Sava of Serbia

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Our father among the saints Sava of Serbia, also Savvas and Sabbas, was the first Archbishop of Serbia and is an important saint on the calendar of the Serbian Orthodox Church. His feast day is observed on January 14 and January 12.


Sava was born Prince Rastko Nemanjic, the son of Stefan Nemanja, the Serbian ruler and founder of the medieval Serbian state. His brother, Stefan Prvovencani, was the first Serbian king. Rastko Nemanjic was born in either 1175 or 1176.

In the early 1190s, the young Rastko left home to join the Orthodox monastic community on Mount Athos. Taking monastic vows, he was given the name Sava. Initially, he joined a Russian monastery, but then moved to the Greek Vatopedi Monastery. At the end of 1197, his father, King Stefan Nemanja, joined him. In 1198, together they moved to and restored the abandoned Hilandar monastery, which at that time became the center of Serbian Orthodox Christian monastic life.

St. Sava's father took monastic vows under the name Simeon He died in the Hilandar Monastery on February 13, 1200. He is also canonized as Saint Simeon.

After his father's death, Sava retreated to an ascetic monastery in Kareya which he built himself in 1199. He also wrote the Kareya Typikon both for Hilandar and for the monastery of asceticism. The last typikon is inscribed into the marble board at the ascetic monastery. He stayed on Athos until the end of 1207.

St. Sava managed to persuade the Constantinople patriarchate to elevate him to the position of the first Serbian Archbishop, thereby establishing the independence of the Serbian Church in the year of 1219.

After participating in a ceremony called Blessing of the Waters (Agiasmo) he developed a cough that progressed into pneumonia. He died from pneumonia in the evening between Saturday and Sunday, January 14, 1235. [1] He was buried at the Cathedral of the Holy Forty Martyrs in Trnovo where his body remained until May 6, 1237, when his sacred bones were moved to the monastery Mileseva in southern Serbia. Three hundred sixty years later the Ottoman Turks dug up his relics and burned them in the main square in Belgrade.


St. Sava is remembered as the founder of the independent Serbian Orthodox Church and is celebrated as the patron saint of education and medicine among Serbs. Since the 1830s, St. Sava has been the patron saint of Serb schools and schoolchildren. On his feast day, students partake in recitals in church.

The Temple of St. Sava in Belgrade, whose construction was planned to start in 1939 but actually began in 1985 and completed in 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


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