Jitianu Monastery

Monastery / Church


Braniște, Romania


The Jitianu Orthodox Monastery is located in the village of Braniste, in Dolj county, and it is dedicated to the "Great Martyr Dimitrie" and the "Saint Prophet Ilie (Elijah)".
Short history:
In the XIV th century, a wooden church was erected by Mircea the Old, after the victory at Rovine, but it was first mentioned in documents in the XV th century.
The church was built in the shape of a cross with a single cylindrical dome. The church's bell tower (on the west side) is a new massive construction (probably from the late XVIII th century, in Brancovenesc style).
The church was restored in the years 1717, 1852, 1910, 1926 and 1958. At present, there is a valuable collection of icons made on wood and on glass.
At the entrance to the courtyard of the monastery, next to the plum orchard, is a mulberry tree plantation belonging to Cuza, protected and declared historical monument.
In 1877, during the Independence War, the church of the monastery served as a shell base, and the cells were used as a hospital for the Roman soldiers wounded in battle. Several Roman soldiers were buried in the courtyard of the monastery, as one can observe by the crosses placed behind the church.
After the war, the monastery was listed on the historical monuments list.
The Jitianu Monastery, is one of the oldest historical monuments in the Oltenia area, which survived over the centuries.
The great church with its square tower is situated in the plain that surrounds Craiova, north of the road that leads to Calafat, surrounded by the orchards of the monastery on the outskirts of the village Branişte, in the commune of Podari.

According to the historical sources, this settlement is identified as the marshland area, where the famous battle of Rovine was given, when the great ruler Mircea the Old (1394) emerged victorious against the Turks led by sultan Baiazid, called the Lightning. This fact has been described by the historians, although there are no written testimonies to document it, or at least they have not been found yet.

"The Holy Jitianu Monastery, a great construction, which for almost four hundred years guarded the gates of this city as a holy witness to the faith and patriotism of the boyars and voivodes of our nation "(Nicolae Iorga)

The Jitianu Monastery performed a double role on those historical precarious past times. The first is to keep lit the torch of the ancestral faith in the weary souls of the Romanians under the heavy burden of Ottoman slavery, while the second is to guard against predators, given the strategic position of this settlement.
The Jitianu Monastery was built on the site of this small wooden church at the end of the XV th century and the beginning of the XVI th century by the efforts of the Craioveşti boyars in order to complete the fortification area around the fortress of Bania and to stop the Turkish raids which often touched these areas.
"On the alleged place of a legendary wooden church of Mircea the Old - victorious in Rovine, in 1394 - at the Jitianu Monastery, erected by Mrs. Bălăşa, the wife of Constantin Serban Cârnul (1654-1657), that Constantin Brâncoveanu endowed with a tower according to the genre and the strategic purpose, on the road to Calafat and Vidin. "(Patriarch Macarie of Antioch visiting these lands in 1653.)

The name of the Monastery seems to have been given by the founders in the honor of the one who owned the ground on which the church itself was built, the steward Jitianu who worked in the service of Lord Neagoe Basarab between 8 May 1514-14 July 1521.

Due to the humid environment where the monastery was located, the church and the entire monastery complex will undergo a succession of renovations over the centuries; but still, towards the end of the XVIII th century, the church deteriorated and, especially given the situation of those hard times, it became a ruin and it was abandoned.
Along with the end of the war, the condition of the monastery was getting worse.
The opportunity of rehabilitation comes along with the passing of Queen Elena on her way to one of the royal domains in Segarcea. The railway is 1 km away from the monastery, and Queen Elena remained impressed at her sight. Accompanied by the famous historian and politician Nicolae Iorga (Chairman of the Commission for Historical Monuments), at her request, he told her in detail the history of the monastery.
On her way back, travelling by car, she visited this place and decided, as a priority, to renovate the monastery.
Forgotten by times and by people, the place was almost completely destroyed, and the birds of the sky were the only beings who lived here.
Without a roof, the painting was mostly degraded due to rain and snow and the interior was seriously damaged, requiring an urgent restoration.
The renovation work lasted a few years in order to give back this holy place its splendor, but the renovation was limited mostly to the church and not to the entire monastery.
At that time, Titus Locuşteanu was the priest of the village, and his father, who was also a priest, took part in the renovation works, initially being the parish priest of this church.
In 1932, the church officially reopened to receive the faithful.
After decades of suffering, oblivion and ruin, the Jitianu Monastery becomes a new monastery complex.
The last renovation work began in 2010, under the direct guidance of the metropolitan bishop of OItenia, Father Irineu, and during the current monastic community made of eight monks, led by Nifon Văcăruş, the abbot of the Holy Monastery.


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