A Millennium of the Holy King
The magnificent temple shows that indeed ”our brains are older than theirs, our self-confidence and patience much greater than theirs”. Particles of relics of St. Sava the Sanctified, St. Jovan Vladimir and the martyrs of Jasenovac are built into the holy altar of this temple, the biggest one in Montenegro. The consecration was carried by Patriarch of Jerusalem Teofilo III, followed by Patriarch of Serbia Irinej, in the presence of eighteen archbishops and metropolitans from all local churches… This event and this great endeavor will outlive all of us and shine through all times

By: Jovan Plamenac
Photo: ”Church 2017” Calendar and Krsto Plamenac

The first request for determining the location for building a church in Bar to the competent state body was submitted by priest Bogić Femić, shortly after the 1979 earthquake. Bar has grown into a modern town, with an urban plan, boulevards – however without a church. And its construction wasn’t even planned.
The communist authorities in Bar, as well as in entire Montenegro, considered Church an ideological enemy at the time. They offered father Bogić to build a church somewhere on the slopes of surrounding hills, as far from the city center as possible.
Old Metropolitan of Montenegro and the coastal areas Danilo came to the municipality authorities of Bar four times, and his bishop Nikanor once, to ask for the location for the church. All in vain.
Two years later, on March 17, 1981, the Initiative Board for the construction of the Cathedral Church of St. Jovan Vladimir in Bar was founded. On the day of St. Vasilije Ostroški, May 12 that same year, when the people of Bar gather in the nearby monastery of Ribljak, which he erected, priest Bogić Femić made an ardent speech on the first slab of the future quarters and invited the gathered people to publicly protest, because the authorities of Bar are blocking the construction of an orthodox church in the city.
Already the following day, he organized protests at the city square. After the people departed, father Bogić brought a table and chair to the square and began his personal, three-day protest, refusing any food or water. He put a board on the table stating: ”I am asking for a place for the Temple of God, I am asking for a place to pray!” He also put several icons and a notebook, which more than 5.000 people of Bar signed, as a sign of support to him. It was more than a half of the city population. They were not only Orthodox people of Bar, but also by Roman Catholics and Muslims.
Then followed a rally in front of the city Assembly and – the location of the church was granted. More than two hectares, in the center of Bar!
There, next to the post office and ”Topolica” hotel, father Boško soon placed a large wooden cross, consecrated by Metropolitan Amfilohije, replaced with a concrete one on the day of St. Nicholas. In summer and winter, in wind and rain, in the eve of every Sunday and holiday, he held an evening service before that cross, and served liturgies in the Church of St. Nicholas in Old Bar.
This is the place where the magnificent Cathedral Church of St. Jovan Vladimir was raised.
On the day of St. Vasilije Ostroški in 1992, when he consecrated the Ribnjak monastery, Metropolitan Amfilohije said:
”May God make this monastery the yeast of the construction of the great Cathedral Church in Bar, dedicated to St. Jovan Vladimir. You know, there are people who think that this temple will never be raised. However, they forget that our brains are older than theirs and that our self-confidence and patience is much bigger and stronger than theirs… We will raise the Church of St. Jovan Vladimir. And my message to them, those who now hold power in Bar is – may God give them a chance.”


The construction of the Church began in 2006. The design was made by architect Predrag Ristić, and the implementing architect was Svetozar Popović. However, the construction works were standing due to lack of money, as well as other problems.
In May 2009, Metropolitan Amfilohije formed the Church Construction Board in Bar, led by engineer Momčilo Stanojević, who had just been completing the works on the Cathedral Church in Podgorica. The first concrete into the foundations of the church was poured on July 3, 2009. This is when the long expected construction of the Bar church energetically began. There were several donation dinners organized in Bar and people gave abundant amounts. Much money was spent on the church foundations. It is a construction phase which is hardly visible, but costs a lot. The people of Bar gave donations with trust in the construction.
Already on August 29, 2009, Metropolitan Amfilohije served a liturgy on the first slab of the church, on 0 altitude. The church crypt was built. It was brought into function in the eve of Easter the following year and dedicated to St. Alexander Nevsky.
Without hiring any large construction companies and their cranes, in a seemingly simple way, yet much cheaper, with supreme professional supervising, the rough construction works were completed by placing a cross (replica of the cross of St. Jovan Vladimir) on the central dome on October 28, 2012.
The church with dimensions of 54,00 x 36,80 meters was raised, with a basis surface of 1.370 square meters, height of 44,50 meters to the top of the cross on the central dome, with a capacity of 1.200 people, the biggest in Montenegro and one of the biggest in the Orthodox world, a few square meters larger than the Cathedral Church in Podgorica.
Engineers say that it’s only a third of the entire work. Left to do were painting of 4.860 square meters of the church walls, making the 18,5 meters long marble iconostasis, a floor mosaic of about 1.700 square meters, carving stone. The church needs to be glazed (there are 1.240 window openings), there are seven bronze and nine wooden doors to be made, 28 pillars to be sheathed, the electrical and audio installations have to be installed, as well as floor heating, and the exterior needs to be arranged on 2.800 square meters… Lots of work which meant lots of money to be obtained.


