Monastery

In 1208, Saint Sava wrote about the beginning of the construction of this monastery:

“This, our holy monastery, as is known, was a wasteland, a wild
hunting ground. Yet, upon arriving to hunt, our master and consolidator,
Stefan Nemanja, who ruled the entire Serbian lands, whilst
hunting here, decided to build, on this wasteland, this monastery,
for peace and for the multiplication of the monastic order”.

Saint Sava, Studenica Typikon, ed. T. Rakićević, M. Anđelković, Studenica Monastery 2018, p. 121.

When he decided to found the monastery, the Serbian Grand Prince (Župan) was 70 years old and an experienced high-ranked mediaeval ruler, one of the most powerful historical figures of his time, deeply aware of the ephemeral nature and vanity of this life, familiar with the illusory notion of victory and human fame, as well as the bitterness of defeat. He was paying heed only to his inner urge to build a temple dedicated to the Mother of God, where he would find peace nearing the twilight of his life, and where future generations of monks would pray and praise the Lord in centuries to come.

“And when he saw the building of the temple of the Most Holy [Mother of God in Studenica], this holy lord of mine, believe me, O gentlemen and brothers, that I saw his mind rise in height like an eagle flying to the sky, held on the ground tied with iron ropes, so he tore himself and ascended to the heights to reach that immortal and holy wellspring and to see the shade of the divine city of the Most High Jerusalem, of which, indeed, he became a citizen.”

Saint Stefan the First-crowned, Collected works, Belgrade 1988, p. 75.

manastir_001
The Virgin intercedes with Christ the Judge on behalf of Simeon Nemanja, ktetor composition, 1568.

Studenica was built by Stefan Nemanja in the period between 1186 and 1196, when he first abdicated the throne in favor of his middle son Stefan, and then became a monk, receiving the name Simeon. He came to the Studenica Monastery, staying there less than two years, and then went to Mount Athos, where he died at the Hilandar Monastery (1199).

manastir_002
Studenica Monastery complex, view from the southwest, 12th century

Saint Sava, at the request of his brothers Stefan and Vukan, brought the relics of their father, the monk Simeon, to Serbia in 1207. His body was laid in the Church of the Mother of God. From 1207 until the middle of the second decade of the 13th century, Saint Sava lived in Studenica. Under Sava’s tutelage, the Studenica Monastery became the cultural, spiritual and medical center of medieval Serbia. Here Sava wrote Studenica Typikon, in which he described the life of his father Stefan Nemanja, leaving an authentic testimony and historical source about the spiritual and monastic life from the beginning of the 13th century. The works on the completion and painting of the Church of the Mother of God were finished in 1208/1209, as evidenced by the founder’s inscription along the inner rim of pendentives at the base of the dome, in large golden letters:

This most holy temple of the Purest Lady, our Mother of God, was commissioned by the most glorious… Grand Župan and a marital relative of the Greek Emperor Lord Alexios, Stefan Nemanja, who received angelic image as monk Simeon. It was finished… by the most glorious… Grand Prince Vukan in the year 6717, indiction 12. Mention me, who served here, sinful Sava, as well”.

What we inherited from Nemanja

The monasteries built by the Grand Župan Stefan Nemanja have only been partially preserved. The Holy Mother of God Monastery in Toplica is an early Byzantine church from the 6th century, which Nemanja renovated between 1158 and 1168. A significant part of the building of this church has been preserved and conservated in recent decades. In the same period, the church of Saint Nicholas was built in Toplica, where Nemanja met with the Byzantine emperor Manuel I Komnenos. Saint Nichola’s church is the result of good relations with him, made according to the Constantinople patterns. It is the ancestor of the construction of the Raška school and, at present, as a living monastery, it is waiting for the necessary renovation. The pillars of Saint George Monastery, completed in 1171, are being renovated for four decades. Among Nemanja’s endowments, Studenica Monastery stands out as a shrine that has preserved in its authentic form, not only the church of the Mother of God, but also the entire complex with walls, parts of buildings and the foundations of fortified towers for defense against attackers, a high entrance tower and the dining room of Saint Sava.

Church of the Mother of God, view from the northeast, around 1186.

