History

 

Ascension church in Belgrade was being built from the spring of 1861 till the end of 1862, during the reign of Prince Mihailo Obrenovic.

Upon completion of the iconostasis, Metropolitan Mihailo (Jovanovic), by the grace of God, consecrated the church and dedicated it to the Ascension of Christ, 28th March 1863.

 

ukras

 

Situation ahead of the erection of the Church

 

Wise Prince Miloš knew to gradually overwhelm the power and undermine Turkey's position in Belgrade, and the Turks by the voice of the written order remained mostly in the Belgrade Fortress, whereas Belgrade Town belonged to the Serbs. As the Belgrade suburb outside Šanac rapidly expanded urban and regulated, Palilula St. Marko church was not able to meet the needs of one of its works to the Sava slope, where were two main streets cituated, Abadžijska (now Queen Natalija) and Brewing (later Bosanska today Gavrilo Princip), below which were built large military buildings,  barracks and military academy founded in Pozarevac 1837, and moved to Belgrade in 1838. Liturgical purposes here placed army met the one tent church, but this proved to be insufficient and was a temporary solution.

Because the religious and political authorities agreed to that this part of Serbian Belgrade should build a new church, which would meet the needs of military and civilian population. After an unofficial agreement with Prince Mihailo, Metropolitan Mihailo Jovanovic filed a prince of a written proposal to raise the church in this area. Knez Mihailo's proposal passed and sent him to Colonel Paul Stanisic, governor of the General Administration  of building, to develop a plan for this church, which had primarily to serve the needs of the army, and then needs of citizens.

Stanisic, in collaboration with the Head of the Board John K. Ristic, a plan for Ascension Church, in which she is supposed to be 14 Fathoms (26.5 m) long, and 5.5 Fathoms (10.5 m) wide. This size is envisaged therefore that in addition to the church to worship army could put citizens.

As the prince and Metropolitan agreed to plans designed, Metropolitan asked Colonel Stanisic  in "Board Principality serbskogo" to provide approval to planned church building on the land "lying They bear alley Abadžijska and brewer, i.e. Dudara". Stanisic proposal sent Soweto on October 18th 1860, a State Council adopted him and his judgment delivered on October 24 to Prince Michael for approval. The decision of the designated boundaries of the land, "the alleys of Topcider road (now Knez Milos Street) has 14 Fathoms (26.5 m), and the opposite side (to present Dobrinjska street) 39 Fathoms, 1 Schuh (feet) and 6 coli (75 m), with alleys Abadžijskog (now Queen Natalia Street) has 62 catches, 4 and 6 dry coli (119 m) and Pivarska alley (now Admiral Geprat Street ) has 64 catches, 2 and 6 dry coli (122 m ) ". This land is called Dudara for being a nursery of white mulberry, which was related to the cultivation of silkworms.

Prince on October 31 in 1860. addopted a positive decision of the State Council and approved "to give way to exact place which lies between the alley and Abadžijska brewer, so called Dudara, and to make it to the church for military servants".

 

Raising temple

When it's from the highest obtained approval, we started the preparatory works. It was envisaged that the church built in the middle of the land, "in order to have enough room for a tour around the temple in the days when the church it does, and besides, and because of that, that would make room for solemn army servants".

Then the City of Belgrade issued bids to build the church. For auction this job got builder Joseph Stock for 5,000  Cesar ducats. The works began in the spring of 1861. Recorded the names of contractors Frederick Slajsner and Ernest Glajzner. The roof of the church covered baking sheet plumber Schuster with his son Franc, who was then as an apprentice to assist in the work. Consecration of the foundation of the new church was made by the Metropolitan Mihailo concelebration with several priests and deacons, and in the presence of the prince, government, military and civic dignitaries and large numbers of people.

Works are well advanced. For two years the church was built. Construction works were completed largely by the end of 1862, but as the Bishop just before the end of the works, the auction performed in the city administration, entrusted development of the iconostasis painter ("painter") to Nikola Marković-Raspopović, the church could be consecrated until 29 March 1863, consecration of the church was made by the Metropolitan Mihailo and dedicated to the Ascension of Christ. Iconostasis made by Raspopović no long satisfy visitors and church administration, and  in 1881 the church set new iconostasis, made by the famous painter Steva Todorović. The iconostasis adorns the Ascension Church nowadays .


