Two millenniums long journey of three sanctities marked by Christ’s sacrifice: hand of Sveti Jovan Krstitelj (Saint Jovan the Baptiser), particles of the Honorable Cross, and the icon of Holy Mother of God of Philermosa has been ended in Montenegro. Testifying the crucial historical moments on the way from Jerusalem over Rodos, Malta, Italy, Russia this relics have never been separated, more precisely to say, never before Montenegro. It took 30 years to people to come to understand the significance of the “triad” and that something that has a long history, more than two centuries long, should not be changed. Finally, this year a deal was made: three relics should be kept together, as it was the case in past centuries, in a chapel.
Officially, a deal was made between the Montenegrin- coastal Archbishopric and the National museum of Montenegro, the institutions in whose property these relics are, with intermediate role of the president of the republic Filip Vujanovic. However, Vujanovic’s role was more of an initiative one, than intermediate one. Vujnaovic, when he was still a Prime Minister suggested that the “Metropolitan and the State museum should find a compromise and that they should unite the relics in one place”. This time, Montenegrin president has kept his promise and has shown an envious capability of intermediating abilities.
Metropolitan Montenegrin – coastal Amfilohije confirmed that they have agreed that the three relics will be placed in the shrine of Sveta Trojica on Medovina above Cetinje monastery.
– In achieving of this agreement expert people in the name of the state and the Church have been included in order for the right shrine to be chosen, and also its basic concept and content, as well as accompanying edifices – said for “Vijesti” Amfilohije.
He said that it has been predicted that the new church should be organically fitted into the complex of Cetinje monastery and in that way the empty area behind it fulfilled.
– That space was created between two world wars, with attempts of the metropolitan of that time Gavrilo Dozic to make there a cathedral shrine of Montenegrin capital – explained Amfilohije.
He says that archbishopric for more than 10 years has been trying to unite in the temple of Cetinje monastery all three relics.
– Therefore Archbishopric accepts the unison of the relics in the scope of the monastery, under its care and protection, through making come true the legacy thoughts of king Nikola, with the construction of a cathedral of the shire of Sveta Trojica, creation of the state and other states of benefactors and patrons, the states through which these relics went through from Jerusalem to Cetinje – says metropolitan Montenegrin -coastal.
Director of the national museum Petar Cukovic speaking about the agreement says that it is quite clear that there is an undivided opinion that the best solution is that all three relics should be found in one facility which would enable not just their “watching” but also their “full” metaphysical and praying – liturgy meeting of believers with them.
– During all so far negotiations with the Archbishopric, which is, of course, an inevitable partner in all talks, since the hand of Jovan the Baptizer and the fragments of the Honorable Cross are in their possession, there were many ideas about where and how all those relics should be exposed, as well as who and what kind of authority would someone have over the future edifice, including the possibility of its division – says Cukovic.
Except the decision that the relics should be united once again, negotiating parties have found a comprising solution about the location, as well as about the type of the facility in which the relics will be places. President Vujanovic emphasizes that the relics are above all religion ones and that they have always been kept in churches even though they have a great artistic value. He says that the choice of the shrine place, above the monastery, has been made after the check of other locations and the note that it will not jeopardize its look and that it won’t represent a central visual experience.
– On the contrary, we will choose a project task with which the incited hill above the monastery with the idea of Christian cave will be brought back into a prior look with suitable head of the sanctuary – explains Vujanovic.
Metropolitan Amfilohije also expresses his hope that the location “has been definitely determined” and that this shrine will fill up the empty space, which has been prepared just for it, almost 80 years ago. When we are talking about the type of the facility, he says that it is entirely natural that that should be a unique shrine.
– Most likely they will build a temple with three transepts for three relics, in which liturgies will be constantly held and where all the preconditions will be made for visitors – pilgrims and tourists. Living sacral items, which during its history belonged to living temples, it is natural that they should be found on Cetinje also in a temple, like in the place of a cult, not ceasing to be an extraordinary part of the culture and world heritage by that – says Amfilohije.
