[St. Pachomius Library]


Albania's population has historically been divided among Muslim, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic groups. The Albanian Orthodox Church established its independence from Constantinople (with some difficulty) around the time that the country itself became independent from Turkey, and in fact the autocephalous church's first archbishop, Fan Noli, also served as President of Albania in 1924 until overthrown by a Royalist coup. During the rule of the Maoist dictator Enver Hoxha, a more thorough attempt to annihilate all religious belief was made in Albania than perhaps ever elsewhere in human history. As a result, the post-communist church led by Abp. Anastasios has had to rebuild itself essentially from the ground up.

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