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The Topolnița Monastery, TopolnițaCod 1484

The Topolnița monastery is an old orthodox monastery from the Episcopacy of Severin and of Strehaia. The old church of the monastery is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, titular saint celebrated on the date of the 29th of August, when the Church is honoring the Cutting of the Head of Saint John the Baptist. According to the local tradition, Saint Nicodim from Tismana, leaving from the Monastery Vodiță, in order to search for a place for building up a monastery dedicated to Mary, Mother of Jesus, and he stooped on the valley of the river Topolnița where he started the work.

The old church of the Monastery Topolnița, was founded by the aristocrats Craiovești, in the XVIth century, on the fireplace of an older church, built up by Saint Nicodim, the founder of the monasteries Tismana and Vodița.

It is believed that the Monastery Topolnița was founded immediately after the Monastery Vodița, before the Monastery Tismana, which he finished in the year 1378. The construction of the current church dates back to the year 1646, when the voivode Matei Basarab, descendant of the Craiovești, donated the foundation, situated in a precarious place, the captain of dorobanți Lupu Buliga, for special honors, on the date of the 12th of February 1646.

The new founder will change the titular saint of the monastery, the old one being the Saint Archangel Michael, named by Saint Nicodim in the memory of the Monastery Hilandar, from the Saint Mountain Athos, and the new chosen titular saint is Saint John the Baptist.

After the year 1864, following the secularization of the monastery fortunes, the Skete Topolnița was abandoned, and the sanctums built in the year 1640 were destroyed.

In the year 1912, the Commission of Historical Monuments executes partial reparations and re-builds three sanctums, and in the year 1930, the Episcopacy of Râmnic and of the New Severin re-founds the monastic life in the former skete. In the year 1943, at the command of the skete, there was named as abbot father Grațian, who, in the year 1948, sculpted by himself all the furniture from the church.

Between the walls of the Skete Topolnița, Ghiță Cuțui Olteanul and Simion Mehedințeanu, captain from the army of pandours of Tudor Vladimirescu, ensured a place for refuge and resistance. This fact is recorded on a memorial plate, situated at the entrance in the monastery, on the wall of the bell tower. Even nowadays, the church presents itself as a guarding tower and surrounding walls.

The monastic ensemble from Topolnița comprises the old church, dedicated to the Cutting of the Head of Saint John the Baptist, the bell tower, the priorship, the sanctums and the wooden church, dedicated to the Saint Emperors Constantin and Helen.

The old church is built in a Byzantine style, in the shape of a Greek cross, built up from stone and brick. The entrance in the church is made through a double door, fixed in a stone portal having bulged, in the superior parts, an inscription. The church, built up in the year 1646, was painted in the year 1673, in a Byzantine mural painting, by the painters Grigore “the Greek” and Dima “the Roman”. Remarkable is the mural painting “the Last Judgment”, painted on the exterior façade of the western wall.

In the exterior of the old painting, in the yard, there is found a group of buildings belonging to the former skete and represents a few sanctums, a kitchen and the priorship. The entire ensemble is surrounded by thick walls, made of stone. The wooden church was initially built in the village Spineni, the commune Bălești, the county Gorj, in the year 1832, and later on it is displaced and assembled, after 160 years, between the years 1992 – 1993, near the Monastery Topolnița. Together with its displacement, the wooden church was dedicated to the Saints Emperors Constantin and Helen.


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