January 22, 2019

Holy New Martyr Gregory of Pec

St. Gregory of Pec (Feast Day - January 22)

Saint Gregory of Pec (17th-18th cent.) was a young monk of the Monastery of the Patriarchate of Pec. He was handsome in appearance, and because of this the Turks sought to convert such men to Islam. Knowing this, Gregory rarely made his appearance in public, and when he did he tried not to stand out and took roundabout ways where there were as few people as possible.

However, the daughter of a certain known and noble Turk noticed him. The girl was captivated with the beauty of the ascetic, so her father with his companions sought for a way to get him to become a Muslim to marry his daughter. At first they tried to deceive him by promising him a high position if he converted to Islam and the opportunity to marry his beautiful daughter, but the monk refused the offer. Seeing that he was steadfast, they turned to using threats, but he remained unmoved.

With their plans failing, the father of the girl seized Gregory and forcibly had him circumcised and then dressed him in Turkish clothing. By doing this they hoped he would give up. But Gregory, realizing the time of his martyrdom had come, threw off his Turkish dress and put back on his now torn monastic robe. Then he began to publicly rebuke the Islamic faith and the lawlessness of the Turks.

This infuriated the Turks, and they began to beat and torture Gregory. In the end, one of the torturers cut his belly with a sharp knife, and, mortally wounded, he was left to die on the street. Having gathered his last strength, Gregory reached the nearest Serbian house and, on its threshold, gave his soul to the Lord. The Turks ordered to throw his body away, but the Serbs secretly buried him near the city (now it is the area of ​​the city center of Pec), and a small stone slab without an inscription was laid at the burial site. Over time, miracles began to happen at the tomb of Saint Gregory, and the believing people, who constantly flowed to it, erected a small stone church.

Atheist authorities had prisoners demolish the church after building an agricultural institute where it was located in 1929, although the martyr’s incorrupt relics were discovered during the demolishing of the church. At a depth of three meters, they found his remains and fresh blood, which was as if it was spilled yesterday. According to the testimony of old-timers, the remains of the Martyr, most likely, were transferred to the Pech Patriarchate for safekeeping along with the relics of many other holy ascetics, whose names are known to the Lord alone.

Although the church was demolished in 1929, up until the 1970's pious Christians keeping the memory of the Holy New Martyr alive would continue to come and pray in the area. Those who went remember an amazing scent of lilacs that grew up there. Over time, due to political changes, this custom was stopped, but among the Serbs of the area there was a strong memory of the holy martyr Gregory.

Miracles often occurred at the tomb of the Saint, and they did not stop later, when his veneration ceased to be associated with a particular place. Thus, according to the testimony of Draghi Radoichich (1928-2016), Saint Gregory was prayed to for any need, but especially for children who have problems with speech and the ability to walk. This confirms the miraculous healing of one girl in the middle of the 20th century, who, until she was six years old, was mute and paralyzed, but after praying she went to Saint Gregory's tomb and began to speak. It should be noted that Saint Gregory was venerated by both Christians and Muslims.

On May 10, 2018 the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church resolved to number Saint Gregory among the saints of the Church. His memory was set to be celebrated on January 22/February 7.