The graves of the first two Studenica Monastery abbots, Ignatije (c. 1183–1195) and Dionisije (1197–1207), have also been preserved. The main church is full of details of marble sculptures made in the last two decades of the 12th century. The valuable painting from the time when Saint Sava was the abbot has been preserved, too. Over the centuries, many rulers have invested in the renovation of the Studenica Monastery: the church was expanded by Nemanja’s grandson King Radoslav, the complex was renovated by King Uroš, and king Milutin Nemanjić has built the famous King’s Church of Saint Joachim and Anne in 1314.

STUDENICA TYPIKON

 

“I instruct, therefore, to all of you in the name of our Lord God

the Ruler of All that this holy monastery be independent among all

the governing ones, free of any supervision, not subject to any other

rights, but only governed by the Mother of God and Benefactress,

and by the prayer of our venerable father, and consolidator, [by]

the one acting as and Abbot in it”.

St. Sava, Studenica Typikon, chapter XII

The Studenica Monastery Typikon is one of the earliest and most important written works in Serbian Mediaeval literature, a sum of the regulations for monastic life at the Studenica monastery. Saint Sava wrote the Hagiography of his father, monk Simeon, in two intervals, first somewhere between 1200 and 1205, while on the Mount Athos, as part of the Hilandar Typikon, and then around 1208, in Studenica hermitage cell, as part of the Studenica Typikon i.e. an introductory chapter. The Typikon of the Evergetis Monastery in Constantinople had been the template for the Hilandar and Studenica Typikons, but the Constantinople monastery Typikon was adjusted to suit the needs of the Studenica Monastery.

The most appreciable novelty was a ktetor Life of St. Simeon, written as the first chapter of the Studenica Typikon. Unlike the brief hagiography in the Hilandar Typikon, for the needs of the Studenica Typikon Saint Sava wrote a holistic, ktetor hagiography that comprised the entire lifespan of Simeon Nemanja. By the Typikon of Studenica, Sava established the rules and regulations of the monastic life, deciding that the status of this Lavra would be autonomous, that it shall “be independent among all the governing ones, free of any supervision, not subject to any other rights, but only governed by the Mother of God and Benefactress”, that it shall be ranked the highest among all Serbian monasteries, and its Abbott deemed higher in rank than all other Abbotts and be called first of them all. Sava also determined the way in which the sick were to be attended and nursed since in that period there was even a hospital within the Monastery. At Studenica, Sava wrote the Service to Saint Simeon, too.

The most important transcription of Studenica Typikon is monk Averkije’s copy of the Studenica Typikon and Life of St. Simeon, written in 1619 in St. Sava’s hermitage at Studenica. The copy is preserved within a manuscript book in Janko Šafarík’s collection in the National Museum Library in Prague – signature IX H 8 (Š 10).

Студенички типик Светог Саве

Typikon of the Studenica Monastery, drawing on the sheet I r made in 1735.

Mother of God the Benefactress of Studenica

The main church of Studenica Monastery is dedicated to the Mother of God the Benefactress. In the nave of the Church of the Mother of God, above the abbot’s throne intended for the archimandrite of the Studenica brotherhood, a fresco-icon of the Mother of God the Benefactress (Evergetis) with the Christ-child is painted, marked with an inscription as “The Mother of God of Studenica”. It is an iconographic type of the Virgin Kyriotissa, which is celebrated as the Mother of the Lord Jesus Christ; the white napkin – its special attribute, is the motif taken from the Byzantine ceremony. Kyriotissa was the patron saint of the Comnenus dynasty in Byzantium. It is presumed that Stefan Nemanja visited the Monastery of the Mother of God Evergetis in Constantinople, where he had the opportunity to see the fresco representation of the Mother of God the Benefactress. The fresco-icon of the Mother of God the Benefactress “of Studenica” in Lavra of Saint Simeon the Myrrh-bearer of Studenica Monastery, is unique in Serbian church art and has been especially respected for centuries. Already in 1208, when the Church of the Mother of God was painted, it was signed in golden letters and named as Mother of God “of Studenica”.

Troparion to the Mother of God of Studenica Monastery

Serbian tune, voice 3

“Let us rejoice and bow with love

to the Benefactress of Studenica brotherhood

the Protectress of the Serbian people through the centuries

that with maternal warmth

intermediates for us before Her Son

with all the celestial powers.

