Saint Leontius

The church complex “Saint Leontius” is about 4km west of Strumica in the village of Vodocha. The oldest building in the complex is the early Christian basilica dating from the 5th and 6th Century. The complex consists of three churches, the oldest of which is the eastern one. It is a triple apse domed church built in the 6th and 7th Century that was destroyed after the fall of Czar Samuil’s state. Parts of its altar apse, proscomedia and diakonikon still remain. Its oldest fresco shows an unidentified saint from the late 10th Century. The western church, a small cross-shaped domed structure, was built in the period between 1018 and 1037, and was dedicated to the Presentation of the Holy Mother of God – Eleusa. The fresco painting of this church showcases the deacons Isavrios and Euplos, saintly figures, the cycle of the main church holidays and scenes from the “Childhood and life of the Holy Mother of God” The third and biggest church, placed in between the first two, is a domed structure that represents an episcopal church, a fact suggested by the synthronos in the altar apse. Built in the late 11th and early 12th Century, it was dedicated to Saint Leontius, a martyr killed at the time of the Roman emperor Vespasian (69 A.D. – 79 A.D.) because of turning to Christianity.

Presentations of the six Hierarchs and the Fourty Holy Martyrs of Sebastea are the only frescoes that remain preserved until this day. Within the church complex, research was also done in the two monastery baths, the guest-house with other auxiliary structures, and the necropolis with over one thousand graves from the period between 18th and 20th Century. This church was destroyed in the 13th Century. Following the destruction, it was completely abandoned, and a necropolis was built there in the Middle Ages. The remains of this church underwent reconstruction in 1979, and by looking at the lead divide today, one could easily tell how much of the remains had actually survived. In 1996, monastic life was revived, and the place has since become the home of the monastic sisterhood of the Strumica diocese.