September 12, 2019

Vespers in the Ruins of a Church Dedicated to the Virgin Mary in a Deserted Albanian Village

17 kilometers from Berat in Albania, on the outskirts of Mount Tomor, in the uninhabited village of Melisova, there is a ruined church dedicated to the Nativity of the Theotokos, where yesterday evening, for the Leavetaking of the feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos, a priest and three laymen celebrated Great Vespers.

The priest and the three laymen did not allow the church which is now in utter ruin to be without a celebration for its feast and forgotten. Amidst the cluttered stones, between dense vegetation, among the ruins, the Mother of God was hymned and the light dominated. Thus the past greatness of this sacred site was restored for even a moment.

Silence dominated this secluded spot, where nature was allowed to take its course. But for the four people who arrived at the ruined church, high up on a mountain, the presence of the Mother of God is stronger than the presence of corruption and death. In its loneliness there is not an absence, but it permeates with her presence.