First Thursday in February Misc.

The only good thing about the beginning of February is that January is over.

A picture from this moment in history.

Ann was with me, and I had take this shot with her phone. The car was in a northwest suburban parking lot.

Speaking of cars in parking lots, as I was walking the dog the other day, I passed through the parking lot in front of Lilly and Ann’s former elementary school, and saw a Tesla parked there. As if were any other car. Which I guess it is. Still, I can’t remember seeing one around here before. New, they’ll set you back at least $68,000. So you don’t see too many.

I had no idea the French used the suffix -gate as we do. Headline from today’s La Parisien about the hot water that François Fillon, candidate for the presidency, is in: Penelope Gate: toutes les fois où l’épouse de Fillon disait ne pas travailler pour lui. Are there Frenchmen who think the real scandal is that obvious anglicisme being used to describe it? A silly objection. English has borrowed plenty of French; time to give something back.

One more item out at St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Monastery, near the church: a memorial to Gen. Dragoljug Mihailovich, the Chetnik commander whom Tito ultimately had shot after the war.

Gen. Dragoljug Mihailovich memorial

Whatever else you can say about him — and apparently that’s quite a lot, for good and ill — President Truman did award him a Legion of Merit (Chief Commander) posthumously in 1948, the text of which is on the memorial in English and Serbian. It cites his efforts in rescuing U.S. airmen downed over Yugoslavia.

The Church of the Serbian Orthodox Monastery of St. Sava

Next to the the cemetery of the St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Monastery in Lake County, which I visited on Saturday, is a handsome church building belonging to the monastery. There’s something about onion domes that pleases the eye.

The Serbian Orthodox Monastery of St. Sava

Even without the domes, the structure has a pleasing aspect to it. The cornerstone dates the building to 1925. Back then there couldn’t have been much around it besides farmland. Even now, the area nearby is mostly undeveloped.

I fully expected the building to be locked. It wasn’t. I went inside and found myself alone with its striking interior, albeit a little dark.

The church of St. Sava Monastery, Lake County Ill.A panoply of Jesus and saints and holy men — I assume that’s what I saw — graced pretty much every surface.

The Serbian Orthodox Monastery of St. SavaThe Serbian Orthodox Monastery of St. SavaAngles and demons, too.
The Serbian Orthodox Monastery of St. SavaLooking up.
The Serbian Orthodox Monastery of St. SavaKing Peter II of Yugoslavia used to be interred in the church. Here’s the spot where he was until a few years ago.
The Serbian Orthodox Monastery of St. Sava - King Peter II former gravePresumably the place is now a memorial to the king, marked with black stone instead of the white that used to be there.

I suspect that Peter’s story isn’t much known to Americans outside the Yugoslav diaspora. I only knew the outline, so I did some reading. Already on the throne, he was chased out of Yugoslavia at age 17 by the Nazis in 1941, and the post-war Tito government wasn’t interested in letting him return.

He spend much of his exile in the U.S., dying fairly young in 1970. For his own reasons, he wanted to be buried at St. Sava. Probably something to do with the schism going on within the Serbian Orthodox Church at the time, but I’m not going into the briar patch someone else’s schism by looking into the matter further. In any case, his son Alexander oversaw the repatriation of Peter’s remains to Serbia in 2013.

My reading lead me to the web site of the Royal Family of Serbia, which is how Alexander, the claimant to the throne, styles it. It’s a well-designed and sophisticated site, offering a lot of information about Alexander — who styles himself HRH Crown Prince Alexander — and his family.

“Although King Peter II died in 1970, the Crown Prince, as the heir to the throne decided at the time not to use the title of King – which he felt would have had little meaning in exile,” the site explains. “He made it very clear at that time that he was not renouncing his title, or the dynastic right to the throne.”

Unlike a lot of pretenders, Alexander and his family actually get to live in the palace of their ancestors, which is near Belgrade and which his grandfather built. He’s had a residence there since moving to then-Yugoslavia after the overthrow of Slobodan Milošević.

The web site’s news page is incredibly detailed, with hundreds of releases about the family’s activities stretching back a number of years. Some recent examples:

More than 1,200 children at traditional White Palace Christmas receptions

Royal couple at the celebration of the Chartwell International School

Crown Princess Katherine as the patron of the first regional Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award

Speech by Crown Prince Alexander at the monument of Vasa Carapic

Crown Prince Alexander at Military Museum exhibition opening

It occurs to me that Alexander is living precisely as he would, were he actually a constitutional monarch, and pretty much along the lines of the British approach (he grew up in the UK, after all, and was a captain in the 16th/5th The Queen’s Royal Lancers). No doubt he believes that if he acts like a monarch long enough and well enough, one day he or an heir will be King of Serbia.

The Cemetery of the Serbian Orthodox Monastery of St. Sava, Lake County

After leaving Marytown on Saturday, I headed north on Milwaukee Ave. A few miles from of Libertyville’s lively main streets, in an area not quite rural — call it exurban — is the St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cemetery. At least, that’s a shortened form of the name, since there’s wording in English and Serbian over a gate on the property that calls the entire property (in English), the Serbian Orthodox Monastery of St. Sava.

Near the cemetery is a church, presumably the monastery’s church (more about which later). I didn’t investigate any of the other buildings off in the distance, which are presumably the places for monks to live and otherwise follow their vocation. The map also tells me that St. Sava College is a little ways up the road.

Anyway, I came to see the cemetery. It’s been receiving Orthodox Serbs for about 90 years. The place is thick with weighty headstones.

St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cemetery

With a mix of Cyrillic and Roman lettering.
St. Sava Serbian Orthodox CemeteryThere’s little funerary art, as seen in cemeteries steeped in Western European traditions, unless you count variations on the Cross. A few stones told in some detail of the person at rest, at least if you read Serbian.
St. Sava Serbian Orthodox CemeterySome sites included wooden crosses along with stone markers. A few had no headstone at all.

Some stones are of a distinctly modern cast, and in English.
St. Sava Serbian Orthodox CemeteryI’ve read that Rod Blagojevich’s parents are in the cemetery, but I didn’t see their stone that I know of. Blago was recently in the news briefly for not being on President Obama’s commutation list during his last days in office. Tough luck, Rod. Politics ain’t beanbag.