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The Monastery of Rezevici

The Pastrovic clan live along the most beautiful part of the Adriatic Coast, between Budva and Petrovac Their oldest tribe is the Rezevici after whom the monastery and the nearby river are named. At a confluence on the river peoples' assemblies were held, judges and representatives of authority were elected, and important decisions were made. It was here also that the prince who ruled over the Pastrovici was elected. The last prince was Stefan Stiljanovic - St. Stefan - whose relics rest in the Cathedral of Belgrade.

The Pastrovici have four monasteries: Praskvica, Gradiste, Rezevici, and Duljevo, as well as thirty six parish churches.

The Monastery of Rezevici is situated on a picturesque hillside, not far from the sea, near Petrovac, and in the immediate vicinity of the famous tourist complex Sveti Stefan. According to tradition, pagan temples and ancient graves existed here, some of which can still be seen. The Serbian king Stefan the First-Crowned spent some time in the Rezevici. He built the church of the Dormition of the Mother of God, consecrated in 1223. Emperor Dusan erected the Church of the Archdeacon Stefan, consecrated in 1351, and on that occasion he presented the Pastrovici with his famous Law Codex, which they used at the councils at Drobni Pijesak, and when they made decisions upon the Sudino Brdo (The Hill of Judgment). The monastery of Rezevici was also mentioned in an inscription on an icon from 1423, painted by Hieromonk Nikodim. In one document from 1612, in which the farmers of the Soljaga Brotherhood offered some cultivated land to the monastery, the church of the Dormition and the Monastery are referred to. Until the first half of the 19th century there used to be here, by the road, a stone column with a hollow recess where citizens of the nearby villages used to put a bowl of wine as a sign of hospitality towards the passers-by. It is said that Raymond of Toulouse, with his crusaders, drank wine from this bowl.

The monastery of Rezevici has throughout its long history often been robbed and destroyed, especially by the Turkish army in 1705 and 1785. The French plundered it in 1812 because of the covenant of the Pastrovici with the Prince Bishop of Montenegro Petar I Petrovic Njegos, who launched a campaign for the liberation of the Gulf of Kotor and the Montenegrin Coastland from French occupation.

The earthquake of April 1979 which struck Montenegro did not spare this unique architectural complex. The buildings suffered considerable damage. Many persons have been responsible for renovations of the monastery complex, especially abbot Maksim Kosijerevac in the 18th century, and later abbot Nikodim Vukovic, archimandrite Dimitrije Perazic. In recent years, during the time of the Metropolitan Danilo of Montenegro, credit for the renovation belongs to the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Monuments at Cetinje, and to the present abbot Mardarije Sisovic, who have carried out considerable reconstruction of the refectory and the monastery churches.

Within the monastery of Rezevici there are three smaller churches:

The Church of the Dormition of the Mother of God was built in the 13th century. Frescoes from the beginning of the 17th century and some remains of frescoes from the 18th century have been preserved. It is assumed that they were the work of the well-known artist Strahinja from Budimlje, who painted frescoes in many churches at that time. The iconostasis was painted in 1833 by Aleksije Lazovic from Bijelo Polje. The icons have been well preserved. The most prominent of them are: Christ the Pantocrator, the Mother of God (the Oranta), the composition on the theme of Christ's passion from the Old and New Testaments, the hagiographic figures of holy martyrs and warriors. In the altar apse then are figures of the Church Fathers, the composers of liturgies for the celebration of the Eucharist and on the high wall of the sanctuary there is a partly preserved Deisis of Christ the Saviour.

The Church of St. Stephen the Archdeacon is a significant historical monument, consecrated in 1351. It was destroyed in the 19th century by the Turkish army. The remains of the walls and a part of the frescoes witness to their extraordinary artistic value.

The Holy Trinity Church is the best preserved building in the monastery. It was erected by the blind abbot Dimitrije Perazic. The church is in the form of the cross, with an altar apse, and on the right a small apse for chanting. From an architectural point of view it forms a part of the church of the Dormition of the Mother of God. Above the main entrance there is a large white rosette. The church has a square bell tower 20 meters high. The new iconostasis has been preserved; it was painted by the native painter Marko Gregovic.

According to some inscriptions, the refectory already existed in the 18th C. It was demolished, together with other church buildings, but renovated in the middle of the last century. It was again burnt down by the Italians in 1941. Today's refectory has been renovated, and it fulfills its purpose completely.

Although there is no monastery treasury (it was burnt down in 1941), cultural and historical objects have been collected and plans for its re-establishment are being made, We list some of the valuable objects preserved here; an icon of the Mother of God from 1693, a Four Gospel Book from 1835, a big processional cross from 1850, a tabernacle from the middle of the 19th century, etc.

Because of its treasures and its historical value, the monastery complex of Rezevici has been listed as a cultural-historical monument of Montenegro, and is under legal protection.

The Monastery of Rezevici, Petrovac na Moru 1985; tr. Radomir Rakic (brochure)

Pictures: 1) The Church of the Dormition of the Mother of God, foundation of the Serbian King Stefan the First-Crowned from 1223 and the Holy Trinity Church from 1814; 2) The Altar's Space of the Holy Trinity Church, frescoes done by Danilo Marunic in 1978; 3) Mother of God with Christ, a Throne Icon, done by Aleksije Lazovic, 19th century