Crna Reka Monastery

Crna Reka Monastery

Crna Reka Monastery is situated in Ibarski Kolasin, in the canyon of the Crna Reka River, on the slopes of the Morka Gora Mountain, in the secluded area of the south-westernmost part of Serbia, nearly on the border with Montenegro. Crna Reka Monastery is named after the Crna rijeka river which is underground river, that sinks some 1,5 km above the monastery, and after some 2 km appears again in the surface to continue its course through the picturesque and wild river canyon. Crna Reka Monastery comprises the tiny secluded ancient Cave-church dedicated to the Archangel Michael, hewn in the cave hole of the steep canyon side, with the frescoes from the end of the 16th century. In Crna Reka Monastery are kept the Holy relics of Saint Peter of Korisha who was hermit in the village of Korisa near Prizren. Crna Reka Monastery is a hermitage in the midst of the south-western wild Serbian mountains /Mokra Gora Mountain/ situated in the secluded gorge of the Crna Reka – Black River. Crna Reka Monastery lies at the crossroad between Kosovska Mitrovica, Rozaje /Montenegro/ and Novi Pazar, within the area of Ribarice village, 310 km south of Belgrade.

Crna Reka Monastery is located in full seclusion and inapproachable wilderness of high rocks within intact nature, steep mountain sides and lush vegetation of hundred years old oak forests. Due to its unique architecture Crna Reka Monastery is considered as one of the most beautiful cave-church in Serbia. Crna Reka Monastery dates from the 13th century when a small church, only three meters wide and six meters long, dedicated to the Holy Archangel Michael was built in a big cave. It is one nave church with semicircle apse both from the outside and inside. Naos /central part/ of the Crna Reka Monastery church is vaulted with semi-circle vault of stone. Between the altar and the naos there are pilasters that carry the supporting arch. Soon the monks hermits built their cells around the church and erected a small draw bridge over the dry-bed of the Black River what resulted in the unique cave church on four levels. By a great blessing of God, the Black River disappears underground just in front of the monastery and reappears after several hundred meters of its underground flow and thus spares the monastery from the noise.

The greatest treasure of the Crna Reka Monastery are the holy and incorruptible relics of Saint Peter of Korisha, the famous Serbian hermit from the 13th century who lived near Prizren. Even today numerous pilgrims come to the monastery of Crna Reka to seek healing and relief and spiritual consolidation from this great miracle-worker. In the 15th century Crna Reka Monastery was home for a time to a famous hesychast St. Ioanichios, who with his monks later moved to the area of today’s Devic Monastery in Kosovo and Metohija. The cave church of Crna Reka Monastery was fresco-painted by master Longin at the end of the 16th century. Frescoes of Crna Reka Monastery are painted in bright and strong colors and are considered as the art -work of great quality and value.

Crna Reka Monastery was deserted for a long time. The first Primary school for the Serb children living on the territory of the whole area of Ibarski Kolasin was established in the Crna Reka Monastery at the beginning of the 20th century, when a special monastic dormitory was added for this aim. It was only in 1979 that Fr. Artemy came to live there in abandoned spiritual site and gathered around himself a young brotherhood. After his election as Bishop he took several monks and renewed other monasteries of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren and Kosovo and Metohija. Today there are several brethren in the monastery of Crna Reka who occupy themselves with prayer, icon painting and wood carving. In spite of its unique architecture and religious significance, Monastery of Crna Reka was hidden as the ascetic hermitage for public, known mostly to scholars and traveling visitors. Today, when the bridge over the Ribaric Lake /Gazivode Lake/ has been built and the approaching road has been reconstructed, the Crna Reka Monastery, being the unique pearl of the Serbian medieval culture, comes to its real value and popularity, after more than 700 years of silence. There are three monastic hermitages in the vicinity of the Crna Reka Monastery, while a part of the monastic estate is used for the recently established Center for curing addiction diseases. This unique Serbian Orthodox shrine is equally respected and visited by members of all nations and all confessions.

The new Martyr – Father Hariton – who was brutally assassinated in Prizren by Albanian extremists in June 1999 is buried in the Monastery of Crna Reka, the holy place where he received the monastic vow and had entered the consecrated life.