Nikanor (Savic)

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The Venerable Father Nikanor (Savic) of Athos, Australia and New Zealand was the Abbot of Hilandar before moving to Australia to pacify the schism between the Patriarchal Diocese and the New Gracanica Metropolitanate's Diocese. He reposed in 1990, was glorified by the Church of Serbia around 2010, and celebrated each year on March 4 (both calendars). As at October 2011, he is the first and only glorified Saint connected with Australia.

Biographical Timeline

  • 1903 Aug 13: Nikola Savic was born in Divci (near Valjevo), Serbia, to a pious and simple family. From an early age, he was zealous and fervent.
  • 1927 Aug 17: Nikola went to Hilandar Monastery on Mount Athos. He would spend over 60 years at Hilandar.
  • 1929 Sep 15: Nikola was tonsured a monk, receiving the name 'Nikanor'. He loved his monastery and served it tirelessly.
  • 1941 Dec 21: Fr Nikanor was elected Abbot of Hilandar Monastery. Even while abbot, he still worked in physical labour with the other monks of the monastery.
  • 1963: Elder Nikanor served as First Administrator of Mt Athos. He represented his monastery in the Holy Community (the governing body of Mt Athos) for many years.
  • Elder Nikanor had a profound reputation on Mt. Athos. He also inspired the construction of the first metochion of Hilandar, in Slanci near Belgrade, and in Banat, Niš.
  • January 1990: Elder Nikanor left Athos when he was 88 on his last missionary trip: to "reconcile the brothers in conflict". As he said to then-Bishop of Banat, Amphilohije (Radovic), "I will go, even if I happen to stay there forever". He repeated often that there was one God, one Serbia, one time, one Church of St. Sava.
  • Elder Nikanor laboured tirelessly for healing the schism between the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Australia and New Zealand and the Serbian Orthodox Diocese for Australia and New Zealand (New Gracanica Metropolitanate) (sometimes called the 'Free Serbian Orthodox'). He visited many parishes in an effort to heal the wounds.
  • March 4, 1990: Elder Nikanor reposed in Sydney on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, after having visited the monastery at Tallong, NSW. His funeral was in St. Stefan's Church, Rooty Hill, and he was buried in St. Sava's Monastery, Elaine, Victoria, in the church of St. Alipy the Stylite.
  • Because of Elder Nikanor's association with Hilandar and his body being buried at St. Sava's, the Monastery was styled 'New Hilandar' by Bp Amphilohije. The monastery was greatly boosted by Elder Nikanor's presence, even after his repose.


  • Elder Mitrophanes of Hilandar (+1999) spoke of Elder Nikanor as a truly great person, sober, deeply spiritual, compunctionate, and with great love for all. He also struggled hard to ensure that he did not bear any resentment against those who killed so many of his countrymen during the War.
  • Though Elder Nikanor only finished up to first grade, he would read and study for most of his life. He considered this a great source of knowledge and wisdom, and was eager to help researchers who visited the monastery, giving them encouragement to publish their research. He also launched a publishing business in the Church of Serbia, and ensured scholarships for students, seminarians and theologians. He took joy in giving money so spiritually beneficial books could be published.
  • Every day, Elder Nikanor entered the church first and left last - pushing through exhaustion, old age and illness. He thus provided a beacon, giving courage to others who felt diligence flagging and laziness taking hold.
  • He was known for his gentle words, and his kind gaze. His movements were conscious and deliberate, and he knew how to see his own faults and to take joy in the monastic life. He also had discretion - knowing when to be silent and when to withdraw. He was careful with money, which allowed him to also be very charitable, including giving what possessions he had to repair his village church.
  • Elder Nikanor would also return to his homeland to encourage and vivify the Christians who were living under Communism.
  • He was always very friendly with the many pilgrims who visited, conversing comfortably on various topics. He kept to a theme that being as good as possible in the Church is most important, and all else was secondary. While he captivated those who met him, he always maintained a subtle distance, making sure to bring people to Christ, not to himself.
  • Elder Nikanor asked that if he died in Serbia, to be buried around Niš (the Hilandar metochion); if in America, near Bp. Nikolai Velimirovic; if in Australia, near St. Sava's Monastery, Elaine. As it happened, he died in Sydney, and was buried in Elaine.

After Death and Glorification

  • Multiple miracles have occured.
  • Elder Nikanor has been sighted multiple times at the monastery, bathing the monastery in incense.
  • Mr. Lysanko was healed of a tumour (seen at the last scan before surgery) after praying to Elder Nikanor.
  • Multiple people have noted that a warmth comes out of the tomb of the Elder.
  • Mr. Kefalidis was miraculously healed from a serious illness overnight.
  • A service for Elder Nikanor was written by Fr. Marjan Knezevic, though rarely used.
  • Icons were written of Elder Nikanor - in the pro-Cathedral at Mona Vale, in St. Stephen's Church in Rooty Hill (where his funeral was).
  • The service for Saint Nikanor was compiled by Bp. Irenej of Australia and New Zealand.



Tone 8


Tone 3

Original Serbian

Стасавао си на светогорским путевима,
У Хиландару светој царској лаври,
Преподобни старче Никаноре.
Дошавши као помиритељ и ујединитељ
рода српскога у (далекој) Аустралији,
Сведочећи нам љубав Христову
и посветивши земљу нашу
својим светим представљењем.
Свете мошти твоје део су неба
украшеног Јужним Крстом.
Стога те народ твој крстоносни моли:
моли Христа Бога
да нас спасе и сачува у слози Његовој.

Tentative English translation

Having been raised on the paths of the Holy Mountain
In the sacred imperial lavra of Hilandar,
O Venerable Elder Nikanor.
Arriving as a unifier and conciliator to the Serbian people in (distant) Australia
Witnessing for us the love of Christ and having sanctified our land by thy holy departure.
Thy holy relics are part of this sky which is adorned with the Southern Cross.
Thus this thy Cross-bearing people do beseech:
Pray unto Christ God to save us and preserve us in His harmony.

Original Serbian

Радуј се најудаљенији светосавски манастире.
Јер у теби се прослави про-игуман хиландарски –
Старац Никанор светогорски и
С тобом ликује све Православље Океаније,
а ми духовна деца старчева сложно кличемо
захвалним песмама Творцу свега света:
да нас спасе његовим очинским молитивама.

Tentative English translation

Rejoice thee O furthest scattered monastery of St Sava.
For in thee was glorified the pro-abbot of Hilandar -
Elder Nikanor of the Holy Mountain, Australia and New Zealand.
With thee do exult all the Orthodox of Oceania,
and we the spiritual children of the Elder cry in unison
with songs of thanksgiving to the Creator of the whole Universe:
that He may save us by the father's prayers.