Zorica Zlatić Ivković

Liberation of Serbia

At the head of the monastery administration, at the beginning of the 19th century, was one of the most capable, learned men of that time, Archimandrite Melentije Pavlović, with whom Prince Miloš established very close relations based on mutual trust and close cooperation. During the Second Uprising, the mining monastery retained the significance it had in previous years. Many important decisions for Serbia were made in Vraćevšnica, and among the first was that the prince and his family moved to Kragujevac and that the city was declared the capital of Serbia. Agreements on that, and other important issues, were reached at the National Assembly, held in 1818 in Vraćevšnica, on St. George’s Day, the glory of the monastery. Even when he moved his seat to Kragujevac, the prince did not move away from the shrine, which he considered his second home.

Prince Miloš Obrenović

THE GOSPEL OF arsenija čarnojević

In addition to a significant contribution to the uprising events from the beginning of the 19th century, the Vraćevšnica Monastery and its learned representatives also played an important educational role. Judging by the preserved data, this activity of the monastic family began during the Turkish occupation, under extremely unfavorable circumstances of banning any forms of schooling for young people in Serbia. Advocating for a much better organization of the educational process, Archimandrite Melentije Pavlović, himself educated in Vraćevšnica, built with his own funds, in 1810, a new school building for students from the surrounding area. In addition to basic literacy, priests and teachers were prepared in this monastery school, and many famous later dignitaries of the Church passed through it.

In the years after the Second Uprising, the Obrenović’s, and especially Prince Miloš and his family, became more and more attached to the Rudnik monastery. In 1819, the remains of the prince’s mother Višnja were transferred from Brusnica to the port of Vraćevšnica, and three of Miloš’s children were later buried next to her. In gratitude to the monastery, and in memory of his mother, the prince, in 1825, built a new residence in the northern part of the gate, looking like the town houses of wealthier merchants of that time. He marked all his renovations in this monastery with plaques with inscriptions on which he emphasizes the dedication of Baba Višnja, as family members, as well as monks, addressed the mother of the respected Serbian prince. The events that took place during the 19th century to some extent changed the endowment of Radič Postupović. When the Turks demolished the domes from the church in 1813 to remove the bell, the monks made repairs and erected a “small tower” over the “beautiful painted vestibule”, as noted by Vujic, who found such a situation in 1826.

Konak of Prince Miloš

grave of Baba Višnja

tower in the monastery gate

Then it was 1840/41. Master Nastas Stefanović unprofessionally built a new bell tower over the same western part, which seriously endangered the monastery’s cathedral. From the preserved documents, it is known that due to the works on the construction of the mentioned bell tower, the medieval tower located in front of the temple, in the western part of the gate, was demolished, which could hardly be accepted as reasonable and justified. In the same way, it is hard to believe that in any intervention in the lobby of the temple, there could have been such great damage to the narthex, its roof and vaults, the western and upper parts of the side walls. The mentioned medieval tower was used during Karadjordj’s and Miloš’s uprising as a warehouse for ammunition, lead and gunpowder. After the demolition of the old one, the official government accelerated the construction of a new tower in the monastery gate, in order to place explosives that stood in the open. Due to the dangers pointed out by the monks, the gunpowder was allegedly finally moved to the newly built gunpowder facility in Stragari. Whatever happened in the difficult times of the 1940s in the Vraćevšnica Monastery left irreparable consequences; the medieval stone tower from the 15th century was demolished, and at the same time the original western part of the church and a large part of the wall paintings on the vault and the narthex walls, as well as in the lobby of the temple, were destroyed.

After the death of the enterprising abbot of Vraćevšnica and prominent prince’s associate Melentije Pavlović, in the period between the two reigns of Prince Miloš, from 1839 to 1859, Serbia was shaken by conflicts of various currents that could not have affection for the monastery favorite Obrenović. The monastery brothers did not have the necessary funds for the necessary renovation of the temple and the dilapidated old konak. The change came only when Prince Milos returned to power in his late years, but with great experience necessary for making mature decisions and a strong will to continue to start important work in Serbia. He immediately turned to his monastery Vraćevšnica with the desire to elevate it and look closer to the endowment of its first founder. In the same year, 1859, hieromonk Vićentija Krasojević was appointed abbot, another respectable and capable person who will leave a significant mark in the history of Vraćevšnica.

Library memorial plaque

Appearance of the Vraćevšnica monastery from 1820. year – woodprint

The works on the Church of St. George took place during the entire seventh decade, and the realized appearance of the church testifies that they were performed in accordance with Radič’s work, whose appearance is preserved on the painted model in the founder’s composition. At the request of Prince Miloš, a space intended for the family tomb of Obrenović was arranged under the western lobby. Prepared for the mausoleum of the founder, the great leader Radič Postupović in the 15th century, and then, four centuries later, for the prince’s tomb and the new mausoleum of the ruling Obrenović dynasty, due to various circumstances, the Vračevo temple did not become one or the other. As far as is known, and there is a lack of knowledge that would be obtained by archeological excavations inside the church, only the remains of two of his dedicated and devoted abbots, Melentije Pavlović and Vićentije Krasojević, rest, who deserved such an honor with their God-pleasing deeds.

The enterprising abbot of Vicentije is also responsible for the construction of the bell tower and the new konak in the southwestern part of the port. Started with the help of Prince Mihailo Obrenović in 1868, after his tragic death in Topčider, the new residence was completed with contributions from parishioners during the reign of Prince Milan Obrenović, as evidenced by the inscription on the south wall above the entrance to the monastery port. Despite numerous troubles and accidents brought by the 19th century, the Vraćevšnica Monastery was an important spiritual center, and at the same time a gathering place for insurgents, patriots and educated people of Serbia. Many painters in this monastery created and left their works, which are mentioned by travel writers and researchers. It was noted by Felix Kanic that, at the end of the 19th century, Vraćevšnica was a rich monastery, that he owned twenty hectares of arable land, three hectares of meadows, five hectares of orchards and vineyards, two hundred and fifty hectares of forest, two mills, a tavern and a large number of cattle. and that his monks took care of thirteen places with 837 houses.

King Milan Obrenović