Zitomislic Monastery

The Žitomislic Monastery, with the church dedicated to the Annunciation of the Holy Virgin is Orthodox shrine located 15 km south of Mostar, on the road Mostar – Čapljina. The church of the Žitomislić Monastery is one-nave structure built of stone, without the dome, covered with stone slabs, with the altar apse and the belfry above the entrance porch. Founders of the monastery are not known, but it is documented that the restoration works were carried out by members of the noble family of Miloradovic – Hrabren, brothers Petar and Jovan Hrabren, whose family graveyard is today known as the Radimlja – the famous stecaks necropolis near Stolac. Beside reconstruction of the Žitomislić Monastery, the Hrabren family members also were founders or took part in restoration of the other Orthodox churches and monasteries in Herzegovina – the Zavala Monastery, church in the Klepci village, and the Osanici church… During the Turkish occupation, Žitomislić Monastery was one of the most important cultural centers of Herzegovina, and its monks kept very close cultural and political connections with a number of Serbian Monasteries outside Herzegovina, as well as with the Serbian Monasteries in Jerusalem and in Mount Athos. During that time, numerous manuscripts and copied books and silver vessels from the 16-18th century were collected in the Žitomislić Monastery. Only one portrait of the founder has been preserved from 1609, when the Zitomislic church had been repainted.

In 1718 the fresco painter Mihajlo completed the rich iconostasis and painted the icons of the Žitomislic Monastery, when the per-abbott Serafion made marvelous wood-carved royal doors. The historical significance of the Žitomislić Monastery is of great importance for the Serbian culture and tradition. In 1848 the first Seminary in Bosnia and Herzegovina was established at the Zitomislic Monastery, by the arch-priest Serafim and Nićifor Dučić. Later the school for education of the Serb children was opened, which worked until 1971. In the 17th century there was a copying school and the rich library at the Zitomislic Monastery, looted unfortunately during the Second World War. In 1942 Ustashas set the Zitomislic Monastery a flame, and brutally killed its monks. After the war, in 1967 the Monastery was restored, and the monks remains were consecrated and put in the common monastic graveyard. In the mid of 1992 the Croat army set a fire in the Žitomislic Monastery and destroyed it to the ground with explosive, when the tomb of the new-martyrs monks of the Zitomislic Monastery was burnt. The nuns and the Abbess Evpraksija and the spiritual father Jovan escaped few weeks before the final destruction of the shrine.

The reconstruction of the present day Monastery of Žitomislić was carried out in 2002 by the father Danilo, who is nowadays Abbott of the Monastery and greatly reputed by local faithful people and visitors. In order to rebuild the monastic complex in its original appearance, the stone of the previous church was used, and a nice monastic yard and dormitories were constructed, when the old graveyard and auxiliary structures were added. At present, the Žitomislić Monastery with the late-antique basilica and necropolis of stecaks belong to the National Monument of culture and represents a significant cultural and tourist attraction of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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