... And then

To get back to the beginnings of life of the church of Ascension and spiritual life of her parish. In the beginning, when the church first had the choir. This church had two parishes. One went to the church of the Episcopal Church, cituated in the Savamala and the other the mother church of St. Marko. There stayed their parish priests in the parish of  Savamala, Archpriest Ilija Novakovic, permanent army chaplain from the year 1842, and from 1852  Archpriest of Belgrade and Belgrade county, and in that parish which formerly belonged to the Church of St.Marko- priest Stevan Mihailovic Beli.

As around the Ascension Church in Dudara there were no buildings, priest Ilija Novakovic at the end of year 1863 took vigorous actions to build a house for the official business of the parish, because the administrative work was still performed in the office of the Church of St. Marko, he asked the Belgrade city officials for the permission to build a house at Ascension Church. Administration of this application approved and delegated engineer Vučković to develop a plan. When the plan was finished, the Administration of the city by the 28th of February in 1864 filed plan to Archpriest who submit it over Consistory to the Minister of Education, who, however, wanted the new building to be designed so that in time it could serve as a primary school, but under the pressure of Archpriests reasons yet relented and approved Vučković`s plan. In the meantime, city authorities submitted a new project, who liked the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs, Archpriest Ilija agreed to this plan, putting some remarks, which the Minister had adopted, and thus obtained a construction permition.

At the beginning of October in 1864 a public auction was conducted, at which the job was assigned to Joseph Stock, who built Ascension Church. Construction began in early spring  of 1865 and during that year was finished.

Four smaller rooms kept the church administration itself  for their needs, whereas four bigger rooms were rented immediately by the Statistics Department of the Ministry of Finance, Department of meter measures, which used the room  by the annual rent of 432 dinars until 1886 when, due to an increase in the number of students of Belgrade Pre-High School, this room was conceded them under a lease agreement, which the church administration signed with the Ministry of Education. Then, the rent was 120 dinars per month. The basement was also rented to private traders, because the church administration did not needed it. Funds for further construction and design of the space around the church were needed more.  

Due to the lack of school space, Pre-High School soon found itself in a more difficult situation, persistently begging the church governance to rent them the rest of the church house. Management had a full understanding of the needs of National Education, but they had to take care of their needs. Finally they found the solution. In the spring in 1891 an agreement was signed. According to which Pre-Higher School rented whole house (except the basement) with a monthly rent of 240 dinars, and the church had approved the construction of a new home. The contract was approved on July 2, 1891 and on 8 September of the same year, contractors Luka Radosavljević and Jovan Grujić reported that the job was completed.

Later, when the Pre-High School transformed into the Third Belgrade High School, they used the building until 1906, when they were received the new building. Their former school space was ceded to the Women's Teacher Training College, who remained there until 1935, and then was rented to various institutions and publishing companies

"From the church on October 5, 1912, followed by the blessing of God, went His Majesty King Peter I of Yugoslavia in the Balkan war, that happily completed , and in this church as the winner thanked God for the gift of victory " written on the plaque over the west door of the church.

At the time of the First World War

At the beginning of the First World War (1914), when the Austrians from monitor on Save shot at Belgrade, hit, among others, a shell in the northern wall of the Ascension Church and plunged over the pulpit, but did not explode. Later it was shown that the deposits of sand and shells emerged from the  place where bearing shells were located, it was a sign that the bomb began to slide. Therefore, in 1921, in the presence of military experts,  it was removed and taken away, and thus stopped the priests and people of further terrification.

... And then

During the war nothing was done on the church building, although just in 1914 the plans for renovation of the church inside and outside were made, after the liberation, the steps to rebuild the church as abilities allow, were taken. At the first meeting of the government after the war, held on April 6, 1919, ​​such a decision was made, because it seemed that the church had been so damaged that its renewal should not be postponed. However, as the architects Kosta Jovanović and Milivoje Smiljanić claimed that the church can wait to be repaired next year, church administration adopted it on the 14th of May in 1920. "Decided that the church make the necessary repairs to the cupola on the roof and gutters, to glaze"...

