monastery of St. Naum
The monastery of St. Naum is
located on the southeast side of Lake Ohrid, in the immediate vicinity of the
Macedonian-Albanian border. Its building is linked to the name of St. Naum, the closest
associate of St. Clement of Ohrid. Records about the life and work of St. Naum can be
found in three literature works dedicated to his life. Also the Archbishop of Ohrid,
Constantine Cavassila, wrote about him. In the Historical Archives of Ohrid there is a
Chronicle written by a priest that lived in the second half of XIX century. It reveals a
series of interesting details about the construction of the monastery, the estate of the
church, and the lives of the monks. Among other things, there is a record about a
disastrous fire that occurred on the night of 2nd and 3rd February 1875, when the largest
part of the monastery compound was burnt to ashes.
Towards the end of
his life St. Naum of Ohrid built the monastery St. Archangel where he was buried in 910.
The church of Naum was similar to the monastery of Clement, St. Pantheleimon, and was
built in a trefoil shape.
In the course of the archaeological excavations carried out after the
Second World War, only the foundations and part of the walls of that church were
discovered. It is unknown when the church was ruined, but the assumption is that it
happened before the arrival of the Turks.
During the Ottoman period (presumably XVI century), on
the foundations of the original church the church that exists today was built in two
phases. Today the church is cruciform in a square space with a dome supported by four
pillars. A similar dome with a tall tambour was added onto the nartex. The tomb of St.
Naum is located on the southern side, in a separate chamber.
In the church there are no preserved frescoes from the time of St.
Naum, nor have the excavations prove that there were any paintings in the beginning of X
According to the inscriptions in the church, the
frescoes were painted in the period of the priest Stefan, in 1806. They were painted by
the fresco artist Trpo, son of the Master Constantine from Korcha, Albania.
Particularly impressive are the scenes from the life and miracles of
St. Naum of Ohrid. They were painted in he second zone of the chapel above Naum's tomb.
The five painted scenes were passed from one generation to another, and are deemed to be
the miracles of Naum. These are: "Harnessing the Bear", "The Stupefied Monk
Who Tried to Steal the Body of Saint Naum From His Tomb", "Healing of the
Mentally Disturbed", "Horse Thief Who Was Caught at the Gates of the Monastery
Church at Dawn" and "The Bucket Leaves Traces in
the Rock". The belief that St. Naum was capable to heal the mentally disturbed
predominates. According to some sources, a "hospital" was operating within the
monastery in 1662.
in the church was carved in 1711. The authors are unknown. They were influenced by the
woodcarving traditions of Mount Athos and they created a genuine masterpiece. During the
same year the artist Constantine painted the dais and the holiday icons. Most outstanding
are the icons "Crucifixion" and "Entrance into Jerusalem". The icons
of the iconostasis are treated as one of the best achievements from the first part of
Two Cyrillic and one glagolitic-cyrillic inscriptions dating from
the period between the late X and XII centuries can be found on the pillars of the parvis.
These inscriptions testify about the development of the oldest Slavic scripts, Glagolitic
and Cyrillic, in the Ohrid region.