Serbian Orthodox Monastery of the Holy Mother of God in Illinois.
Saint Sava (Serbian: Свети Сава) (1175- January 14 or 1236), originally the prince Rastko Nemanjić (Serbian: Растко Немањић) (son of the Serbian ruler and founder of the Serbian medieval state Stefan Nemanja and brother of Stefan Prvovenčani, first Serbian king), is the first Serb archbishop (1219-1233), the most important saint in the Serbian Orthodox Church and important cultural and political worker of that time.
In his youth (around 1192) he ran away from 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, king Stefan Nemanja joined him. In 1198 they together moved to and restored the abandoned monastery Hilandar, which was at 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, 1199. He is also canonised, 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 Typicon both for Hilandar and for the monastery of ascetism. The last typicon is inscribed into the marble board at the ascetic monastery, which today also exists in it. 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.
The Typicon of Kareya with the authentic signature of Saint Sava from 1199 – one of the oldest Serbian documents in the monastery of Hilandar,
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 day is observed on January 27th of the Gregorian calendar (January 14th of the 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.
After participating in a ceremony called Blessing of the Waters he developed a cough that progressed into pneumonia. He died from pneumonia in the evening between Saturday and Sunday, January 14, 1236. He was buried at the St Forty Martyrs Church in the Bulgarian capital Tarnovgrad. His body remained in Tarnovgrad until May 6, 1237 when his sacred bones were moved to the Mileševa monastery in southern Serbia. 360 years later the Ottoman Turks dug out his bones and burnt them on the main square in Belgrade.
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. It was built on the place where the holy bones were burned.