The monastery complex of Vodocha
In the 11th century the older church on the locality Complex Vodoca churches – St. Leontij in Vodoca is demodulated.
The present church St. Leontij is a compilation of three churches (East, West, and Middle) and with the researches three phases are established. Nearby the church are found other architectonic remnants; allied objects and monastery complex; dining room; economic objects, two baths and Christian necropolis with more layers.The church lies on an old object – basilica from the early Christian period from 5th and 6th century from which part of the marble decorative plastic is preserved.
Later, probably in the 9th or 10th century was raised the East cupola and episcope church. In the time of the Samuil domination it was ruined, but later it was renewed. In the Vasilij II charters from 1018 after the fall of the Samuil’s country, it is mentioned as episcope church from which today the altar apsidal, anaphora and deacon are preserved. The primary iconostas was from marble and the floor was with marble boards. The ruining of the church is connected with the failure of the Samuil’s Country and the falling of Strumica under Byzantine authority in 1018.
During the time from 1018 until 1037 the west, small, crossed cupolas church was built dedicated to Virgin Mary Eleusa and Initiation. In the Strumica region there were three churches of Virgin Mary (Eleusa) in this period: the first one in Vodoca, the other one in Veljusa from 1080 and the third in Strumica from 12th-13th century. This is one of the reasons to believe that Strumica in the faraway past considered as an area of“Virgin Mary”.
The middle cupola church of the Vodoca complex raised in the beginning of the 13th century is dedicated to St. Leontij, a martyr from the town Tripoli in the region Fenikia who was killed in the time of the Roman emperor Vespizian (69 – 79) because he accepted the Christianity. The church is episcope center with sintronos in the altar apsidal, with narthex on the West and open torches on the South side. As an episcope center is mentioned in Hylandaric act from 1376 where the Vodoca episcope Daniel and Bansko’s episcope Grigorij together with the representatives of the world authority solved disputes around the border of the Hylendarius estates in the region of Strumica.The biography of the interior on Vodoca complex churches happened in three periods 10th, 11th and 13th century.
The high art qualities are obvious beside the fragmented preserved. The paining expression is closer to the antique tradition. It is obvious here the tendency for separation with the Byzantine painting principles and the resistance toward the influences of the modern Byzantine art flowing which came from Constantinople and Thessaloniki. The antique art influence is noticed in a small fragment from the half unidentified face of a Saint from the 10th century, subject of the oldest east church. In the ruined fresco – biography in the West Vodoca church dedicated to Virgin Mary Eleusa and Initiation the new efforts of the Balkan Byzantine art are present. The painting in this church is characterized by the stretch of the bodies and the firm modulation of the heads of the saints. The fragmented scenes reflect life and childhood of Virgin Mary as well as the cycles of church holidays. Here are also shown the saints Isavrios and Evplos painted in the period between 1018 and 1037. Those are masterpieces of the medieval art and Byzantine painting.
From the aspect of the art this art is close to the art made in the church St. Sofia in Ohrid as well as in the churches St. Luca in Fokida and Nea Moni on Hios. From the fresco- biography from the first of the 12th century on the middle Vodoca church dedicated to the St.Leonti are preserved six archeries and St.40 Sevastic martyrs. The necropolis which is placed on the southwest and northwest side also reflects the rich spiritual and cultural life that manifested on these territories. On the space around the church are found and researched 1081graves with the archeological researching on the basis of the contributions (jewelry and ceramic) dated from the end of the 14th until 20th century. This necropolis represents the most researched complex and illustrates the late middle century on these spaces. Under the graves are found remnants from buildings: part of the north surrounded wall on the monastery, minimal remnants from economic objects, bath I, bath II, dining room, and two objects with unknown use, walls which come into the south profile, water supplying, channels for drainage of the dirty water and two toilets. All these objects determine the east, west and middle church as a monastery.