Franciscan Monastery of Bač


Franciscan Monastery of Bač

is  the  monastery  in  the  centre  of  Bač,  integrated  with  its  townscape  and  the  mediaeval  urban  layout,  with  high  walls and  a  massive  bell  tower,  rising  from  the  plain. The  complex  consists  of  a church  and  to  the  south  three  adjacent  ground  floor  monastery  wings  that enclose  an  cloister  with  a  well  in  its  centre.  The  church  is  dedicated  to  the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, it is of an elongated ground plan of east – west  direction,  with  a  five-sided  apse  on  the  east  side  and  a  short  side  nave on the north side. On its south side, a corridor connects it with the residential  quarters,  creating  a  unified  structure  under  one  roof.  The  main  church entrance is on the west side, but there are two more in the southern wall, as well, one more towards the main entrance and the other near the access to the altar. As far as we know, it started to be built in the late 12th century, when the members of the Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem built a small one-nave church, today preserved in its entirety.

The church had massive walls with buttresses  built  with  stone  and  brick  in  alternation,  tall  gables  and  a  much lower apse. In the second half of the 14th century, the Franciscans restored it in Gothic style, building the monastery and a bell tower along the altar, and in the 15th century the church was extended towards west. When Bac fell under the Turkish rule in 1526, the church was turned into a mosque – there is  a  mihrab niche  in  the  southern  wall,  formed  in  the  place  of  the  original west  entrance  –  until  the  year  of  the  liberation  in  1686.  Baroque  renewal included the church and the monastery, when the characteristic square inner court was created between 1724 and 1770 by the Franciscans of the Franciscan Province of Bosna Srebrena. In the south wing there is a spacious refectory, indicating that the brotherhood was once quite numerous. Thus,  a  complex  architectural  composition  of  the  Bac  Franciscan  Monastery  is  weaved  from  Romanesque,  Gothic,  Renaissance,  Islamic,  Baroque and  Classicistic  elements.  The  cultural  stratigraphy  is  expanded  with  the remains  of  mediaeval  frescoes:  scenes  of  the  Crucifixion  of  Christ  on  the church south buttress (today, the tower bell west wall); a fragment of a scene showing two female faces on the church south wall; kings’ torsos in garlands, painted on the arch separating the nave and the altar. Among the numerous paintings, there is an Italo-Cretan icon of the Virgin Eleousa, from 1684, work  of  master  Dima  and  the Last  Supper painting  from  1737,  by  Paulus  Senser.

Evidence of active life of this special place also lies in extensive treasures, a library with old and rare books, liturgical vestments, handicrafts and object that used to be in everyday use (dishes for cooking and serving food, objects for cloth making, smithy tools, etc.).