Page 548 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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The Suffering of Devič Monastery
This monastery represents one of the greatest sanctu- aries in the Serbian Orthodox Church. it is located on Kosovo not far from the village of Srbica, in a region
known as Drenica, on a spot known from the days of old as Devič. The monastery was born sometime in the first half of the 15th century, and its beginning is associated with the name of the great ascetic St. joanikije of Devič (Sv Joanikije Devički) and with the Serbian ruler despot George Bran- ković.
St. joanikije of Devič was by birth from Metohija (Dio- cletia of Hvosno) which during the time of his youth was extremely developed ecclesiastically, with many churches and monasteries. as a youth he took a liking to the monas- tic life and went into the wilderness of his birthplace where he led an ascetic life. However, his monastic life caused his friends and relatives to become cynical so he left Hvosno on the ibar River, and went to the wilderness of Crna Reka (Black River). There he was free to lead an ascetic existence. Being the holy person he was, soon became renowned and he gathered together a monastic brotherhood and built a church. He attained great love and respect from the neigh- boring people, who began to praise him. Because this praise
Monastery of Devič, 15th century, Drenica area, areal photo from inter-war period
did not suit his monastic humbleness he decided to return to his birthplace. He moved to the Devič wilderness near Drenica and lived in a hollow beach tree above a stream. His isolation was his delight through which he attained power over demons.
When news of this holy man came to Drenica many came to him for instruction, blessings and healing from illnesses. They brought many mentally ill and possessed persons to the Saint whom he healed. The reputation of this man of God grew and many wished to live near him so that here also a monastic brotherhood was formed.
The Serbian prince, despot George Branković (1427– 1456), whose daughter was extremely ill, heard about this miracle working man of God. He brought her to Devič and Saint joanikije healed her. To express his gratitude to God and the Saint for the grace given, the Despot of Serbia gave money for the building of the Church of the Presentation of the Holy Virgin Mary. Saint joanikije himself directed the building of the church and in one record is referred to as the “First founder.”
Shortly after the building of Monastery Devič and the death of St. joanikije (between 1430–1450), Ottoman oc- cupation and long enslavement came. For the first one hun- dred years of this difficult period we know next to nothing about the life of Monastery Devič. Following the restora- tion of the Patriarchate of Peć (1557), the Serbian Church gained partially regulated organizational status and the
Dušan Kašić
   Monastery of Saint Joanikije of Devič, dedicated to the Pre- sentation of the Mother of God.
On a fresco of the small chapel where the relics of St. joanikije, the founder of this holy shrine, are preserved, the scroll has the following text: “Brethren, in the days of piety [i.e., of Serbian pi- ous kings] i built this Church of
the Presentation of the Most-Pure, to the Panagia’s joy, to enlightenment of the monks, to the healing of the sick.” The second founder was Despot Djuradj Bran- ković (1427–1456), who had built a great multiplex tem- ple, out of gratitude to God and St. joanikije who healed his daughter Mara. according to a folk poem, she suf- fered a curse that her grandfather St. Lazar put on Vuk Branković, who betrayed on Kosovo at St. Vitus’ day, 1389. The Monastery was put on fire during World War ii, restored in 1956 and, despite the presence of France KFOR, burnt again on March 17th, 2004.

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