Prince Stephen I was responsible for establishing Serbian independence. His third son, Sava, was Serbia’s first native bishop.
When he was only seventeen, Sava secretly left home to become a monk at Mount Athos in Greece. Later, Stephen joined him at the monastery. Together, father and son founded a monastery specifically for Serbs which continues even today as one of the seventeen “ruling monasteries” at Athos.
In 1207, Sava returned to Serbia to referee a dispute between his two brothers, bringing a few of his monks with him. They settled at the Monastery of Studenitsa and began missionary work among his mostly pagan countrymen.
At the behest of his brother Stephen, now the prince, Sava visited the Byzantine emperor to plead for the establishment of a Serbian church. Sava returned to his homeland having been named Archbishop of Zica. On the way home, he picked up a few more monks and some books that has been translated into Serbian.
Home again, Sava worked with great energy. He founded monasteries and churches. He wrote two monastic rules and a Life of his own father ( who is revered at Saint Simeon), and translated books for the Serbs. Two that we still have bear his signature: “I, the unworthy, lazy monk Sava.”
Fr. Andrew, T.O.R.