walking device. I accompanied him to the ship and helped him with his luggage.

The hodja went back to his country a healthy man, praising God and St. Basil who works miracles on those who pray fervently for help from God, regardless of the faith they confess.”

A FRENCHWOMAN’S PILGRIMAGE TO OSTROG

Todor Subota, president of the Orthodox church congregation in Kotor and Maksim Jovovic’s godfather, sent the following letter to the monastery in 1959:

“My aunt from Belgrade, who is an elderly but very alert lady, came to visit her sons in September of 1957. She traveled by train from Belgrade and shared the compartment with a Frenchwoman who had a handsome two year old boy with her. They were accompanied by an older man from Dubrovnik. As my aunt spoke French, she started a conversation with the French lady and they talked during the whole trip until they reached Hum station, where the woman was supposed to catch another train to Niksic.

My aunt later told us, 'After we had parted the gentleman from Dubrovnik recounted the Frenchwoman’s remarkable experience:

She had been in an airplane traveling from Paris to Lyons along with 40 other passengers. They were flying over a mountainous region where she felt drowsy and dozed off. At that moment she saw a bishop in golden vestments who came to her and said, 'Do not be afraid; you will be saved on account of the little angel you have with you. All the others will die!' The woman asked him who he was and he answered, 'I am a Saint from a far-off Monastery in Montenegro!' She awoke with a startle and was very puzzled over this strange dream. Perhaps ten minutes had gone by when suddenly there was a shattering explosion. The airplane hurtled down. She felt the plane hit the ground, but she apparently was to be snugly cushioned in her seat and was unhurt. She stepped out of the burning ruins of the plane and watched as the flames consumed it and the forty other passengers that had been on board. Two hours later a group of men from a nearby village, who had seen the plane go down, appeared on the scene. They asked where she had come from and did not believe her when she told them she had been on board that plane. Nothing more is known about this case.'

Maksim Jovovic was reluctant to include this story in the monastery archives, for there was nothing to prove the truthfulness of the incident that his godfather Todor described.

At the bottom of the page where Todor’s letter is copied into the archives, there is a note handwritten by Maksim Jovovic himself.

'One day in 1959 I was very happy to see Staka M., a frequent pilgrim to Ostrog. She told me that she had seen a foreign woman with a child standing at the entrance of the church at the Upper Monastery, trying to make herself understood. A man who spoke some French tried to help her. She kept pointing to the icon of St. Basil, who she said had saved her and the child.'

The date when the foreigner and Staka M. visited the Monastery coincided with the date when I received the letter describing the Frenchwoman’s experience.”

THE HEALING OF A ROMAN CATHOLIC GIRL

Maksim Jovovic wrote down this story in the 1950’s:

"Petar Dj., from the village of S., municipality of Bar, had sought help for her eight-year old daughter from many doctors but to no avail.

The little girl had fallen ill in 1942 and could no longer stand up. Her legs had shriveled and the doctors had pronounced her condition irreversible and incurable. In that part of Montenegro, Roman Catholics and the Orthodox lived in harmony and understanding; therefore her parents had no qualms about taking their child to Ostrog, hoping and trusting in God that the little girl would get better.

The idea of going to Ostrog came to them one day when the little girl had a very high fever and the mother brushed her with some oil from the Ostrog Monastery. The fever came down immediately.

As soon as the war was over the parents took their little daughter to Ostrog. At that time roads were scarce, but the mother managed to make it with her daughter in 1945. The monks advised them to leave the child under the reliquary for a few hours. The girl slept, which was a good sign that she might be healed. As soon as she woke up, the little girl stood up on her feet. They returned home the following day, overjoyed that the child was feeling much better.

Today the little girl is a perfectly healthy schoolgirl who enjoys playing with her friends.”

WARNINGS OR PUNISHMENTS – MIRACLES WORKED AS A SIGN OF THE VIGILANT CARE OF THE SAINT

Maksim Jovovic wrote in 1959:

“In the 17th century in the village of Zhavorovo (near Vrazhegrmci), municipality of Danilovgrad, there lived an old man whom everyone called 'Eagle Nose' because of his long eagle-like nose. He lived in perfect harmony with his family of six sons and four daughters and was the object of the envy of many. When he was ninety years old all of his sons died from an infectious disease, one by one. Finally his wife died, too. He was left with his two daughters to lament his loss. His neighbors feared that he might kill himself in his state of depression but the good man only repeated the words of the long-suffering Job, 'The Lord gives, the Lord takes away. Glory and thanks be to Him forever.'

Vladika Basil, Metropolitan of Zahumlje and Herzegovina, who was the latter St. Basil, heard about this case and sent for 'Eagle Nose' to come to Ostrog to see him. While the building of the little church in the Upper Monastery was in progress the old man came and presented himself to the Metropolitan.

Seeing his good heart Vladika said to the poor man that he was to take a woman of 40 years of age and to marry her, without tarrying.