Petar Cukovic explains how after many previously postponed ideas they came to the idea of construction of the “facility”.
– I put this under quotation because in one, main, and for me personally the only acceptable solution in this location it is rather a non- facility on the plateau above Cetinje Monastery. Idea solution, which even through talks which architect Predrag Spacic had with me and professor Goran Radevic it meant, first, the absolute preservation of the visual non – violation and centering of Cetinje monastery, then the affirmation of the idea of the cave as the “birthplace” of Christian experience, being that the Christ has been born in the cave, and that the first early Christian praying experiences have been connected to caves – explains Cykovic.
He says that that project meant covering of the future “non – facility” with bringing of land on the roof, actually with bringing back of a segment of earlier incited hill, with which they would provide the additional “invisibility” of the sanctuary.
– With the accumulation of the relic contents, icon of Holy Mother of God of Philermosa, hand of Jovan the Baptizer, and the fragments of the Honorable Cross along with the relics of Sveti Petar Cetinjski, this entire complex without any doubt has got on its tsrenght and was the subject of the greatest pilgrim desire – points out Cukovic.
Soon an international open competition for architectonic solution of the facility will be announced. The project will be financed from international and domestic funds, in which a significant part will have the countries which have preserved the relics on their journey. In that purpose soon, in coordination with the state organs and the capital of Cetinje we will organize a donation conference.
President Vujanovic pointed out that everything will take place under the sponsorship of the state, and that he has accepted to promote the forming of the foundation which will take care of the construction of the sanctuary. The authority over the future shrine is basically divided.
It should be lead by the foundation in which there would be the representatives of the National Museum, Archbishopric Montenegrin – coastal, Municipality of Cetinje, Government of Montenegro and the representatives of all countries which have donated the construction of the sanctuary, and in which the relics will be placed. The thing on which everyone agrees is that this project will be of great importance for Cetinje and Montenegro.
– I am sure that Cetinje throughout the whole year will be visited by numerous believers, but also by atheists, with the intention of seeing the sanctuary. I am convinced that with this we will significantly help the development of Cetinje and create the conditions for the better quality of the citizens of Cetinje – thinks president Vujanovic.
Metropolitan Amfilohije expresses his hope that this temple by its construction and beauty will be worthy of both relics which will be in it and the royal capital town of Cetinje. Like all centennial history of these relics is miraculous and connected to divine thought, no doubt their arrival in Montenegro, on Cetinje is not accidental. Montenegro, which for ever was and still is the East on the West and the West on the East, is once again regaining, through these relics, the universal character and meaning – points out Montenegrin – coastal metropolitan.
The mayor of Cetinje Milovan Jankovic too thinks that this project will be of invaluable significance for the town and its future tourist, and all encompassing development.
– It is natural to expect the growth of all parameters in local tourist economy, but also the development of all other activities which take part in fluctuations in tourism. That will by all means stir the development in all other spheres of life and will be an encouragement to numerous domestic and foreign investors to invest their funds in valorization of wide potentials which Cetinje has – -says Jankovic.
Three great relics have traveled so long, and on all those journeys, as historical data, stories and legends testify they have only looked for the bigger safety with true believers. Which safety and what kind of believers they have found in Montenegro, we shall see.
Danijela Jovicevc, Tanja Pavicevic
VUCINIC: THEY ARE DEVASTATING THE NATIONAL SYMBOL
– The respected people who are chairmen of the half secret Foundation for construction of the facilities of Orthodox temple of great Christian relics on Cetinje with their acts of doing and not doing are making a disgrace to their country and their nation. In a mean way they are heading for the greatest Montenegrin sanctity – Cetinje monastery, with the goal to devastate it in visual and in spiritual sense as a national symbol. At the same time, in an also a mean way, leaned on the best anti – Montenegrin tradition in the face of Marko Dakovic and Joanikije Lipovac, in a sleazy way, they are leading our spiritual world and all our sanctities under the absolute competence of Belgrade Patriarchy. We will be lead by this fact and therefore we will invite all those Montenegrin national institutions, cultural, historical, and public persons to unite and to resist that kind of a crime – said Stevo Vucinic, vice president of the boards for promotion of the interests of Montenegrin Orthodox church, on the occasion of the initiative for the construction of the cathedral in which the relics will be permanently exposed.
