Decembar 2021

64 | Beograd » Belgrade R I TAM GRADA / RHYTHM OF THE CI TY RUŽ I CA CHURCH ON K A L EMEGDAN Green in the spring, vermillion in the autumn Ružica, the Little Rose, as the people affectionately refer to the church dedicated to the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the grounds of the Belgrade Fortress, represents the oldest preserved place of worship in the Serbian capital and one of theworld’smost wondrous churches RužicaChurchholdsaspecial place among houses of worship, and it is made exceptional by three brass candelabras, called polyeleos chandeliers, which are made of the Austro-Hungarian grenades, pistol bullets and rifle shots that were used to damage the church during World War I. And is additionally decorated with sabres of Serbianofficers datingback to the same period. The guiding idea behind the creation of the candelabra, and today’s electric chandelier, was for it to symbolise the constant dripping of wax onweapons, whichwas intended to prevent a repeat of the lunacy that characterised theGreatWar. War nonetheless returned, but the church remained in the same condition that it found itself in following its 1925 reconstruction. Thus, the light nonetheless conquered the darknesswithinman, whichwas also the point of creating such an unusual ornament. This place is also Belgrade’s suzarnik [house of tears], according to the description of this temple given by late, now-Sainted Bishop Nikolaj Velimirović, who was referring to both tears that are shed due to misfortune and tears of joy. “This church is also a storehouse of the energy of multiple centuries,” says journalist and publicist Zoran Lj. Nikolić. That’s because this house of prayerwas constructedas far back as the early 15th century, sometime between 1403 and 1407, during a period when despot Stefan Lazarević was reconstructing and extending the pre-existing Roman, ByzantineandAustro-Hungarianramparts of the city. It is remembered differently among thepeople, anda legend lives onabout the three sisters of Bogdan Jakšić, the son of the famous Duke Jakša: Ružica,MaricaandCveta.The three sisters’ great piousness allegedly prompted them to build three churches, which were named after thewomenwhocreated them.However, only one of them survived to be admired by today’s visitors. And thatwas preciselyRužicaChurch, locatedbeneathZindanGateandclose to Dizdar Tower, but also near the unconquerable Jakšić Tower, which was actually built by the father of these noblewomen. “Therearenoreliablearchaeological accountsof theother twochurches,” notes priest Dr Sava Milin, assistant professor at the Orthodox Theological Faculty of the University of Belgrade. Even though historical records admittedly don’t mention this church under the name of Ružica, it is nonethelessmentioned by the people in epic poems. “A more trustworthy variation on the origin of the name of this church is related to its external appearance. Completely overgrown