Cetinje monastery

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One of the most famous and important spiritual relics in Montenegro is the Orthodox white-stone Cetinje monastery (Cetinjski Monastery).

Cetinje Monastery is located in the heart of the ancient capital of Montenegro - Cetinje, at the foot of the Eagle Cross Mountain. Previously, the Cetinje Monastery was located a little elsewhere. Now from the ancient buildings only the foundations and the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin on Chipur have been preserved. The monastery has been here for more than 500 years! is the residence of Montenegrin metropolitans. Cetinski monastery is, without any exaggeration, the heart and soul of Orthodox Montenegro, which at all times was a symbol of freedom, national consciousness and the strong spirit of the Montenegrin people. At present, it is the political and cultural center of the country. Cetinje Monastery survived many events, which turned out to be more or less sign and turning in the fate of Montenegro.

On the territory of the monastery the first Montenegrin printing house worked, published in 1493 the first book in the South Slavonic language in Cyrillic script – Octoechos (it can be found in the monastery museum). Further, other books followed: "Octoechos piatiglasnik", "Psalter", "Molitvoslov", "Four-Gospel". In 1880, the monastery opened the first secondary school in Montenegro. In the monastery there are the relics of St. Peter Cetinsky, Peter I, the spiritual and civil ruler of Montenegro, in the era of which the first written laws were adopted and central government bodies were established. Before the building of Biljarda, the monastery was the residence of Peter II Petrovic Njegos, a lord, ruler, poet and philosopher. In a small side cell, precious relics of great importance for Christians are stored: part of the right hand of John the Baptist (the hand that baptized Jesus) and the fragment of the Cross of Calvary, on which the Savior was crucified.

The way of these relics to the Cetinje monastery was difficult and confusing. It is well known that the relics of the Order of Malta - the hand of John the Baptist, a fragment of the Calvary cross and the miraculous icon Our Lady of the Way “Hodegetria” (according to legend, written by the Evangelist Luke) - were brought to Russia, to Gatchina. In October 12, 1799 the head of the Maltese knights handed them to the Emperor Paul I. Until 1917 they were kept in the Winter Palace, and in 1919 the priest Bogoyavlensky, retreating with the troops of Yudenich, took them to Revel. Then the relics got to Paris. They were handed over to the Russian attache, and the latter to Maria Fedorovna, mother of Nicholas II, who then lived in Copenhagen. She bequeathed them to the Cetinje monastery: the imperial wanted to keep the shrines in this Orthodox place. After her death, the relics were found at Yugoslav sovereign, Alexander. At one time the right hand of John the Baptist was put up for worship in the royal chapel in Belgrade. After the occupation of Yugoslavia by the fascists, the members of the royal family had to leave the country, and the relics were hidden in one of the remote Montenegrin monasteries. Then traces of them were lost. And only many years later the relics took their place in the Cetinje monastery.

The entire monastery during the Middle Ages was a powerful fortification, equipped with loopholes and surrounded by a serf moat filled with water, and a number of stakes. Fortress buildings of the monastery are preserved in part and up to the present time.

History of Cetinje Monastery.

The history of Cetinje Monastery began at the end of the XV century, and the founder of the monastery is Ivan Cernojevic - Ivan-beg. He ruled Zeta (the South Slavic principality in the territory of modern Montenegro) in 1465-1490. In 1479 the Turkish sultan Mehmet II seized Zeta, and Ivan was forced to leave the country and hide in Italy. Here Ivan-beg visited the Loreto Monastery of the Mother of God in Ancona, where he vowed to build a church dedicated to the Mother of God, in case of his return to his homeland. In 1481 Mehmet II died, and Ivan Cernojevic returned to Zeta and regained power over these lands. Soon he leaves his residence on Lake Skadar and restrains the word given to himself: in 1484, in the unapproachable for the Turks of the Lilac foothills, near the mountain Lovcen, a palace and the Cetinje monastery were built. By agreement with the then Zet Metropolitan Vissarion, the vicar bishop of Vavila and the whole of the brethren, Ivan establishes a dormitory charter for the monastery. Here, from the monastery of Vranjin, the residence of the Zeta eparchy, founded by Saint Sava I in 1219, was transferred. In his charter, Ivan Cernojevic generously endowed his "palace" with lands, forest lands and everything necessary.

