Zorica Zlatić Ivković
Construction of Monastery
The Vraćevšnica Monastery was built by the great leader Radič Postupović on the southern slopes of Rudnik, as his mausoleum. The construction and painting of the temple was completed in 1431, as evidenced by the preserved text of the gift charter of the founder. It states that the great leader Radic, in the days of the pious and Christ-loving despot of the Serbian and Raska lands, built the Church of St. George, and then that it was listed (painted with frescoes) and decorated in 1431. The note at the end of the inscription emphasizes that the mentioned text was transferred from the old chrysostom when the church was painted again in the 18th century.
Among the local nobles in the mining area, Radic is mentioned at the beginning of the 15th century as one of the closest associates of the despot Stefan, at whose court he performed the duty of leader. A contemporary of the Grand Duke Radoslav Mihaljević, protovestiary Bogdan and Nikola Rodop, the nobleman Radič is remembered as one of the rare and famous people of the Serbian despotate from the beginning of the 15th century. Constantine the Philosopher mentions him in the life of despot Stefan, describing the conflict with the Turks, which took place in 1413 near the town of Chamorlu, in Bulgaria. Celebrated in the difficult battle that brought Serbia the achievement of the expected goals, at the court of the learned despot Stefan, Radic succeeded to the narrowest circle of the ruler’s associates, performing, in addition to military duties, very important diplomatic affairs.
Temple of the Monastery of St. George
GREAT LEADER RADIČ POSTUPOVIĆ
He retained the acquired title during the reign of despot Đurađ, who promoted him to the title of great leader. As members of the central government, directly connected with the ruler, the holders of these high titles performed responsible duties, related to the seat and the ruler’s court. Charters of the despot Đurađ issued in 1428/29, and then 1429/30. year, the great leader Radič was confirmed numerous estates that were given to him for faithful service by the previous ruler. His manor was located, in addition to his homeland in the mining area, in Novo Brdo, Rasina, Braničevo, Mačva and other areas of Serbian land. He owned hundreds of villages, mines, quarries and smelters, as well as squares, which brought him great income. Closer biographical data on Radič Postupović, not recorded in available sources and documents, have been nurtured and preserved in folklore and oral epic poetry. Not much is known about the origin of his family; it is mentioned that his father was Duke Milutin, who ended his life in the Battle of Kosovo, and that they came from the mining village of Kamenica. Little information from his private life, preserved in the legend, says that he was married to Ana, with whom he had no children. Documents preserved in the archives of Mount Athos, however, indicate that Radic had a son of unknown secular name, who became a monk together with his father in the Kastamonit Monastery.
He is noted as a monk Misail in Turkish sources, noting that he is the “son of Radic”. It is also considered that the surname Postupović belongs to Radič’s ancestors, although it is not written in the mentioned charters in which only his name is used for the great leader. The oldest evidence of his surname is in the mentioned gift charter issued to the Vraćevšnica Monastery in 1431. Considering that the original grant has not been preserved, and the text of the transcript in each segment corresponds to the facts known from other documents, it is believed that the surname, which is read next to Radic’s name, was indeed Postupovic. At the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th century, Serbian nobles had enviable possessions, and many had revenues that brought rights to mines, their production and trade in obtained raw materials. Reaching maturity on the threshold of later years, as well as many Serbian rulers and nobles, this mining nobleman dedicated himself to the restoration of destroyed ruins on Mount Athos. He donated his property and income to the Monastery of St. Paul and Vatopedi in the area of Braničevo, while the Catholicon of the Monastery of Kastamonite renovated it from the ground up and richly endowed it with contributions in money, real estate and constant income from mines.
In Serbia, the Church of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Mother of God on the river Grabovničica is mentioned as his endowment, as well as the Church of the Monastery of St. George in Vraćevšnica, both in the mining area. It has long been considered in science that Radic’s oldest endowment is located in the Krusevac area, although its remains have not been found among the ruins of medieval churches in places with similar names. The Adelphats, which the great leader of the despotate acquired in the above-mentioned monastic families, enabled him to spend the rest of his life in the late years, when Serbia was subjugated to the Ottoman Empire, with his son and his spiritual father, as a Roman monk, in the Castamonite monastery. transferred all his charters and other important documents obtained and issued until then.