The consecration of the temple was scheduled for September 25, 2016, on the thousandth anniversary of the martyr death of St. Jovan Vladimir.
In less than a year and a half, about 80 percent of the temple was painted. Especially in the last months, five teams of fresco painters worked almost day and night, led by Anastasije Radović. Only the fresco of Godmother Larger than Heavens, painted in the altar apsis, has 80 square meters…
The icons on the iconostasis are also painted using an ancient technique, on linden tree, with highly polished golden leaves in aureoles.
All windows on the Bar church were made of stone, as well as the complete floor mosaic, altar table, iconostasis, throne…
The iconostasis was made of several kinds of stone: white from Macedonia, onyx from Siriska Banja and guatamala from Italy.
All pavements and paths around the temple are paved with stone, red and gray stone from Nikšić.
Stonecutters, led by Ivan Stefanović and Dragiša Krkeljić, did a great and extremely high quality work in three years. Sometimes ten of them worked at the same time.
Already during its construction, the bell foundry ”Vera” in Voronezh, Russia, previous military factory for manufacturing katyushas, made 11 bells for the Bar church. The biggest weighs 800 kg and the smallest about 10 kilograms, making a sound row with tones arranged from the lowest to the highest, able to ”play” many melodies. They were founded together with different ornaments on them, with high artistic value. For example, the largest bell has an icon of St. Jovan Vladimir, quotes from the Bible, various ornaments…
This is not the final number of bells planned for this temple.
The bells are placed in two towers, dedicated to Holy Emperor Constantine and Empress Jelena, and Holy Cyril and Methodius.
This is, apparently, the only bell tower in the Serbian Orthodox Church with manual ringing. The bell ringer is a professor at the Bar School of Music, Aleksandar Basarab, from Ukraine. He was trained by bell ringers from Russia, where the bell ringing skill is highly respected.


Many people participated in preparing the consecration of the Cathedral Church of St. Jovan Vladimir in Bar, a big event in the Orthodox world, as well as the majority of priests from the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Coastal Areas. It was preceded by a valuable International Scientific Meeting ”St. Jovan Vladimir – History and Legend (1016 – 2016)”, with 55 scientists from nine European countries.
Before the consecration, an impressive monograph, Jovan Markuš’s Cathedral Church of St. Jovan Vladimir in Bar was printed.
The evening before the consecration, a corresponding Academy was held. Bishop of Dioclea Kirilo was speaking, and participating in the program were the chorus from Elbasan, Nikos and Giorgios Stratakis from Crete, actors Petar Božović and Jelena Mila, ethno-group ”Baklava” from Macedonia, Ivana Žigon and ”Kosovski Božuri”, ”Khaossia Ethno Ensemble Salentina” from Italy, Bulgarian chorus ”St. Naum of Ohrid”, Church Chorus of the Bar Cathedral Church and Children Ensemble of the ”St. Jovan Vladimir” cultural and artistic society from Bar. A film about St. Jovan Vladimir, made by RTS, was shown.
The Academy was followed by magnificent fireworks.
The consecration of the church and Liturgy that followed were led by Patriarch of Jerusalem and all Palestine Teofilo III. Together with him were Patriarch of Serbia Irinej, Archbishop of Tirana and all Albania Anastasije, Archbishop of Ohrid Jovan… They built particles of the relics of St. Sava the Consecrated, brought by Patriarch Teofilo, martyrs of Jasenovac and St. Jovan Vladimir into the Holy Throne.
This event gathered 18 archbishops and metropolitans from all local Orthodox churches, 12 bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, representatives of the Macedonian and Armenian churches, many public figures of Montenegro and Serbia, diplomats, representatives of the Roman Catholic church and Islamic community in Montenegro, donors, thousands of people…
During lunch, with over a thousand guests, on behalf of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Amfilohije handed the newly established Ordain of St. Jovan Vladimir to Patriarch Teofilo III, archbishops Anastasije and Jovan, family of the blessed archpriest-staurophor Bogić Femić, the oldest member of the Andrović family, who has been keeping the cross of St. Jovan Vladimir for centuries, architects Peđa Ristić and Svetislav Popović and master builder Momčilo Stanojević.
A day after the consecration, on the plateau in front of the Cathedral Church of St. Jovan Vladimir, Slobodan Trkulja and Jelena Tomašević held a concert.


Fresco Technique
The church was painted in traditional fresco technique. The lime used for the mortar onto which color is applied before it dries, while still fresh, should be at least four years old. The older the better. In the famous lime pit of former Yugoslavia, near Spuž, where mortar is taken today, they found lime more than 40 years old. Painted frescoes do not fade on such high quality lime. Its maturing can last up to 200 years.
Not a single larger church in the world has been painted in fresco technique recently.


A Thousand Years
The Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church proclaimed the year 2016 as the year of St. Jovan Vladimir. The consecration of the Cathedral Church in Bar was the crown of marking a thousand years since the martyr death of the Serbian ruler and saint, as well as the crown of efforts, faith and hope of archpriest-staurophor Bogić Femić and Metropolitan Amfilohije.


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