Works  were ceded  to contractor Stevan Borđević for 18.016 dinars and completed on December 23 in 1920. Then the church buildings were also repaired. The following year, was concluded that the church offices and the inside space should be mend, as was done in 1922 by painter Vojislav Kovacević. During the 1923  church was repaired, roof painted , the crosses cleaned and windows of the church and steeple painted. However, all these were only the most necessary repairs. Re-repair of the dome and roof, gold crosses and repair of church buildings were carried out during 1931, and the next year some smaller works on the church were completed. General overhaul of the church lasted from the St. Thomas week until the autumn in 1937.

Painting with his team was performed by painter Andrej Bicenko, under the supervision of our great artist Uroš Predić. Then the iconostasis made by Steva Todorović was cleaned, a wooden ornaments colorist refreshed and, if necessary, gold-plated. Then the Ascension church received, mainly, its present appearance. Such a renovated church was consecrated on 17 October in 1937 by Metropolitan of Zagreb Dositej, who after the death of Patriarch Barnabas was standing in Serbian throne.

During the Second World War

Dawned the fateful April 6 , 1941, when German bombers, without a declaration of war, in the early Sunday morning, violently attacked Belgrade. In anticipation of Hitler's aggression, the military authorities in the church yard dug up two shelters, one in a zig-zag line along  the  Geprat street and the other beside Queen Natalia Street. Church chronicler and an eyewitness, Archpriest Milovan Mihailović, describes the morning:

"It was a Sunday. Sunny day, bright and warm. In the church of St. Ascension was just ended the morning service, which was served by archpriest Velimir Marković our protodeacon Veselin Vasiljević when started the bombing. Formations of German bombers flew from direction of Zemun, came to Čukarica, and flew over Belgrade pouring their deadly bombs. Holy Ascension church was destroyed the 7.10 am during the first wave of the German bombing. A large aerial bomb of 1,500 kg weight with a parachute just fell right in the middle of the right wall of the great trench close to the church, exploded, made a huge hole in the ground, destroyed boundary wall made of bricks from Geprat street, broke and burrowed out fir and pine trees in the area, buried and killed almost all men found hidden in this trench. A trench was full with people, as well as the other smaller one, running away from the train station, the church, surrounding buildings and from different parts of town, running frantically to get away from the bombing or to escape out of the city. And in the other smaller one trench fell and exploded two bombs, one in the middle next to the tower, and the other at the opening of the trench by the stairs that lead from Milos The Great Street, but thankfully there were no injured. And from these explosions fir and pine trees in this part of the churchyard were broken, pulled out of the ground and downed, planted far before, in 1906 year, and over all this rubble the living and wounded,  were pulled out of a small trench, frantically running away  .

Mighty earthquake caused by the explosion, iron, rocks, soil and other materials which befell the church, the church was shaken, all the windows and doors were crushed, western and southern door and the entrance portal were hatched and tore, roof, gutters and domes damaged; church snapped longitudinally and transversely in the middle of the vault; the frescoes were badly damaged; the chandelier were swinging during the blasts making a big amplitude up to the vault; many of the icons of the iconostasis were fell out and broke, and the small columns in the iconostasis got out of their beds; a vigils on the iconostasis were broken, smashed, and poured oil down and damaged some icons… During the bombing the church was sheltering some of the people and all of them survived, but some of them were injured by broken glass from the window.

Since the bombing created a terrible scene in the churchyard and the church: the bloody earth, rocks and other material with the fragments of torn human bodies showered the church, the church roof and remaining old chestnuts near the church.

After twenty days, the German soldiers blocked the whole area around the church yard and brought our captured soldiers and Jews to dig up corpses buried in these trenches. They took out about 180 dead, poured them with lime, loaded them onto trucks and taken them to The New Cemetery, where they were thrown into the trenches at the top part of the cemetery. When removing the corpses mothers held the children lying close to their face could be seen, so died, or suffocated.

