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  "The Life of St. Sava"
Theodosius of Chilandar (13th c.)


 

The following text is the translation of the selected passages of "The Life of St. Sava" written by the monk Theodosius who lived in the monastery of Chilandar. Theodosy of Chilandar in the 13th century. It tells the true story of Rastko Nemanjic, later known as St. Sava, brother of King Stefan "The First Crowned", the very first Serbian king. St. Sava was the founder of the independent Serbian church.

When he reached his seventeenth year of age, his parents discussed how they were going to marry him according to the Law. And this, from a prayer to God given young man, constantly wanted to find the way to escape the world, to separate from everybody and devote himself to God. He has heard about Athos, the monks in it and deserted places.

And then, like the God himself has directed them, some monks from Athos arrived to seek donations from his parents. It happened that one among them was of Russian origin. Our divine youth talked alone with him, asking about Athos but vowed him not to tell his secrets to anybody. He told him all about life of a monk, about common life in the monasteries and hermits, in groups of two or three living their solitude life fasting and in complete absence of speech. And the young man listened carefully all about monksí life and their affection to God; their good deeds so tears ran like a river from his eyes. After he has recollected, he told to the old man: "Father, I see that the God who knows all before we do, having seen the pain of my heart, has sent your grace to comfort my sinful soul. