Friday, July 18, 2014

Rebuilding Besenovo

The Serbian Orthodox Church has begun a campaign to rebuild Besenovo (Бешеново) monastery on Fruška Gora in northern Serbia, the 13th-century legacy of King Dragutin, destroyed in 1944. See here for the instructions on how you can help the rebuilding effort. And here is what the abbot of the monastery says about its remarkable history:

According to oral tradition, the Monastery was built by King Dragutin Nemanjić, who was the ruler of Srem. He placed the monastery on one of main springs that provided water for the old Syrmium, today’s Sremska Mitrovica. The cross of the Monastery of Bešenovo was mentioned already in 1292, that is, during Dragutin’s rule.

The written traces of the Monastery date back to the 15th century. The Monastery played an important role in the cultural and spiritual life of the Orthodox people. The Turks pillaged the Monastery on several occasions, chasing away the monks, and the Hapsburg Monarchy, also, was not positively inclined toward it. Wise Metropolitan Pavle Nenadović, who was well-aware of its spiritual and national importance, played an important role in the restoration of the Monastery in the time of the Habsburg Monarchy.

Resting in the Monastery since 1773 are the remains of Colonel Aleksandar Rašković, the last duke of the Rašković family, direct descent of the holy Nemanjić dynasty. His father Atanasije had raised the people’s uprising in Stari Vlah area, immediately before the Second migration of the Serbs to the Pannonian Plain and his uncle, Patriarch Arsenije Jovanović IV Šakabenta led that migration.

The tomb of Aleksandar Rašković, covered with bushes, was found accidentally, during excavation of the foundations of the monastery and will be restored, within the reconstruction of the Monastery.

As Besenovo is away from the main roads, it provided shelter to the monks from Sremska Ravanica and Jazak monasteries, who fled before the rampaging Ustasha that occupied Srem during WWII. The relics of the Holy Prince Lazar and Holy Emperor Uroš were also kept in the Monastery at the beginning of the Second World War. From there, in 1942, thanks to the efforts and courage of priest Radoslav Grujić, the relics were taken to the Cathedral Church in Belgrade.

To the sorrow and grief of Serbian people, the Ustasha followed the order of the Government of the Independent State of Croatia and looted Besenovo. In 1944, the German aviation bombed the Monastery and the nearby village to the ground.

The post-war communist authorities tacitly approved of stealing of the bricks and other construction materials, while Monastery was left without its estate, and, when the Abbot Nikodim complained about that, it stayed even without its remaining land. After that, only abandoned ruins of the church and the lodging shelters remained.

It is up to us, now, donating as much as we can, to correct the historic injustice and rebuild the Monastery toward the sky of our holy Fruška Gora mountain.

Wishing that we pray God in restored Monastery of Bešenovo, I bless you and wish you peace and health from God!

Protosyngellos haji-Аrsenije Matić,
Abbot of the Bešenovo Monastery

1 comment:

bearspaw said...

I went to St. Sava in Belgrade last week. Even in it's incomplete condition it is a magnificent sight to behold. Sadly, for me, it will not be completed in my lifetime but for future generations it will be a great source for spiritual contemplation.