"After the bombing repeated extensively several times of the day (6 April) and continued the next days, and citizens of Belgrade running away in all directions, the town was abandoned without living conditions. So the other survivors, priests, clerics and refugees, began to return back individually only after several days. The first returned was archpriest Stamenković who somehow served on the Good Friday`s Day in this church in all this mess, and astonishment. Then arrived the other priests, and people are slowly returning from exile and started getting themselves who also slowly began to perform a weekly and holiday worship and other services in the church ... Previously the church, reception and church offices were cleaned  of broken glass from the windows, plaster, etc.. "

On the occasion of the forty memorial service for victims of this terrible bombing, church administration decided to take on the 6th of April each year a memorial to these innocent victims.

And ... on ...

After the Second World War, the building in the corner of Queen Natalija and Dobrinjska streets was nationalized, but the decision was later changed and today all church buildings are used for their own purposes.

As the church was repaired only tentatively in 1945, it was fully repaired in 1947, the ceilings and walls, but not artistically processed. Particular attention was paid to a static correctness of the central dome, and the expert committee found it proper in 1947 and in 1952, so it was decided that it should not be changed.

In the year 1958 church was decorated outside, but had not yet received its present appearance. Because of the business of the church-municipal scaffolding on the other hand, it was not until 1962 when the repair and cleaning of the frescoes and iconostasis ornaments was performed. That year, the work carried out painter Jaroslav Kratina who repaired the interior of the church, refreshed and decorated it to the satisfaction of the church authorities and the faithful. So the church interior received its present appearance. The consecration of thus restored church was completed on November 25 in 1962 by His Holiness Serbian Patriarch German.

That's how Ascension Church welcomed and celebrated its centenary in 1963 fully restored and joyful. That is why the church celebration was certainly one of the most glorious in the history of the church.

Because the Ascension Church, with its buildings, actively participated in recent, century, old history and fate of the City of Belgrade and the Serbian people in general, Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments on April 27 in 1967 under the number 29SKZ enacted the decision that "Ascension Church in Belgrade together with port and two of its buildings had characteristic of cultural monument."

That year, the church has finally received its present form: the facade was made ​​of artificial stone, carried out all the necessary plumbing, painting and asphalt work.


In the year 1969 the church was covered with copper.

In the year 1979 a new sheds were built.

In the year 1972 the bells were electrified.

In the year 1974 "the tomb of Christ" was developed in wood.

In the year 1975 the parish house hall was renovated and decorated.

In the year 1976 ​​ icon of Christ the Savior in the mosaic was made, above the entrance of the temple, the work of painter Mr. Milosav Mladenović.

In the year 1981 a sound system was set around the temple.

In the year 1993 icon restoration began and was performed by Mr. Milosav Miša Mladenovic.

In the year 1998 churchyard wall was erected along the streets of the Queen Natalia, and along Knez Miloš and Geprat streets, old walls were replaced with new ones.

In the year 1999 during the NATO bombing of Serbia Ascension church was not affected.

In the year 2000 extensive building works were conducted installing insulation in foundations and lower parts of the walls.

In the same year underfloor heating was set and the floor under the whole church was changed.

In the year 2002 cleaning, restoration and protection of the frescoes in the church were finished. The work was led by Mrs. Dragana Milisavljević.

In the year 2005 gilding of the fixed woodwork in the church was restored.

In the year 2006 wooden parts of the iconostasis were fully restored, as well as the Bishop's throne and the pulpit. Cleaning, carpentry and gilding were performed by Art workshop for restoration Banković.

That same year, the cobbles of the northern part of the yard were replaced with asphalt.

In the year 2009 the lighting around the church was set up, so that the church could be seen at night.

That same year, the roof of the adjacent building along Dobrinjska street was changed.

In the year 2011 on the church and rectory, the old windows were replaced with new ones.

That same year, the building on the corner of Queen Natalija and Dobrinjska streets was completely restored, inside and outside (2012), and the old roof was replaced by a new one.

In the year 2013 the rectory facade to Dobrinjska and Geprat streets was restored.  

God willing, in the time before us, we will continue with necessary maintenance work to the church itself and its environment in the yard.

At the same time, by the grace of God, from the date of today and in the future, the spiritual life of the church of the Holy Ascension shall continue.

 

 

ukras