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Saint Sava
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Saint Sava

Saint Sava (1175 or 1176 - January 12 1235 or 1236), originally the prince Rastko Nemanjic (son of the Serbian king Stefan Nemanja and brother of Stefan Prvovencani, founder of the Serbian medieval state), is the first Serb archbishop (1219-1233) and the most important saint in the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Saint Sava

In his youth (around 1192) he escaped from home to join the orthodox monastic colony on the Mount Athos (Holy Mountain on the Chalkidiki peninsula) and was given the name Sava. He came firstly to Russian monastery and then moved to Greek monastery Vatoped. At the end of 1197 there also came his father, king Stefan Nemanja. In 1198 they have together moved to and restored the abandoned monastery Hilandar, which is from that time the center of Serbian Christian monastic life.

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

After his father's death, Sava retreated to an ascetic monastery in Kareja which he built himself in 1199. 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 neo-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.

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.

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