Celije near Kolubara

THE HOLY GREAT-MARTYR GEORGE'S MONASTERY - CELIJE

Ćelije Monastery dedicated to St. George the Great Martyr is located about 3 km southeast of Lajkovac, and 2 km east of the mouth of the Ljig River into the Kolubara River. Also in the immediate vicinity of the confluence of these two rivers is the Roman archaeological site, one kilometer away. The monastery church was built in the bay below Vraca hill (elevation 293) and hill Čovke (elevation 272) at an altitude of 139 m. Beside the monastery in the bay flows a shallow stream Kamenica. In this hidden valley, probably during the fourteenth or early fifteenth centuries, a smaller monastery complex was erected, consisting of a single nave church and several buildings. The past of the monastery of St. George in the village of Ćelije near Lajkovac is very secretive. Previous attempts to figure it out could not be based on the usual written sources, because there were almost none, but solely on sources of a different nature.

And one of the few written information about the age of the monastery is given by Peter Ž. Petrovic in the book Sumadijska Kolubara (Belgrade, 1949). He notes the following: “The old cell of Celija, after which this settlement was named, was in the stream Kamenica. He is dedicated to St. Gregory. According to the legend, it was demolished twice and restored a third time. In Karadjordje’s time monastery bells and church gates were transferred to the Bogovadju Monastery for safekeeping. The bells were so large that they were dragged by twelve pairs of oxen. The Turks then demolished the monastery to the ground, leaving only the venerable table made of stone in the altar, which was later transferred to the church of the neighboring village of Petka. When the present-day church was erected on the foundations of the old monastery, then a stone slab was excavated and a human skeleton was found under it. According to the legend, the blind Gregory, son of the despot Djurdje, was buried at this monastery, so it is said that the skeleton of blind Gregory was discovered”.

The monastery was used to house a small number of monks, and by its reputation and concept it is reminiscent of a large number of monasteries erected in Serbia at the time, under the influence of Sveta Gora. It probably originated in the second half of the fourteenth or early fifteenth century when an unknown representative of the Serbian lordship, guided by spiritual motives, with a noticeably strong influence ideas of Sveta Gora, decided to erect a temple dedicated to St. Gregory in the hidden medieval parish of Pepeljevac. The election of one of the holy warriors for a patron and a place to build a temple in the border area to Hungary indicate that the donor was a representative of the Serbian military authority. After his death, the founder founder was probably buried in the southern part of the western grass of the church with the erection of a stone tombstone. During the construction of the memorial ossuary, the donor tomb was devastated.

Archaeologists Radivoje Arsic and Vladimir Pecikoza, who examined the entire interior of the church and part of the port, suggested that the original patrons of the monastery were St. Vrači. The foundations were found in the existence of the toponyms of Vraca Brdo, according to the tradition according to which the sorcerers resided here and the existence of a nearby salt water source for which medicinal properties are associated. It is also said in the legend that soldiers after the Kosovo fight saw wounds at that source. Such an opinion cannot be easily accepted because all the evidence is related to the toponym “Vrace Brdo”.  For the hill, there is another name for the Sparrow Hill, which may indicate bird sparrows.

In the first period, the monastery consisted of a church, a residence hall, a dining room and a building. The single nave church with two pilasters in the nave and a semicircular apse had shallow foundations, walls of pressed limestone with squares of siga in characteristic places, a vaulted semi-arched vault and a two-story roof without a dome. There was an exterior and interior painting. From the surrounding temples, it is distinguished by its proper shape and proportional dimensions.

Part of the preserved painting

The original monastery konak was not located yet, most likely located west of the temple. To the south of the church was a dining room leaning against the back, today covered by a modern residence hut.

A little later, at the turn of the XV to the sixteenth century, in the central part of the nave, a burial of another significant person, an Orthodox man over 60, was buried. The burial site, which was unusual for the Middle Ages, should not be seen as a desire to hide the grave, but as a new way of thinking and living in the church, which can also be encountered in the Vavedenje Monastery in Slavkovica. The deceased was not buried in a crate, but only wooden planks were laid over it, and a recessed rectangular tombstone with a semicircular sandstone finish oriented west-east, without any decoration and text, was processed. There were only nine silver buttons in the tomb, most likely originating from his clothing.

