Eparchy of Lipljan

Eparchy of Lipljan, later known as Eparchy of Gračanica or Eparchy of Novo Brdo (Serbian: Епархија липљанска / Eparhija lipljanska) is one of the former historical Eastern Orthodox eparchies in the central parts of Kosovo region.[a] Today it is part of Serbian Orthodox Eparchy of Raška and Prizren.


Under the jurisdiction of Justiniana Prima

Eparchy of Lipljan was one of the oldest eparchies in the region. Modern name of the city of Lipljan was derived from the name of its predecessor, the ancient Roman city of Ulpiana.[1] The city was founded in 1st century BC and soon it became one of the most important cities in the Roman province of Moesia and its successor province of Dardania.[2] The ancient Bishopric of Ulpiana was situated near the modern town of Lipljan where the remains of episcopal Basilica dating from the first half of 6th century have been found and excavated. The exact date of the foundation of Bishopric of Ulpiana is not known, but some of the bishoprics in the nearby regions were erected as early as the 4th century.[3]

After the Eastern–Western Roman split, the city of Ulpiana with rest of Dardania remained part of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire.[4] Up to the beginning of the 6th century, episcopal see of Ulpiana was already under supreme jurisdiction of Archbishopric of Thessaloniki, and in 535 it was transferred by the decree of emperor Justinian I (527-565) to newly created Archbishopric of Justiniana Prima.[5] In honor of the Emperor, Ulpiana was named "Iustiniana Secunda". Byzantine rule in that region finally collapsed at the beginning of the 7th century and the church life was later renewed after the Christianization of Serbs.[6]

Under the jurisdiction of Archbishopric of Ohrid

After the successful Byzantine conquests of 1018 and the establishment of imperial rule in Bulgarian and Serbian lands, by the order of emperor Basil II a new and autonomous Archbishopric of Ohrid was created in 1019, under the supreme ecclesiastical jurisdiction the Patriarchate of Constantinople.[7] Imperial charters of 1019 and 1020 mention the Bishopric of Lipljan among eparchies under the jurisdiction of the autonomous Archbishopric of Ohrid.[8] Until the beginning of the 13th century, archbishops of Ochrid were titled as metropolitans of all Bulgaria and Serbia.

During 11th and 12th century Byzantines and Serbs fought several battles over the city of Lipljan.[9][10] Sometime between 1185 and 1195, during the rule of Serbian "grand župan" Stefan Nemanja (1168-1196), Byzantine Empire finally ceded Lipljan to Serbia, but Eparchy of Lipljan still remained under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Archbishipric of Ohrid.[11]

Under the jurisdiction of Serbian Orthodox Church

The autocephaly of Orthodox Church in medieval Serbia was established in 1219 by Saint Sava who was consecrated as first Serbian archbishop by the Byzantine patriarch residing at that time in Nicaea. Since then, Eparchy of Lipljan was under the constant jurisdiction of Archbishop of Serbia.[12][13] During the 13th century, bishops of Lipljan known by name were: Mavrojan, Varnava, Sava and Jovan. Eparchy had jurisdiction over counties of Lipljan, Binačka Morava and Topolnica.[14] At the beginning of the 14th century, bishops of Lipljan were Antonije and Ignjatije.[15] In that time, during the final years of the reign of Serbian king Stefan Milutin (1282-1321), the grand complex of the Monastery of Gračanica was built as the seat for bishops of Lipljan.[16]

In 1346, Serbian Archbishopric was raised to the rank of Patriarchate with its see remaining in Peć. At the same time the Eparchy of Lipljan was raised by title to the rank of Metropolitanate. Bishops of Lipljan kept under their jurisdiction the region of central Kosovo with Gračanica and Novo Brdo. Period from the beginning of 13 century to the end of 14 century was the golden age for Orthodox Church in the region of central Kosovo with many monasteries and churches built by Serbian rulers and local Serbian nobility.[17] In the middle of the 14th century, Bishop of Lipljan was Teodor, and second half of the 14th century, metropolitan of Lipljan was Simeon. In the first half of the 15th century, metropolitans of this eparchy were Dionisije and Dositej.[18]

In the time of Turkish conquests, in the middle of the 15th century, Serbian Orthodox Church suffered great devastation. Region of Kosovo finally fell under Turkish rule around 1455. Metropolitan Venedikt of Lipljan had to flee from his eparchy, finding refuge at the Court of Serbian Despot Đurađ Branković in Smederevo.[19][20] By the beginning of the 15th century, Eparchy of Lipljan was returned to the jurisdiction of Archbishopric of Ohrid. In the first half of 16. century, metropolitan of Lipljan was Nikanor (around 1530-1545).[21]

Serbian Patriarchate was renewed in 1557 by patriarch Makarije Sokolović.[22] In that time (16th–18th century), Eparchy of Lipljan remained under constant jurisdiction of Serbian Patriarchate.[23] In the second half of the 16th century, metropolitans of Lipljan were Dionisije (around 1570) and Vasilije (around 1587-1598). In 1614, Metropolitan Pajsije of Lipljan became Serbian Patriarch. After him, Metropolitan of Lipljan was Longin (1616).[24][25]

Two major events of that time tragically impacted Orthodox Church in the region of central Kosovo. During the Austro-Turkish war (1683–1699) relations between local Muslims and Christians in European provinces of Ottoman Empire were radicalized. As a result of Turkish oppression, destruction of Churches and Monasteries and violence against non-Muslim civilian population, Serbian Christians and their church leaders headed by Serbian Patriarch Arsenije III sided with Austrians in 1689 and again in 1737 under Serbian Patriarch Arsenije IV.[26] In the following punitive campaigns, Turkish armies conducted systematic atrocities against local Christian population in Serbian regions, including central parts of Kosovo region, resulting in Great Migrations of the Serbs.[27]

One of the consequences of devastation and depopulation in the regions of central Kosovo during austro-Turkish wars was the reorganization of local Serbian eparchies. At the beginning of the 18th century, the old Eparchy of Lipljan (with Gračanica and Novo Brdo) was merged with the Eparchy of Prizren and they remained united to the present day.[24] In honor to the old Eparchy of Lipljan, auxiliary bishops in modern Eparchy of Raška and Prizren are bearing the title "Bishop of Lipljan"

Bishops and Metropolitans of Lipljan

This is an incomplete list of bishops and metropolitans of Lipljan.[28]

  • Mavrojan (13th century)
  • Varnava (13th century)
  • Sava (13th century)
  • Jovan (13th century)
  • Antonije (beginning of 14th century)
  • Ignjatije (first half of 14th century)
  • Teodor (middle of 14th century)
  • Simeon (around 1383-1388)
  • Dionisije (first half of 15th century)
  • Dositej (first half of 15th century)
  • Venedikt (around 1455)
  • Nikanor (around 1530-1545)
  • Dionisije (around 1570)
  • Vasilije (around 1587-1598)
  • Pajsije (1612-1614)
  • Longin (around 1616)


a. ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has received formal recognition as an independent state from 113 out of 193 United Nations member states.



Further reading

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