When the old man answered that he did not need a wife at his age, Vladika told him to heed his advice and that he would be blessed with many sons and would have many descendants.

The old man obeyed St. Basil and took a wife as he had instructed him. He had three sons from this marriage. Today three large families, descendants of the old man live in Vrazhegrmci, where his seed is multiplying, blessed by God.

AN UNUSUAL HEALING

Maksim Jovovic documented the following testimony of M.G., from the village of S., municipality of Bar:

“I spent lot of time and money seeking medical help for my stomach problems in Turkey but without any success. The doctors prescribed a strict diet for me which did not help cure me of any affliction at all. I was in constant pain and the frequent vomiting along with the state of depression I was in gave me no peace. I went from doctor to doctor looking for a cure until one day I fell into bed with no hope of getting up. I could not keep down even the mildest of foods. The doctors told my wife that there was no point in wasting any more money, that there was simply no help for me. They began to prepare her for my death.

My wife insisted in 1949 that I be taken to Ostrog. I was barely able to get out of the car when we reached the Upper Monastery. We spent the night there and stayed for the vigil service. The following day we returned home.

The third day after returning home I felt a change in my stomach. I felt a very unusual pang of hunger as well as a strange sensation of 'pins and needles' in my abdomen, but without any pain. I suddenly had an appetite and I asked my wife to bring me some cookies and milk. The milk tasted good and as I drank it I expected to vomit, but I never did.

Since then my condition has improved and I am able to live normal life, all without the help of any medication, thanks be to God and St. Basil.”

THE HEALING OF A GRAVELY ILL ALBANIAN WOMAN

Hieromonk Seraphim Kasic wrote down this entry for September 23rd in the archives of the Upper Monastery:

“Prenta Ljaicevic from Druma near Tuzi visited Ostrog with her husband Franjo. Prenta was very ill with a painful stomach disease. She also had frequent migraines. In the past month, as her husband said, they had gone from one doctor to another, but there had been no improvement. Her husband then accompanied her to Ostrog, where she wished to pray to Saint Basil the Wonderworker and entreat him to deliver her from the intolerable pain. The monk said prayers for her and they stayed for the vigil service. After that they went home. I gave Franjo the monastery address and asked him to write about Prenta’s condition.

Here is Franjo letter, written in broken Serbian:"

'Dear Hieromonk, greetings to you. I wanted to write to you about my wife who I brought to your monastery. My wife was in much pain. She has very little pain now, and no headache. May Saint Basil grant that you be healthy, too. I have nothing more to say. Kind regards from me and my wife. Glory to the Holy Basil!'

ST. BASIL APPEARS TO A MUSLIM

Hieromonk Georgije M. from the Monastery of Kosijerevo told archivist Maksim Jovovic the following story in 1959:

“I was at Ostrog in 1957 and was present when a well-to-do Muslim farmer from Bosnia recounted how he had brought his father, who at that time was suffering from the consequences of a nervous breakdown, to Ostrog. He said that the pilgrimage had been in vain, just like his many visits to various clinics and hospitals. Then one day, said this man, continuing his story, he met a strange monk in his orchard. The monk asked him whether he and his family gave alms to the poor and whether they felt a decrease in their wealth because of the almsgiving. He answered that they often gave alms, but that they gave of their surplus. The monk said that such almsgiving was not profitable for the soul of the giver and that it was no wonder that his father had not been cured at Ostrog.

When the elders of his family met after their evening meal that night, the man proposed that they perform more substantial charitable deeds in honor of the upcoming bayram (Muslim religious holiday), for the recovery of his father. The family agreed, and when the bayram came they gave their best cow to a poor neighbor who had never owned so much as a calf. They gave another poor farmer an ox. Since there were hundreds of sheep in their fold, they decided to give away every tenth sheep to the poor in their village. They also gave away a significant number of lambs and fowl. Their countrymen were amazed and full of gratitude for their generosity and God-pleasing work.

Some time later the son saw the same monk in the orchard, who said, 'Because your sincere charitable deeds your prayers have been heard. Your father shall be healed.' Having said this the monk vanished, just as he had the first time.

From that day on his father was healthy. He recovered from his illness completely and was again capable of managing and overseeing the work on the farm just as he had before, the only difference being that now his wealth was multiplied. Every year a member of the family pays a visit to Ostrog, or if they are not able to visit personally they send donations.”

THE HEALING OF A MENTALLY ILL SLOVENIAN

Maksim Jovovic recorded the testimony of Djuro D. from a village near Bar in the early seventies:

“In 1962 on the Feast day Sts. Peter and Paul I stayed at Ostrog for three days. As always there were a great many pilgrims from all over the country and from abroad at the monastery. A great multitude came together to celebrate the feast day – about ten thousand people in all.

A young girl of about eighteen from Slovenia caught everyone’s attention that day. People eyed her with pity for she kept shaking uncontrollably and waving her arms, unable to speak a word. Her aunt, who had brought her there, was clearly having a very difficult time with her. The girl behaved as one possessed.

