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Saint Archbishop Sava
Свети Сава
Fresco of Saint Archbishop Sava from the Mileševa monastery
Archbishop of the Serbs
Born ca. 1175
Died January 14, 1235, Tarnovgrad, Bulgaria
Venerated in Eastern Orthodox Church
Major shrine Temple of Saint Sava (Belgrade)
Feast 14 January (Gregorian calendar),
27 January (Julian calendar)
Patronage Serbia and Serbs

Saint Archbishop Sava (Serbian: Свети Сава, Sveti Sava; (c. 1175, Ras - January 14, 1235, Trnovo, Bulgaria), baptised name Rastko Nemanjić (Serbian: Растко Немањић) was the youngest son of Serbian ruler Stefan Nemanja, Eastern Orthodox monk, first archbishop of Serbian Orthodox Church, diplomat, writer, law giver and founder of several important medieval monasteries. He heavily influenced Serbian medieval literature and art.

He is widely considered as one of the most important figures of Serbian history and he is canonized and venerated by the Serbian Orthodox Church. Also his life and personal devotion has been interpreted in many artistic works from the middle ages to modern times. The Temple of Saint Sava in Belgrade is his major shrine and the largest Eastern Orthodox church.




Early life

Rastko was born c. 1175 in Gradina (near modern-day Podgorica, Montenegro).

According to his hagiography[citation needed], in his youth (c. 1192) he fled from his 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 the Greek monastery of Vatopedi. At the end of 1197 his father, who on becoming a monk was named Simeon, joined him. In 1198, they together moved to and restored the abandoned monastery Hilandar (Chilandari, in French) which, since that moment, became the center of Serbian Christian monastic life. Hilandar is one of the twenty monasteries on Mount Athos that still function, and its position in the hierarchy is fourth.

St. Sava's father took the monastic vows under the name Simeon and died in Hilandar on February 13, 1199. He is also canonised, as Saint Simeon.

On Mount Athos

Foundation of Chilandar

In Serbia (1207-1217)

Mission in Nicea

Relation with king Radoslav and first pilgrimage

Serbian Orthodox Church

After his father's death, Sava devoted himself to the ascetic life and retreated to a skete close to Karyes which he built himself in 1199. He also wrote the Karyes Typicon valid for both Hilandar and his skete. The typicon has been inscribed onto a marble board at the skete and still stands there. Sava stayed on Athos until the end of 1207.

In 1208, Sava returned to Serbia, where the feuding between his brothers had created a state of anarchy. Sava set up his base at Studenica Monastery, and started to organize the Serbian Orthodox Church. He had brought with him several monks to help him perform his pastoral and missionary duty among the people. Sava eventually managed to free the Serbian church from the jurisdiction of the Archbishopric of Ohrid. In 1219, Sava was consecrated the first archbishop of the new Serbian Church by Patriarch Manuel I of Constantinople, who was then in exile at Nicaea.

Saint Sava is considered the founder of the independent Serbian Orthodox Church and Serbian Orthodox Christians celebrate him as patron saint of education and medicine. His legislature (Nomocanon of St. Sava) made him the first Serbian legislator, which is also important for the history of legal education in Serbia. He is commemorated on January 27 according to the Gregorian calendar and on January 14 according to the Julian calendar. Since the 1830s, Saint Sava has become the patron saint of Serbian schools and schoolchildren. On his day, students take part in recitals in church.[citation needed]

Second pilgrimage and death

The burning of Saint Sava by Turks
The Karyes Typicon with the authentic signature of Saint Sava from 1199 - one of the oldest Serbian documents in the monastery of Hilandar, (detail)

Sava died in Trnovo, capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, during the reign of Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria. According to his Life, he fell ill following the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 12, 1235. Sava was visiting Trnovo on his way back from the Holy Land, where he had founded a hospice for Syrian pilgrims in Jerusalem and arranged for Serbian monks to be welcomed in the established monasteries there. He died of pneumonia in the night between Saturday and Sunday, January 14, 1235, and 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. 360 years later, in 1595, the Turks unearthed his remains and took them to Vračar Hill in Belgrade where they were incinerated by Sinan Pasha on a stake as tactics against the Serb people. The Temple of Saint Sava was built on the place where his remains were burned.[1]

Construction of the Temple of Saint Sava in Belgrade, on the Vračar Plateau, began in the 1930s but was terminated by the Second World War. The construction was resumed in 1985 and was completed by 2004. In reality, what is Vračar Hill now used to be outside the city walls and not within easy reach. There used to be a different Vračar Hill where today is located the Tašmajdan. This place was used by the Ottoman Turks for executions and seems much more likely to have been the spot where Sava's relics were burnt. Also, tradition holds the place of burning to be "Čupina Umka", the tallest point in Tašmajdan.[2]


Church leader




Saint Sava in tradition and arts


Saint Sava in literature

Saint Sava in arts

Saint Sava in popular tradition


See also


External links

Preceded by
New Title
Metropolitan of Žiča
Succeeded by
St. Arsenije I Sremac
Preceded by
Miroslav of Hum
Prince of Zahumlje
Succeeded by
Part of Rascia


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