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Ostrog Monastery
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Ostrog Monastery

 

Ostrog is the most important pilgrim place in Montenegro, where believers from all over the world come, especially in summer during traditional church fair. It is a true example of natural beauty.

 

 

 

Ostrog Monastery is situated between Danilovgrad and Niksic. Way below it there is the Zeta River and the Bjelopavlici plain. Above it there is a miraculous mountain range with the cave of Ostrog.

 

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When you mention Ostrog, there is immediately an association to the place where wonders occurs, where many persons with grave illness seek and find the spiritual medicine to their body, and quickly become physically healthy. The Ostrog Monastery is during the whole year the most visited holy place in Montenegro. The believers of all faiths and from the areas of entire ex-Yugoslavia and from many other countries visit it. After the Christ's Tomb and the Holy Mount, the Ostrog Monastery is the third most visited holy place in the Christian world. Fixed to a large rock of Ostrog hill, the Monastery gives an impressive effect to anyone who directs a look toward it.

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It is situated at Bjelopavlici, over the Zeta Valley. At the crossroad Bogetici you reach the Lower Monastery through a craggy road long couple of kilometres, and then through serpentines you reach the Upper Monastery. The Upper Ostrog is the most impressive part of the monastery. It has a belfry high as a five-storey building, and it is impressed in the cave palace of the majestic Ostrog –after whom it got its name. It was established at the beginning of 17 th century by Archbishop Basil Jovanovic, later named St. Basil of Ostrog. Saint Basil was born in the village Mrkonjic in Popovo Field, on 28 December 1610. At the christening he got the name Stojan. In the Upper Monastery there are two little churches: upper church devoted to the Saint Crucifix, where Saint Basil spent 15 years in fast and pray. Another, lower church in the upper monastery is devoted to the Entrance of the God's Mother (Vavedenje) . St. Basil died on 29 April 1671. The legend says that he used to show up frequently to the-then-prior of the monastery during the dream, ordering him to come to Ostrog and open his tomb. It was repeated twice, since the Prior did not pay much attention to his dream. Only the third time the Prior had decided to tell it to his fraternity, who agreed to go to Ostrog.

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When they had opened the tomb of St. Basil, they found his body completely intact, yellow as wax and it smelled like sweet basil. Hence, this was a true proof that Basil of Ostrog was really a saint. They placed his relics in the Reliquary, where they rest today. At the place where he died a grapevine grew up, from the stone, where it grows sweet fruits even today, despite the fact that there are no suitable natural neither climate condition for growth. Upon arrival to the Monastery, first the relics of St. Basil are visited, which are found in the church of Vavedenje of God's Mother. After visiting the relics, you climb the stairs up to the Church of Crucifix. You find in this church the hands of martyr Stanko, who used to be a shepherd, and his hands were cut, after the legend, because he publicly declared in front of the Turks that he was a Christian. They can be seen, and are found disclosed below the glass. Left from the hands there are chains, which after the legend were left by one man in the monastery, after he was healed following a night spent below the Saint's relics. He used to be ill from a mental disease, and he needed the chains in order to reach Ostrog peacefully. Then he was healed there, and the chains remained to remind the admirers to the wonder that occurred in Ostrog.

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In addition to the chains, there is a shell, which during the German bombardment of the Monastery in February 1942 hit from a German cannon the stone wall over the Upper Monastery, broke the door on the church of Honourable Crucifix. However, it failed to explode at that occasion. The shell was halved due to the fall, and the fuse fell on one, and the gunpowder charge fell on the other side of the church stone floor. Later, it was established by expert examination that the shell was in order and as such it should have exploded. It is believed that the Saint did not allow this, since it would cause considerable damage to the saint church and its monks. At the opposite side of the church of Honourable Crucifix there is a saint grapevine, which grew up on the spot where Saint Basil had died, and it is believed that it has some healing powers. From this balcony, you have a beautiful view to the surrounding environment and to a small fenced part below the Monastery, where the tomb of St. Basil used to be situated. At the exit from the right side, there is a fountain with saint water, which is believed to have some healing features.

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Saint Basil is respected even by the non-believers. The admirers are hurrying up to the Saint on holidays and workdays, from the nearby and from the remote areas. The church, where his relics rest, is filled with a pleasant smell, which amazes each admirer. Between the Upper and the Lower Monastery there is a wood, through which an asphalted road 5 km long runs, and the transversal road for pedestrians is much shorter and may be crossed for 20-25 minutes. The shelters can accommodate up to 300 people. The pilgrimage travels started already during the life of St. Basil and they have not stopped up to the present. On the St. Basil Day and the Assumption of God's Mother, around 20.000 religious admirers gather around. Those, who are not able to bring their patients to the Saint's reliquary, bring their clothes and leave them below the reliquary overnight. The records in the monastery books testify on those many healings and even more so the indelible records in the believers' hearts. Many of those St. Basil's wonders are retold by the people throughout the country. The Ostrog Monastery may not be considered solely a sacral facility, it is also a cultural and historic monument. It testifies on the passed, present and future times, testifies on the belief, culture and tradition of the people, who live in this area for centuries.

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