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Is a 'vampire' in Serbian village on the loose - to draw tourists?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 3rd, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

According to Serbian folklore, Sava Savanovic was a horrific vampire that preyed on villagers as late as the beginning of the 20th Century. With the collapse of an ancient mill in the town of Zarozje, misfortune has been visited upon the town with a quick succession of five deaths that has included a suicide. Is the dreaded vampire returned in the 21st Century - or is this just a good tourism ploy for the impoverished village?

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Quite unlike the misunderstood young heroes and heroines of currently popular movies and novels, vampires in the ancient world were serious business. Serbia's first known vampire legend, Sava Savanovic was known to drink the blood of those who came to a small shack in the nearby dense oak tree forest to mill their grain on the clear mountain Rogatica river.

The mill collapsed a few months ago, ushering in misfortune for the inhabitants of the small town.
 
While vampires remain in the realm of fiction and folklore, a local council issued an official "vampire warning" to villagers. Villagers were told to put garlic in their pockets and place wooden crosses in their rooms.

Some have brushed it off as a ploy to attract visitors the region which borders Bosnia.

"The story of Sava Savanovic is a legend, but strange things did occur in these parts back in the old days," one local housewife says. "We have inherited this legend from our ancestors, and we keep it alive for the younger generations."

Of course, the most famous vampire in the western world remains Dracula. The invention of novelist Bram Stoker, an Irish theatrical agent, he was inspired to write the story upon hearing the stories of vampires from Slavic immigrants that arrived in Europe to work as maids and laborers.

Vampire legends have played a big role in the Balkans for centuries. As late as the 18th century, the accusation of a person being a vampire wrought mass hysteria and public executions brought upon by mob violence.

The legend of Sava Savanovic still holds many in its grip. "One should always remain calm, it's important not to frighten him, you shouldn't make fun of him," one villager whose house is not far from the collapsed mill says.

"He is just one of the neighbors, you do your best to be on friendly terms with him," he added.

One local municipal council member is upfront about the economic opportunities the relighting of the vampire may bring to the area. "If Romanians could profit on the Dracula legend with the tourists visiting Transylvania, why can't we do the same with Sava?"

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