PARISH OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST, Smederevo
It was established in 1927 or more precisely, it was renovated then, as it dates back to the 15th century. It is known that several years after the formation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians, there was a large number of Catholic newcomers in Smederevo, which brought out a need for a church edifice. Hence, it is not surprising that in the mid-1926 one building was purchased in order to be converted into a chapel and a flat for the priest. The plan was to establish parish after completing the construction of a new place of worship that would encompass all places in the surrounding.
At the beginning of next year, when the Ministry of Religious Affairs approved establishment of the parish, all conditions were created for the parish to begin to live ‘life to the fullest’. A church dedicated to St. John the Baptist was also built. A few years later, on June 5th 1941, there was an explosion in the fortress, and the church and the parish house were destroyed (a big part of the city was destroyed then, and about 3,000 residents were killed). Holy mass was served in various temporary locations after that.
New parish house with a chapel of St. John the Baptist was built in Smederevo in 1954, after numerous and various problems. According to all known sources, regular service of holy mass was not possible until the arrival of the nuns: Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul and Sisters of Mary of the Miraculous Medal, who worked in the hospital, “to a great delight of patients and doctors”. It remains unclear why they left Smederevo in 1972.
The authorities of town of Smederevo allowed Smederevo based Catholics to build a new church according to a project of architect Miroslav Pašagić from Belgrade, by changing the regulatory plan in 2001. It was anticipated for the church to be 19 meters long and 11 meters wide. Its construction came to a halt in 2004 due to coordination of various details, as well as works that were conducted out of Smederevo, some even in Slovenia. That did not mean that the temple did not serve its purpose, as it already had a roof and marble floor.
Before long, the altar, the pulpit and the baptistery were set. The altar is made of a stone block weighing over 4 tons, transferred from the Croatian island of Brač. It was made according to a draft of a gifted Slovenian architect Vera Turnšek. According to the interpretation of Archbishop Hočevar, it is designed ”as if it wanted to split in shape of a cross, it is a picture of Christ’s tomb and his sacrifice for our salvation and precisely because of that it is not drawn, but carved in the stone’. The Pulpit is on the right of the altar. The baptistery is set there too.
The parish, the parish church, its parishioners, but also the Church and entire Serbia were honored by the achievements of a Jesuit, Fr. Ivan Marko Rupnik, who was asked by Archbishop Stanislav Hočevar to give Smederevo his creative visions (as his achievements have decorated the most significant rooms of the “Archdiocesan house” as well as the inner walls of the parish church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Niš). According to Rupnik’s idea, church windows are made in a stained glass technique and then mosaic plays in the presbytery, whose making has recently been finalized.
The above mentioned architect Vera Klepej Turnšek has also made a great contribution to an impression of high value concept of the church of Nativity of John the Baptist. She had actually followed ideas of original conceptual solution, leaving her own creative stamp in the edifice.
2006 will be particularly remembered in the history of the parish, when a special consecration of new Smederevo based church was arranged.