Vatra, an association of Albanian Americans dating from 1912 has sent a formal request to Albanian Parliament to repatriate the remains of Fan Noli, the famous writer, scholar, and founder of the Albanian Orthodox Church to Albania.
Euronews Albania became the first local media to report on the organization’s campaign to bring the body of Noli, who died in the United States in 1965, back to the country.
Noli is known for his contribution to literature, history, theology, diplomacy, journalism, music, and national unity and he played a crucial role in the consolidation of Albanian as the national language and translated many famous pieces of world literature.
Born in Korça County, he lived in the US, attending Harvard, the New England Conservatory of Music and Boston University. He was ordained as a priest, established the Albanian Orthodox church and was among the first to use Albanian language in an ecclesiastical setting. He also led diplomatic efforts after World War I to reunify Albania, and briefly served as Prime Minister until being overthrown by Ahmet Zogu, later King Zog.
Inside Albania, presented by journalist Alice Taylor, interviewed the Albanian doctor, Skënder Murtezani who heads the Queens chapter of Vatra having lived in the U.S. for 33 years. He spoke of a campaign to repatriate Noli’s remains after a similar and successful campaign to bring back the remains of Mid’hat Frashëri in 2013.
Now, the next step of the process is underway as a formal request for the topic to be addressed in Albanian Parliament has been filed on 7 December 2023.
Addressed to Parliament’s Speaker Lindita Nikolla, the letter, seen by Euronews, states: “It is time for Theofan Stilian Noli to finally rest on earth.”
“We strongly believe that the repatriation of Noli’s remains to Albania would improve the balance between our religious communities and regulate it,” noting that Noli himself said “The Albanian Orthodox Church does not only belong to Orthodox believers, but to all Albanians.”
It continues that, “We, as a branch of Vatra, very much hope that this honorable Parliament will consider our request, strongly emphasizing that this request is for strengthening our national unity and honoring our historical figures.”