Decembar 2021

with ivy, it turns green during the spring and takes on a reddish hue in the autumn, when it really resembles a rose flower. It is multicolouredduringwinter andsummer, depending on the number of sunny days.There’s no ivy on the church at present due to the restorationwork to clear damp, so everyone eagerly awaits the return of the old image,” says father Sava. This romantic exterior is given a special touch by two sculptures that were cast from cannon balls and placed at the entrance during the church’s renovation. Although they represent amedieval spearman fromthetimeofEmperorDušanand an infantryman from the period of the Balkan Wars, the statues today appear as guardians of the church and bearers of the best intentions. Havingsharedthefateof theBelgrade Fortress andBelgrade, Ružica Church has found itself in the possession of various conquerors, and has accordingly had different roles. “During the time of Austrian rule, all the way until 1739, it was a gunpowder magazine, serving military purposes.The citywas then retaken by theOttomanTurks, thenfell back into the hands of the Austrians, before the Turks retook it for a short time, only for the church to return to Serbia’s possession in 1867 and continue itsOrthodox spiritual life, thoughnowas amilitary shrine,” explains Nikolić. Itwas fromhere that soldiers set out tobattleto liberateBelgradefrom theAustro-Hungarians in1915,with someof themhavingfirst takencommunion for the last time, as the city fell andthearmysustainedhuge losses. That defeat turned into a moral victorywhenthecityreceivedtheNational Order of the Legion of Honour, a decoration bestowed on only two other cities outside France.The soldierswhogave their lives for freedomwere laid to rest nearby and today reside in the memorial ossuary of Jakšić Tower. It was during this war that the churchwas fatally damaged, only to be completely reconstructedaccording to thedesignof famous architect Nikolay Krasnov. The frescos of its wallswerepainted in1938byanother Russian, Andrei Vasilyevich Bitsenko. Alongside the usual religious motifs, the vaulted ceiling shows a procession of Serbian rulers, while watching from the walls are Russian Tsar Nicholas II, Serbian kings Peter and Alexander Karađorđević and others. There cannever be enough curiositieswhen it comes to this church, which is why amiraculous spring of healing water can be found under thechurch. “Thestreamwouldsometimes flow very strongly and sometimesweakly,while itwouldevendry up entirely.That’swhy a chapel dedicated toSaint Petkawas built above the spring. Here a kind of paradox emerges: regardless of the historical importance of Ružica Church, the people tend to flock much more to the chapel of this saint, whose cult is very widespread,” says Father Sava, comparing its significance to that of the greatest shrine of the Serbian Orthodox Church: Ostrog Monastery. Proof of this is provided by the kilometre-long queues of believers wanting to collect water from this healing spring on the day Saint Petka is celebrated. Andifyouweren’t inBelgradeon 27th October, or youwere prevented fromvisitingthespringandthechapel on that day for someother reason, or from going to Ružica Church on the holiday of the Birth of the Virgin Mary, on 21st September, don’t miss out on a visit to this holy site at Christmas, one of the two greatest Christianholidays,wheneverything that’s said is turned into pure joy. Ne propustite da posetite Ružicu za Božić, kada se sve pretače u čistu radost Don’t miss out on a visit to Ružica at Christmas, when everything turns into pure joy