Sisatovac Monastery

Sisatovac Monastery

In 1520 the Abbot Teofilo and monks Ilarion and Visarion of the Zica Monastery, who fled after Turkish persecution to the western part of the Fruska Gora Mountain, had built the new shrine of Šišatovac Monastery dedicated to the Birth of the Holy Virgin on the foundations of the previous Church of Saint Nicholas. Stefan Štiljanović /1460 – 1543/was the last prince of Pastrovici clan who founded the Praskvica Monastery, and was sanctified in 1543. Stefan Stiljanovic had dispute with the Venetians and persecuted by the Turks had to flee to the Srem area, ruled by despot Jovan Brankovic. While in Srem Stefan Štiljanović resided in Morovic, and the tradition has it that he was the most dedicated Christian ruler connected with numerous noble deeds and heroic fight with the Turks. The noble Štiljanović Family lived in the Crmnica region during the Nemanides reign – Serbian Medieval ruling Nemanjic Family – and after Stefan Stiljanovic left for Srem, the Pastrovic clan never proclaimed their ruling prince, in memory of this lord. In the middle of the 16th century monks transposed the earthen remains of the Saint Stefan Stiljanovic to the Sisatovac Monastery in Fruska Gora. During the Turkish rule in Srem area the holy relics of the Holy Stefan Stiljanovic undoubtedly had great importance and were attribute to possess particular healing powers.

In 1540 it was allowed to Sisatovac monks by the Turkish regulation /defter/ to rebuild their monastic dormitory and since 1560 the monastery was known as the Monastery dedicated to the Holy Stefan Stiljanovic. Stefan Stiljanovic was the despot of Srem from 1537 till 1543, and also an important Serbian saint, donor and knight. Origins of Stefan Stiljanovic come from the Pastrovic Family of Primorje – Littoral, with the status of knight. He left all his possessions to the local population and belongings donated to the Praskvica Monastery and in 1498 left  Primorje to settle in Srem after a conflict with Venetians. He lived in Morovic and in folk tradition enjoyed a fame of the most distinguished Christian ruler, connected with number of noble deeds, and known for heroic fights with the Turks. Stefan Stiljanovic is buried in the Sisatovac Monastery Church, his holy relics are kept in the Holy Archangels Church in Belgrade, while the Serbian Orthodox Church celebrates day of the Holy Stefan Stiljanovic on the 17th October.
Sisatovac Monastery was heavily demolished and totally destroyed to be reconstructed by monks in 1634 according to permission of Turkish authorities. Sisatovac Monastery experienced its highest spiritual and cultural rise in the middle of the 18th century when it was visited by numerous Serbian metropolitan and arch-yerarchs and patriarchs. The present day Church of Sisatovac Monastery is endowment of Vicentije Popovic and Jovan and Josif Monasterlija whose tombs are preserved in the church. Sisatovac Monastery was heavily destroyed again in the Second World War, when frescoes and the iconostasis were destroyed in blasting and fire, when the Treasury was plundered. Monks and the Abbott of the Sisatovac Monastery were tortured for days and brutally slaughtered, when had experienced their end in the common death hole. Luckily the holy relics of Stefan Štiljanović were preserved by a mere case of transfer to Belgrade by the Germans, despite despute of the NDH forces – the Independent State of Croatia.

The Church of Sisatovac Monastery is monumental structure which features a three-nave shape with the facade which is divided with decorative parts that are bounded by polasters and the belfry of Baroque style. Present day Church of the Sisatovac Monastery was built in the period from the 1758 until the 1778. Dormitories of the Sisatovac Monastery have been built after the fire in 1849 and they were also destroyed as the Church during the Second World War. Fresco decoration was also fully destroyed and damaged in the Second World War as well as the treasury and the library that were looted and set aflame in 1941 of which the Treasury was one of the richest among the Monasteries of Fruska Gora Mountain. The Sisatovac Monastery Library possessed 92 handwritten documents of which only 3 remained and are today kept in the Museum of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Sisatovac Monastery is nowadays significant spiritual center of Serbia. Slava /patron Saint/ of Sisatovac Monastery is Mala Gospojina – Birth of the Holy Virgin, celebrated on the 21st August.

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