The Legends from Vratna Gates – Asociaţia Pro-Mehedinţi

The name of the touristic attraction: The Legends from Vratna Gates

Thematic route: The cultural heritage route

Description: Vratna gates themselves are a unique natural phenomenon, but there are other mystical and strange eventshidden around them. Prior to founding Vratna monastery in the 11th century, monk Nicodemus lived there high in the rocks, immediately after the second gate. He is also believed to have founded the monastery. The remains of the altar can still be seen in the cave (dimensions 5 x 10 m) up therein the rocks. Nicodemus lived up there in prayers, feeding with fish from the nearby Vratna river, wild fruit and berries. He knew all the medicinal herbs in the area and healed the sick and wretched people. A young girl from a nearby village secretly visited him seeking help. She was only 16 years old and already married, but could not get pregnant. She was afraid that it was because of some health problem, a spell, a witchcraft or something like that, that could have been resolved by Nicodemus. Nicodemus advised her to go home and not bother, because she was too young to give birth. But her in-laws kept on blaming her for being barren and threatened her that unless she gave birth they would sent her back to her parents. It was very difficult for her, because if the rumor of her being barren spread, no one would ever marry her. Therefore, she went up to Nicodemus at his hermitage twice a day, knelt before him, kissed the monastic cell walls and prayed for help. Nicodemus consoled her, and together they prayed in the morning and in the evening.

But one morning, at dawn, on her way to father Nicodemus, somewhere in the monastic field, on the plateau between the village of Jabukovac and hermitage, she experienced a severe pain. In short time, the girl gave birth all alone, without any assistance. She gave birth to a healthy baby boy and immediately took him back to her husband’s house in Jabukovac. After a short time the child was baptized by father Nicodemus who gave him one gold coin and blessed him to be a God’s servant. The young woman and Nicodemus forever kept the secret of her arrival in the hermitage. However, there was another, far more important miracle.When the little boy grew up the parents sent him to the theological school. Later on, he spent part of his life as an elder in a newly founded Vratna monastery.

Not much was known about this, and the story was told to Zlatimir Pantic from Stubik by father Maksim, who died by the end of last century in Manastirica monastery near Kladovo. He served in Vratna monastery for a time, and he also was the priest of the church in Jabukovac.