From a “Yugoslav Siberia“
The Difficulties of the Patriarchal Monastery of Peć 1919–1929*

Abstract: The author has tried to outline the problems that the Patriarchal Monastery of Peć faced in the period 1919–1929. The heuristic background of the paper is primarily based on the documents stored in the Yugoslav Archives. It is mainly about the correspondence between the church and the relevant state authorities, which testifies      to the fact that the central authorities had little understanding about the importance of this monastery for the survival of the Serbian people in Southern Serbia. That is why, the results of its policy toward the monastery were only partially achieved, similarly to other cases of this insufficiently integrated Yugoslav (Serbian) territory.
Key words: Southern Serbia, Kosovo and Metohija, Yugoslav Kingdom, Patriarchal Monastery of Peć, Monastery Difficulties and Problems


The Peć Monastery had gone through a difficult period of occupation in 1915–1918. Post-war inventories of the damage showed that the monastery had been damaged during the war and that the government’s intervention was necessary. The government, mostly declaratively, acknowledged the importance of the monastery, but in practice its help was much harder to achieve. The regime showed the highest level of interest in the period before the enthronement of Patriarch Dimitrij Pavlović in 1924. The reason was special, because, above all, the power and presence of the government in these parts had to be demonstrated, although in reality it was quite different. Some other government measures also benefited the monastery. In other cases, we see that the state’s policy was not based on continuity, consistency, meaningfulness or, sometimes, not even a simple desire to help the monastery overcome difficulties and thus strengthen its presence in poor and unstable Southern Serbia. That is why the post-war development of the monastery was halved by the end of 1929, and this area was justifiably considered a “Yugoslav Siberia.”

* This paper is written as a part of the project Kosovo and Metohija Between National Identity and Eurointegration (no. 47023), approved and funded by the Serbian Ministry of Education, Science, and Technological Development.