Man is What He Believes
She is a theologian and philologist from Moscow, a Russian born in Belarus town of Lida. He is a Serb, who was born, raised and educated in Paris, art historian and actor, who moved to the country of his ancestors in late March of the war year of 1999. They got married in the way people would do at the court of Despot Stefan Lazarević, at the times of Eastern Renaissance, Byzantine and Serbian, the older and better than the Western one. It was not a revival of the past, calculated for cameras, but an illumination of an important but submerged part of ourselves

By: Branislav Matić
Photographs: Dragan Bosnić

The moment is solemn. On restored walls of the old monastery fortress, tall and straight, flag bearers and semi-armored soldiers are scanning the Resava valley with eagle eyes. Old Serbian and Byzantine flags are breathing with hardly noticeable breeze, with audible flapping of wings of eagles painted on them. In front of the entrance, all the way down to the road, boyars in a row and court ladies, knights and poets, those skilled in the art of brush and quill, various guests. And children, the only ones who would like to wonder around, like water in the hills. Everything is enveloped in the melody of kaval and saz, which permeate every crevice.
Then a sharp command, and suddenly complete silence. Tremble of anticipation.
They appear from the curve, where the road turns around the northwestern tower. On the same white horse, surrounded by a flag bearer and armed escort, the two of them. Knight and a princess. Like Arthur and Genevieve, Stefan and Jelena, Ruler and Sovereignty. They will be liturgically married here today, like in the old times, like always. Zoran and Anastasija, Serbia and Russia.
They walk slowly to the entrance into Manasija, monastery-fortress, the heart of Despotovina. They dismount the horse, enter inside, into the sacred circle. The entourage goes after them, all in silver.
The liturgical wedding begins in front of the altar of Despot’s endowment. And it will last all day.


”This wedding ceremony lasted longer than many marriages in modern times”, says someone, and the audience stands still hit by that arrow, in the way many simple truths would intercept us.
Then some refreshment in the monastery yards. TO entertain and amaze the guests, musicians, archers and falconers are showing their skills. In the reconstructed fortress, near the relic that glows again with new light and stone building of the Resava school, which is growing again, the golden age of the Despotovina shimmers, the last big boom of the medieval Serbia. Everything is full of nobleness, stately and knightly. Bright spirit and cheerful murmur of the Serbian Renaissance, the older and better than the western one. Byzantine after Byzantine, above transiency of human nature and perishability of the world.
From there, wedding guests move twenty kilometers away to Krupajsko vrelo, a natural park, spring of green water under the rib of Beljanica, the heavenly mirror. A string of water from great depth, cave, small lakes, waterfall, a pond. This is where tournaments will take place, just like in the old rimes in Kruševac and Stefan’s Belgrade. Knights are rescuing the princess. Saint George is killing the dragon. The dragon is biting its own tail. You defend Serbia in your heart.
Then comes the celebration. Medieval dining table, food prepared there, in the nature, before the eyes of the guests, in the old-fashioned way.
And you know that this is not revival of the past, but illumination of an important but submerged part of yourself. That type of man who is emerging in front of you, movingly beautiful, brave and merciful, tall and among the ruins, it is not your forgotten ancestor, it is you. (You saw that in the night of May 24-25, 1999. The carnival falls silent and masks fall off, the imposed roles vanish and miserable calculations go off. Your own core radiates from within, a measure for all. You kiss your little son’s forehead and walk into the night, surrendering yourself to destiny. It is more important for you not to return without honor than to return at all.)
That white-bearded man beside you, speaking so calmly and wisely, is not Konstantin the Philosopher but Vladimir, your co-traveler and co-sufferer, the old school writer and journalist. And that slight man on the other side, who gets his power from slenderness and gentleness, is not inok Božidar or dijak Jevrem, but Jovan, the art wizard of your magazine. Across from you is not the mysterious guest from Constantinople at the Despot’s court, or Pico della Mirandola disguised as a troubadour, or Tolkien’s King of Elves; it is, come on, our Aca Seltik from ”Orthodox Celts”.
All you need is the power of a ruler or undeniable arrow, to silence this stupid amplifying system that destroys the brain and numb the senses of modern barbarians.


