Monasteries and Churches of Montenegro

The Ostгog Monastery

The Ostrog monastery (built in the first half of XVII century) high against a vertical cliff of the mountain is the most visited holy place of pilgrimage in Montenegro. It is famous for the fact that it kept the incorrupt relics of the great saint - St. Basil of Ostrog, the most revered saint of the Montenegrin people, who earned the love and respect not only the orthodox believer, but also people of other faiths.

People come from different countries to venerate the holy relics of the saint and to ask for help and healing. There are a lot of documented evidences of the miraculous healings of many people after visiting the holy relics. In the monastery, pilgrims are offered free holy water and oil, which our guide said, possess healing powers.

All his life St. Basil dedicated to the struggle for the victory of orthodoxy and protection of the country from foreign invaders. The people called him a Zealot of Orthodoxy. To help his people, he went to Russia for help and returned back with holy books, vestments, liturgical objects and relics of the saints, which were necessary for making the altar antiminces.  Relics were especially needed to serve the full liturgies in the newly built and reconstructed orthodox churches after they were destructed and desecrated by the Turks.

St. Basil who became metropolitan by that time personally took part in the construction of churches and taught his followers to fight for the preservation of the faith. Fearing reprisals over the Turks his followers persuaded him to go to a safer place - Monastery Ostrog, which was rather a cave carved in the mountains at that time. During fifteen years St. Basil ran the metropolis from Ostrog.

Here he was able to restore the Church of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple and later, he built into a mountain the church of the Precious and Life-giving Cross, carrying himself the stones for construction. He died in his cell April 29, 1671. The relics of St. Basil are stored here in the church of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple.
The monastery consists of two parts - upper and lower. In the Lower Monastery there is the temple of the Holy Trinity and the church of the Holy Martyr Stanko, built in the 19th century. A very narrow serpentine road (in many places not wide enough for two cars) winds up to the monastery. We had such a fear, rising to a height of 900 meters, and seeing as our coach bus slowly and awkwardly takes place on the corners, literally hanging over the abyss.

Apparently the prayers of St. Basil helped us, and we made it safely to the Lower Monastery. Then we had to get to the main sanctuary in the upper monastery, located 5 km higher. To do this, we had to transfer to a minibus, as the road there was even more difficult there. Many pilgrims prefer to travel on foot along a steep mountain path.
In the upper monastery we went to the church of the Entrance of the Mother of God to the Temple to venerate the relics of St. Basil, located in a special room. The entrance to the room is very low, not exceeding 5.5 feet, so that people have to bend double to enter. Our guide warned us about this, saying that pilgrims often hit their heads on the low doorway or opened lid of the raka, which is also set pretty low. As they say there you get a hit upside the head from St. Basil.

Incorrupt relics of St. Basil are simply covered with a red blanket of thick red cloth embroidered with a gold cross. Having venerated the holy relics, we climbed to the top level of the church to a small platform - a place where there was a cell of St. Basil. After the death of St. Basil's straight out of the rock grew a vine which in spite of the wrong climate and lack of soil still grows and bears fruit at this site.

We learned that grapes from this vine have a miraculous effect on women who have problems with conception. Once a year when the grapes ripen, a special prayer service is offered on the conception of a child for women suffering from infertility. During the service women receive grapes from the vines of St. Basil, and with prayer and hope, waiting for a miracle. And as the old-timers say, a miracle is really going on.

Another evidence of the miracles worked by the saint – is a Nazi bomb, which is stored on the upper level of the church. In 1942, when Germans bombed the Ostrog monastery, a large artillery shell struck the door to the church and fell to the floor.  The detonator was separated from the shell, but the explosion never came. Professional studies have shown that the shell was absolutely fine and had to burst, which would cause considerable damage. However, this did not happen.
This shell can now be seen at the top level of the Church of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross.

After visiting the Upper monastery, we walked down to the Lower Monastery to visit the temple of the Martyr Stanko. Unfortunately, the temple was closed at that time. This temple is a traditional place for the baptism of children to venerate the memory of the poor shephard boy, tormented by the Turks. Tearing at the soul is the story of St. Stanko serves as a symbol of suffering of the Serbian people and their steadfastness in the struggle for freedom and faith. Surrounded by the Turks, who were trying to force the boy to abandon the faith and accept Islam, a little boy refused to release the Orthodox cross from his hands. The Turks cut off boy's arms and left him to die bleeding. The relics of St. Stanko - his incorruptible hands - are kept in this temple.