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Eastern Christianity

Orthodox Church of Serbia

Doctrines On all major issues the Serbian Orthodox Church is in agreement with other Eastern Orthodox Churches. (See Eastern Orthodoxy.)

History Christianity was brought to Serbia in the ninth century by Byzantine missionaries. After the east~west schism of 1054 it followed the lead of Constantinople, and broke with western Christendom. During much of the Ottoman period the church was placed under the jurisdiction of the patriarch of Constantinople. In 1879 the church became autocephalous with its patriarchal seat at Pec. When Yugoslavia was formed after the first world war a number of small, originally separate autonomous churches were incorporated into the Serbian Orthodox Church. In 1920 the patriarchate was transferred from Pec to Belgrade.
During the second world war the establishment of a pro-Nazi Croatian state led to bitter conflict between the Serbs and Croats. The Serbs suffered very great hardship during the war; many were brutally killed or forced to embrace Roman Catholicism in order to save their lives. Catholic-Serb hostility was suppressed during the reign of Marshall Tito. However, with the end of communism a power vacuum was created and old animosities re-emerged. Croatia's declaration of independence in 1991 was the prelude to the outbreak of civil war in Yugoslavia. The Serbian Orthodox Church strongly supports the Serb government and its aspirations to create a greater Serbia.

Symbols Festal icons, Christ as Pantocrator, Mary as Theotokos. (See Eastern Orthodoxy.)

Adherents The Serbian Orthodox Church has 11,000,000 adherents (Europa Publications Limited 1995, 2:3463). These are to be found in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the U.S.A.

Main Centre
 11001 Belgrade, Kralja Petra 5, POB 182; tel. (11) 638161; fax (11) 182780.