The Celije Monastery in the vicinity of Valjevo is one of the most sacred and most important holy places in Serbia. A traveller can feel the peace of this sanctuary as he descends into the valley where this building is located.
Nobody knows exactly when the monastery was erected, but it is clear that it was during a period between 1282 and 1316, when King Dragutin Nemanjić ruled these parts, as the king of Srem area.
After the fall of Nemanjić dynasty and the Serbian state under Turkish rule, the monastery went through tough times: it was often demolished and burned, since the monks living in the monastery were seen as bearers of the freedom spirit of the enslaved Serbian people.
Nevertheless, the monastery would be lifted from its ashes every time, and it was liberated from the Turks in the 19th century.
Celije played a major role in the Serbs liberation from the Turks: at the time of the First Serbian Uprising, the monastery served as a military hospital for the rebels.
The Monastery was also very important in the process of creation of a modern state of Serbia: One of the first primary schools in Serbia, under the authority of Prince Miloš Obrenović, was founded here. In this school, the famous Serbian bishop Nikolaj Velimirovic learned his first letters.
Celije were turned into a parochial church in 1837, and in 1928 it was decided for it to become a female monastery, which it still is today.
It is located 6 km southwest of Valjevo, on the left bank of the river Gradac, in a hilly area, surrounded by dense forests that have hidden it for centuries from the view of the invaders.
The oldest icon in the monastery is the icon of the Holy Archangels, dating back to 1798, when it was given to the monastery, and the oldest book was a gift by Montenegrin bishop Danilo Petrovich in 1715.
The Celije Monastery is also known for being inhabited by Dr. Justin Popovic, known as St. Ava Justin, one of the most famous thinkers of the Serbian Orthodox Church. His grave is modest, and according to his wish, there are no other features, except the simple stone and the flowers on it.
Ilija Bircanin, one of the Serbian leaders at the time of the First Serbian Uprising, was buried here.
Today, the printing and icon-writing activity is active in the monastery.
This article is a part of the project “Seven miracles of Valjevo”, supported by the City of Valjevo. Positions of the supported media project do not necessarily reflect statements of the organ supporting the project.
(Come to Serbia)