Let us sing

with one heart, together:

Rejoice, Oh Blessed, Benefactress of our souls!”

* The author of the Troparion is the nun Efrosinija Bakić
** Troparion of the Mother of God of Studenica was performed vocally for the first time by the Choir and Ensemble “Alleluia” from Belgrade under the direction of conductor Milica Radivojević, MA, in 2016 under the auspices of the festival organized by the Musical Youth of Belgrade.

 

FOUNDER OF STUDENICA MONASTERY

STEFAN NEMANJA – SAINT SIMEON

(circa 1113-1199)

The Grand Prince (Župan) of Raška, mediaeval Serbian state, whose capital was the town of Old Ras, in the proximity of the modern-day city of Novi Pazar, the primogenitor of the Nemanjić Dynasty, and one of the most important rulers in the entire Serbian history. Stefan Nemanja played a key role, together with his son Sava Nemanjić, in the establishment of the Serbian Orthodox Church. He was married to Ana, who bore him three sons: Vukan, Stefan, and Rastko, who became known as Saint Sava. Nemanja was born in Ribnica (present-day Podgorica, Montenegro), as one of four sons of Zavida, Serbian 12th-century royal.

Стефан Немања

Saint Simeon, detail of a fresco from the King’s Church in Studenica, around 1314.

His brothers were Tihomir, Miroslav, and Stracimir. During the reign of his brother Tihomir, he erected monasteries, dedicated to the Holy Virgin and Saint Nicholas, respectively, near the present-day Serbian town of Kuršumlija. His brothers looked disapprovingly at the fact that Nemanja acted on his own and erected temples independently, so they caught him and locked him up in a cave not far away from Ras. Yet he managed to free himself with the help of Saint George the Victorious, the Warrior, who answered his prayers, as stated in the Hagiography of Saint Simeon (Life of Stefan Nemanja), written probably in 1210 by his son Stefan the First-Crowned. As an expression of his gratitude and to celebrate his triumph, since he became Grand Prince in 1166, Nemanja erected the Djurdjevi Stupovi Monastery ‒ the Pillars of Saint George, a mighty and imposing structure standing tall on top of a hill. In the following years, Nemanja took sides with the political bloc (a coalition between the Republic of Venice and the Kingdom of Hungary) that forged an alliance to fight the Byzantine Empire. When the uprising was crushed in 1172, Nemanja was imprisoned and taken to Constantinople, where he was brought before the Emperor Manuel I Komnenos, to whom he had to swear to allegiance. After that, they made arrangements and regulated their relationship. Upon his return to Serbia, Nemanja wanted to tie his nation with the Orthodox faith. Therefore, he summoned an assembly aimed at opposing destructive forces that were damaging the state. In the years to come, he managed to significantly expand the borders of the Serbian territories. Nemanja was contemporary with many great and important historical figures, such as Friedrich I Barbarossa, Richard the Lionheart, Manuel I Komnenos, and Alexios III Angelos. Everything that Stefan Nemanja achieved as a statesman and the founder of Orthodox faith in the Serbian nation was materialized in the construction of the magnificent Church of the Holy Virgin in Studenica Monastery, which was built in the expensive, top-quality marble. Facts from the life of Stefan Nemanja speak much of him: he ascended the throne when he was 46, he ruled as the Grand Prince for 37 years and spent the last three years of his life living as a monk, until he died at the age of 86. The construction of the Studenica Monastery started shortly after 1183, and the greatest part of the temple was completed by 1196. That year, at an assembly that was held in Ras, Stefan Nemanja abdicated and passed the throne to his second son Stefan. Then he took monastic vows and adopted the monastic name of Simeon, while his wedded wife Ana became nun Anastasia. Nemanja spent a year and a half as a monk in the Studenica Monastery, after which his son Sava called him to join him. On 8th October 1197, he left for the Mount Athos, where shortly after that the two of them founded the Serbian Monastery Hilandar. That is where monk Simeon passed away in 1199. His son Sava took the holy relics of his father back to Serbia and laid them in the marble tomb at Studenica Monastery. The following year Sava started writing the Hagiography of Saint Simeon. The second Hagiography of Saint Simeon was written by his second son, Stefan the First-Crowned, somewhere between 1208 and 1215.

