The monastery in Zitomislici is one of the oldest monasteries in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). It was built in the 16th century, it was burned down in World War II and in the past has been destroyed, after which it was restored and is now one of the most successful reconstruction projects of BiH heritage.
Today, seven monks, who are working hard on the spiritual growth of believers and the gathering of returnees, are taking care of the monastery.
The day in the life of a monk in the monastery of Zitomislic begins with a morning prayer at 7 a.m. After that, they do their chores together, the main of which is preparing for the arrival of guests, because organized groups and individual visitors are in the monastery throughout the day. There is a lot of work and not a lot of time for long conversations.
“Prayer is that gives tone and life to the monastery, and then these other jobs, gardening, welcoming guests, preparing food is all that is an integral part of monastic daily life,” said Danilo Pavlovic.
After morning service, a breakfast is served. Since only seven of them live in the monastery, they say they remind everyone of their family life. One of the most frequent aspects of monastic life is the daily rhythm that is based on prayer, order of service and humble fulfillment of monastery duties. And of course, there is also a time to rest and devote to personal improvement.
Jero de Nectarion, the chair of the assembly of the monastery Zitomislić says “that’s all in the dynamics of the daily passage without some special items, there is not a very strict schedule, it’s mostly some kind of relaxed dynamic.”
They process almost seven hectares of vineyards for the production of wine and brandy, and they also cultivate olives.
“We have put one surface under the horn, under the pomegranate, so that the Mediterranean cultures that grow here are trying to use them as much as we can,” said Jero de Nectarius, a constituent of the monastery Zitomislic.
Except that life consists of continuous prayer and obedience to the head of that monastery is obligatory. And they chose life in the monastery, they tell us, to achieve their supreme goals.
Today it is quiet at the Zitomislic monastery. It is located in the immediate vicinity of the main road through which many tourists go to Dubrovnik and Medugorje. A large number of them say monks come to this one of the oldest and most beautiful monasteries in BiH.
The restoration of the monastery took ten years. The works began in 2002, and during the next three years the entire monastery complex was completely reconstructed according to its original appearance.
“The first school for the literacy of children was founded here, so literacy and education of Orthodox Christians in BiH started here. From here, the monastery has a large collection of icons, and still fortunately preserved, these are icons from the 16th-19th century, the works of Greek, Russian painters and many of our domestic icon-writers,” said Pavlovic.
Located below the hill, in the valley of the Neretva river, surrounded by vineyards and rivers, the monastery plays a major role in the return of Serbs to Zitomislic, and the seven monks live here throughout the year, apart from the spiritual growth of believers, work precisely at the gathering of returnees this end.