The monastery was on the hill of Cipur and, according to contemporaries, it was a "small but beautiful" monastery. In the middle of it there was the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, surrounded on three sides by a colonnade. Presumably the temple was built by craftsmen from Maritime region. On the edges of the site there were monastery buildings: a small church of St. Ap. Petra, cells, metropolitan chambers and farm buildings. In the outer walls of these buildings there were loopholes, and the whole monastery was girded with a moat and a fence of stakes.
Ivan left after himself the son George, who ruled Zeta from 1490 to 1496. George is known for having founded the first printing press on the Obod in the Slavic south, and soon transferred it to the Cetinski monastery. The first printer was Hieromonk Macarius.

On September 28, 1692 in the period of the Morean War (1684-1699) Cetinski monastery was completely destroyed. The Morean war is the struggle of the Christian union, which included Austria, Poland, Venice, the Vatican, and on their side the Serbs and Montenegrins fought against Turkey. Since 1688, the Venetian garrison was located in the Cetinski Monastery. When the invaders entered the monastery, the Venetians mined, blew it, and retreated. About 300 Turks perished, and their leader, the Skadar Pasha, Suleiman Bushatli, was wounded. Pasha, a distant descendant of the builder of the monastery Ivan Cernojevic, in a fury ordered to demolish the surviving church and monastic cells after a terrible explosion. The spiritual residence was moved to the nearby monastery Dobrskaja Celija (Kelija).

In the 1701-1704 Metropolitan Daniel returned the Cetinje monastery to life and built it in a new place, on the slope of the Eagle Cross Mountain. The preserved parts of the old monastery were used to build a new one. In the altar wall of the new church was a stone relief with a two-headed eagle - Ivan Cernojevic's coat of arms, an old plate with the text about the base of the monastery installed above the entrance, and the arcades of the 2nd floor were decorated with old carved capitals. On the night from 24 to 25 December, on the eve of the Christmas in 1702, Orthodox Montenegrins by the order of Metropolitan Danil attacked the "Poturchentsi", that is, the Montenegrins who adopted Islam and conducted Turkish policy. All “poturchentsi”, except those who once again adopted Orthodoxy, were expelled from the country. This event, which strengthened the internal cohesion of Montenegrins in the struggle against the Turks, was reflected in the famous poem of Peter II Petrovic-Njegos "The Mountain Crown".

In 1711, ambassadors from Russia, Colonel Mikhail Miloradovich (originally from Herzegovina) and Captain Ivan Lukashevich (a native of Podgorica) arrived in Cetinje with a message from the Russian Tsar Peter I proposing a joint struggle against Turkey. In 1712, 60,000 Turks under the leadership of the Bosnian vizier Ahmet Pasha Shapchayliya invaded Montenegro. On July 17 (old style) 1712 Montenegrins won at Tsarev Laz. In this battle, the lord Danil was wounded. But another part of the Turkish army made its way to Cetinje and destroyed the monastery. In 1714 the new vizier Numan-Pasha Chuprilich with a hundred and twenty thousand Turkish army passed along Montenegro, burning everything in its path. Lord Danil was forced to go to Russia for help. In 1715 in St. Petersburg, Metropolitan Danil received from the Russian Tsar Peter I money for the restoration of the country, including the construction of new monasteries and churches. Cetinje Monastery was completely restored in 1724.

In 1784-1830 the Metropolitan of Montenegro was Peter I (Petrovic-Njegos) - Saint Peter Cetinski. In 1785, he was on a visit to Russia. During his absence, Skadar Pasha Mahmoud Bushatli attacked Cetinje and the monastery was destroyed again. During the next attack of Montenegro, Pasha was killed and his skull, as a reminder, is kept in the Cetinski monastery. Saint Peter built himself a new cell in this beautiful abode, which is still preserved. Four years after his death on October 18, 1834, the celebration of the glorification of this prelate took place, in which Orthodox Christians from all Serbian lands arrived in Cetinje.

His successor was later the famous Montenegrin poet and metropolitan Peter II Petrovic Njegos (1830-1851). During his reign, the monastery expanded considerably. Thanks to the help received from Russia, the courtyard building and a kitchen with a refectory were built. Peter II was a comprehensively developed ruler. And for his diverse activities these monastic possessions were not enough. In his time in the monastery a school (founded in 1834), a printing house (brought by Peter II from Russia in 1833) operated, foreign visitors and even titled persons stayed here. In 1838, Peter II ordered to build a new residence next to the monastery.

In Cetinje monastery, there were many high-ranking guests from Russia, including Russian great dukes. In July 1889 Great Duke Peter Nikolayevich (at that time the fiancé of Montenegrin princess Milica Nikolaevna) visited this place, and in July 1899 Great Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich wrote a poem "Montenegro".

