St. Basil of Ostrog
Serbian Orthodox Church
Lake Forest, Illinois
St. Sava Day

One of the highlights of each year for the parish and of the cultural school program is the annual St. Sava Program. The program is prepared by the Cultural school teachers and board members. The program features the traditional poems, songs and dances that honor St. Sava and church schools. This year’s program was the best ever. Student sang songs and added a new song they learned at Camp Gracanica about St. Sava. The costumes made and organized and distributed by Slobodanka Vranjes added the stellar finishing touches to the beauty of the program and how the children looked. Everyone participated even the high school class. Congratulations to the teachers, board and the children for making us proud and feel so good on this special day. Each child received a special silver dollar from His Honor and parish board member, Judge Ted Potkonjak from the St. Sava SNF Lodge 74. Serbian teachers are Zoran Mihailovic, Djuna Vla, and Jelena Visnjevac.

Sveti Sava
Originally the prince Rastko Nemanjic (son of the Serbian ruler and founder of the Serbian medieval state Stefan Nemanja and brother of Stefan Prvovencani, 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 he escaped 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 a Greek Monastery Vatoped. 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, 1200. He is also canonized, 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 asceticism. 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 Byzantine Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople 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.

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, 1235. He was buried at the Cathedral of the Holy Forty Martyrs in Trnovo. He remained in Trnovo until May 6, 1237 when his sacred bones were moved to the monastery Mileseva in southern Serbia. Some 360 years later the Ottoman Turks dug out his bones and burnt them on the Vracar plateau in Belgrade. The Cathedral of Saint Sava in Belgrade, whose construction was planned in 1939, begun in 1985 and is built on the place where the holy bones were burned. The suppression of the Ottoman Empire and communism rule in the homeland could not suppress the faith of the Serbian Orthodox people or put out the light of hope that the Serbian people felt through all their historic struggles.

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 Julian calendar still observed by the Serbian Church). Since the 1830′s, Saint Sava has become the patron saint of Serb schools and schoolchildren. Each year, church schools celebration St. Sava Day and the patron saint of their school. The day is celebrated like a slava with a kolach, zito, and candle. Churches host banquets and students present a program of poems, songs and dances dedicated to St. Sava.

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