Petkovica Monastery

Petkovica Monastery

Petkovica Monastery is Medieval Orthodox Monastery of the Serbian Orthodox Church located in the south-western part of Fruška Gora Mountain, close to the stream of Remeta, between the tiny and sleepy villages of Divoš and Šišatovac.

The most intense life in Petkovica Monastery was carried out at the end of the 16th century. Later, due to smaller number of monks it was deserted, to be visited only for the feasts until the beginning of the 20th century. The Petkovica Monastery church is dedicated to St. Petka, celebrated 14/27. October. Legend has it that Jelena Štiljanović, widow of late Despot Stefan Štiljanović was the founder of the shrine and that she spent her last years in Petkovica Monastery as nun. This could be dated to the first quarter of the 16th century. The exact time of construction of the Petkovica Monastery is not known. Petkovica Monastery was first mentioned in Turkish records in 1566-67 but only in regard with the monastery estate. Inscription on the western wall of naos of Petkovica Monastery testify on the completion of fresco decoration in 1588 during the Prior Akakije when the monastic refectory was built. After those documents there are no more historical evidences on this quiet and spiritual monument. Historical facts testify that at the end of the 17th century Sinan-beg of Mitrovica intended to destroy the monasteries of Petkovica and Kuveždin, and to use its stone for construction of his residence, but finally he decided to charge monastery with the sum of 100 groshes per year as per mediation and requests of the Mitropolitan Pajsije.

During the time of the Patriarch Arsenije III Čarnojević Petkovica Monastery was abandoned so the Patriarch advised the Abbot of the Kuvedzin Monastery to restore Petrovica Monastery. Most of documents about Petkovica Monastery is provided during the church visitation in 1753 in which it is known that the iconostasis was completed in 1735 by donation of Milinko Vuckovic from the nearby village of Suljam. The iconostasis was destroyed in the Second World War and only wood-carved cross is preserved which is nowadays kept in the Church of St Stefan in Sremska Mitrovica. In the same report the Petkovica Monastery church itself and the dormitories on the western and the southern sides are carefully described. Dormitories west of the Petkovica Church were built in combination of stone and brick as well as the original church, while the dormitory on the southern side represents the small structure built of wood and covered with reed roof. First reconstructions on the southern dormitory are described in the “Description of Fruska Gora Monasteries” from 1771 where it is recorded that this part contains three monastic cells and the stone structure. In this record the Petkovica Monastery is known as the metochian of Šišatovac Monastery, and that status was kept even during the 19th century. Petkovica Monastery was first time rebuilt in 1884 during the reign of Abbot of Sisatovac Monastery Amfilohije Jeremić. Twenty years later dormitories have been destroyed so the Abbot Sergije Popić, asked for help to rebuilt the Monastery. But there is no records on the reconstruction until the year of 1927 when only the church was restored. The Petkovica Monastery Church was damaged and demolished again in the Second World War.

Petkovica Monastery Church belongs to the true traditional Serbian architecture, to the type of one-domed church with the combination of inscribed cross base and the trilateral form. It has cross shape base with the four-sided outside apse and eight-sided dome and rectangular bell tower over the narthex. On the southern wall there are three niches whose construction was operated in the form of the Saracene arch which is rather an unusual style. The basic architectural elements of Petkovica Monastery Church provide evidences that the constructor possibly had found inspiration in the form of the Lazarica Church. The original Petkovica Monastery church was built of stone and in the earliest reconstruction plastered and whitewashed.

The style and the order of frescoes completed in 1588 are typical for the period of Turkish occupation of Serbia. In the upper zone of naos the cycle of Great Feasts is painted which extends up to the altar apse vault. The fresco that attracts most attention among all frescoes of the Petkovica Monastery is the bust of the Christ Pantocrator painted in the top of dome vault. By their iconography which is adjusted to relatively small surfaces they accomplish the unity of the theological idea. As uniqueness the strong graphic is found on frescoes of the Petkovica Monastery, and repeating of faces and overwhelming illustration and clumsiness in dividing plans of the surface. In regard with the style of the Petkovica Monastery frescoes there are three painting styles applied – the painting of the upper zone of the naos in the dome was painted by the talented painter, while the other parts of the naos were painted by one /or maybe several/ painters of weaker painting skillfulness. It is assumed for fresco decoration of the Petkovica Monastery that it features “first of all the need for the lively story in direct communication of the figures with faithful, as the evidence of the artistic expression that eliminates the painter’s uncertainties”.

After the Second World War the maintenance of the Petkovica Monastery Church, which was severely demolished and almost ruined to the ground, was carried out by the Province Institute for protection of Cultural Monuments from Novi Sad. The first conservation steps of the Institute were conducted in 1950 when the plaster coating of the walls of the altar apse and proskomidy and diakonikon were removed. The works were continued in 1952 when the lime was removed from frescoes of the naos. Conservation of fresco paintings lasts since 1981. The roof over the naos and the apses, also fresco decorated in the outer and the inside, was restored. The dormitory was partially restored and used for monastery needs and as storage and the treatment of frescoes that might have been removed from the walls during the restoration works.

In 1995 the statics reconstruction and drainage of the Petkovica Monastery Church started according to the research on the level of underground water and destruction of the Church and the project of Prof Dimitrijević. Those are specific works that took away the part of the frescoes from the walls. The work of the conservation team will follow the construction works in case of possible urgent interventions.

Thanks to the huge effort and dedication of the Mother Abbess Antonina at the turn of the 21st century, the electricity and water supply is arranged in the Petkovica Monastery, the new road has been built, the hospice and economic structures were added, the fish pond and the beautiful small lake were constructed and the wonderful spring of Saint Petka was built, that all contribute to and greatly support the spiritual life of the Petkovica Monastery. The Petkovica Monastery is among the most favorite of the Medieval Monasteries of the Fruska Gora area, where our visitors are cordially received with warm blessing and spiritual hospitality by the Mother Abbess and nuns. We are always excited to organize our special Cyrillic Calligraphy courses there at the Petkovica Monastery, conducted by our wonderful art-historian and icon painter who teaches our visitors the basics of this unique and artistic handwriting. Monastic meal or refreshment prepared by nuns from own produces is also a special joy for visitors we bring here. Along the traditional recipes nuns of the Petkovica Monastery produce own “rakija” – brandy and monastic wine, as well as homemade “slatko”, natural honey and juices, and various spiritual handcrafted souvenirs – rosaries, icons, embroidered staff… Nowadays, the Petkovica Monastery is oasis of spirituality, tranquility, picturesqueness, and love in the heart of Fruska Gora Mountain, and one of the most favorite destinations of tours we operate in Fruska Gora Mt/National Park area, with unique activities and experiences of our clients.