Velika Remeta Monastery

Velika Remeta Monastery

The Velika Remeta Monastery is one of the 16 Medieval Monasteries on Fruska Gora Mountain. The Monastery is located in the valley, in the east part of the Fruska Gora Mountain, northwest of the village bearing the same name of Velika Remeta, that in the past belonged to the Prnjavor of Velika Remeta, to the present day. The Velika Remeta Monastery is set on the southern side of the Fruska Gora Mt, deep in the mountain, at the elevation of 270 meters, only few kilometers from the road connecting Belgrade and Novi Sad. In regard with spatial and administrative organization, The Velika Remeta Monastery belongs to the Irig Municipality and can be easily reached by faithful people and visitors. The Velika Remeta Monastery is dedicated to the Holy Martyr St Demetrius, and features two chapels – one dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, from the 18th century, and another one dedicated to the Ascension of the Holy Virgin, built in 1970.

The tradition has it that the Velika Remeta Monastery has been built by the Serbian Kind Dragutin in the first half of the 14th century. In historical records the Velika Remeta Monastery is first time mentioned n 1562. There is the written data from 1509 about the visit of the envoy – monk of the despina Angelina Brankovic who paid the visit to the Monastery dedicated to the Holy Martyr Demetrius. The Turkish archives – defter records that the monastery estate contains 4 vineyards, 4 meadows, fields and a tiny settlement of Hasanja. The present day church of the Velika Remeta Monastery has been built originally of bricks and stone, in the Raska style of architecture, and features the cruciform, with 2 side and one altar apse, but the comprehensive reconstructions and additional constructions carried out during several centuries turned it into the Baroque structure. From all sides the Monastery is encircled with dormitories, constructed in the first half of th 18th century, and features the tallest belfry in Srem district, which is 38 meters high, added in 1735. The church was probably fresco painted right after construction, in 1568, when the iconostasis had been built, but original frescoes are in bad condition. The unique outer fresco decoration of the Velika Remeta Monastery today features hardly visible and pretty destroyed depiction of the Holy Virgin on the throne, holding the Christ child, and blessing it with the right hand. Above are the holy archangels Michael – on the left side, and th Gabriel, on the righ hand side.

Like the other monasteries of Fruska Gora, the Velika Remeta Monastery experienced destruction in 1716, when the Turks set it aflame, when monks escaped. However, already in 1720 the Monastery of Velika Remeta is again active, and at the beginning of the 18th century, the monk Jerotej Racanin -of the Raca Monastery- wrote his journey to Jerusalem, which is regarded the first travel record in the Serbian literature. The royal visitation to the Velika Remeta Monastery in 1753 testifies that there live 17 monks, 5 disciples, 5 servants and 13 local villagers. The iconostasis was restored in 1850, when it contained 50 icons in four rows, of the three rows and those in the lunette with the cross. Since the mid 19th century the Velika Remeta Monastery was in pitiful conditions, so in 1901 the comprehensive reconstruction was carried out. Soon, the monastery became very poor, when it possessed only some 320 hectares of land, and before the First WW even less – only 250 hectares.

At the beginning of the Second WW, ustashas entered the Velika Remeta Monastery and stayed there until spring of 1943. The Monastery was badly damaged, and its possessions were recorded on the 10th September 1941 by the Commission of the Museum of arts and economy from Zagreb. To Zagreb were taken all leftovers after bad demolition and plundering, when the dome and the roof were destroyed, and the iconostasis with rich woodcarving and over 40 icons from the 17th and the 18th century were burnt, when the frescoes were whitewashed, and the west wing of the Dormitories thorn to the ground, while the other parts were considerably demolished.

The Velika Remeta Monastery was restored twice, and in 1982 the new dome and the roof construction was completed. Today the church of the Velika Remeta Monastery features very attractive and beautiful appearance of restored walls of bricks and stone, and the outer frescoes, with one entrance and five windows. At the entrance to the Velika Remeta Monastery park, the brand new Dormitory welcomes visitors where visitors can stay overnight, regardless where they come from. The Monastery Abbott, Father Stefan is great spiritual and devoted monk, who particularly takes care about the monastery estates, and particularly of the spiritual renewal, together with the brethren and nuns – there is the replica Cave of Bethlehem constructed, the Eden garden, the traditional settlement built next to the Monastery itself, the summer painting school and icon-painting education for youth, the Ubavac spring, widely renown by its water which invigorates and clears the vision… Father Stefan greets visitors with natural honey and fresh water, provides relaxation and spiritual invigoration, serves good apple brandy, and a book to read, and is always ready for a holy and God-loving conversation…..