Saint Nicholas of Zhicha (also commonly known as Saint Nikolai Velimirovich) was a 20th century Bishop and Confessor of the Faith who labored in America at the end of his life.
He was born in Lelich, Serbia, on January 4, 1881 (December 23, 1880, OS). The Orthodox Faith was instilled in him by his pious mother, Katherine. After failing to qualify for military service, Nicholas enrolled in seminary. After graduation, he went on to study abroad and earned doctorates in Switzerland and Great Britain. He was ordained a priest in 1909.
He returned to Saint Sava's Seminary in Belgrade, where he served as a professor of philosophy, history, and foreign languages—of which he spoke seven. He was also an inspired preacher, which earned him the nickname, "the Serbian Chrysostom."
During World War I, he traveled to England and the United States to serve in Serbian expatriate communities. In 1919 he returned to Serbia and was consecrated Bishop of Zhicha. There he served the poor and orphans in the war-torn country, and worked tirelessly to restore the spiritual life of the Serbian people.
When the Nazis invaded in 1941, Bishop Nicholas was placed under house arrest in a monastery. Three years later, he was sent to Dachau's infamous death camp, where he suffered torture alongside other clergy and prisoners. The prison was liberated in 1945 and he traveled to America in 1946. He taught at Saint Sava's Seminary in Libertyville, Illinois, and in 1951 he became the dean of Saint Tikhon's Serminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania.
Saint Nicholas reposed on March 18, 1956, while kneeling in prayer in his room at Saint Tikhon's Seminary (some say, under suspicious circumstances due to his outspoken opposition to the Tito regime). He was glorified on May 19, 2003, by the Serbian Orthodox Church. His feast is celebrated on March 18 (March 5, OS).
A prolific writer, The Prologue From Ochrid and Prayers by the Lake are just a few well-known titles from his extensive bibliography.
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