The Day of Remembrance of the Holy Martyrs of Zvornitsko-Tuzlansky was first celebrated in the Serbian Church on June 8. The decision to canonize the martyrs who suffered for their faith in the Zvornik region during World War II was made by the Holy Synod of the Serbian Church last year.
The main celebrations were held in the Zvornitsko-Tuzlan diocese. The festive liturgy at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos in Bijeljina was led by Bishop Zvornicko-Tuzlansky Photios, the website of the Serbian Church reports.
Addressing the faithful after the liturgy, Bishop Photios spoke about how the memory of the martyrs of the XX century helps the Serbs to preserve the Orthodox faith in our days. "Throughout the 20th century, the Serbian people were persecuted, killed and crucified in different ways, but God is stronger than all earthly empires. Today's holiday is the victory of the Serbian people, the Serbian Church, the victory of the victims over the enemies who tortured them. Their fate is unknown, but our people and our martyrs have now been canonized, and we no longer commemorate them, but pray to them as saints," the archpastor said.
In addition to priests and deacons from the Diocese of Zvornitsa-Tuzlan, Bishop Photius was co-served by a cleric of the Rashko-Prizren diocese, Archimandrite Mikhailo, rector of the Monastery of the Holy Archangels in Prizren. At the small entrance, an icon of the Holy Martyrs of Zvornitsko-Tuzlansky was taken out of the altar and placed in the central part of the temple for worship.
The Diocese of Zvornica-Tuzlan is located in the north-east of Bosnia. During the Second World War, the diocese suffered severe trials. Once on the territory of the Independent State of Croatia, she fully experienced the terror of the Ustashe, who carried out the genocide of the Orthodox population. Many clergymen suffered martyrdom, dozens of churches were damaged, church archives and libraries were destroyed. Of the 79 priests that the diocese had before the outbreak of World War II, 56 were killed by 1945. At the same time, the Communists' terror descended on the Church, which continued after the end of the war.