“For us, Serbs, Nicholas II will be the greatest and most revered of all saints.”

PHOTO: fresco depicting the image of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II by Stepan Kolesnikov

On 11th August 1927, newspapers in Belgrade reported a miracle witnessed by the Russian artist Stepan Fedorovich Kolesnikov (1879-1955).

Kolesnikov had been invited to paint the frescoes in a new church in the ancient monastery of St. Naum. The master depicted the faces of fourteen saints, while leaving the fifteenth empty. He returned to the church at dusk, and unexpectedly saw that at the very place where he was supposed to draw another saint, the face of Nicholas II appeared.

Kolesnikov, who had met the Emperor on several conversations at exhibitions and remembered his face well. But the vision was so vivid that night Stepan Fedorovich seemed to be working from nature. Having finished the fresco, he wrote below: “All-Russian Emperor Nicholas II, who accepted the martyr’s crown for the prosperity and happiness of the Slavs.”

A few days later, the commander of the Bitolsky military district, General Rostich, arrived at the monastery. For a long time he stood in silence in front of the fresco of the Russian emperor, and then quietly said to Kolesnikov: “For us, Serbs, he will be the greatest and most revered of all saints.”

PHOTO: the Monastery of Saint Naum

The Monastery of Saint Naum is an Eastern Orthodox monastery in North Macedonia, named after the medieval Bulgarian writer and enlightener Saint Naum who founded it. It is situated along Lake Ohrid, 29 kilometres (18 mi) south of the city of Ohrid.

The monastery was established in the Bulgarian Empire in 905 by St Naum of Ohrid himself. St Naum is also buried in the church.

Since the 16th century, a Greek school had functioned in the monastery. The area where the monastery of St Naum lies belonged to Albania for a short period from 1912 until June 28, 1925, when Zog of Albania ceded it to Yugoslavia as a result of negotiations between Albania and Yugoslavia and as a gesture of goodwill.

Today, the Monastery of Saint Naum, is under the jurisdiction of the Macedonian Orthodox Church – Archdiocese of Ohrid, although many Serbs claim that the monastery is under the jurisdiction of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Click HERE to read my article Nicholas II through Serbian eyes, published on 13th October 2020

© Paul Gilbert. 11 August 2022