Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History

Explore the extraordinary past of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through the pages of the book 'Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History.' Uncover political events, economic development, and cultural heritage of these Banat towns through richly documented stories. Follow the evolution from the earliest days to the present, delving into the intricate threads of political intrigues, economic transformations, and cultural ascensions. Experience the past through the eyes of the author as the pages of the book unfold before you, providing a unique perspective on the life and legacy of these significant locales.

Orthodox Church in Vranjevo

Orthodox Church in Vranjevo

It is not known where the first church in Vranjevo was, but it is assumed that such a church or place of worship existed as early as 1743. In that year, a cloth - antimins was consecrated by Metropolitan Georgije Popović of Tamiš-Lipova, for the service in the temple of St. John the Baptist in the trench of Bečej. It is incorrect to assume that the antimins was for the church in Bečej, as there was already a small church (monastery) in Novi Bečej by then, which had its own antimins and was dedicated to St. Nicholas, besides Bečej was not a trench. That antimins could only refer to the trench Vranjevo and is kept in the treasury of the Temišvar diocese.

Serb-border guards, upon their arrival from Bačka in 1752, erected a church in the middle of the village, at the location where the Orthodox church stands today. This church was dedicated to St. John the Baptist, and its antimins was consecrated in 1753 by Bishop Georgije Popović (the same one who consecrated the first antimins in 1743). The original church was made of wattle, "had 4 windows and two simple doors, no vault except a little above the altar, covered with reed, a bell, an open courtyard ... There were no temples, 4 altar icons..."

Based on the records of the priest Stevan Nikolić in the gospel, it can be concluded that this church existed in 1752 at that location: "This divine holy book called the holy Gospel passed from the former church of Petrovoselo, donated by the church of Petrovoselo to the newly settled Trench of Franjevo to the church of the holy precursor John in the year 1752."

Prota Vlaškalin does not mention that before the existing church, which he mentions was built and consecrated on November 24, 1807, there was, after the wattle one, a church made of solid material. Perhaps this is the church for which the inhabitants of Vranjevo requested a loan of bricks from the Magistrate in March 1793. This is very likely, and it was smaller than the one built (perhaps extended) in 1807 because it also had its iconostasis in the newly built church (the original wattle church built immediately after the relocation of the border guards did not have an iconostasis). The current Orthodox church in Vranjevo, in fact, expanded the previously built church, as indicated by the wedge in the northern wall "outside towards the table of the mother of God." It (the wedge) actually shows "how far the old church extended towards the east."

The current Orthodox church was built without a tower in 1807. The church was built of solid material. It was 37 meters long, 15 meters wide, and the tower was 44 meters high. The iconostasis of the old church was in this new one until 1826 when a new one was erected, and the old one was sold to the church in Bočar for 300 forints in 1827. We are not called upon, nor are we sufficiently qualified to judge, but what we have read about the iconostasis, which is now located in Bočar, it is no less valuable in terms of painting qualities than the new iconostasis of the Orthodox church in Vranjevo. It was sold at a bargain price because, according to the data of Protos Vlaškalin: "21,106 forints were paid for painting the pictures and the church, and 6,865 forints were paid for making the iconostasis itself and for gilding. The pictures on the iconostasis were painted by Petar Čortanović from 1834 to 1836."

We do not know where Protos Vlaškalin got the information that Petar Čortanović painted the iconostasis, but it seems hardly acceptable to us. According to the data of the Encyclopedia of Fine Arts (book 1, p. 737; Zagreb 1959), Čortanović studied at the Vienna Academy from 1835 to 1837. In addition, Petar Čortanović painted many iconostases, but mostly in Srem. The mentioned Encyclopedia does not mention the iconostasis in Vranjevo as Čortanović's work, nor any iconostasis in Banat, which suggests the assumption that he did not work in Banat.

It seems more acceptable to us the information, which the late priest in Vranjevo, Jeftimije Kovačev, provided in personal contact, that the iconostasis is the work of Jeftimije Popović, a painter from Veliki Bečkerek. The information that Jeftimije Popović painted the iconostasis of the Orthodox church in Vranjevo is also found in the Encyclopedia of Fine Arts (book 3, p.710; Zagreb 1964).

The tower on the church was built from 1858 to 1861, and it was built by the contractor Leopold Rajdn for 15,837 forints. The church was renovated and the choir was raised in 1903. It had four bells: a large one weighing 675 kg, produced in Buda in 1791, another large one weighing 350 kg, cast in Buda in 1789, a medium one weighing 220 kg, cast in Buda in 1788, and a small one weighing 100 kg, cast in Vršac in 1845. During the First World War, three bells (the second large one, medium, and small) were requisitioned for military purposes, and after the war, new ones were bought in their place. In 1921, two bells weighing 240 and 140 kg were purchased from the Balkan foundry in Belgrade, and in 1925, a large bell weighing 1325 kg was donated by retired teacher Mladen Belić.

In addition to bells, on the day of major holidays, Orthodox churches also called believers to worship with prangijas (which people called cannons). Prangijas were usually fired in the churchyard, behind the church, but in Vranjevo, they were fired at the crossroads by the cross in front of the Orthodox church. On St. George's Day, May 6, 1924, one such cannon (prangija) exploded, and Stevan Tajkov and Dušan Malešev were killed on that occasion, while two others were lightly wounded.

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