Devič Monastery

Devič Monastery

Devič Monastery is founded in 1434 in a wooded hills of Drenica, 5 km south of Srbica, in the central part of Kosovo and Metohija. Monastery was erected on the place where in the 15th century the hermit Saint Joanikije /St. Joannicius, Sveti Janicije/ lived in the highest ascetic manner within a hermitage pump. Saint Joannicius was healing ill and poor people and had been performing miracles. Devič Monastery is a endowment of Despot Djurdje Brankovic who erected it in the gratitude and memory of healing of his ill daughter – virgin (devica), which is how the name came. The Devic Monastery ranks among the most significant Christian shrines in the Balkans featuring the traditional rules of the ancient history and keeping the holy relics of Saint Joanikije.

Since the 16th till the 19th century the books were being prescribed and decorated in Devič Monastery. In the period of the Turkish occupation the Devic Monastery was burnt down, ruined and reestablished several times. In 1941 Albanians abolished it and burnt it to the ground. It was in 1950 when the Devic Monastery was again reconstructed when the chapel of Saint Joanikije was added, two new churches were constructed as well as two dormitories and a belfry. The Devic Monastery was looted and vandalized in June 1999 when its nuns were taken away, isolated and humiliated, in the attempt of ethnic Albanians who wanted to drive Serbian people from Kosovo. Since then the Devič Monastery has been under the constant protection of the KFOR French Forces. Finally in most serious ethnic Albanian riots and unrest in March of 2004, the Devic Monastery was burnt and destroyed utterly when the nuns were evacuated for safety reasons and the holy relics were desecrated. KFOR Representatives announced that they had succeeded to extricate the relics of Saint Joanikije, the great miracle worker from devastated ruins of the shrine of Devic Monastery.

‘The monastic church is dedicated to Entrance of the Holy Virgin into the temple. It is one nave structure with elongated semi-circular vault and three-sided outer apse. During its history the church was extended from the northern side from where is approach to the separate and small paraklis which keeps the grave of Saint Joanikije /Saint Joannicius/ that leans on the eastern wall. After reconstruction carried out in 1578 by efforts and funding of Abbott Pahomije and hiermonk Longin, the church with the paraklis were fresco painted, as per inscriptions on paintings. Fragments of frescoes are preserved in the apse of the Devic Monastery church as well as above the grave of Saint Joanikije – Saint Joannicius with scene of the saint’s Ascension that fully represents the skillfulness of fresco painters. Frescoes of the Devič Monastery come in several layers and date from the 15th century, including the figure of Saint Joannicius of Devic dressed in monastic clothes and well preservd inscription which testifies that the saint was the first donor of the monastery. There are also depictions of Saint Acacius and compositions of the Wedding at Cana of Galilee and Healing the sickness and weakness.

The Devič Monastery was rebuilt and reconstructed in several occasions, and today it includes the church dedicated to the Entry of the Holy Virgin into the temple, and the churches dedicated to Saint Joannicius and Saint George. The Devič Monastery possesses large estates – more than 60 hectares of land and some 250 hectares of forests, and vineyards in Velika Hoca, several houses in Vucitrn, and land around Bica villages of Leusi, Lepina and Ludovici”. Source Stojan Predović Glas Metohije.