Peace for All: St. George’s Day at a Shared Multi-Religious Shrine in Macedonia

Photograph of Icon.

“Peace for All” is a video ethnography that documents the activities at a “shared shrine” in Macedonia on St. George’s Day. The shrine is shared by Orthodox Christians and various Muslim denominations to celebrate the birth of their respective saints, St. George and H’d’r Baba. This shrine is officially recognized as the Orthodox shrine of St. Nicholas. However, throughout history both Muslims and Christians have claimed the shrine as their own. Therefore, both Christians and Muslims in Macedonia recognize the shrine as a sacred space.

Today this shrine is shared by each of these religious communities, especially around May 6. In quick succession from May 5-7 every year, Orthodox Christians celebrate the birth of St. George and practitioners of three different Muslim denominations celebrate the birth of H’d’r Baba. As is evident in the documentary, several practices—such as the exchange of colored eggs and the passing through of rosaries—are shared across religious traditions.

There is a lesson about religious peacebuilding to be found in the video. The lesson is this: people who share practices and spaces have the resources to coexist in a relatively peaceful manner in such a way as to embrace difference rather than promote surface unity. The model of interreligious life documented in Peace for All challenges those, often western, models of interreligious peacebuilding that focus on dialogue about religious beliefs and the promotion of shared values. The sharing of practices and spaces contributes resources to interreligious peacebuilding that dialogue is incapable of producing.

For more information on shared shrines in Macedonia please see Elizabeta Koneska, “Shared Shrines in Macedonia,” in Shared Shrines, trans. Dijana Obradovic (Skopje: Macedonian Centre for Photography, 2009), 14-21, and Glenn Bowman, “Orthodox-Muslim Interactions at ‘Mixed Shrines’ in Macedonia,” in Eastern Christians in Anthropological Perspective, eds. Chris Hann and Hermann Goltz (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010), 195-219.


By Elizabeta Koneska
Elizabeta Koneska is an ethnologist who was born in and lives in Skopje, Macedonia.