In the 1890's an open tomb in honor of the ruling dynasty is built to the monastery wall outside. In 1896, on the upper tier of the bell tower, clocks are arranged, over which appears a small belfry.

In the 1916-1918 during the First World War, Cetinje was in the zone of occupation of Austrian troops. After the end of the war, on November 26, 1918, Montenegro merges with Serbia, and on December 1, 1918 Serbia and Montenegro form a united Yugoslav kingdom with Slovenia and Croatia. Since that time Cetinje ceases to be called the capital oа country.

A lot of changes occurred during the reign of the next metropolitan - Gabriel (Dozhich) in 1920-1938. In 1925-1927 he erected a new metropolitan residence, and the bell tower received its present appearance.
In 1984, for Metropolitans, a new building of the Metropolitan Residence was built, and in the old building of the residence there was a museum exposition of the Cetinian sacristy.

Since 1990, Montenegrin metropolitan has been Amfilohiy (Radovic). In May 1994, the Cetinje Monastery was visited by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexiy II.
The Orthodox white-stone Cetinje monastery (Cetinjski Monastery) in Montenegro

A little about the internal structure and appearance of the Cetinjski monastery.

The main monastery church is dedicated to the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin. Here are the main relics of the monastery: the relics of St. Peter of Cetinje, the imperishable right hand of St. John the Baptist (Forerunner), as well as part of the Life-giving Cross of the Lord.

Lifehack: in different sources you can find information that the right hand of St. John the Baptist is kept in other cities and places. It happened so because the church relics used to be divided into parts so that as many people could touch their power. In Cetinje, the entire right hand is stored, except for the ring finger and little finger. It is the tiny particles of these fingers that are stored in countless churches and monasteries claiming that they have the hand of John the Baptist.

In addition, the church houses the iconostasis, which is carved from a tree. According to some sources, the icons were painted by Nicholas Aspioti from the island of Corfu, and on the other by the brothers Ginowski from Macedonia. The church is notable for the fact that on the site of the altar image there is an icon of St. Peter Cetinski. For this reason, it is often mistakenly written that the church is dedicated to him. In the church are buried: Montenegrin prince Daniil I Petrovic-Njegos and his brother, governor Mirko, for his outstanding victories over the Turks nicknamed "the sword of Montenegro". The cell of St. Peter of Cetinje is also well preserved in the Cetinski monastery, in which a particle of the relics of St. Theodore Stratelates is kept.

In the museum of the monastery you can see the crown of St. Stephen of Deccan, the epitrachel of St. Sava I, the vestments of Montenegrin metropolitans and the gifts of Russian emperors, as well as a valuable collection of handwritten and printed books of the 13th and 19th centuries, for example the handwritten Gospel of Divosh Tikhoradich (circa 1350 ).

Between the monastery and the palace-museum of the Montenegrin king Nicholas, the court church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos is located, attached to the Cetinsky monastery and is a temple of the Cetinan seminary. The remains of the last Montenegrin ruler of King Nicholas (died in 1921) and his wife Milena, transferred here from the Russian church in San Remo (Italy) in 1989, kept in the church.

To the Cetinski monastery is also attributed the monastery of St. Elijah to Komovima. Once it was destroyed, and in 1997 it was restored by the efforts of Mikhail Prelevich and the inhabitants of the nearby Kuca area. Near the church theere is a cell building. Another winter house of St. Peter Cetinski in the village of Karuc on the Skadar Lake also belongs to the monastery. And above the monastery thre is a small one of St. John the Baptist.

At the top of the Eagle Cross Mountain, behind the monastery,there is the mausoleum of Bishop Danil, in the form of an open chapel. From here you can see the Lovcen mountain range, on one of its peaks - Jezerski vrh there is the mausoleum of Peter II Petrovic Njegos, built on the site of the tomb - the church of St. Peter of Cetinje. This beautiful church in 1972 was destroyed by the authorities of Tito and a modern, unremarkable building was erected there. The burial itself is located below the hall, here stands the sculpture of Peter Njegos with an eagle on his shoulder.

Legend has it that Njegos ordered to bury himself exactly on the top of this mountain, in order to enjoy from there all of Montenegro. The subjects offered to bury Njegos on the highest mountain in Montenegro, but he refused, explaining that in the future there would be a ruler who would make more for Montenegro than he did , then let him be buried on the highest mountain (on Mount Bobotov Kuk - 2523 meters above sea level in the Durmitor National Park).

