The Monastery of the Holy Mother of God is located at the mouth of the river Kosanica in Toplica, at the very entrance to Kursumlija and is one of the first endowments of Stefan Nemanja.

According to the testimony of his son Stefan Provenčani, between 1159 and 1168, after a meeting in Niš with the Byzantine emperor Manojl Kremnin, Stefan Nemanja built a temple dedicated to the Mother of God on the site of a basilica from the time of Yusitnian’s restoration (6th century).

According to some testimonies, this monastery was built before Nemanja’s second endowment in Kursumlija, the monastery of St. Nicholas. Both monasteries were covered with lead plates, so the people called them White Churches.

The monastery was built as a women’s monastery. Ana, the wife of Stefan Nemanja, became a monk in it, after the death of St. Anastasia. Besides her, Agrippina of Balšić, the Turkish Sultanate of Mara, the daughter of the Serbian despot Đurađ Branković, married to Sultan Murat II, also stayed in the monastery. After the death of Sultan Murat in 1451, she came to Kursumlija and became a monk in the monastery of the Holy Mother of God.

Since the second half of the fifteenth century, the monastery has not been mentioned often. It is known that he was active between 1455 and 1530, judging by the payment of the annual tax. After that, it was probably deserted, and this is confirmed by the Turkish travel writer Evliya lebelebi, who wrote in 1661 that while traveling through Kursumlija he found a deserted church.

According to the legend, in the 18th century, a Turk demolished the church and made Isaac’s mill from materials, which is 20 meters lower. The mill was later taken by Toplica.

Today, the monastery is in ruins, and as a cultural monument of exceptional importance, it is under state protection.

Based on the remains of the monastery, however, its earlier appearance can be reconstructed. Although it was built at a time when the Raska style was current, it was built in a completely different, unique style in our area.

The base of the church has the shape of a triconch, on the east side of which is an altar apse, three-sided on the outside and round on the inside. The side apses are semicircular in shape, both outside and inside. The altar is separated from the nave by two columns, and the iconostasis does not exist. The nave was probably covered with a dome, parts of which have not been preserved. The narthex was the same width as the nave with two rectangular rooms along the north and south walls, and it seems that in the 14th century a new narthex was built on the same place. Excavations undertaken in 1951 showed that on the west side of the church there were two towers, without openings for doors, which served as bell towers and pirgs.

At the beginning, the church was built only with bricks, then with bricks and hewn stone, and two centuries later it was finished with pieces of sandstone. The outside was decorated with stone sculptures depicting motifs from nature. South of the church there was a well and monastery lodgings.

Literature:

  1. Zarko Mijajilovic, Milos Milovanovic, Monastery of the Most Holy Mother of God – Kursumlija, digital archive of SANU
  2. Petko D. Marjanović, Toplica kroz vekove, Prokuplje 2008.
  3. Dušan Miljković, The Crucifixion of Eternity. Churches and monasteries of the Kursumlija area, Nis 1998
  4. Olga Zirojević, Najranije turske vesti o Kuršumliji, Zbornik radova sa naučnog skupa u Prolom Banja, Beograd 2000.
  5. Milivoje M. Macejka, Radovan M. Tanaskovic, Čudotvorne lekovite vode Prolom Banje, Belgrade 1994.
  6. Felix Kanitz, Serbia, country and population from Roman times to the end of the 19th century, Belgrade 1998.
  7. Monumental heritage of Serbia. Immovable cultural property of exceptional importance and great importance, Belgrade 2007.
  8. Monastery of the Most Holy Mother of God in Kursumlija, Cultural Monuments in Serbia, www.spomenicikulture.mi.sanu.ac.rs
  9. Municipality of Kursumlija, Monasteries and Churches, kursumlija.org
  10. Topličke vesti, toplickevesti.com

Photo:

1. Municipality of Kursumlija, Monasteries and Churches, https://kursumlija.org/manastiri-i-crkve/

2. Topličke vesti, https://toplickevesti.com/obnavlja-se-manastir-presvete-bogorodice.html