KTETORS OF THE STUDENICA MONASTERY

SAVA NEMANJIĆ

(circa 1175-1235)

Serbian prince, monk, Abbott of the Studenica Monastery, the founder and the first Archbishop of the autocephalous Serbian Orthodox Church, writer of seminal works in Serbian literature who also translated from Greek language, monastic lawmaker, and diplomat, he was born under the name of Rastko Nemanjić, as the third and the youngest son of the Serbian Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja and his wedded wife Ana.

 

Сава Немањић

Saint Sava, fresco in the King’s Church in Studenica, around 1314.

According to the Life of Saint Sava, written by monk Teodosije the Hilandarian, Rastko was born into the world because his parents besought God who answered their prayers when they were already advanced in years. They implored Him to give them “one more baby boy, who would give us comfort and by Thy grace be the heir to our throne and scepter in our old age, so we can lean on him and rest our weary souls”. When baby Rastko was born, both of his parents vowed that in order to show their gratitude to God, they would take monastic vows when the twilight of their lives comes near. As a young man, Rastko briefly ruled the appanage of Hum, which included parts of the Croatian coastline at that time and part of the hinterland of present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 1193, when he was 18 years old, Rastko took monastic vows at the Saint Panteleimon Monastery (Old Rusik) at Mount Athos, after which he went to the Vatopedi Monastery. When Rastko left to become a monk, at first it caused great distress and grieved his parents, but in fact, it marked a true revival and regeneration of the entire Serbian nation. In 1198, together with his father Nemanja, who at that time already became monk Simeon, Sava breathed new life into the deserted Hilandar Monastery, which was placed under Serbian administration and proclaimed autonomous monastery by royal decree on its autonomy issued by the Byzantine Emperor Alexios III Angelos. When Constantinople fell into the hands of the Crusaders from Western Europe, Sava went back to Serbia and reconciled his brothers Stefan and Vukan over their father’s mortal remains. Saint Sava spent ten years at the Studenica Monastery, where he was Abbott from 1207 to 1217. Thanks to his actions and endeavors, the Serbian Orthodox Church was conferred the status of Archiepiscopate in 1219, thus becoming autocephalous, whereby it was granted the right to independently chose Serbian bishops and archbishops. It was decided that the Archiepiscopate would be seated at the Žiča Monastery, which was the memorial of Sava’s brother, King Stefan the First-Crowned. This was the place where, in 1220, according to his biographers, Sava crowned his brother king, at the great ecclesiastical and national assembly that took place in Žiča. Sava Nemanjić is one of the most important writers and greatest authorities in the field of canon law in the 13th century. His most important works are Hagiography of Saint Simeon, Karyes Typikon, Hilandar Typikon, Studenica Typikon, and the first Serbian legislative act, the so-called Nomocanon, a collection of selected civil laws and ecclesiastical ordinances of the Byzantine Empire, which Sava took upon himself to edit and translate in 1220. It was the first code of law of the Serbian Orthodox Church, whereas the Serbian state was given its first constitution of a sort. While in Sudenica, Sava finished writing the Hagiography of Saint Simeon and also wrote the Studenica Typikon, a codex of monastic life, and the Service to Saint Simeon.

Sava Nemanjić traveled a lot. He went twice to the Holy Land. The first time he journeyed there was in 1229, when he erected lodgings for Serbian monks on pilgrimage at the Monastery of the Holy Cross, not far from Jerusalem, built a monastery at the Mount Zion, and bought the Church of Saint George in the port of Akko. On that occasion, he also bought the Monastery of Saint John the Apostle redeeming it from the Saracens, which is the place where the Last Supper took place. The second time Sava travelled to the Holy Land was 1234-1235, when he visited the Saint Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai, and the Holy Lavra of Saint Sabba the Sanctified, where he was given his abbatial crosier and two valuable and precious icons: the Three-handed Theotokos and the Milk-feeding Theotokos. While travelling back to Serbia, Sava died on 14th January 1236, in the Bulgarian town of Trnovo, when he was 61 years old. In 1237, Sava’s body was taken from Trnovo to the Mileševa Monastery. Sources that have great relevance as accounts of the life of Saint Sava are his two biographies written by monks Domentijan the Hilandarian (1250) and Teodosije the Hilandarian (1290-1292), respectively. More than 350 years after Sava’s death, in retaliation for the Serbian uprising against the Ottoman invader, the Ottoman Turks ordered that Saint Sava’s mortal remains be brought from Mileševa Monastery to Belgrade, where they were publicly burnt in 1594. Now, the magnificent Church of Saint Sava imposingly stands in the place where his remains were burnt at the stake.

