Serbian Medieval History

Monastery Kalenić

BLAGO Collection

The Kalenic monastery is a foundation of protovestiar (high Byzantine title) Bogdan, his wife Milica, and his brother Peter.

The church, dedicated to the Presentation of the Holy Virgin, was built and painted between 1407 and 1413. After repeated Turkish assaults it was abandoned in the late 17th century. The monastery was restored in 1766, but during the rebellion against the Turks, in which the Kalenic monks took part, 1788-1791, the monastery was burnt. The monks came back towards the end of the century. The new narthex was erected in 1806.

The Kalenic church was built in alternate courses of stone blocks and bricks joined with thick layers of mortar. The facade is segmented vertically by pilasters and engaged colonnettes, and horizontally with two cordon cornices around the whole church. Two-light windows are in the zone between the two cornices, while the upper zone contains arches, twisted colonnettes, and rosettes. Above, there are the arches of the dome's pedestal, rosettes, and checkering. Architecturally, the ground plan of the church has the form of a trefoil with an apse at the eastern end and a narthex facing west. The central dome crowns the middle part of the nave, whereas the blind dome is above the narthex.

Particularly valuable are the carved decoration on the portals, windows, and facade, typical of the so-called Morava school of Serbian art. The major molding patterns include two-wired cable, stylized lilies, and palmettes, and also human and animal figures. The most striking piece is the representation of the Virgin with Christ flanked with two seraphim in the lunette above the south-side two-light window.

Concerning the fresco painting, the north wall of the narthex contains the founders' composition; below is the portrait of despot Stefan Lazarevic. Especially significant, even peculiar, is a cycle of scenes from the life of the Holy Virgin taking all four walls of the narthex, in three registers. Only some of the units of the Festival Cycle, in the highest register, have survived, like the Annunciation, a fragment of the Nativity, Candlemas, the Ascension, the Harrowing of the Hell and a part of the Dormition oh the Mother of God. As to the choir apse, there stand out the figures of the warrior saints. As usual, the altar space is adorned with the Communion of the Apostles and the procession of the Church Fathers.


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