[St. Pachomius Library]

St. Sabbas I, Archbishop of Serbia and Enlightener of the Serbs

Serbian SAVVA or SAVA
XII/XIII Centuries
The son of King Stephen I Nemanja of Serbia, St. Sabbas was born Rastko c. 1173/76; at 17, to avoid marriage, he fled to Mt. Athos, where he became a monk and founded the Chilandar Monastery. In 1196, King Stephen abdicated, and taking the name Symeon, joined his son on Mt. Athos. Symeon died three years later, and Sabbas, Archbishop of Serbia, translated his father's relics to their native land in 1208. Sabbas wrote a history of his father's reign and a service to his father, the earliest known Serbian hynmography in Church Slavonic. Sabbas copied books of law and compiled the Nomocanon, a book of canon laws. He was responsible for having liturgical documents translated from Greek into Serbian and for compiling two Serbian Typica. Because of his experience with Roman bishops and leaders on Athos after the Venetian sack of Constantinople in 1204, Sabbas opposed the pro-Roman policies of his brother, Stephen II, the only Serbian king crowned by a pope. From 1217-1219/20, Sabbas was in exile, during which he persuaded the patriarch of Constantinople to grant the Serbian and Bulgarian churches autocephaly. When he returned to Serbia, he recrowned his brother. Sabbas resigned as archbishop in 1230/33 and travelled to the Holy Land, where he visited monasteries at Sketis, the Thebiad, and Mt. Sinai. He died in Bulgaria on his trip back from the Holy Land c. 1235/1237

King Ladislas of Serbia translated the relics of St. Sabbas to Milesevo, a monastery the saint had founded shortly before his death. The Turks burned the relics in 1594.

Karen Rae Keck


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