Theodore Pavlovic - Life, Work, and Legacy: The Complete Story of the Serbian Intellectual

In the depths of Serbian history, Theodore Pavlovic stands as a pillar of intellectual richness and national dedication. His life, intertwined with the strength of character and deep love for his people, tells a story of relentless effort and commitment that guided him through all challenges and obstacles. Born at a time when the Serbian people were seeking their identity, Pavlovic emerged as a prominent member of society, recognized for his exceptional talent and leadership abilities.


Establishment of Tekelijanum

The establishment of Tekelijanum, a foundation for the support of Serbian students and scholars, is considered "one of the greatest milestones in the history of Matica Srpska." These words mark the beginning of Chapter I. A GENERAL OVERVIEW AND CHARACTERISTICS of the book dedicated to the centenary of Matica "Matica srpska 1826-1926", which undoubtedly represents a realistic assessment.

In Pest, Tekelija, at the urging of Teodor Pavlović, founded the Tekelijanum foundation, where twelve students would have free accommodation and one hundred forints annually for maintenance.

Wanting to make Tekelijanum the center of Serbian cultural life, Tekelija also planned spaces for Matica Srpska in the same building, to which he entrusted the stewardship of this endowment. There was also an apartment for its secretary Pavlović, who was entrusted with overseeing the wards. Additionally, Tekelija undertook to pay 500 forints annually to the editor of the Letopis journal, and 200 forints annually to the secretary. Later, he bequeathed all his property to Tekelijanum through his will.

On August 21, 1838, Tekelija wrote his "Founding Letter," in which he established his foundation, which he entrusted to Matica Srpska, along with supervision over the wards...

Excerpt from Tekelija's Founding Letter:
"Convinced of the fact that only through education can our people achieve honor and every prosperity, out of love for my people in this city of Pest, where the university is located, I acquired a house, in the so-called Great Cross Street, under number 276. and this house, as a national foundation, I establish for the eternal residence of poor students passing through the university in Pest: and for the preservation, content, and oversight I add to the literary institution Community Matica Srpska with this condition and stipulation, that Serbian youths, studying in Pest, are accommodated in the same house and have diligent supervision, as well as care for the house itself..."

Thus was created the famous endowment of Sava Tekelija. A year later, in 1839, Tekelija handed over an obligation (bond) to Matica Srpska for 20,000 forints, to maintain the wards from the interest on this fund, and on September 27, 1840, he handed over his will to Matica for safekeeping, in which he appointed his "Foundation in Pest" as his heir.

Tekelijanum was more than a century old, the most significant cultural and educational institution. It was not just a home for students, where poor Serbian students enjoyed free accommodation and received a monetary stipend for sustenance, but Tekelijanum also played an important role in educating nationally and socially conscious intellectuals. Of all places in Pest and northern Hungary, Tekelijanum was the center of "Serbian spirituality, cultural, literary, and national life..." From 1838 to 1914, 346 Tekelija scholarship recipients completed their studies. If we add those from the time before and after the First World War, the number amounts to about 500 scholarship recipients.

After Tekelija's death in 1842, a legal battle ensued over his estate. Although he left all his property to Tekelijanum through his will, and designated Matica Srpska as its caretaker, a long-standing lawsuit was conducted with his former wife Sava Tekelija, Amalija Bezek, who considered herself the rightful heir to a corresponding part, regardless of the existence of the will.

Before the establishment of Tekelijanum, Matica's activities were modest and limited in the field of culture and education of the Serbian people in Hungary. Matica did not have its own premises; rather, its meetings were held, most likely, in the Serbian school.

"When we see today how great the work of Sava Tekelija is, full of blessings and glory, and what more can be done in a manner befitting it: then we must not forget the quiet but decisive merit of the man who nurtured, strengthened, and helped to realize that thought! This is the position that Pavlović occupies in the life of our people: this was the task he had to perform and which he fully accomplished, these are the services he rendered to the people. When we look at it with friendly eyes, we must say that Teodor Pavlović had an important but difficult task; that he accomplished it with great effort and sacrifice, and that he earned with his noteworthy, means and success, very rich services to his people... and that he deserved with blood, that the people would gladly remember him and mention him with blessing."

The establishment of Tekelijanum and the bequest of the remaining estate expanded Matica's activities and highlighted its significance, and Sava Tekelija became the greatest benefactor of the Serbian people in Hungary. As an expression of appreciation and respect for his actions, Matica chose him as its lifelong president at the meeting on August 8, 1838.

In addition to the efforts Pavlović made to persuade Tekelija to join Matica, much more effort was needed to obtain the willingness of such a person to become Matica's greatest benefactor.

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