The Spiritual Heritage of the Serbian Church
by VESELIN KESICH
A paper read at the meeting of the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Alumni Association, Brookline, Massachusetts
The spirit of any particular national church is manifested above all in its saints, as well as in the work and writings of its most outstanding leaders. Therefore we shall devote this paper to those shepherds of the Serbian Orthodox Church who in their lifetimes were immersed in the spirit of universal Christianity and at the same time served in their local churches as witnesses and martyrs of Christ. We shall select a few of them; those who filled their time with Church work of lasting importance.
At the beginning of the history of the autocephalous Serbian Church, we have its greatest son, St. Sava (1173-1236). The history of this church starts really with him. As a young man, Rastko Nemanjich showed an inclination for a life of prayer and meditation. His father, Stevan Nemanja, was the founder of the Serbian state which sharply extended its boundaries and became an empire later on, in the fourteenth century under Tsar Dushan. Rastko left his father's home, went to Mount Athos, and became a monk, Sava, when he was eighteen years old. For the next sixteen years he lived the life of an ascetic and passed through the school of Orthodox spirituality at its very center, Mount Athos. There he transformed an abandoned monastery into a place for training and educating future spiritual leaders of the Serbian Church. This monastery, Hilandar, has performed just this role throughout centuries. At the end of his rule, Sava's father became a monk, joined his son, and died in Hilandar in 1900.Read more...