The Serbian Orthodox Monastery of Bodjani Virtual tour: Monastery

The Serbian Orthodox Monastery of Bodjani

is  15  km  to  the  south  of Bač,  towards  the  Danube.  The  complex  covers  a  church,  from  three  sides surrounded  by  the  residential  quarters  and  the  farming  ancillary  buildings to  the  north  side. It  is  of  a  cruciform  ground  plan,  with  dome,  5.5  m  in diameter,  rising  above  the  main  nave  and  the  transept  cross.  It  belongs  to the  Rascia  building  style,  linking  it  to  the  architecture  of  the  Fruška  Gora monasteries  of  Vrdnik,  Kuveždin  and  Jaska. The  original  monastery  was started to be built in 1478 and was linked to how Bogdan, a merchant from Dalmatia  was  healed,  who  then  vowed  to  the  Virgin  to  build  a  church  as  a token of his gratitude. The present church is dedicated to the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and was built in 1722 as the fourth one on the same place by Mihailo Temisvarlija from Szeged. The present quarters date from the 18th century. At first they were just a ground floor structure, surrounding the church from four sides, as shown on a Zachary Orpheline’s etching dating from 1758. The present quarters were built after a fire, between 1786 and 1810. The sections at the north and south ends have a storey, while the one at the west end is a ground floor structure and to the north from the entrance to the quarters there is a winter chapel.    

The  entire  church  interior  is  covered  with fresco  paintings (about  600  m


) painted  in  1737  by  Christopher  Zefarovic  (Hristofor  Žefarović),  a  painter and  an  engraver.  As  a  unique  artistic  opus  of  that time, the paintings combine the strict canons of the Late Byzantine art with Baroque, as a modern European  style  of  that  time  –  thus  being  a  crucial  point  in  the  Serbian  art  and  one  of  the  most  valuable  complexes  of  fresco  paintings  in  south-east Europe in the first half of the 18th century. Ljiljana Stosic states her view on he subject, “Far above his time, on the Bodjani walls, Christopher Zefarovic, determined the future guidelines with fortitude not only for the Serbian artists, but for the cultural paths as well, and with bold strokes of his brush almost three centuries ago, he made an unbreakable association with Europe. It was justified to say that in Bodjani, although everything in its place – nothing was as it had been– and the compositions, which had been unknown to the Orthodox Christian  art  before,  seemed  somehow  familiar.”

The iconostasis screen  is  also  an outstanding object of art, created in phases – in the 18th and the early 19th centuries – the work of Kyiv painters, Jov Vasiliyevich and Vasyli Romanovich, as well as the Serbian masters, Vasyli Ostojic and monk Simeon Baltic. The Bodjani iconostasis is one of the first examples of the baroque painting influence in the region that by the late 17th century belonged to the Ottoman Empire. In this case, the baroque influences came indirectly, brought by the Ukrainian artists who had adopted the West European style, adapting it to the Orthodox painting heritage.

In the north section of the nave, there is also a Blessed Virgin’s Throne with a miracle-working icon of the Virgin of Bodjani from the late 17th century. The icon was considered a Protector of the monastery and the Bac diocese. The  monastery  library  and  the  archives  are  highly  significant  as  they  hold  some unique material with records dating from different time periods.