The tomb and tombstone of a person buried in the church of monastery Celije

The identity of the deceased has not been determined, but as his area was largely conquered by the Ottomans who relied on local princes in the ranks of the Turkish spahi, it may be that Novak was the son of Milos, a prince from the Kolubara Nahi to whom he belonged the village of Ćelije, without Beli Brod and Lalovac. These princes, representatives of the local self-government, were often able to act as renovators of Serbian temples, and it is possible that Prince Novak, who was buried in the central part of the nave, did the same.

Although the place of the cell is mentioned in Turkish defters from the first half of the sixteenth century, there is no mention of the monastery itself, which does not mean that it did not exist.  In a later census of 1741 Ćelije village was concealed by the inhabitants of Petka who cultivated the land there, which is why in 1743 registered as a mezra and assigned as a timer to a certain Hasan with an obligation to settle it.

To the east of the church, as a consequence of a new way of thinking, sometime during the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries a new dwelling-place, of a storied nature, was erected and partly buried with its north side in the hill. Konak was in use during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and its foundations have been preserved to this day.

With some interruptions, the monastery probably existed until the end of the eighteenth century when it completely left. There is a legend that says that the Karadjordje Monastery was for the second time destroyed by Turks with cannons from the hills, but it is more likely that it was Koca Krajina. After the destruction of the church, bells were transferred from “twelve pairs of oxen” to Bogovadja Monastry for safekeeping, which is partially confirmed by the records of the abbot Abbot Moses (Savic) in Dab’s Gospel of 4th February 1808 and the testimony of the Markov parish priest Marko Dimitrijevic in the late 19th century. It can be seen from the Abbot’s records that the bells weighed about 400 and 700 pounds.

The God-worshipers for the need to repair their temple during 1843-44 they also took some of the stone from Ćelije Monastery, which provoked the protest of people of Ćelije. Bishop Sava protected the accused monks by claiming that the Ćelije Monastery was built by the abbot of Mardaria at the same time as Bogovadja, and this church belongs to Bogovadja.

When the Stosic family rebuilt the abandoned church in Petka in the mid-19th century, a stone vestibule was also transferred. The construction of the memorial church “where the bones of our heroes who died defending their hearths” will be housed in World War I began in 1924 to 1925 Liturgy served. The rebuilt church became a memorial to the ossuary in about 7. 000 Serbian and Austro-Hungarian soldiers killed in the vicinity of Vrace Brdo and Covka during the Battle of Kolubara 1914. The fiercest battles were fought between Vraca Brdo and Čovka in Ćelije. During the restoration of the monastery church, preserved pieces of stone church walls with a maximum height of 1.5 m were supervised by brick, and the bones of the missing soldiers were laid in the crypt in the nave and in front of the western entrance. A new tomb was erected over the remains of the original pebble and lime-brick brick floor, and most likely a cathedral tomb with a tombstone was devastated and moved somewhere in the southern part of the western grass. The legend according to which Gregory Brankovic was buried in the monastery was then revived and the people began to believe that the said grave belonged to the son of despot Djuradj, although it was officially accepted that he was buried in Hilandar, where he buried himself and retired in 1459.

During 2004-05 some archaeological investigations were carried out regarding the reconstruction of the church and crypts that were badly damaged by moisture and groundwater. Then a drainage system, a waterproofed church and a crypt were built, the foundations were fixed, the facade was repaired and the plaster was partially restored.

The church was forgotten for decades, and with the efforts and efforts of Bishop Jovan of Sumadia, the monastery was re-established and consecrated 29th July 2006 with the status of Metoh of the Monastery of Sv. Luka in Bošnjane near Varvarin.

Address: Monastery Celije, 14224 Lajkovac
Phone: 014/34-33-507

Legal Entity details:
Tax Identification Number: 1028560
Company Number: 176627
Legal Entity Address: Kralja Aleksandra Karadjordjevica 31A
Name: Serbian Orthodox Church – Eparchy of Šumadija – Kragujevac

 

Abbot of the monastery: hieromonk Dositej of Hilandar