Monastery of ,,Saint George” – is monastery complex in the area of Kopacka, west of the town of Kicevo, near the village of Knezino.
The monastery is located on the hills of Mount Bistra, at an altitude of over 900 meters. The area is rich in vegetation, birch and oak forests. Some of the trees are more than a century old. In the monastery yard there are two fountain taps through which spring water flows, which the people consider to be healing.
In the collective memory of the population of this region, in a tradition that depicts the spiritual and religious state, the two monasteries assumed the role of anchors. When the monastery of ”St. George” was demolished, the icon of the monastery was flying over to the monastery of St. Bogorodica Prečista(Immaculate Mother of God) and returned to the monastery of ”St. George” and at the end of the tradition says she remained in the monastery of St. Bogorodica Prečista.
The monastery is dedicated to Saint George, who in Christendom is known as a saint who heals diseases, protects people and domestic animals, resurrects the dead, a miracle worker.
The monastery church is basically an early Christian church with a basilica form, built in the 5-6th century AD with a length of 27-29 m. The early Christian church was destroyed in an unknown time. Parts of its stone-built plastic were incorporated in the rebuilt 11th-century church and other monastery complex facilities. At this time, the Kichevo area, and monastery of “St. George”, belonged to the Byzantine Empire, and the church of the Ohrid Archbishopric. The monastery complex existed in the Middle Ages until its ignition, desolation and demolition in the first half of the 18th century. Archaeological excavations began in 1985 at the monastery church and the necropolis (cemetery), were continued in 1998 and continue with interruptions until today. The most important findings found during these excavations are: the mosaic floor in the nave, the stone plastic, the ceramic tiles, the building and inscription tiles, the frescoes as well as the tomb architecture and the attachments of the deceased.
The frescoes of the excavated fragments belong to early Christian painting in the 5-6th century, the Kneanovian and Paleologic periods of the late 11th and early 14th centuries. The frescoes from the Paleologic period are probably the work of the famous painters Mihailo Astrapa and Eftihij and date back to the early 14th century, when these areas came under Serbian rule. The same painters are court masters of the Serbian King Milutin, who painted his work, so it is possible that these two painters worked on this church as a gift to the king. From the burial structures and the attachments of the deceased, it can be seen that the necropolis was in long use and one could sense the burial of donors and wealthy individuals (bracelets, ring with gem, etc.), as well as burial structures in which buried monks.
In folk tradition, in the legend, the Monastery of “St. George” is associated with Kitino Kale – the medieval town of Kitaaround which the city of Kicevo developed over time. Kita, in folk legend, was the sister of Prince Marko, and died while defending the monastery of Musa Casey.
The monastery complex was burned in the first half of the 18th century. Then the monastic brotherhood was broken up, and the monastery itself was left to the tooth of time and abandoned. The monastery complex was brought back to life in 1973, when residents of the village of Knezino built the small church on the west side of the old church, and at the same time built the monastery quarters. The newest church, the fourth in a monastery lodgings, was built in 1999, and was consecrated on October 11, 2007. The monastery lodgings was also restored and expanded, with the church and the monastery lodgings being built by donations from the people.
During 2017, the newly built representative monastery lodgings which is a magnificent edifice have been consecrated and put into operation, and the renovation of the monastery complex continues.