RADOSLAV NEMANJIĆ

(1192-1235)

The firstborn son of Stefan the First-Crowned, he ascended his father’s throne in 1227. He ruled Serbia for a short period of time, only until 1234. He was married to Ana, daughter of Theodore I Angelos, Despotes of Epirus. In late 1233, or early 1234, noblemen rose up in revolt against him and put his younger brother Stefan Vladislav in his place.

Радослав Немањић

Saint Stefan the First-Crowned – monk Simon and King Radoslav Nemanjić, part of the founder’s composition in the southern chapel of Radoslav’s narthex, around 1235.

When he was toppled, Radoslav went to Dubrovnik. However, he was forced to leave this city too. He gave up attempts to seize back the throne and took monastic vows instead. He died in 1235 under his monastic name Jovan at the Studenica Monastery, where he was buried. He left no offspring. King Radoslav Nemanjić was one of the greatest ktetors of the Studenica Monastery. He erected the magnificent spacious narthex adjacent to the Church of the Holy Virgin, a memorial of his grandfather, Great Prince Stefan Nemanja. He provided material resources and helped his uncle Sava Nemanjić in his great endowment enterprises in the Holy Land.

MILUTIN NEMANJIĆ

(circa 1253-1321)

 

Serbian King, statesman and ktetor, great-grandson of the Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja, he was born as the youngest son of King Uroš I. He ascended the Serbian throne in 1282, when his brother, King Stefan Dragutin abdicated in his favor on the assembly held by noblemen in Deževa, near Ras.

Свети краљ Милутин

King Milutin Nemanjić, fresco in the King’s Church in Studenica, around 1314.

He was the father of the Serbian Saint King Stefan Dečanski (reign 1322-1331) and the grandfather of the first Serbian Emperor Dušan Nemanjić (reign 1331-1355). He had four children: two sons, Stefan and Konstantin, and two daughters. His last marriage was he took to wife Simonida, born Simonis Palailogina (1294-1345), daughter of Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos. Over the course of his reign almost four decades long, King Milutin embarked upon enlarging the Serbian lands by expanding southwards and seizing parts of the Byzantine territories, incorporating into Serbia largest part of the present-day Republic of North Macedonia, as well as the northern region of present-day Albania, and part of present-day Greece. He had significant political influence in the Balkans and in Europe. He managed to forge marriage alliance with the Byzantine Empire and introduced Byzantine royal and noble ranks and etiquette to the Serbian Court. He also left a significant legacy as a ktetor and endower. According to the popular narrative, he endowed more than 40 churches and monasteries. Apart from the King’s Church at the Studenica Monastery, his most significant memorials and endowments are located in Kosovo and Metohija, including the Church of Our Lady of Ljeviš, Gračanica and Banjska Monasteries, which was built as his burial place, as well as in present-day Republic of North Macedonia, such as the Three-handed Theotokos in Skopje, the Church of Saint George in Staro Nagoričane near Kumanovo, and the Church of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary in the Hilandar Monastery, on the Mount Athos. King Milutin also made endowments in the Holy Land, where he erected the Monastery of the Holy Archangels in the Old City of Jerusalem, near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which belonged to the Serbian Orthodox Church for three hundred ears approximately. In his collection, King Milutin had valuable manuscripts, which are now kept at the Jerusalem Patriarchate Library. King Milutin passed away in 1321 at his royal court in the town of Nerodimlje, located in present-day Kosovo. Two years after his death, he was canonized, and his life was described in the hagiography written by Archbishop Danilo II (1324-1337). He was buried at the Banjska Monastery, however on the eve of the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, his body was taken to the town of Trepča, and eventually, in 1460, when the Serbs retreated to Sofia, fleeing from the Ottoman invader, it ended in the present-day Bulgarian capital. To this day, Saint King Milutin’s mortal remains are kept at the Saint Nedelya Church in Sofia.

