New Hopovo – cultural center of Serbian people

Very significant part in enlightening life of people from Irig and developing culture of Serb in Srem had monastery New Hopovo. In XVI century Hopovo is the most significant enlightening center of Serbs from both sides of Danube and Sava. Stefan Gerlah on his way to Constantinople, between 1573 and 1578 noted that Serbs in Belgrade do not have schools but come to Hopovo to learn how to read and write.

New Hopovo is one of first Serbian monasteries built on Fruska gora in period between 1496 and 1502. Data’s about who built monastery are rather different, because as promoters are mentioned despot Stevan Brankovic and despot bishop Maxim. According legend, Djordje Brankovic built it between 1486 and 1516. First mentioning of Monastery Hopovo was in 1541. Turkish turned down monastery in 1539, but soon after that it was rebuilt, from which you can conclude that it is Old Hopovo that we are talking about whose prior in 1541 was Stefan and 1563 Avramije and 1565 Nikon.

Due to difficult approach to monastery Old Hopovo that mentions for the first time in 1496 and according to legend Djordje Brankovic built it, in 1576 monastery New Hopovo was built. In that year it is also built monastery church tribute to Saint Nicolas, which can be seen from very well preserved inscription on stone plate above temple’s western door. New Hopovo monasteries founders were citizens Lacko and Marko Jovsic, inhabitants of Upper Kovin (place on the island Cepel in Hungary). While withdrawing in 1688 Turkish turned down monasteries church but it was rebuilt in next year. In 1716, Turkish again disrupted down monasteries church, in war against Austria.

Monastery New Hopovo is one of the most significant cultural monuments in Vojvodina, by its monumental architecture, fresco decoration, enlightening role and history rich with cultural, religion and political events.

In Hopovo is Saint Theodorīs Tyron remains and one of first Serbian icons ('70 year in XVI century).

In middle of XVIII century, around Irig and monastery Hopovo, spontaneously originated unusual institution, unique in our region, gusle guild – School for gusle, scurrilously named "blindsman academy". It played significant role in nursering, developing and modeling our epic poetry ˝where… elder teach younger how to maintain these lovely songs˝, so Irig is later on called ˝first Serbian academic city˝.

In XVI and XVII century, Hopovo is second residence of metropolitans from Belgrade and Srem. In the beginning of XVIII century, parochial national parliament held where they discussed about difficult position and oppression of Serbs in Vojvodina. There was no consensus among participants, so not any significant decisions were made. It is concluded on parliament that body of Arsenije II Carnojevic that lived for a while in this facility move from Krusedol to Hopovo. In XVIII century in monastery was writing school: Arsenije zoo graph and NII and in 1758 also here stayed Russian icon painter Vasilie Romanovic. Until 1941 here was rich monastery library that was ruined in World War 2. In Hopovo frocked and from July 1757 until November 2, 1760 here lived Dimitrije Dositej Obradovic.

When Dimitrije Obradovic, apprentice from Temisvar, came to Hopovo with the intention to commit that was no longer monastery of old ascetics but perverted life place. In Hopovo, like every other monastery on Fruska gora, monks from all places came: from Srem, Banat, Backa, Serbia, Lika, Bosnia, and there were some from Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria and Russia (Moscow). In that period in monastery found asylum everyone who wanted to live at ease and well and those who avoided military obligations. So, in that time there were 13 years-old boys and jeromonks, 16 years old. There was a time when monks struggled among themselves to get as much as possible vineyards, orchards and meadows as personal property and sell vine and brandy as much as they can. Their behavior was profligate. They rambled at Irig and surrounding, get drunk in taverns and started fights. In clothing and personal hygiene they were very shabby. Because all those things, metropolitan Pavle Nenadovic issued order about behavior and monks clothing.

About living and working in Hopovo for the best speaks party prepared on April 7, 1759 in behalf of coming of emperors commissary in order resolving some issues that monastery had with estate. On party that day, in Hopovo they eat two oxes, 15 calf’s, 16 lambs, two piggy, eight pairs of turkeys, four pairs of geese, ten pairs of chicken and 172 okes of fish and they drunk 3 akes of brandy, 29 akes of new vine, one barrel of new and one barrel of old black vine.

For monasteries slava in 1758, when Dositej was already in monastery, it was prepared; 123 okes of meat, five turkeys, two turkeys, one pig and enough of small poultry and for guests – monks for Slankamen that fast on that day, 200 okes of fish, one carp of eight okes, 19 okes of horseradish, 14 okes of butter and 17 okes of soft cheese. In Hopovo fish was so appreciated that in 1759 brothers from monastery order that big tank should be dig and drink was so fond of and disbursed that one of hardest monastery punishments was abstinence for certain period from vine and brandy. All of our science – prior Theodore Milutinovic used to say – is in that we can recognize how old vine and brandy are.

Time that Dositej spent in Hopovo is especially significant for his intellectual development and spiritual life. His ascetic trance climaxed. There was a turn over in his life and suddenly his religic belief started fainting. Right in front his eyes it started clearing up and he started reading science books and realized some new ideas. He saw monkshood on the act and became opened opponent.

Luckily for Dositej, in that group of people that saw their mean of life in plate and flagon, there were some people that, at least, partly liked books like Vasilie Nedeljkovic and Spiridon Jovanovich, born in Belgrade. In 1758, in Hopovo came Russian icon painter Vasilie Romanovic.

From the moment he came to monastery, Dositej inexhaustible read why perverted monks contemned him and monkey at him. The most credits for Dositej survival in monastery has prior Theodore Milutinovic that supported and teached him. On day of monastery slava, February 17, 1758, when metropolitan from Karlovci came, Dimitrije Obradovic entered a monastic order and got name Dositej, and on April 18, metropolitan from Karlovci gave him a rank of deacon. After this, young deacon’s ardor even more increased, so his sanctimony, fasts and prayers were heard all over Fruska gora so even sick people started coming to Hopovo that Dositej read them prayers. Although even prior Theodore Milutinovic started believing in Dositejīs miraculous powers, he yet told him: ˝Iīm afraid that sanctity won’t last very long˝. And indeed, it didn’t last very long. Dositej started realizing that no one in Hopovo actually committed himself and each day more and more read science books and lusted for science. In autumn 1759, prior Milutinovic sent him to Irig to study Latin language but vicious monks that envied him procured that Dositej stop learning Latin and return to monastery. Dositej finally realized that there was no science in monastery and that he has to get away. Last connection that held connected to the monastery was his stepfather prior Theodore Milutinovic that envious monks managed to dethrone him and repel him to Sisatovac. In his departure from Hopovo he gave Dositej almost all his savings and told him: ˝Leave monastery… stop thinking of yours sanctity. Reasonable people monkey to that today… The one who today poses, as saint is either some kind of liar or fantasies… Search for science!˝.

After this, Milutinovic didn’t live very long. He died in July 1760. After his death Dositej decided to leave Hopovo. He found in Irig, red dolman and pants and outlaws peasants shoes and on November 2, 1760 left monastery.