Sava of Serbia
Saint Sava (1175 or 1176 - January 12 1235 or 1236), originally the prince Rastko Nemanjic (son of the Serbian ruler and founder of the Serbian medieval state Stefan Nemanja and brother of Stefan Prvovencani, first Serbian king), is the first Serb archbishop (1219-1233) and the most important saint in the Serbian Orthodox Church.
In his youth (around 1192) he escaped from home to join the orthodox monastic colony on Mount Athos (Holy Mountain on the Chalkidiki peninsula) and was given the name Sava. He first traveled to a Russian monastery and then moved to a Greek Monastery Vatoped. At the end of 1197 his father, king Stefan Nemanja joined him. In 1198 they together moved to and restored the abandoned monastery Hilandar, which was at that time the center of Serbian Christian monastic life.
After his father's death, Sava retreated to an ascetic monastery in Kareya which he built himself in 1199. He also wrote the Kareya Typicon both for Hilandar and for the monastery of ascetism. The last typicon is inscribed into the marble board at the ascetic monastery, which today also exists in it. He stayed on Athos until the end of 1207.
St. Sava managed to persuade the patriarch of the Greek/Byzantine Orthodox Church to elevate St. Sava to the position of the first Serbian Archbishop, thereby establishing the Independence of Archbishopic of the Serbian Church in the year of 1219.
Saint Sava is celebrated as the founder of the independent Serbian Orthodox Church and as patron saint of education and medicine among Serbs. His day is observed on January 27th of the Gregorian calendar (January 14th of the Julian calendar still observed by the Serbian Church). Since the 1830's, Saint Sava has become the patron saint of Serb schools and schoolchildren. On his day, students partake in recitals in church.
After participating in a ceremony called Blessing of the Waters he developed a cough that progressed into pneumonia. He died from pneumonia in the evening between Saturday and Sunday, January 14, 1235. He was buried at the Cathedral of the Holy Forty Martyrs in Trnovo. He remained in Trnovo until May 6, 1237 when his sacred bones were moved to the monastery Mileseva in southern Serbia. 360 years later the Ottoman Turks dug out his bones and burnt them on the main square in Belgrade.
The Temple of Saint Sava in Belgrade, whose construction was planned in 1939, begun in 1985 and awaits completion by 2004 is the largest active Orthodox temple in the world today. It was built on the place where the holy bones were burned.
At first we were confused. The East thought that we were West, while the West considered us to be East. Some of us misunderstood our place in the clash of currents, so they cried that we belong to neither side, and others that we belong exclusively to one side or the other. But I tell you, Ireneus, we are doomed by fate to be the East in the West and the West in the East, to acknowledge only heavenly Jerusalem beyond us, and here on earth--no one
- St. Sava to Ireneus, 13th century
- Hilandar Research Library, Resource Center for Medieval Slavic Studies, University of Ohio (Columbus)
- Temple of Saint Sava in Belgrade