Holy relics of Saints at Studenica Monastery

This holy place is made even more important for the fact that the relics of the most distinguished Serbian rulers from the Nemanjić dynasty, including its founding father, lie in the main Monastery church, which is one of the best-preserved buildings dating from the 12th century.

Храм Успења Пресвете Богородице

The nave of the Church of the Mother of God in Studenica

Мошти светих

The tomb of Saint Simeon, the Church of the Mother of God in Studenica

“The tomb of Simeon Nemanja was, after the sanctuary, the most important holy spot in the Studenica Monastery main church. People came to bow in reverence or brought their sick to be healed; special rituals were held, and not only on the day of the commemoration of Nemanja’s passing; and myrrh flowed from his relics. Sometime in the 15th century, a wonderworking vine grew out of the tomb-like in Hilandar, which is recounted in an inscription carved on the pilaster it climbed (‘This vine sprouted in the year 1482/1483). Above the tomb, there was a kind of canopy, destroyed over time, which gave a distinctive mark to this cult place.

In the first decades following Simeon Nemanja’s canonization, his closest descendants secured more modest resting places around his tomb. Like bees around their queen, the deceased members of the House of Nemanjić lay around their progenitor, ever-present in his prayers, to await the Second Coming, the Day of Judgment and of weeding out the righteous and the sinners. Next to his tomb, to the west, but in the narthex, nun Anastasija, who had been Nemanja’s wife Ana in her secular life, was laid to rest. Alongside Nemanja’s tomb, in the western bay, lie his son, Grand Prince Vukan, and his great grandson Stefan, the son of King Uroš I, who died in infancy. Inscriptions and modest ledger stones mark their graves. Across from Nemanja’s tomb, after the death of Nemanja’s second son Stefan the First-Crowned, an ornate stone sarcophagus was made, but only its carved marble pedestal survives. Near the grave of nun Anastasija, in the narthex, under the paved floor lies the body of monk Teodosije, the son of Grand Prince Vukan, who was called Rastko before taking the vow, after his uncle Archbishop Sava I. This is unassumingly recorded on a marble cornice on the southern wall. Dionisije, the first hegoumenos of Studenica, was also buried alongside Nemanja’s tomb, but not inside the church: his grave is located on the outer side of the same wall along which Nemanja’s sarcophagus lies in the church. His successor Ignjatije and hegoumenos Simeon, who had the frescoes of Studenica restored in 1568, were laid to rest alongside the tomb of St. Anastasija, again on the outside. King Radoslav and his wife, who commissioned the large narthex along the Church of the Holy Virgin and had their tombs placed there, were not the last members of the House of Nemanjić to secure final resting places in the foundation of their forefather. This act expressed their belief in the holy power of the progenitor of the dynasty, who died as an Athonite monk, a fact that certainly played a major role in the rise of his cult. In addition to its dedication to the Virgin, Studenica soon became known as the Lavra of St. Simeon the Myrrh-streaming (Myroblytos).”

Vojislav J. Đurić, STUDENICA MONASTERY – THE TABERNACLE OF THE SERBIAN PEOPLE, in: Spiritual and Cultural Heritage of the Monastery of Studenica: Past, Perseverance, Contemporaneity, Belgrade: Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts – Studenica Monastery 2019, p. 21.

VENERABLE SIMON – KING STEFAN THE FIRST-CROWNED

(1166-1227)

