Orthodox America

   LIVES OF SAINTS St. Vasilije, the Wonderworker

April 29

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One of the most beloved and popular of all Serbian saints is the holy Bishop Vasilije (Basil), the wonderworker of the monastery of Ostrov in Montenegro. St. Vasilije was born in the early half of the 17th century in a small village of nearby Herzegovina. The pious young man later entered the Monastery of the Dormition at Trebinje where he began his life of asceticism. Soon his life of struggle and holiness became generally known and, despite his protests, he was chosen as bishop of Zahum and Skadar. As bishop he continued his austere life and became famous far and wide for his deeds of charity and kindness.

St. Vasilije is perhaps best known for his extraordinary acts of asceticism and loving- kindness. Indeed, he is perhaps the most well-known of all Serbian ascetics. But he was also a confessor for Holy Orthodoxy, constantly opposing the Latin heresy which threatened the Serbian lands from the Venetian occupied regions of the Adriatic coast.

After the destruction of the monastery a t Tverdosh, his episcopal see, St. Vasilije fled to the rugged mountains of Montenegro, where he took up an even stricter life of asceticism and solitude in a cave at a place called.Ostrog. And there, through his labors, prayers and guidance, he directed his diocese, comforting and protecting his flock from both the errors of the Latins and the savagery of the Turks.

At this time, the saint's fame began to spread once more, and he became known as a miracle worker even in his lifetime. Many monks began to gather around him as. their elder, and a monastery was formed.

The holy bishop reposed on April 29 (o.s.), on the feast of the Nine Holy Martyrs of Cyzicus, in the year 1671. Soon thereafter, his holy remains began to issue forth a sweet scent, and many miracles were worked in their presence. Since that time, the holy relics of the wonderworker have become the site of many pilgrimages. And these pilgrims are comprised not only of the Orthodox faithful: even the Moslem ;.Turks and Albanians venerate the holy one, for he has shown favor also to them when they approach him in fear and humility. And St. Vasilije is respected even by the communists who fear him and know the power of his memory among the people, as one of them , Milovan Djilas, testifies in one of his books.