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 Ascension of Christ, detail: angel and apostle Peter, Church of the Holy apostles, dome, the Patriarchate of Peć, ca. 1260
domical area was, by custom, enlarged with rectangular choirs while on the eastern side the altar space was extend- ed with a bay that enabled freer circulation. at the same time, a separate prothesis and diaconicon were erected on the north and south sides, both vaulted and ending in semi- -circular apses.
The remains of the walls outside the present founda- tion have not been sufficiently investigated; it may well be that there were parekklesia originally on the lateral sides which were later removed when larger churches were raised on these sites.
The fairly rough manner of construction here was per- haps a reflection of the modest monastic environment for which the church had been commissioned. However, the forms and construction design of the church demonstrate
the builder’s skill and assurance. He covered the façade of the building with mortar and, as in Žiča by emulating the Mt. athos churches, he painted it in a vivid shade of red. The monastic tradition interpreted this color as being the blood of the martyrs who perished for the sake of their faith.
Regarded as a part of the Raška architectural school in which every monument—despite its similarity and kinship with other monuments—had specific traits of its own: the Church of the Holy apostles had a plan and spatial con- ception as well as certain forms that corresponded to the ecclesiastical needs of the eastern Church and belonged to Byzantine tenets. at the same time, however, the specific method of construction revealed elements indicating that the skills and practice of western builders had been mas- tered and that analogous edifices could be found along the coast and on the opposite shore of the adriatic Sea.
The interior decorative elements of the Holy apostles, despite its damaged aspect in its present-day impoverished ambience and the changes that took place in later centu- ries, still present a fairly rich picture of the spiritual life and sophisticated ideas of the time. The church’s iconography and artistic craftsmanship, more than the edifice itself, its size and character, prove that on the estate of the arch- bishopric, it had acquired a special place not only within the borders of lice, but also throughout the land. above all, the wall-paintings show that already by archbishop ar- senije’s time the sepulchral character of the church was emphasized by the presence of a sarcophagus in the west- ern part. Moreover, the idea that the church should become the resting place of other Serbian prelates had certainly been widely adopted when arsenije’s successor, the second member of the Nemanjić dynasty, namely, the youngest son of Stefan the First-Crowned, Sava ii (1263–1271) was buried there. The dedication of the church to Christ’s dis- ciples was undoubtedly inspired by the grand Church of the Holy apostles in Constantinople, built at the time of justinian. The Serbs were well aware that the church, with its appearance, reliquaries and other treasures as described by countless pilgrims, was the mausoleum of a number of Byzantine emperors, and especially of the ecumenical Pa- triarchs. The dedication was, of course, linked to the mis- sionary calling of the highest ecclesiastical dignitaries in the Orthodox world, so that the choice of patron for the church that was being built, had the same role in Serbia.
The historiography of art has long endeavoured to dis- cover the specific thematic and iconographic elements that reflect the spiritual atmosphere of the environment to which a church belonged, as well as to ascertain the immediate historical circumstances that could have influenced the choice of depiction to be drawn and the ideas they pur- ported to express. in this sense, much attention was earlier paid to Žiča, the first independent see of the Serbian Church. The bulk of its wall-paintings had been damaged and re- placed at a later date (1309–1316), but it is assumed that

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