On Wednesday, October 30th, the SSPP Bible Study, along with members from the Ascension of Our Lord parish and a few other neighboring parishes, visited two Serbian Orthodox monasteries. Approximately 45 people joined us for this blessed and local pilgrimage.

The first stop on our trip was the St. Sava Monastery located in Libertyville. Although the lighting was dark, many of our group commented on the brilliant and vibrant colors of the iconography which covered all the walls. This monastery was built by the newly canonized St. Mardarije in the 1920s. The life and works of St. Mardarije were shared with the group by Sandra Glisic and Fr. Seraphim (abbot of the New Gracanica Monastery) St. Mardarije’s incorrupt relics rest in the monastery, and all in attendance received the blessing of venerating his holy relics.

From there we continued to the New Gracanica Monastery in Third Lake. The main church of the monastery (dedicated to the Holy Protection of the Mother of God) is designed in the Serbian-Byzantine style, and was completed in the 1980s. The fresco iconography was added in the mid 1990s, and depicts many traditional biblical scenes along with major events in the history of the Serbian Orthodox People. Quite moving was the iconography of the many persecutions and trials faced by the Serbian Orthodox during the time of Ottoman occupation and both World Wars.

We concluded our local pilgrimage with lunch at the refectory of the New Gracanica monastery, where we were treated to a traditional Serbian meal. It was a blessing and a joy to see the richness of Orthodoxy and the relics of an American saint, so close to our own home. May St. Mardarije intercede for us all.

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