The son of a Serbian king who was also a saint, St. Sabas was born Rastko c. 1173/ 76; at 17, to avoid marriage, he fled to Mt. Athos, where he became a monk and founded the Hilander Monastery. In 1196, King Stephen I of Serbia abdicated, and taking the name Symeon, joined his son on Mt. Athos. Symeon died three years later, and Sabas, Archbishop of Serbia, translated his father's relics to their native land in 1208. Sabas wrote a history of his father's reign and a service to his father, the earliest known Serbian hynmography in Church Slavonic. Sabas 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, Sabas opposed the pro-Roman policies of his brother, Stephen II, the only Serbian king crowned by a pope. From 1217- 1219/ 20, Sabas 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. Sabas 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. Sabas to Milesevo, a monastery the saint had founded shortly before his death. The Turks burned the relics in 1594.
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By Justin Soutar
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