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Monastery of St. Naum of Ohrid


The area around St. Naum's monastery is among the most beautiful along the shore of Lake Ohrid. The magnificent greenery, the two romantic little isles (one is covered with thick forest, with many birds nesting there, prohibited for visitors), surrounded by the Crn Drim river springs, the spacious sand beach, the monastery itself, and the panorama from the hill it is located on - all of these make it one of the most attractive picnic spots. The monastery's lodging compartments are now adapted into a hotel. The monastery of St. Naum was built on a rock above the Lake, with a wonderful view of Lake Ohrid, of the town of Pogradec in Albania, and of the surrounding mountains. The original Naum's church was dedicated to the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel. The church was built on this site in 900 A.D. as his memorial by the Slavonic educator St. Naum of Ohrid, the disciple of Cyril and Methodius, the contemporary and associate of Clement of Ohrid. St. Naum was also buried there in 910. Naum's monastery of the Holy Archangels, together with Clement's monastery of St. Pantheleimon in Ohrid, are the earliest known Slavonic monuments of the ecclesiastic architecture in the region of Ohrid. It is triconchal (trefoil) in shape and belongs to the style of the medieval Slavonic architecture cherished during the period of the activities of Clement and Naum in the territory of Macedonia. There are three written records on the life and work of Naum of Ohrid and his monastery. The author of the earliest record, called "The Life of Naum" was one of his contemporaries and disciples. A transcription of that record, publicized by Ivan and Nikola Milosevi from the region of Debar in the XV century, was found in 1906 at the Zograph Monastery on Mount Athos. The second Slavonic record on the life of Naum of Ohrid was saved in a XVI century anthology. The third record, written in Greek language, was left by Archbishop of Ohrid, Constantine Cavassila. A series of new, previously unknown information, was found in the Chronicle of the monastery of St. Naum. The Chronicle, now kept in the Ohrid Historic Institute, dates back from the second half of the XIX century. Its author was a priest, Dimitria Petru, born in Ohrid. The Chronicle contains numerous interesting information on St. Naum monastery's priors, construction, and estates. For example, Dimitria Petru in his Chronicle writes that in 1846 Prior Seraphim I intended to tear down Naum's church and replace it with a larger, chiseled stone shrine. Due to the unknown reasons, yet fortunately, he gave up his intention to build a new church. The Chronicle also writes about a disastrous fire that nearly burned to the ground the largest part of the monastery's compound during the night between 2 and 3 February 1875. In the course of the post Second World War investigations, in 1955 Prof. Dimce Koco discovered remnants of the original church built during Naum's time. Thus finally the mystery of Naum's monastery was unveiled. The original church was demolished during the Turkish period. The excavations revealed many new pieces of information about the reconstructions of the church over time. It was found out that the changes in the past were of such nature that the shape of the original Naum's monastery was completely changed. After the archaeological excavation and conservation was finished, the remainders of the original church were covered by earth again. Above them a new floor was made, with the ruins of the original church delineated by black and white marble. That way the visitors are given the opportunity to somehow perceive the former shape of that monument, one of the earliest in the Slavonic architecture. Archaeological excavations and surveys of Naum's monastery revealed that the present church was built on the foundations of the original church in the period between the XVI and XVII centuries. The present church was reconstructed and enlarged several times. Thus, towards the end of the XVII century, Naum's church was renovated by the construction of a dome above the temple's narthex. The dome must have been built earlier, otherwise the iconostasis could not have been mounted in 1711, since it was higher than the old vault. In the second half of the XVIII century, a dome was built above the parvis of Naum's church. The most recent significant renovation was carried out at the end of the XVIII century, i.e., in 1799, when a tomb parakklis was built. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Frescoes of the church of St. Naum of Ohrid See some of the Monastery's frescoes:("Harnessing the Bear to a Plow ") In the church there are neither any preserved frescoes from the time of St. Naum, nor the excavations proved that there were any paintings in the beginning of the X century. To that extent the fate of Naum's monastery is the same as the one of Clement, since there the earliest fresco paintings on the ruins of the original church were not found as well. The entire wall decoration, except for some XVI and XVII century fragmented frescoes, discovered in 1962, was painted by the fresco painter Trpo. According to the donor's inscription on the interior wall above the entrance door, he painted the frescoes in the central section of the church during the period of Prior Stefan, and finished them in 1806. No donor's inscription was discovered in the parvis; however the style and iconographic features of the frescoes make up a unity with the ones from the other sections of Naum's church. In the tomb's parakklis, above Naum's tomb, is the composition of the "Naum's Ascension". Among the figures above Naum's catafalque, next to the Slavonic educators Cyril and Methodius, are the portraits of his disciples Kliment, Gorazd, Angelarij, and Sava. They can be identified thanks to the fact that the painter Trpo, in his unique composition of Sedmocislenici in the church's parvis, also added their names. There is another figure above Naum's catafalque - a young diacon without a beard and a mustache. According to the art historian Cvetan Grozdanov, it is the portrait of Laurenthius, another disciple of Cyril and Methodius, also mentioned by the Archbishop of Ohrid Theophilact in his broad work "The Life of St. Clement of Ohrid". In the second zone of Naum's tomb parakklis there are scenes of the life and miracles of St. Naum of Ohrid, presently the unique group in the monumental painting, which is of a special importance. In the tomb's parakklis five scenes are depicted in a circle. They were painted according to the faith in Naum's miracles that occurred and were retold in the settlements around the monastery. The scenes are: "Harnessing the Bear to a Plow"; "The Petrified Monk Who Tried to Steel the Body of St. Naum from His Tomb"; "Healing of the Mentally Ill"; "The Horses' Thief Dawning at the Gate of the Monastery's Church"; and "The Bucket Leaves a Hole in the Stone".









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