Life Of Our Father Justin Archimandrite of Chelije

In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit:

Holy love has a way of consuming some. This is what is meant by one who said "Thou hast ravished our hearts, ravished them" (Song of Songs 4:9). And it make others bright and overjoyed. In this regard it has been said "My heart hath hope in Him, and I am helped and my flesh hath flourish again" (Ps. 27:7). "For when the heart is cheerful, the face beams" (cf.Prov.15:13), and "a person flooded with the love of God reveals in his body, as if in a mirror, the splendor of his soul, a glory like of Moses when he came face to face with God" (cf. Ex. 34:29-35) - St. John Climacus.

OUR HOLY FATHER JUSTIN, Abbot of Chelije Monastery in Valjevo, western Serbia, was born to pious and God-fearing parents, Prota (Priest) Spyridon and Protinica (Presbytera) Anastasia Popovich, in Vranje, South Serbia, on the Feast of Annunciation, March 25, 1894.  He was born into a priestly family, as seven previous generations of the Popoviches (Popovich in Serbian actually means "family or a son of a priest") were headed by priests.  At baptism, he was given the name Blagoje, after the Feast of the Annunciation (Blagovest means Annunciation or Good News).  Being raised in a pious Christian atmosphere, young Blagoje learned quite early of the virtuous life in Christ as dedicated in service to God's holy Church.  As a child, he often visited with his parents the Prohor Pchinjski Monastery, dedicated to St. Prophor the Miracle worker (see Oct. 19th).  He witnessed firsthand the miraculous power of the Lord manifested through St. Prohor, as his mother Anastasia was healed of a deadly disease by the Saint's intercessions when Blagoje was still a young boy.

Blagoje was an excellent student in elementary school.  His greatest love was for the Bible, and the four Gospels in particular.  He began serious reading of the Bible at age fourteen, and throughout the rest of his life he carried the New Testament on his person, reading faithfully three chapters a day.  In 1905 after finishing the fourth grade in Vranje, following the tradition of the Popovich family, young Blagoje entered the nine-year program of secular and religious study at the Seminary and Faculty of St. Sava in Belgrade.  In the early twentieth century the School of St. Sava in Belgrade was renowned throughout the Orthodox world as a holy place of extreme asceticism as well as of a high quality of scholarship.  Some of the well-known professors, were the rector, Fr. Domentian; Professor Fr. Dositheus, later a bishop, and Athanasius Popovich, and the great ecclesiastical composer, Stevan Mokranjac.  Yet one professor stood head and shoulders above the rest: the then Hieromonk Nikolai Velimirovich, Ph. D. (see March 18th).  Fr. Nickolai the single most influential person in his life.  From the Venerable Nikolai, Blagoje learned of the virtuous ascetic life in Christ the Lord, of the doctrinal genius of the great Fathers of the Church, and of the spiritual and intellectual effort needed to probe the important philosophical and theological questions of the day.  In the end, both of these two spiritual geniuses possessed a commitment to Christ the Lord, provided them with a truly Orthodox vision of life, which in turn made them the two greatest voices of the Serbian Orthodox Church in modern times.  Both Nikolai and Blagoje, later Monk Justin, sought to "speak the truth in love" to a passing world.

The sought the answers to the world's most pressing problems in the teachings of the Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church, and especially in the experiences found in the Lives of the Saints.  The saints were for them "living Bibles"  "incarnate dogmas",  and the true source of Orthodox theology, experiential knowledge of God and existential pedagogical truth valid for all times.

In 1914, at age twenty, Blagoje finished the nine-year program of St. Sava's in Belgrade.  At this time he had only one desire in mind: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, that I may behold the delight of the Lord, and that I may visit His holy temple {Ps. 26:4}.  With this hunger and thirst for righteousness driving him, Blagoje wanted to radically devote his life to Christ in the monastic vocation.  However, due to the beginning of World War I in 1914, and the declining health of his parents, Blagoje decided to postpone his entrance into the monastic ranks.

During the early part of World War I, autumn of 1914, Blagoje served as a student nurse primarily in South Serbia-Skadar, Nish, Kosovo, etc.  Unfortunately, while in this capacity, he contracted typhus during the winter of 1914 and had to spend over a month in a hospital in Nish.  On January 8, 1915, he resumed his duties.  It suites to say that Blagoje and the rest of the aids and nurses, as well as all of the freedom-loving Serbian Christians in South Serbia, suffered bitterly from the effects of war.

On the eve of the Feast of St. Nicholas, his Ksna Slava  (family patron saint), 1915, Blagoje returned to Skadar in order to visit Metropolitan Demetrius, who later became the first Patriarch after the patriarchal throne was renewed in 1920.  Blagoje received the monastic tonsure in the church in Skadar, taking the name Justin, after the great Christian philosopher and martyr for Christ, St. Justin the Philosopher (t. 166).  This name was truly a gift and sign from Heaven, for it was as a philosopher and seeker of Christian truth that the humble Monk Justin would later receive glory from God.

    The 'House of Christian Love" · Σύνδεσμοι · Επικοινωνία · Εκκλησ. Ημερολόγιον · Ραδιοφωνικοί σταθμοί
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