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The Monastery of Cetinje

A stone upon stone. Perhaps it is the easiest way to describe the Monastery of Cetinje. And the stone becomes the city by anti-cityness of monastic living. Both of them as well, the city called for to be Jerusalem and anti-city called for salvation become one under the dome of Cetinje's mornings. In 1484 Ivan Crnojevic constituted here a monastery according to rules of the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church. His blessing is up to day received by the monks of Cetinje.

The Holy Community of Nativity of the Mother of God is under eternal protection of Evervirgin. Its other protectors are being added through the centuries, drawn near by all-sanctifying power of the grace of God. They are being added but also are being born by the sanctuary itself. Saint Petar of Cetinje is one of them.

And the second one is Saint Basil of Ostrog. For a time he was a deacon in this monastery. The future miracle-worker then showed his first miracle: unborn child spoke from his mother womb to testify the innocence of the accused Saint, - deaf, being in womb, to protect him who was deaf before the slanderers.

Two hundred years Ivan's monastery knew nothing but fragrant mornings of the wide fields of Cetinje, early songs of the birds, church semantrion and bells. The time and the space called to sense by descent of the One who is beyond borders - Christ our Lord - in Holy Liturgy - into the apple of the eye of the human existence and from thereon transfigured - begin, like a fertile ground to bring the spiritual flowers. One of this is "Oktoih" (The Book of the Eight Tones), first printed book for the Serbian eyes. It was planted by monk Makarije "from The Black Mountain", future abbot of the Holy Monastery of Chilandar. Having died in The Holy Mountain, he did not rest in peace before he started to make from The Black Mountain a Holy one.

At the crack of the dawn of the third century of its existence monastery's anti-city suffered from the earthly evil; Suleiman-pasha destroyed it completely, having it compressed into the foundations still visible today; so as for foundations to become firmer, that by suffering monastery take a deeper roots, like the tree thunderstruck by wind that sprout the roots more and more into the ground. And some even say that The Monastery ascended to Heaven, for in spite of many searching and investigations nobody knows exactly how it looked. Only it is known that it was "small but beautiful monastery of the Virgin".

And Ivan's Court for despising earthly and turning to heavenly gained a prize, - because instead of earthly wealth it preserved the crown of the Holy Dynasty of the Nemanjics and - pearl among pearls - the stole of Saint Sava which were brought here by The Patriarch Arsenije Carnojevic, native of Cetinje, before the Grand Exodus of Serbs. Court therefore gained a prize - on its remains the new monastery was erected. Bishop Danilo adorned it with church and beautiful arcades, frequent as if they call to frequent prayer - Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me. This prayer is the heart of the Orthodox Christianity.

Miter of Saint Petar of Cetinje
The father of the sainthood of our nation. Sava, fled to a strange land to find God. Having met him face to face he came back to light up the flame in the Fatherland by the flame of his face. But on Saint Petar of Cetinje was heavier task: to find this flame within himself and to spread it among his natives knowing well what reward he will get for being a prophet in his own house. The flame was accepted but the flame-bringer saw many sorrowful moments.

Orthodox monasteries were through all ages the beehives. The beehives of reasonable God-loving bees who in their struggle for heavenly leave not the earthly labour-loving, in itself even finding a seed for ascension. That is why monastery's buildings look like a honeycomb. A cell upon cell, one above the other and one beside the other without a plan but in the end everything sounds well and you marvel the harmony of the edifice. So in our monastery every generation puts its seal. Arcades and the tower were added by Bishop Danilo, the solitary cell by Saint Petar, lodgings by Petar II Njegos and Patriarch Gavrilo and all of this being transfigured by toil and love into the entirety, extended in the form of snake on the rocks of the mountain of Lovcen. Joyfulness for the eye and softening for the soul.

It is of high importance for the monastery that from the very beginning of its existence in its everyday life the bishops were involved. Thus all activity here from the earliest times was sealed with the blessing. When there was a need, bishop's archpastoral service was extended to organization of the state which in that way took Theocratic characteristics. When there was a need they were riding horses and leading the army. But in all this they were occupied above everything with one thing needful - Christ Our Lord, and from that source spread all their activity.

The Black Mountain (Montenegro) does have some kind of inner shine. This might be a reason why in it there is not much external brightness. If it exists it is been offered to Holiness. When you come to the Monastery's treasury at Cetinje and see the glittering of the golden church vestments then you realize that what was the most precious has been offered to God as a gift. But it is offered as a sacrifice with a zeal of this inner shine which counts the reflection of sun on a stone and in a clear water more precious than the gleam of platinum.

Our Holy Community has a number of Heavenly intercessors - their relics are under the roofs of the Monastery. The right hand of Saint John the Baptist which baptized Christ in Jordan still blesses those who receive Holy Baptism before it and all the others who, venerating it, water their souls with life-giving springs of piety. Stretched out towards the piece of the True Cross, on which Christ was crucified, even today as it speaks: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!"

The Cross is the path for the Christians and the suffering - its realisation. All of the Holy Intercessors of our Community are martyrs - even Saint Petar of Cetinje whose everyday martyrdom by his own people replaced martyrdom in blood. By his steps every stone of the Monastery is sanctified.

The relics of Saint Theodore Stratilatos (The General) count 1600 years. From the early centuries also is the precious head of Saint Fevronia, a dove stronger than the eagle of the pagan Roman Empire. With its oldness they lead to the springs of the Orthodox Faith and root our uprooted generation into the ruddy mornings of the early Christianity. Unbroken line of the Saints-martyrs lights up even our days - with the relics of the New Serbian Martyrs from Rani Do - the ones that were twice martyred, in the lifetime as well after death - by burning of their relics: also with the memory of the Priest-martyr Joanikije, Bishop of Montenegro and the Littoral whom we even not know the site of the grave. In the prayers of this host of Saints, the monks of Cetinje pose all their hopes.

For a monk, monastery is the centre of the Universe. It is the manger wherein he is born, the shade full tree under which he seats and from where the apple falls in his lap. From this tree also he makes the cross on which he is crucified.

In the monastery the monks tangibly feel the Mystery of Resurrection. The Resurrection is a norm, criterion by which in monastic life all is measured - it enters into every pore of life and sanctifies it - building and the planting, the sunrise and the salutation in meeting. To see the monastery's edifices and not to see in them the mystery of Resurrection means not to see them at all. Being immersed in this mystery monk and every human can sense even in the rustling of the leaves and chirruping of the birds that the death is conquered.

Oasis in the desert of contemporary civilisation. The Monastery of Cetinje offers welcome to pilgrims by the grace of the Holy Relics and hospitality of the monks, by fragrance of the oldness and joy of the Age to come, Kingdom of Heaven.