Monastery Saint Jovan Vladimir (Shin Djon), Elbasan
Prince Jovan Vladimir was martyred on May 22, 1015. Initially, his relics were buried in the Church of the Pure Krajina, located in Krajina, Montenegro. Despot Mihail Komneni brought the saints’ relics to the city of Durres in 1215 where he became a patron of the city. In 1381 Prince Carlo Topi built the monastery of John Vladimir in Elbasan, in which he transferred the saint`s relics from Durres. The coffin in which relics were kept was looted by mercenaries who fought against the Koza Pasha. The robbers opened the grave of the saint, took silver decorations and the relics of John Vladimir. Years later, faithful people of Elbasan payed to get back the relics at the cost of 700 piasters.
Five scenes from the saint’s life are engraved on the front of the coffin in which the relics of John Vladimir are kept. Six floral motifs are painted on its back. Inside is painted portrait of Jovan Vladimir. There is an inscription in Byzantine Greek: “Honour benevolent people of Durres and Tribal, as you worship the holy relics.”
The German army set monastery to the fire in 1944, the iconostasis was destroyed and a small part is still kept in the National History Museum of Albania in tirana. Thanks to the coffin, the relics survived the fire. Political turmoil led to the demolition of the church in 1967 and the monastery of St. John Vladimir was converted into a military unit. Those were the years of the most severe damage and the monastery was losing its identity. Meanwhile, a relic with the relics of a saint were moved to St. Mary’s Church in the Kala area of Elbasan.
At the Monastery of St. Jovan Vladimir in Elbasan, in June 2019, for the first time, a Montenegrin official delegation attended the opening of the coffin with the relics of Prince Jovan Vladimir. The delegation included Assistant Director of the Directorate for the Diaspora Ivan Jovovic, MSc, Mayor of Bar Radomir Novakovic Cakan, Head of the Cabinet of the Mayor of Ulcinj Vaso Radovic, Milan Androvic from the Androvic Family, who has been guarding the cross of St Jovan Vladimir for centuries, and with them in Elbasan and the commissioners of the Montenegrin Matica for Albania and Macedonia Blagoje Zlaticanin and Miroslav Miro Orlandic.
The Mayor of Bar Municipality for this occasion gave a special gift to priests Imzot Andon Merdan and Irinej – the monograph “The Cult of Saint Vladimir Dukljanski”.
“As a person from the city of Bar, I had the need, honour and pleasure to attend the event of the opening the coffin with the relics of St. Jovan Vladimir in the Monastery of Elbasan. We must not let the history of our people fall into oblivion. I must admit that I felt great pleasure of being here. Here as it is in Bar, there is a wealth of diversity, so in addition to the Orthodox, at the procession on June 4, the monastery included Catholics and Muslims, ” said Novakovic.