Serbian Orthodox Religion
The Serbian Orthodox Religion also known as the Church of Serbia is an autocephalous Orthodox Christian church. It is the second oldest Slavic Orthodox Church and has authority over Orthodox Christians in Serbia and surrounding Slavic and other lands throughout the world.
Since many Serbs have immigrated to foreign countries, there are now Serbian Orthodox communities worldwide.
It is estimated that there are up to 11 million adherents and it is recognized as being the single largest religion in Serbia and the second largest religion in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Patriarch of Serbia is the recognized religious head of state.
The highest body of the Church is the Holy assembly of Bishops and consists of the Patriarch, the Metropolitans, Bishops, Archbishop of Ohrid and Vicar Bishops. It meets twice a year in spring and in autumn. The Holy assembly of Bishops makes important decisions for the church's life and elects the patriarch.
The executive body of the Serbian Orthodox Church is the Holy Synod. It consists of six bishops and the patriarch and takes care of the everyday life of the Church. It meets on regular basis.
The Serbian Orthodox Church claims to own many significant Christian relics, such as the right hand of John the Baptist, Saint George's hand and skull parts, Holy Cross segments, St. Paraskevi's finger and body of St. Vasilije of Ostrog.
The Serbs were converted to Christianity not long after their arrival in the Balkans, before the Great Schism split the Christian Church into rival Latin-speaking (Roman Catholic) and Greek-speaking (Eastern Orthodox) Churches. During the early Middle Ages, the religious allegiance of the Serbs was divided between the two churches.
In 1459, the Ottoman Empire conquered Serbia and made much of the former kingdom a pashaluk. Although some Serbs converted to Islam, most continued their adherence to the Serbian Orthodox Church.
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