April 28, 2011

Serbian Church Mulls Making Patriarch Pavle A Saint

Although many Serbs want to see their former Patriarch canonized as soon possible, the Serbian Orthodox Church says the complex process of declaring people saints must be followed carefully.

Bojana Barlovac
April 28, 2011
Balkan Insight

As the Catholic Church in Rome prepares to beatify the late Pope, John Paul II, on May 1, Serbia's powerful Orthodox Church is readying to turn its own late head, Patriarch Pavle, into a saint.

But nothing is being rushed. "The Church must be very careful when it comes to canonization, so the whole process of choosing and proposing the candidate takes time," a Church source told Balkan Insight.

The first step is to see whether a cult exists around the candidate, the source added.

If there is,the relevant bishops inform the Church's Council with a request to consider the proposal for the person to be declared a saint, the source explained.

Preconditions for being turned into a saint include: a justified reputation for having lived a life of sanctity; a legacy of memories of a trustworthy, godly life; that he was a witness to the faith.

"The entire life of the person who is proposed for sainthood should be checked, as he will be set as an example for believers to look up to," the Church source continued.

Patriarch Pavle died on November 15, 2009. His death united Serbia for a moment, as most Serbs revered him. Pavle spent 19 years at the helm of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Church, the state and the Serbian people faced huge challenges at the time but Pavle emerged from the era with a high reputation.

He was known for his personal humility and modesty. Many also remember him for a statement he made in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1992-5 war: “Budimo ljudi iako smo Srbi”. [“It's more important to be a man than a Serb."]

If the proposal to canonise the Patriarch goes ahead, an icon of the saint must be made. The saint is then proclaimed at a solemn liturgy at which the icon is blessed as well.

After the canonization, the Church informs its brother Orthodox churches of the news in a letter, asking them to add the saint to their own Church calendars.