Serbian Grand Prince and the first crowned king from the Nemanjić Dynasty, which is why he came to be known as the First-Crowned, the author of the Hagiography of Saint Simeon, he was married to the Byzantine Princess Eudokia Angelina, daughter of Alexios III Angelos (1195-1203). Their marriage lasted until 1201. He remarried in 1217, when he took to wife Anna Dandolo, Venetian noblewoman, granddaughter of Enrico Dandolo, Doge of Venice, who was possibly the most powerful man in Europe at that time. Stefan Nemanjić fathered four sons: Radoslav, Vladislav I, Uroš I, and Predislav, and one daughter. On the national assembly held in 1196, in Ras, Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja abdicated and passed the throne to his second-eldest son Stefan, which infuriated his firstborn son Vukan, and led to a long and bitter feud between brothers. The dispute between them was overcome only by the mediation of Saint Sava, who in 1207 summoned his brothers in the Studenica Monastery to make peace over their father’s mortal remains. The three brothers joined their efforts to complete their father’s memorial, Studenica Monastery, at the time when the Church of the Holy Virgin was wall-painted. It was a remarkable political achievement when in 1217 Stefan Nemanjić was conferred royal crown from the papacy, which meant that his state received international recognition as a monarchy in Western Europe. The institution of monarchy was soon transformed by Stefan and Saint Sava who reshaped it into a free monarchy. In 1227, near the end of his life, King Stefan fell ill, and his brother Sava ordained him a monk, whereupon he adopted the monastic name Simon. He is praised and celebrated by the Serbian Orthodox Church as a saint. First he was buried at the Studenica Monastery, but afterward, his body was moved to the Žiča Monastery, his memorial. In the meantime, his mortal remains were taken and sheltered in the face of various dangers: in 1608, they were moved to the Sopoćani Monastery, but in 1696 they were returned to the Studenica Monastery. The mortal remains of the Saint King Stefan now rest at the Studenica Monastery. Stefan the First-Crowned is the author of the Hagiography of Saint Simeon, important work of Serbian mediaeval literature written somewhere between 1208 and 1215. A golden ring from the 11th or 12th century, probably a wedding ring, which was found with the mortal remains of the Saint King Stefan, is kept at the Studenica Treasury.

Стефан Првовенчани

Relics of the Venerable Simon in a silver casket which is a gift of Princess Persida Karađorđević, made in Vienna in 1853.

VENERABLE ANASTASIA

(1125-1200)

Venerable Anastasia, formerly Ana Nemanjić, was born in the first half of the 13th century, presumably around 1125. Married to the Serbian Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja, she gave birth to three sons: Vukan, Stefan and Rastko – Saint Sava, and several daughters, as presumed. One of the most important women’s historical figures of medieval Serbia, very pious life and noble character. There are no reliable historical data on her origins. The historical sources confirm the way she and Nemanja were upbringing their sons: “and having taught them holy books and virtues, they rejoiced the Lord.” All three of them ended their lives receiving the “angelic character” – ie. monastic vows: Vukan became monk Teoktist, Stefan became monk Simon, and Rastko became monk Sava.

Saint Anastasia of Serbia in a kneeling prayer before the Most Holy Mother of God, narthex of the Church of the Mother of God in Studenica, 1568.

Ana herself decided to accept the monastic vows in agreement with her husband: on the same day, they entered the monastic order with the blessing of the bishop Kalinik on March 25, 1196. The venerable Simeon went to Studenica, and Anastasia went to the monastery of the Most Holy Mother of God in Toplica near today’s Kuršumlija, which she had founded with Nemanja.

Venerable Anastasia died on June 21. Her holy relics are laid in a silver and gilded coffin at the church of the Virgin Mary the Benefactress in Studenica, where she was also depicted in a fresco (1568) while kneeling and praying to the Virgin Mary enthroned: “Oh, Holy Virgin and Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, receive this prayer of Your servant Anastasia”.

MONASTERY PATRON SAINT FEASTS -“SLAVA”

 

St. Sava, Studenica monastery abbot and the first Serbian Archbishop, 27/14. January

Venerable Simeon the Myrrh-gusher, founder and monk of the Studenica Monastery, 26/13. February

Venerable Anastasia, July 4/21. Jun

Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God, 28/15. August (Main Monastery Patron Feast – Slava)

Holy Righteous Joakim and Anne, the dedicatory feast of the King Milutin’s Church, 22/9. September

Venerable Simon the Monk, October 7/24. September

Holy King Milutin, the ktetor of the “King’s Church”, November 12/30. October

 

Worship services

On Sundays and Feastdays: Morning Service at 6:30 A.M., Holy Liturgy at 8 A.M.

Working days: Morning Service at 5:30 A.M., Holy Liturgy at 6:45 A.M.

Evening Service: in the Winter at 5 P.M., in the summer at 6 P.M.