Celije Monastery - the most important information
A nunnery that belongs to the Valjevo Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church. It is located on the left bank of the river Gradac in the area of the village of Lelic, 6 km southwest of Valjevo. It is hidden in the lush forests of these areas. Historians connect the existence and construction of this monastery with the Middle Ages and the time of King Dragutin, who was then known as the Sremski kralj. It is the center of all religious activities in the Valjevo region.
The history of Celije Monastery
It is believed that the monastery was built between 1276 and 1282. One of the legends, however, records the time of the reign of the Serbian despot Stefan Lazarevic as the epoch of its origin. In Turkish records it is mentioned in 1560 as a monastery in the village of Lelici. The monks of this monastery are remembered by history as important participants in the revolt against the Turks. The building was burned down, first by Pasha Bushatlija at the end of the 18th century and later during the First Serbian Uprising, when an improvised hospital was organized in it. The monastery was renovated the following year, and the works then added domes and a narthex. The main monastery church is dedicated to the Holy Archangels, which is why the dome is nine-sided to celebrate the 9 angelic acts.
The monastery became a parish church in 1837 and carried that status until 1928, later it was turned into a nunnery in 1946. With this decision, the monastery was enriched with new auxiliary rooms. The Father Justin Spiritual Library in Valjevo was created under the direct influence of the monastery. The iconostasis made by the artist Petar Nikolajevic Moler in the 18th century was destroyed in 1810. The part of the iconostasis that has been preserved to this day was made in 1816 by Jeremija Mihailovic. The monastery cultivates the tradition of group baptism, which is the baptism of hundreds of people aged 7 months to 77 years, which takes place in the presence of a large number of priests.
Significance of the Celije Monastery
- The Celije Monastery has been declared a cultural monument of great importance and as such is under the protection of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments with headquarters in Valjevo.
- At the initiative of Prince Milos Obrenovic, one of the first primary schools was established within the monastery.
- Within the monastery complex are the graves of Ilija Bircanin and Saint Ava Justin, who lived in Celije during his life, while in the church are the relics of Saint Justin Celijski and part of the relics of Saint Nectarios of Aegina from Greece.
- Bishop Nikolaj Velimirovic, who is believed to have attended school here, also stayed in the monastery.
- Monastery is also known for printing, publishing and icon-painting activities and keeps numerous important books and writings.
What to see
Within the monastery church and complex are:
- Iconostasis: the oldest icon is the Council of the Holy Archangels from 1790, the throne icon of Christ the Savior and the Most Holy Mother of God were also saved.
- Bell tower on the north side of the church
- Chapel dedicated to St. John Chrysostom
- Monastery books: The Divine Tablet donated by Bishop Danilo Petrovic to the monastery, The Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament in the Church Slavonic language.
How to get to the Celije Monastery?
From the center of Valjevo the easiest way to get to the monastery of Ćelija is by car, which does not require more than 15 minutes of driving. From the center there are signposts that show the way to the village of Lelic and the monastery itself, which will significantly facilitate your journey.
- By car: head towards the Vidrak Memorial Park, following Bobovceva Street all the way to Poparski put and Celijsko brdo that takes you to the village of Lelic
To enter the church it is necessary to follow a specific dress code that includes covered shoulders and no short pants, skirts or dresses.