There was an incredible change in her after the two had gone into the church to venerate the Relics of Saint Basil. While going down the steep slope from the Upper to the Lower monastery the girl finally spoke, and she seemed very happy. When they reached the grounds of the Lower monastery the girl started dancing with other young people who were making merry there. She was clearly overjoyed that she had been made well again.

The other pilgrims looked on with amazement and there was no end to our wonder at this quick and remarkable healing.”

A MUSLIM COUPLE IS RECONCILED BEFORE THE RELICS OF SAINT BASIL OF OSTROG

The abbot of the Upper Monastery, Father Seraphim Kasic, includes a personal account about an incident he witnessed:

"In August of 1958 a Muslim married couple from a village near Sjenica in Sandzak visited Ostrog, along with the many other pilgrims of different faiths that usually visit this holy place. Both of them were very young and obviously very upset, with worried and unhappy looks on their faces. They bought five candles costing one hundred dinars each, lit them and approached the reliquary. The woman held three candles in her hands and the man held two. I watched them as they argued over something for a few minutes and then asked them to either venerate the relics in silence like everyone else or else to leave the church. At this the man turned to me and said, 'Reverend Father, I am convinced that my wife has been unfaithful to me. I know that she has committed adultery on three occasions. She says this is not so; therefore I have brought her to swear before the relics of St. Basil the Wonderworker that she is innocent. Only then will I believe her. Otherwise there will be no reconciliation between us. Let her swear an oath!' Hearing this, I addressed the wife and warned her to think well before saying anything and to tell only the truth, for she was about to swear an oath before a Saint of God.

She then swore solemnly that she was not guilty of adultery in the three instances that her husband had accused her off, or on any other occasion, adding to her oath the words 'so help me God and Saint Basil!' The husband did not comment on her words at all and seemed quite satisfied. After she had given her solemn declaration of innocence I turned to her husband and said these words to him, 'You must now swear never to look with desire upon other women while your lawful and wedded wife is living. From now on you are to live with her in peace, love and harmony.' I insisted that they kiss and reconcile before me and told them that they must forget any doubts there may have been and any insults and begin all over again, living in a harmonious and love-filled marriage. They obeyed me without a word kissing and making peace with each other. Then, after having venerated the relics and the Holy Cross, they took their leave of me. They returned home rejoicing that divorce had been prevented and that there was no reason for jealousy and doubt.”

A MUSLIM IS HEALED FROM A SKIN DISEASE BY OIL FROM A VIGIL LAMP FROM OSTROG

V.P., a pensioner from Bar, told Maksim Jovovic the following story in 1957. Jovovic then made a written record of it in the archives:

“Last year, in 1956, I met a friend of mine, a Muslim from Krajina, who told me about his remarkable experience at Ostrog.

He had long suffered from an undiagnosed skin disease. Most of the skin on his head was covered in sores and his face was full of boils. He had tried different kinds of ointments and injections but nothing helped. He had also lost a lot of weight and life had seemed pointless. One night he had a dream in which a white-bearded Elder came to him and told him to anoint himself with oil from a vigil lamp in the Upper Monastery at Ostrog and that thus he would be healed.

He went to Ostrog soon after that and asked the monk to say a prayer for him. He also asked for some oil from the vigil lamp. The monk said prayers for his health and anointed him with the oil. That same day the sores on his head and face started peeling off like fish scales. After he had anointed himself a second time, there was almost no sign of disease on his skin. He returned home joyfully, glorifying God and His Saint.”

A MUSLIM PAYS OFF A DEBT BY THE INTERCESSION OF SAINT BASIL

In the 1960’s archivist Maksim Jovovic recorded the following testimony as recounted to him by M.D., a devout and wealthy Muslim from a village near Bar:

“I have always had a strong faith in God and His Saint, the Holy Basil, Wonderworker of Ostrog. In the midst of life's difficulties, whenever I offered up a warm and sincere prayer to Saint Basil and entreated him to intercede for me, my prayers were always heard. I have had a happy marriage and a good family life. God has given me four sons and a daughter.

Last year, in 1960, God saved me through the intercession of Saint Basil from a terrible tragedy that threatened to destroy my family’s life. I was given only twenty days to pay off a debt and returned the money I had borrowed for my daughter’s wedding. As there were no offers for my olive grove which I had hoped to sell in order to return the 4.500.000 dinars I owed, I decided that I would rather take my own life than lose face before the whole village. I called my wife and asked her to pray with me to Saint Basil and asked for his intercession. When all seemed lost and when it was evident that I would not be able to pay off my debt and fulfill my obligations, just one day before the deadline, a man who I never would have thought could have helped me came to my home and offered to lend me the money. I needed to pay off my debt. He did not ask for any interest. I took the money and paid off my debt. Soon after that I sold my olive grove and returned all the money to this kind man.

I am here at Ostrog with my wife to give thanks to God and Saint Basil for having saved my family from ruin."

TO BE CONTINUED...

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