Lepavina Monastery is a Serbian Orthodox monastery dedicated to the Presentation of Mary. According to an old local chronicle, the Lepavina monastery was founded around 1550, very soon after the emergence of the first Serbian settlements in this region. A monk from the Hilandar Monastery (on the Athos peninsula, Greece), Jefrem (Ephraim) Vukodabović, together with two monks from Bosnia, built a wooden church here. However in August 1557, Turks and the Islamized inhabitants of Stupčanica, Pakrac and Bijela, under the leadership of Zarep-Agha Ali, burnt down the church and the monastic buildings, four monks were killed and two taken to slavery.
In 1598 Hieromonk Gregory came to Lepavina and re-established the monastic community and rebuilt the edifices. In 1630 the Orthodox population of this region, due to their constant involvement in the fights against the Turks and their allies, received great privileges, which created the conditions for building activity on a larger scale.
The still-standing monastery church was built in the mid-18th century. World War II was especially difficult period. Immediately after the occupation, the brethren were arrested and taken to a concentration camp. Hieromonk Joakim (Joachim, Babić) was killed and the others were deported to Serbia. On 27 October 1943 the monastery was bombarded, monastic buildings were almost completely destroyed, while the church and the dormitory were heavily damaged. Nevertheless, in the part of the dormitory that escaped destruction, the part of the monastery library remained intact and was appropriated by the Greek Catholic clergy. After the war monastery was renovated with the help of the World Council of Churches.
One of the features of interest was the iconostasis from 1775, a work by one of the best representatives of the Serbian early Baroque, Jovan Četirević Grabovan, destroyed during World War II, with only three pictures remaining. Besides these, the monastery keeps the icons of St Simeon Nemanja, St Sava and the icon of the Entry into the Temple of the Most Holy Mother of God (i.e. the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary), all painted in Lepavina in 1647.References:
The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.
The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.
The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.
The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.
Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.
Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.