Saint Sava, First Serbian Archbishop and Enlightener

Rastko Nemanjić the third son of Zupan Stefan Nemanjić and his wife Ana. Rastko was tonsured a monk in 1192 and was given the name of Sava at the monastery of St. Panteleimon on Mount Athos. Soon after he went to the monastery of Vatopedi.

In 1196 Zupan Stefan Nemanja left his kingdom of Raska and became a monk and took the name Simeon where he was tonsured at the monastery of Studenica which he had endowed some years earlier.

Two years later Simeon, together with Sava founded the Monastery of Hilandar on Holy Mt Athos. Simeon died in 1199 and within a year was canonised and became St Simeon the Myrrh-bearer.

Sava was ordained a deacon and a priest at Hilandar and later became an Archimandrite at Thessalonica. Returning to Serbia in 1207 Sava brought with him the Relics of his father St Simeon. With these relics he made peace between his feuding brothers Stefan and Vukan.

By the first decades of the 13th Century the Serbian state developed greatly under the wise and Christ loving Nemanjic Family.

In 1217 Stefan (Sava's elder brother) became the "First-Crowned" Serbian King and in 1219, at the court of the Byzantine Emperor in Nicaea, Sava was consecrated as archbishop by the Ecumenical Patriarch, becoming the first Serbian Archbishop. At this time the Serbian Orthodox Church also became autocephalous (self governing).

By 1220 Archbishop Sava published the first Serbian Orthodox Code Krmciju or Nomokanon. A year later he organised a church assembly or council and together with Stefan the First-Crowned, outlined to the leadership and the clergy the dogma of the Christian Orthodox Church.

In 1228 Archbishop Sava performed a miracle by resurrecting his dead brother Stefan who later became monk Simon. Today St Simon's relics are at the Monastery of Studenica.

Sava as archbishop performed the coronation of Radoslav 1228 and Vladislav 1234 both son's of Stefan the First-Crowned.

In 1234 at the Church Council at Zica, Sava thanked all for the title of Archbishop and named his pupil and follower Arsenije as the second Serbian Archbishop.

For the second time St Sava departed for the Holy Mountain. On his return he visited Nicaea and then Trnovo the seat of the Bulgarian kingdom. At Trnovo St Sava became ill and passed away to the Lord on the 14th (27th) January 1236.

After several attempts with the Bulgarians, King Vladislav finally transferred St. Sava's relics to the Monastery of Mileseva in about 1237.

At the end of the 16th century the Ottoman Turks cremated the relics of St Sava at the Vracar Mound in Belgrade on the 27th April (10th May) 1594. On this site stands one of the largest Orthodox Churches in the world.

Source: Prologue of St. Bishop Nikolaj Velimirović