Church on Sunday: the turtle-like Sveti Petra Crkva
I walk along Makedonska at least twice a week, but only noticed this church a few days ago. It’s a fitting choice for Belgrade Animal Week because it’s a bit like a turtle, “hiding” behind the shell of another building.
Information about the church is a bit elusive but I was able to get a pamphlet from their front office. However, it’s in Serbian, so you’ll have to struggle through my translation.
Sveti Petra Crkva (Saint Peter’s church) is relatively new to Belgrade history. The Catholic parish was formed in 1930, when theological students moved into a building on the current site. A makeshift chapel was formed in the building’s garage.
The church foundation was laid in 1833 and the whole place was built at an un-turtle pace of 71 days. At the time, there were 8,000 Catholics in the area. There are roughly 16,000 Catholics in Belgrade today.
On Palm Sunday in 1945, two bombs fell on the church. Although there was heavy damage and flames, the wooden roof of the church did not burn. They rebuilt the church, and renovated it again in the late 1970s to update the appearance and electrical system.
Today, the church is undergoing another renovation. It’s not clear when work will be completed, but services are still being held in the church hall.
Maybe the church is more like a hermit crab; it keeps growing out of its shell and starting anew. It could also be a chameleon, since it blends into the background so well. But I like turtles, and the church’s approach to renovation: slow and steady.