He lent to the Lord

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Photos of the personal belongings of His Holiness Patriarch Pavle and a few stories about his proverbial poverty and non-attachment to material things

His Holiness Patriarch Pavle was born as Gojko Stojcevic in a small village in present day Croatia. He lost both of his parents at a young age and was raised by his aunt. He studied in Belgrade and was majoring in Theology and Medicine. He graduated from University of Belgrade in 1942. He worked as a construction worker after WWII and then took his monastic vows in Ovcar. That is when he received the monastic name Pavle. He later took post-graduate studies in Athens, Greece when he returned in 1957 he was elected as Bishop of Ras and Prizren. He held that position for 33 years before becoming Patriarch in 1990. He held that position until his death on November 15th, 2009.

The Patriarch of Serbian Pavel had only one robe, which he himself made (he always answered with a smile: “I have more than one robe and I don’t need – I cannot wear two at once.”) He dressed himself with a vestment – he cleaned and ironed himself.
The patriarch repaired shoes and even sewed shoes for himself (moreover, if he saw that someone had torn his clothes or shoes, he offered his services in repair). The patriarch until the end used old printing and sewing machines, heated the water on a tiny old stove, wrote with a pen. He had neither personal assistants, nor a personal secretary, nor a personal car. 

The photos below show some of the personal belongings of the Patriarch of Serbian Pavel

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His Holiness was known for his humility. When he was asked why he always walked or took public transport,  he replied “I will not purchase one until every Albanian and Serbian household in Kosovo and Metohija has an automobile.”

Here are a few great stories that show how humble of a man he was ……….

******The Mercedes Story******

Patriarch Pavle, as he was known, continued to live a simple life even after he moved to the new residence – the Patriarchal Palace – in Belgrade. People form Belgrade often encountered him on the streets, riding the train or the bus … Once, while walking alone the hilly street of King Peter the I, towards the Patriarchate,a Mercedes – last model barely passed him, the driver – a priest from one of the well-known parish in Belgrade, stopped the car and said:
– Your Holiness, permit me to invite  you in! Just tell me where you heading …The Patriarch entered the car, and as  soon as it  started moving, asked:
– Tell me, Father, whose  car is this?
– It’s mine, your Holiness!
– Stop it! – the Patriarch replied, he then got off, made the sign of the Cross and said to the priest:
-May the Lord, watch over you!

*****The Black Automobile Story*****

The great session of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church had just ended. As it was the customary, his Holiness was heading to the vespers service at the Cathedral. When he exited the Patriarchal Palace, he saw many black limousines parked near and asked:
– So many luxury cars, who do you think they belong to?
– To our bishops, Your Holiness! They came with them to the Synod meeting-replied the priest who accompanied him. 
– Oh, God watch over them, what would they’ve traveled with, if they weren’t taken the monastic vows of  poverty?!

******The Travel Story******

In the Patriarchate building, it is often heard the story of the Patriarch dialogue with the deacon accompanying him everywhere; as they were ready to go to the church in Banovo Brdo, the deacon asked:
– So, how are we traveling? By car?
– By bus! – the Patriarch replied with determination.
– It’s crowded, it’s stuffy in the bus, and the church is not close …
– We’re going (by bus)! – His Holiness replied shortly.
– But … – the Deacon, following him, advance a new argument, — Your Holiness, it is summer, many people go to Ada Ciganlija [a famous pool] and buses are full of barely naked people. It is not appropriate…
– You know, Father – the Patriarch replied back – one can  see what he desires to see!

*****Raising Salaries*****

Patriarch Pavle refused, in fact, to get paid.He only received a small pension he was entitled to as a formal bishop of Raska and Prizren. All his needs were modest, given that he sewed his mantle and repaired his shoes … Yet, he still had some money left of that pension. What was left of it, he divided among poor or donated it to other purposes of civic good.

When a request from bishops was made to increase their salaries in 1962, his reaction as a bishop became proverbial :

– “But why, since we are not able to spend what we already have?”.

He did, likewise with what he received as gifts. If he received mantle material, he keep it until he met a monk or a priest not been able to afford it. Then he would calculate how much they would need to sew a cassock (mantle) and give them exactly that, so he may share the rest with others.

May our Lord grant us the same spiritual poverty and humility. Patriarch Pavle’s acts condemn me.

“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.”— Proverbs 19:17

By Susanna Schneider

 

 

 

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