It is the 21st century after the First Coming.
The organizer of all this is the Royal Order of Knights. Ask around: www.kraljevskiredvitezova.org.
The knight and the princes are your friends. They are you when you are imaginative and not lazy. Anastasija Andrejevna and Zoran Mrđenović really got married on July 15 in Resava, in the way they dreamed about. We gave (among other things) a ceremonial toast. On Krupajsko vrelo, after the knightly tournament, Zoran himself read it to everybody.

Respected fathers and wise old,
Gentlemen knights, noble ladies!
We all know well the legend of old knights. We are a part of it and we rest on it. Their sword, their vow and their feat illuminate the darkness of centuries. Their Flaming Heart was imperishable star Danica to many of our generations in the high night of un-freedom, bode, when they lived only on hopes and memories.
But, they tell us today, as they used to tell to Rakić’s children of the old century”, that it is only a pretty game. The old story for old times, an album of memories. There are no longer fires around which people used to tell such fairytales.
Ah, let us understand them and help them understand!
Being a knight is not a matter of time in which one lives , but the sort one belongs to.
Knight is not a profession, but a type of person.
It is not the matter of costume but ethics, not the matter of weapons but spirit, not skill but virtue, not use but self discipline, not calculator but the heart.
Knighthood is the gold that is not measured in ounces but in heavenly rays, gift from He Who Holds the World with Love.
We do not have to ride winged horses, put on heavy armors and use swords in order to be knights in the 21st century. No! The one who was the greatest knight in our people, the one in whose famous endowment we got married today in this Earth in order to ensure marriage in heaven — despot Stefan Lazarević — taught us: As much as it is in our power, we weave our song!”
As much as it is in our power, we weave our song!”
It is the starting point for us to become knights in our time and in our own lives. Sufficient effort to gain and a share of miracle, whether we follow the steps of our holy ancestors as the knights of arts and culture, science and buildmanship, sports or other type of entrepreneurship.
And, as the most miserable of all princes of European literature said: If one is a gentleman, he knows enough. If he is not a gentleman, then everything he knows is disastrous for him.” Do not forget the words of Anton Pavlovich: Man is what he believes.”
Here is to your health and well being of those who we brought together today in front of the altar, that iconostas of the soul”.


A Russian born in Belarus town of Lida, in the family of a music teacher and an engineer, Anastasija Andrejevna graduated from the school of music and lyceum in her hometown. Then she earned two university diplomas in Moscow, as a theologian and philologist-Slavist. She has a voice of an angel, which Ovde us too in the early evening on Krupajsko vrelo, and is still moving us. She used to sing in the temple choir in Moscow. She worked in Moscow Patriarchy, with which she still closely collaborates.


Hadži Zoran Mrđenović is a Serb, who was born, raised and educated in Paris. He graduated from the College of Art History ”Ecole du Louvre”, Art Academy ”Beaux-Arts”, acting schools ”Simon”, ”Floran” and ”Mime Marceau”. He acted in about twenty feature movies, such as Une chance sur deux by Patrice Leconte, with Jean Paul Belmondo and Alain Delon (France, 1997, role of Colonel Šarkov), Ronin by John Frankenheimer, with Robert de Niro and Jean Reno (USA, 1998, the role of Bodyguard), Le herisson by Jean-Michel Riba (France, 1998, role of Inspector Laval) or L’ennui by Cédric Kahn (France, 1998, the role of the store owner Peti). He has done a lot of theatre performances, music videos, documentary and feature movies.
He moved to Serbia, the country of his ancestors, in late March 1999, when the NATO bombing of this country began.
He speaks five languages. He is the founder of the Royal Order of Knights and Production ”Parsifal”.


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