In the monastery are kept such relics as:

 • The hand of John the Baptist;
 • The relics of St. Peter Cetinski (Peter I Petrovic Njegos);
 • Particles of the Holy Cross;
 • Epitrachel of Saint Sava;
 • Crown of King Stephen of Deccan;
 • Vestments of Montenegrin Metropolitans;
 • Gifts of Russian emperors;
 • A valuable collection of manuscript and printed books of the 13th-19th centuries;
 • Various old church banners.

All these make the Cetinski Monastery in Montenegro a repository of one of the richest collections of Orthodox relics.

Despite such an impressive list of important relics, the monastery itself looks rather modest - masonry with narrow passages and small halls. Such an atmosphere helps to plunge into yourself and think about the the deeds.

Lifehack: as there is always a lot of people in this temple, local monks give very little time for looking at relics and, keep in mind that for a long time you will not be able to view the shrines. Near the main shrines inside the church you will be able to spend literally 2-3 seconds ...
The hand of John the Baptist, The relics of St. Peter Cetinski (Peter I Petrovic Njegos), Particles of the Holy Cross in Cetinje monastery
Rules of visiting and behavior in the Cetinski monastery.

You can visit Cetinski Monastery absolutely free of charge in any day during daylight hours.

In Cetinski monastery the appearance of pilgrims and tourists is strictly watched. Monks periodically politely remind that you are in God's temple, and therefore must follow certain rules of decency.

You can get inside the temple only in the right closed clothes: shoulders and knees should be covered (naturally deep decolletes are not allowed), women need a headscarf and a skirt.

 Lifehack: if for some reason you did not manage to comply with these rules, do not worry, in the courtyard you will find skirts of the right length, scarves, pareos and even long trousers for men that you can rent before entering the temple. All this is issued to tourists also free of charge, but, of course, after visiting the monastery things should not be returned.

Women in the monastery may not cover their heads. Lighted candles pilgrims put in the courtyard in a special tray with water (a symbol of purification), covered in case of rain.

 Lifehack: if you come with a group, then you will go to the relics almost immediately. If you decide to visit this place on your own, you will have to wait until  10-15 people get together, then you will be shown the relics.

On the territory of the monastery there is also a church shop where you can buy candles, icons, talismans, souvenirs, brojanicas (a Balkan Orthodox amulet on your hand, bound with a special weaving of sheep's wool and connected in a ring) and much more. Here, as in popular monastery Ostrog, you can leave notes with names of relatives and friends.

Another important factor that we would like to warn you about: photography is prohibited in the church.

What can You see next to the monastery?

At the exit from the monastery, on the left you can find a landscape map of Montenegro, to which the relief of Montenegro has been artistically transferred to the smallest details. A beautiful Vlaska church with frescoes by Greek masters is located near the monastery. Around this church there is a fence of Turkish cannons seized during the war with the Turks in 1876. Next there is the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin on Cipur. This church is attractive because it stands on the foundations of the old Cetinski monastery.

Nearby there is the Government House, which houses two museums - the Historical and Art, an art gallery with the works of Pierre Auguste Renoir, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall and other painters. And since the Monastery is still located in the central part of Cetinje, a great deal of historical places, sights, cultural centers and objects for photography can be found near it. We strongly recommend a walk along the old town of Cetinje, as there are a lot of beautiful and interesting places, which are worth a look, because for many years this city was the capital of Montenegro.

In addition, the Cetinski Monastery is surrounded by beautiful scenic nature, clean air at any time of the year, and the quiet, measured life of the local population and the ancient streets with cozy cafes will surely make you plunge into a carefree and relaxed state. As the saying goes: "And let the whole world wait ..."!

How to get to Cetinje and Cetinski Monastery?

1. The easiest way to come to Cetinje is by using public transport. You will find it useful: The schedule of buses in Montenegro.
2. The second most common option - to purchase a package tour:

 • Monastic tour - visit of Ostrog and Cetinje monasteries
 • Mini-Montenegro-Cetinje monastery and the city of Cetinje
 • Individual excursion will give an opportunity to see the city and the monastery with a personal guide.

3. The simplest, but quite expensive option is to rent a car in Montenegro and get there yourself.

For convenience, we attach the schedule of services in the Cetinski Monastery:

At 5.00 am - Morning;
At 6.30 am - Divine Liturgy (on holidays at 9.00 am);
At 5.00 pm - All-night vigil (only on the eve of the holiday or Sunday).
Also on Tuesdays and Thursdays – reading of the akathist to St. John the Forerunner and the Honorable and Life-giving Cross of the Lord.

Peace, kindness and patience to you.

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