MONASTERY BEŠENOVO – Bešenovo

Address: Žike Begojevića bb, Bešenovački Prnjavor

According to the stories, Bešenovo Monastery, which remains lie on the south slope of Fruška Gora, along the Čikoš brook, was founded by Serbian King Dragutin at the end of 18th century. It is dedicated to Holy Archangels Mihailo and Gavrilo (8/21. November). Other data connect the establishment with the middle of 15th century, when it was mentioned in 1467, the year written on the wall as the year of painting the monastery church. Nevertheless, the first accurate information about the existence of the monastery is found in the oldest Turkish list of inventory of Srem (1546), as well as later during 16th century.

When the Vitovnica Monastery near Požarevac was devastated by Turks, its monks escaped with all the most valuable liturgical objects to Bešenovo Monastery. Among these objects there was the Four Gospels, which was gyred by Kondo Vuk, a silver cup from 1662, the work of silversmith Luka (there valuables are kept in the Museum SPC in Belgrade). The whole 17th century is characterized by poverty, as witnessed by the departures of monks to Russia in order to collect alms (1628, 1648, 1670, 1671). In 1656, the cells and the dining room were renovated.

According to visitation inventory from 1753, in which the monastery church was described in detail, it is known that the building was built of brick, but the time of the construction is not mentioned. In the same inventory three-side monastery shelters were mentioned, for which it was stated that they were built on the south side in 1730 and that they were built with brick, while it was stated for the shelters that they were just old. In the inspection the old iconostasis was also mentioned, which was in 1770 partly substituted by the icons of Vasilije Romanovič. IN the period 1907 to 1909, it was substituted by the iconostasis which was done by Stevan Aleksić, who at the same time did the wall paintings inside the church.

Aleksić made a monumental historical composition for the monastery dining room – „Spaljivanje moštiju sv. Save” (oil on canvas, 1909). After World War II, this painting was found in the Town Museum in Vukovar, to Bauer collection. At the time of the mentioned inspection, the monastery had 13 monks and 12 families from Prnjavor. The temple was supplied with decorated silver and plated things, parts of clothing made of silk, velvet, brocade and satin. It has 22 Serbian manuscripts in books, among which there were chained gospels, 12 meneons and four prologues, and 52 Russian books and printings. There were 46 icons. The monastery had house-fittings, copper and iron dishes and barrels for wine. There were also kačara (specially designed object for keeping vats), two water mills and two drinking fountains. When documents are considered, the monastery had in its possession six imperial privileges and four “peaces“ from sultan and vizier.

The second important inspection (1771) testifies of the existence of a high bell tower built within the newly built west wing of the shelters. The first reliable data on the chapel inside the bell tower, dedicated to St. Kirik and Julita, whose relics have been kept in this monastery (inside the reliquary made in 1773), were given by the inscriptions from 1783 found on a wall inside and outside of the chapel. They say about the frescoes painted on the walls of the chapel by Kuzman Kolarić, under the endowment of Trifun Jovanović from Novi Sad, during the time of prior Silvester. The icon with the presentation of St. Kirik and Julita was given as a gift to the monastery by a painter Dimitrije Bačevićin 1766.

In the documents it is stated very often that Kuzman Kolarić (Kosma, as it says on the chapel) painted the iconostasis of the monastery church in 1786. However, one published inscription, according to which this predication is carried on, was found on the iconostasis of the monastery church, but it refers to the painting work on the iconostasis only, and mentions that “semu kivotu molerskago hudožestva ktitor bist blagopočteni gospodin Luka Kukić, žitelj šanca Laćarka”, which would mean that it is only the painted decoration of the reliquary in which the relics of the holy martyrs Kirik and his mother Julita are kept. The inscription from 1786 is interesting and important since the painter left the signature in Latin: Kosman Kollarisc moller.

Although it was altered in19th and at the beginning of 20th century, the church of Bešenovo monastery kept its prier shape of a one nave church od a Rasa type, up to demolishment of monastery in the bombing in 1944. Up to then the positions of the tower, church, the shelters and the eastern wall were the same, what can be proved by several photographs taken between 1885 and 1940. The remains of Bešenovo were completely demolished right after the war. The Monastery has not been renovated yet, but the basis of the church and shelters were uncovered, so it has been found that the church in Bešenovo had the basis in a shape of a cross, with rectangular choirs on the inside as well as on the outside and polygonal apses. Alter was the one with a dome. The church had only one entrance, on the west: „vrata jedna oraova sedefom nakićena”.

During the war the monastery was first only robbed. Then the German, Ustaše and the NOV unit overruns took turns. This is why it was burnt, destroyed and mined a couple of times, until it was finally bombed in 1944. The German artillery destroyed it completely. The monastery artifacts and valuables were blown up and in one part lost forever. Some parts of the two iconostasis were kept and a couple of books. They are kept at the Museum of Church Art in Sremska Mitrovica.


22. 11. 2012.