Until Saint George arrives”¦.
She asked if we would like coffee or juice. We declined, but she absolutely insisted and brought back this golden nectar. It is monastery-made without any sugar, and it was almost too sweet to drink, but so delicious I will remember this Nectar of the Gods, forever.
Because I am so interested in art, and history, and art history, we all visited three very special monasteries this trip. The first was Moraca in northern Montenegro. ItÂ holds what are known to be the most precious Byzantine Serbian frescos. The one is recognized all over the world as the only Blue-eyed Jesus ever painted”¦ But, though it was right there, I couldn’t see it because it was behind the altar at the front of the chapel on a wall, hidden from public view in a darken corner. This was a man only monastery, and still, today, only men are allowed into the niche behind the alter, and must receive the blessing of the priest first. So, a viewing was out of the question. How sad, particularly since this piece has visited the Louvre in Paris, and been viewed there by anyone who went.
The second was Zica, this one, and I had set my mind on a hand painted icon of Vanja’s patron saint: Saint George. Usually, they are painted by a nun, or a monk. We had passed over one at the monastery in Montenegro as Vanja really felt ours should be done in Serbia. So, after hearing about this magnificent monastery where Saint Sava crowned his brother Stefan Prvovencani as the first King of Serbia where he declared the independence of the Serbian Orthodox Church, we asked to see some hand painted icons. They are done by special order only, and the nun who paints them would be coming to speak to us momentarily with a sample of her work.
So, here we sit, in the eating room of the monastery with beautifully hand painted walls, drinking the sweetest apple juice and discussing art with Sister Mlslhlhh. I am not Orthodox, but I was completely mesmerised. This woman’s face was so full of love.
She let me take pictures! I was so excited as no photos are allowed in the monasteries. The environment was really special and I felt so privileged to be sitting there, sipping juice, surrounded by the saints and discussing the art she would be painting for us.
We agreed upon a size, a price, and we paid her. We exchanged information and then bid farewell. I cannot wait to receive her work. Sister M has been painting religious works for thirty years and I was deeply moved by her commitment to her work and her calling.
Now we were off to the third monastery, Studenica, about 40 kilometres away. There, many of Saint Sava’s family is entombed. I didn’t need another monastery experience, yet was motivated to complete out small pilgrimage as the first two experiences were so full.