Gračanica and the Cult of the Saintly Prince Lazar  Cover Image

Gračanica i kult svetog kneza Lazara
Gračanica and the Cult of the Saintly Prince Lazar

Author(s): Slobodan Ćurčić
Subject(s): History
Published by: Vizantološki institut SANU
Keywords: Gračanica; the cult of the saintly Prince Lazar;

Summary/Abstract: The article explores a virtually unknown episode in the history of Gracanica Monastery, a late nineteenth-century restoration of the monastery church. The results of this undertaking were still visible during the conservation of the church conducted in the 1960s and early 1970s. At that time the nineteenth-century interventions were only partially recorded before some of them were removed and permanently lost. The nineteenth century refurbishing of the frescoes in the main dome was signed by one Mihail Iourokosk Debrel and is dated 1898. More significant, now lost and hitherto unpublished, was the refurbishing probably by the same Mihail, of an arcosolium in the south wall of the church. This arcosolium, whose original function is unknown, was painted and inscribed with a lengthy inscription indicating that the remains of Prince Lazar (who died in the Battle of Kosovo, on June 15, 1389) was temporarily deposited in this tomb before being moved to the monastery of Vrdnik — Ravanica on Fruska Gora. While the content of the inscription is a total fabrication, its implications are nonetheless interesting in several ways. The mastermind behind the project was probably the Metropolitan of Raska — Prizren, Dionisije, who died on Dec. 5, 1900. In accordance with his own wishes, he was buried in the very arcosolium identified as the ‘temporary burial place’ of Prince Lazar. The rising importance of the cult of the Saintly Prince Lazar around 1900 provides the background for this historical fabrication whose construction was actually made up of several disparate elements, each marked by a degree of historical accuracy in its own right, thus collectively contributing to its general relevance.

  • Issue Year: 2007
  • Issue No: 44
  • Page Range: 465-473
  • Page Count: 12
  • Language: English