Devic Monastery

Devic MonasteryDevic Monastery near Srbica (Drenica district) was first built in the first half of the 15th century, and was first endowed by Joannicius of Devic (born in the 14th century), the saint with whom the past of this holy place is connected. According to a folk legend, founding of the monastery is ascribed to Despot Djuradj Brankovic, who had it built to the memory of his virgin daughter, which is how the monastery got its name. The fact that Grgur, the son of Despot Djuradj, presented the monastery with a bell in 1458, reinforces the theory that the monastery is connected to the Brankovic family. In the Turkish census from 1455, the monastery is mentioned as the church of the Theotokos (dedicated to the Entrance the Holy Theotokos Mary into the Temple) with monks. The Turks pulled the monastery down, and it remained deserted until the re-establishment of the Patriarchate of Pec in 1557, during the time of the Patriarch Macarius Sokolovic. The church and the site with the grave of St. Joannicius was reconstructed, and was painted in 1578, during the time of Prior Pachomius and Hieromonk Longin with brethren. Fragments of the paintings painted at the time are preserved in the church's apse as well as above Joakinije's tomb where the presentation of the Ascension is the most evident testimony to the inventiveness of the painter. The reputation that the monastery enjoyed in the 16th and 17th centuries due to its saint's relics was increased by its fruitful transcription school. The fact that it managed to be active also in the 19th century is evidenced by oil wall paintings painted after its renewal in 1863.

Monastery Devic suffered the greatest devastation during World War II. Albanians destroyed and burned the monastery in 1941, and savagely killed Damaskin Boskovic, the Prior. Italians disassembled the two big bells and took them away. Only the grave of St. Joannicius, covered with stones from the destroyed church, remained in the monastery. Reconstruction of the monastery began in 1947.

Due to numerous reconstructions, the monastery church lost its original appearance. The southeast paraclis, which had a rectangular base and a spacious apse, is the oldest part of the church. It is covered with a semi-spherical arch ceiling. East from the altar space is the chapel with the marble tomb of Saint Joannicius (Jonicije) of Devic, the patron-saint of the monastery.

The church was painted in the mid-16th century, and in 1578, during the incumbency of Patriarch Pachomius, which is supported by a preserved inscription. The latest paintings originate from 1863, but they were removed in 1966, so that the older and more valuable paintings could be revealed. Only the royal door remained from the original iconostasis. The existing iconostasis was made in 1974 by nuns from Celije monastery, while the carving is the work of Milan Milosevic from Cacak.

The grave of "Blessed Stojana" (Euphemia the Nun), who died in 1895, is in the church. The chapel and the well of St. Joannicius of Devic are outside the monastery.

The monastery was reconstructed in 1954 and returned to active monastic life by the late abbes Parasceva and her sisters who found only heaps of stones on the place where monastery had been. Today there are eight nuns in the monastery who cultivate the monastery land by their own hands . The greatest spiritual treasure of the monastery are the relics of St. Ioanichios of Devic who is known as a great miracle-worker. Almost every day miracles and healings happen in this monastery.

Pilgrimage to Devic Monastery - a text by Edith Durham who visited Devic during the summer 1908. This text contains a very picturesque description of the monastery and numerous Serb pilgrims

Pilgrimage to Devic Monastery by Nun Natalia, 1995 - Impressions of an American Orthodox nun from her visit to Kosovo and Metohija.

An Albanian killing a Serb monk in Devic, WW2
An Albanian extremist killing a Serb Orthodox Abbot of Devic - Damaskin Boskovic, 2nd World War
Albanian Nazis comitted terrible crimes against Serbs in WW2 in presence
of German and Italian occupation forces.

WW2 Genocide - Albanian SS Skenderbey Division
Eyewitness to Genocide in Kosovo: Kosovo-Metohija and the Skenderbeg Division

Nuns came in 1948 to rebuild the burned monastery
Nuns came on the ruins of Devic in 1948 to rebuild the monastery

During the Kosovo war 1998 - 1999 Devic monastery was constantly exposed to harrasments and threats of local Albanians. Devic Monastery was looted and vandalized again after the war. The marble tomb of the patron saint St. Joanikije of Devic (15th century) was desecrated by local Albanian extremists in June 1999. For three days nuns and hieromonk Seraphim were exposed to humilitations and harrassments. Albanian extremists threatened that they will rape the nuns and they had to give them their last penny in order to avoid the worst. Fr. Seraphim was severely beaten in the holy altar. It was only that a sudden arrival of Fr. Radivoje Panic with a French military patrol saved their honour and lives because KLA militants after they had finished looting of the monastery planned to take the nuns and Fr. Seraphim away and kill them. The French immediately posted guards around the monatery.

Nevertheless, after the attack of Albanian extremists Abbess Anastasia and her nuns remained in the monastery and today live under the protection of the KFOR troops, completely isolated from the local Albanian community. All Serb population from that area was expelled by extremists and their homes have been looted and burned in the presence of UN Mission and KFOR troops.

Testimonies of Washington Post, Reuters and CNN

Devic Monastery During the War - Washington Post
Serbian Nun Stands Her Ground Against Albanians

Devic Monastery During the War - Reuters
Orthodox nuns have their own troubles in Kosovo

Devic Monastery After the War - CNN
KLA Rebels Accused of Vandalizing the Serb Monastery

St. Joanikije's Tomb Desecrated
The Traces of Albanian Vandalism in Devic

Desecrated tomb of St. Joanikije of Devic

Signature of UCK terrorists - bullets and UCK acronime on the holy icon

The monastery remains an oasis of peace amidst the hostile Albanians
click on the photos for a larger size image

Serb Orthodox nuns in their seclusion
Devic nuns live in total seclusion, guarded by KFOR soldiers
If they leave their monasteries unguarded they may be
killed or abducted by Albanian extremists.

The monastery courtyard
The entrance gate and the courtyard with the belfry

The monastery graveyard
The monastery graveyard

(photos taken in August 2001 by Decani monks)