Vukasin of Klepci
Our father among the saints, Vukašin of Klepci (in Serbian: Свети Вукашин из Клепаца), was a Serbian Orthodox Christian from Herzegovina who was martyred by fascists during World War II for refusing to acknowledge the Ustashi leader. He is remembered on May 3 under the new calendar (in another sources - May 19).
Little is known about the life of Saint Vukasin. What is known about him is from the event resulting in his martyrdom. He was born in the village of Klepci, in Herzegovina, at the turn of the nineteenth/twentieth century. At the beginning of World War II, members of the Croatian fascist Ustašas arrested him and transported him, together with other Serbs of that region, into the notorious concentration camp of Jasenovac (the number of victims at this camp have been estimated to be at least 700,000).
When one night 3000 people were sent to death, 4 Ustashe`s soldiers decided to kill people on a bet and compete who will kill most. During the night, one of the killers signifincantly surpassed the others killing more than 1000 people in several hours and feeling an ecstasy from the killing. When this soldier saw Vukašin, he was stroke by his calmness, the ecstasy disappeared and for several seconds could not even move. The killer felt an irresitable desire to destroy his calmness and said he would spare his (Vukašin's) life if Vukasin cried loudly: "Long live Ante Pavelic!". Ante Pavelic was the leader of Ustashe. Vukasin who saw a knife in the hands of the soldier, replied calmly: "My child, you do what you must", and refused to obey the soldier`s request. The Ustashe soldier brandished his knife and cut off Vukasin`s ear. The soldier then repeated his request. Vukasin repeated his answer. The soldier then cut off Vukašin's other ear, followed by his nose, and then scarred Vukasin`s face. Next his tongue was cut. After repeating the request to Vukasin to utter the vicious words and hail the Head of Ustaše (Ante Pavelic), Vukasin once again calmly replied: "My child, you do what you must". Distracted, the soldier eventually killed him, and afterwards went mad. Right after he killed Vukasin, he could not kill any more and lost the bet to another killer. He started to often see a vision of Vukasin saying "My child, you do what you must". And this phrase in the head became so unbearable to him that he started to drink a lot, running around and attacking random people trying to suppress this memory.
At the regular session of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1998, Vukašin, from the Klepci village, was entered into the List of Names of the Serbian Orthodox Church as a martyr. His feast day is May 16 (Julian Calendar).
- Joachim Wertz. On the Serbian Orthodox New Martyrs of the Second World War: A Brief Historical Background. Orthodox Life, Vol. 33, No. 1 (Jan.-Feb. 1983), pp. 15-22.
- Serbian New Martyrs at Wikipedia.
- (Russian)Martyrs from the camp of Jasenovac.