Thethi Church (Besa’s Stone)

Besa is the most essential and unique virtue of Albanians, especially in the Albanian Alps. It’s a unique code of honor among people. Being predominately Catholic, locals of Northern Albania swore in the Gospel, even though the Canon of Leke Dukagjini was applied by Muslim believers. The stone on which the oath is made may be a tombstone, a common stone, or a large rock believed to be a meteor fragment fallen from the sky, which in the mountains is called a thunderstorm rock. The oath made on the stone was in regards to a truth claimed by two individuals, families or communities. Truth divided life from death, but also property boundaries or the order of irrigation of lands. The oath made on a stone is the heaviest and most formidable. It also applied to swear allegations. In some cases, everyone was holding the stone in their left hand, touching it with their right hand, saying, “For the good of God, may he help me, neither I nor anyone in my house will break this oath’. Gradually, this pagan ritual of stone-swearing is becoming ever rarer.