Careful analysis of the text of the gift charter and field research confirmed that the mentioned Annunciation Temple was built on the slopes of Rudnik, at the foot of Ješevačka Mountain, on the very bank of the river. It was built in the immediate vicinity of the medieval fortified town of Borac, where Despot Stefan dined and where in 1405 he signed a charter issued to the people of Dubrovnik. The similarity of the single-nave foundations of the temples in Ješevac and Vraćevšnica, their almost identical dimensions, and especially the way of building with stone carvings and finishing the facades with the frieze of blind arcades, with the mention of Obrovo area to which it belongs, certainly give grounds to connect the unexplored church with the founder
FACADE OF THE TEMPLE OF THE MONASTERY OF SAINT GEORGE
When Radic Postupovic began his fundraising activities, the Catholicon of the Resava Monastery, without any doubt, was an inviolable example on which, during the construction of their endowments, many founders and builders of church buildings found and took appropriate, chosen solutions. Of more modest dimensions and shapes, the spacious altar space of the Vračevo church in relation to the central nave and closed narthex, shaped over a single-nave base, despite the lack of choir conchs, are derived from the concept of an older and much more developed building in Resava. With its external appearance, from the stained plinth all the way to the roof wreath, the vertical dissection of the facades lined with squares of stone stacked in rows, the younger Radič’s noble endowment took over and repeated selected details from the facades of the despot’s mausoleum. On the pages of the polygonal apse of the Vraćevšnica temple, more than on its flat and high side facades, the verticals of special Resava conchs can be seen.
In details such as window openings, meticulously and consistently, a one-piece narrow opening was taken from the bifore of the Church of the Holy Trinity. Such an original solution of the window openings of the Vraćevšnica temple can be seen in older drawings and a later photograph. All the blind arcades, four on the south and one on the south wall of the mine church, are semicircular; only one of them, on the south façade, the third from the east, is slightly broken at the top, exactly as it was done on the facades of the nave in Resava, where two shallow blind arcades are placed symmetrically in relation to the choir conches. Although the construction of the Vratsa Catholicon did not pay much attention to the relationship between the decorative treatment of the facades and the internal structure of the building, where the only blind arcade with a slightly broken arch at the top is on the outer wall, the founder’s composition depicts the great leader Radič with the model of the temple, its patron Saint George leads to Christ. It is not possible to establish deeper foundations about the observed coincidence or personal message of the founder, which has remained unnoticed and unexplained so far, than those already pointed out and which give a clear picture of a bright example and later replicas. For the man of the Middle Ages, the erection of the temple of God was an act of redemption of sins and advocacy for the immortality of the soul, which, having achieved wealth and power in adulthood, both the ruler and his respectable subject, seriously and devotedly considered. Radic imagined, built and decorated Vraćevšnica, as despot Stefan Resava, as Nemanja once Studenica, and his descendants, his monumental church endowment, as his mausoleum.
window of the Temple of the Monastery of St. George
FOUNDING COMPOSITION IN WHICH THE GREAT LEADER RADIČ WITH THE MODEL OF THE TEMPLE, HIS PROTECTOR SAINT GEORGE BRINGS HIM TO CHRIST
On the inner walls of the later tomb church, with the learned theologians and the advice of the clergy, acquainted with the content and symbolism of paintings from the Resava Catholicon, he influenced the iconography of painted scenes, first around the founder’s composition, and more its chosen purpose. The designed and carefully assembled architectural whole was then enriched with messages of eschatological and soteriological symbolism, written on the walls of the space of the planned funerary purpose. The founder dedicated the temple in Vraćevšnica to his patron Saint George, but it is presumed that he also preserved the memory of the dedication of Resava to the Holy Trinity by choosing a patron for the chapel which was located in the only tower that Radič Postupović secured his mining fund in turbulent times. The transcription activity, richly developed in the fortified monastery of the learned despot, took place in Radič’s monastic family, within the thick stone walls of her fortification, as evidenced by the preserved manuscripts and records on their margins, which are noted to have been written in Vraćevšnica and belong to .