Cross of Saint Jovan Vladimir 2020-01-09T16:25:54+00:00

Holly Cross of Jovan Vladimir

The cult of Saint Vladimir quickly expanded beyond medieval Montenegro. It was worshipped in Albania and Macedonia, where everyone knew about miracles of Jovan Vladimir, while in frescoes and icons in Bulgaria he is named the “Bulgarian emperor”. There are several relics connected to Saint John Vladimir, however, to date, only one is preserved. It is the wooden cross on which Bulgarian Emperor Jovan Vladislav falsely swore and thus lured Prince Vladimir to come to Prespa. It is believed that Prince Jovan Vladimir held this cross in his arms when he was executed by Jovan Vladislav at Prespa. His widow Kosara, after the execution, took his remains and the cross to the Prečista Krajinska Monastery. The only written source for this period (Chronicles of the priest of Doclea) is reporting that there was a book of goods and miracles of Jovan Vladimir, presented in chronological order, in the church of St. Mary in Krajina (Precista Krajinska). According to this source, Prince Jovan Vladimir powers of saint during his life – at his own request, God destroyed the serpents from which his army suffered, and his holiness was apparent immediately after his death. Many people healed from various illnesses after they entered the church and prayed at his grave.

The cross is lithic, wooden, made of yew and silver plated. The length of the cross is 45 cm, width 38 cm, thickness 2.5 cm. A brass ball is inserted at the lower end into which the rod is inserted. According to Androvic family, the cross was silver plated in Venice at a time when the people of the Bar area were increasingly converting to Islam. It is believed that this was probably at the end of the sixteenth century.

The Cross of St. Jovan Vladimir is traditionally kept as a greatest relic and a large pledge in the Andrović family from Velji Mikulić near Bar. According to the Androvic family, the cross has been in their possession for centuries. According to tradition, the Cross was brought as a dowry to the Androvic family in Mikulici by a bride whose father was a deacon of Prince Jovan Vladimir, and which married Djuro Androvic. It is believed that the relocation of the Cross from Krajina is connected with disappearance of numerous water sources, that is why the Krajinians were convinced that if the cross would be returned to them, the water would run from the springs and the wells would be full again. According to Milo Androvic, the Cross has since been kept as the greatest holy relic in their family. The cult of St. Jovan Vladimir is one of the most respected and deeply rooted cults not only in Montenegro but also in Macedonia, Bulgaria and Albania. As such, it represents the heritage of the people of both Christian and Islamic faiths.

Annual tradition on the day of Holy Trinity is the procession with the Holy Cross to the top of Mount Rumija where worship is performed. Until 1953 procession was followed by sport competitions (throwing stones from the shoulder, long jump, etc.). The Committee of Yugoslavian Communist Party in 1953 banned the procession with the Cross which the Androvic family respected until 1984, when it began to be resumed, but without sports games. Folloers of all religions and all nationalities from the territory of Montenegro and beyond participated in the ceremony. At the head of the procession was a representative of the Androvic Brotherhood carrying the Cross, the priests was behind him, and then the rest of the people. On this occasion, each person in the procession carried one stone, which was laid on the foundations of the old church, which according to tradition was at the very top of Mount Rumija.

The secret of keeping and protecting the Cross is guaranteed in the Androvic family and only the two oldest male members of the family know where the Cross is kept. Also, except on the day of Holy Trinity, when a large number of people can see it, the Cross was only once exposed at the Local Museum in Bar, on November 24, 1984, with the guards of Djuro and Velisa Androvic. Today St. Jovan Vladimir is considered the heavenly patron saint of the city of Bar worshipped in the Church of Jovan Vladimir.

Procession with the Holy Cross of Saint Jovan Vladimir as a the highest expression of religious tolerance:

“And there they all go together to the top of Mount Rumija before the sun, where representatives of all three faiths, Orthodox, Catholics and Muslims are devotedly lightening up the candles …”, Nikola Vučinić in 1889.

“As usual, ascending to the top, we stood around the church, a pile of stones voluntarily brought by the faithful worshipers, each person with one stone at a time. Turning east, just at sunrise, we lit candles and lit incense … While this brief act lasted our faithful brothers, Catholics and Muslims, stood around watching … “, Ljubomir Prizrenac describes the Holy Trinity Day, May 24, 1892 at summit of Mount Rumija.