SPASIC: IT IS BETTER TO BUILD BETWEEN THE MONASTERY AND THE MUSEUM
For the architect Predrag Sapasic one of the authors of the idea project of the shrine for unison of the relics the choice of location is disputable.
– I have done and elaborated the suggestion for, in my opinion, indisputably the best location, in the ring of the museum and monastery complex. At insists of other participants on the project the area of Nova dzada was imposed, as a possible location for the construction of this facility. I have insisted on the problems connected to this location. Except the degrading of the complex of Cetinje monastery, which will happen for sure with that, no matter the institutions of the open competition, and entire tract could be written on that topic. As a man from this branch I think that in this location we should not built a facility or facilities in the real sense of that word. I am the author of the idea solution in the position of this plateau, for which I think that it could have presented a possible compromise for this significant idea to be carried out, and that the facility does not obstruct the existing ambience with the fact that it has been dug in the ground and that it represents the natural continuation of Cetinje cave, whose beauties are being valorized and put into function. As a part of this investment idea solution means parter processing, of both plateau and the entire museum and monastery complex – explains Spasic.
THE DEBT TOWARDS THE RELICS HAS BEEN FULFILLED
Minister of culture Predrag Sekulic said for “Vijesti” that the new unison of the relics under one roof will mean a lot for both Cetinje and for Montenegro and that that is a way of “paying a debt to relics themselves, to their historical way which has been very long”.
– Where ever they have been until now relics were places in religious edifices, and not in the museums. What is important is that the temple which will be built should be completely fit into ambience above Cetinje monastery, and that in no way it can jeopardize this temple – said Sekulic.
He stressed that, if we can judge according to what they have as a starting point, they will manage to make a sanctuary of which everyone will be proud of.
FROM JERUSALEM TO CETINJE
In October 1993 loudly echoed the news that the hand of Jovan the Baptizer, a segment of the Honorable Cross, and the Icon of the Holy Mother of God of Philermosa, for which it is believed that evangelist Luka made it, are located on Cetinje. The road of these three relics from the Christ’s era until nowadays, by the interest and the plot, could be compared with the action of some exciting action novel. After Jerusalem and Rodos, they were for some time on Malta, in the sacristy of the cathedral church, for two and a half centuries, until the island in 1798 wasn’t conquered by Napoleon and until he banished Malta knights. Great master of Malta knights had to leave La Valeta five years after the conquering, and he managed to get from the conqueror three relics which will get the new residential place at the Russian emperor Pavle I, in the court church of Petrovgrad Winter castle. Pavle’s heir emperor Aleksandar II took them permanently to Gatcino, a castle about 50 kilometers away from Petrovgrad. After the revolution in 1917 th relics were transferred from Russian, and Maria Fiodorovna. The daughter of the last Russian emperor Nikola II Romanov, kept them until her death. After her death, her daughter gave the relics to Russian metropolitan Antonije Hrapavicki, who put them in an Orthodox temple in Berlin, and then together with them he moved to Serbia, in Sremski Karlovci, and trusted them to king Aleksandar Karadjordjevic. The relics have been kept in the court temple of Svet Andrej Prvozvani on Dedinje, and at the beginning of the World War II king Petar II gave them to monastery Ostrog whose archimandrite hid them and where they stayed until 1952. After more than 20 years of keeping them in the deposit of Service of state security the authorities have given back the segment of the Honorable Cross and the hand of Jovan the Baptizer to Cetinje Monastery and they gave Philermosa to National museum.