Rezevici Monastery

The Holy Ascension Medieval Monastery of Reževići known as the Reževići Monastery is important Montenegrin coastal center of spirituality and Orthodoxy. The Rezevici Monastery is located on the beautiful plateau above the wonderful Adriatic Riviera of Montenegro, between Sveti Stefan and Petrovac, right above the Perazica Do area, on the spot where gigantic Montenegrin mountains touch the blue Adriatic sea, fully surrounded with fruitful olives and lush Mediterranean vegetation. The Reževići Monastery is part of numerous Medieval Serbian Orthodox monasteries and shrines of the Holy Pastrovska Gora, named after the old Rezevici clan of the Pastrovic region. In close proximity of the Rezevici Monastery is the source of the Rezevica River, after which the monastery got its name, within wonderful Mediterranean vegetation environment.

The epic tradition has it that King Stefan the First-crowned Nemanjic in 1226 ordered construction of the tiny church of the Ascension of the Holy Virgin on the place of the present Rezevici Monastery, which was consecrated in 1223. On his way from Dubrovnik to Skadar – Shkodra in the middle of the 14th century Tzar Dušan built the church dedicated to the arch-deacon Sveti Stefan – Saint Stephen, right next to the existing church. Then tzar Dusan gifted his renowned Code that Pastrovici tribe members used for judgement on Drobni Pijesak and the Sudino Brdo Hill. Until the middle of the 19th century there was a stone beside the road with hole where locals of villages of the Pastrovici area used to leave jug with wine, as the gesture of hospitality towards travelers.

In the Rezevici church of the Ascension of the Holy Virgin are frescoes dating from the beginning of the 17th century and partially preserved layers of frescoes from the 18th century. It is assumed that frescoes of the Church of the Ascension of the Holy Virgin of Rezevici Monastery are master work of the famous painter Strahinja from Budimlja, who decorated with frescoes numerous churches of this historical period. On the frescoes of the church interior there are depictions of the Christ Pantocrator, the Holy Virgin ‘wider of the sky’, composition of the Christ Passions from the Old and the New Testament, hagiography depictions of the holy martyrs and warriors. In the altar apse there are figures of the Holy fathers in the Eucharist composition, while on the right altar war there is partially preserved Deisis of Christ the Savior. Well preserved iconostasis is work of icon painter Aleksije Lazovic from Bijelo Polje dating from 1833.

The Church of the Saint Stefan of the Rezevici Monastery was consecrated in 1351. It was destroyed in the 19th century. Preserved parts of walls and frescoes testify on their extraordinary artistic value. The Church of the Holy Trinity in Rezevici Monastery was built in 1770 right beside the Church of the Ascension of the Holy Virgin, and makes the best preserved part of the Rezevici Monastery complex. The Holy Trinity Church features cross-like shape with the altar apse and the rectangular apse on the righ side for the choir. Above the church entrance is the large white rosette, while the iconostasis is the work of the local painter Marko Gregović. The Holy Trinity Church features a 20 meters high square belfry dating from the 19th century.

During its long history the Reževići Monastery was often destroyed. Until 1714 it was deserted when here comes the Abbott Maksim Kosijerevac from the Kosijerevo Monastery. Pirates from Ulcinj plundered and looted the Rezevici Monastery in the middle of the 16th century, and in 1705 it was destroyed in the Turkish attack. The Rezevici Monastery experienced heavy destruction and devastation in 1785 in the attack of the Turkish pasha Mahmut Busatlija. In 1812 the French forces attacked the Rezevici Monastery.  The arch-priest Dimitrije Perazic played great role in protection and survival of life of the Rezevici Monastery, who constantly rebuilt the monastery until his death in 1851. He tirelessly collected funds for reconstruction, mostly from the Tzardom of Russia, and thanks to his efforts the monastery got its present beauty and appearance. On the foundations of the Saint Stefan Church, demolished by Mahmut Busatlija in 1785, Dimitrije Perazić reconstructed the church of Ascension of the Holy Virgin, using leftovers of the destroyed church. Life of Dimitrije Perazic was saved by accident after the Uprising of Pastrovici area in 1812. The Reževići Monastery was heavily destroyed also in the Second World War when Italian army set a fire of the monastic structures. Right after the war father Boris Kažanegra managed to reconstruct the monastic complex by donation of the American Pastrovics who helped the shrine from further decay. List of donors is kept until the present in the Praskvica Monatery.

The unique architectural complex of the Reževići Monastery was also destroyed in catastrophic earthquake in April 1979. It was pretty well reconstructed, mostly thanks to efforts and commitment of arch-priest Mardarije Šišević whom we should thank and who should be acknowledged for the existing beauty of the well-preserved Rezevici Monastery. Various religious items and precious reliquaries are kept in the Rezevici Monastery, such are the Icon of the Holy Virgin from 1693, the Four-section Gospel from 1835, the large liturgical cross from 1850, parts of the holy relics of the Holy Kiev martyrs collect by the Holy Virgin to bless all visitors etc. The unique Code of the Pastrovici tribe was found in 1860 that is considered the last version of the Tzar Dusan Code. In the courtyard of the Rezevici Monastery there is the old cemetery which is not in active function since the 30-ies of the 20th century. The old Rezevici Monastery dormitory was built out of tight ashlar stone, and is connected with the new dormitory. The entire Rezevici monastic complex is encircled with the wall that creates a monastic yard. In the dormitory there is the rich monastic Library and the hospitality dining room. In the close vicinity is the School structure from 1851 where a number of monks used to learn and teach.

The Reževići Monastery produces cold-pressed Olive Oil of extraordinary quality. The Monastic complex of the Rezevici Monastery belongs to the Monuments of culture and history of Montenegro under protection.