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The Church of Studenica of Hvosno
Gojko Subotić
One of the first bishoprics of the Serbian Church was established in Hvosno, the birthplace of the her- mit Peter, sometime during the years of his spiritual
maturation and search for peace in the Koriša cliffs. Di- rectly prior to this, St. Sava with his reputation as a high- born monk who devoted himself wholly to the spiritual life on Mt. athos received autocephaly for the Serbian Church from the Patriarch of Constantinople (in Nicaea), and was himself ordained as its first archbishop in 1219. Sava chose as the see of the Hvosno bishops an old place of worship above the village of Studenica. This was an excellent site above a fertile valley across which spread the monastery estates. Here, too, an old custom of the Christian Church was repeated. This was to erect a new structure over par- tially restored ruins where believers gathered on holy days. it is not unlikely that in the early Byzantine period the seat of the bishopric was also located there. after the collapse of Samuilo’s state and the revival of Byzantine authority in 1019, these parts, together with some others, were subordi- nated to the Ohrid archbishopric. The deed granted by Basil ii makes special mention of Hvosno as a part of the Prizren Bishopric.
Both the older and younger entities in the Hvosno Stu- denica were largely protected by late classical multi-angled ramparts and outer walls extending along the margins of the flattened slope, the last one above the plain where the Mokra Mountain hillsides end.
in the second half of the 19th century there still were remains of the old complex and its medieval structures (“huge and terrible cliffs”), but these descriptions are not all reliable. it was archaeological excavations which shed new light on their character and interrelations. in the mean- time, the stonework—well-cut blocks, parts of the archi- tectural relief and a slab with incised inscriptions—was used by the local population for their needs. as a result they can still be found on houses in the neighboring vil- lages. Marble pillars and ornamental blocks from the ruins were removed to Peć when a Turkish bath was built. Main- ly shallow foundations were discovered in these structures. This indicates that initially there was a three-aisled basilica with a semi-circular apse and narthex. Within the bema, under the consistory table there was also a vaulted premise with steps leading to a reliquary, usually containing a spe-
Descent into Hades, Church of the Mother of God Hodegetria, north arm of the cross, vault, the Patriarchate of Peć, ca. 1335
The Monastery of the Mother of God of Hvosno, near istok, in Metohija, originating from the 6th century, renovated in the 13th and 14th century. During the period of St. Sava this monastery was the seat of the diocese, and it was left desolate, most likely in the period of the great migration from Kosovo in 1690.
cial casket. The western part of the shrine, mostly ruined, has not been clearly delineated. But the eastern part proves that the basilica was built before the middle of the 6th cen- tury. The role of the diaconicon was probably taken by the small church of a simple, oblong form on the north side. it seems that it suffered less damage over time and perhaps was restored and served for rituals even before the erec- tion of the episcopal complex within the Serbian Church.
Of special interest are the old underground barrel- -vaulted tombs on both the internal and external sides of the ramparts. They are a kind of sepulchral structure wide- ly built in the Roman Balkans, in which number of built tombs have been preserved, but earlier frequent diggings, as elsewhere, have emptied the site of findings. The limited excavations prevent a full view of the walls with the strong- hold. The stronghold in fact had contributed to the safety of this small but imposing unit with its entrance on the northern, most accessible side.

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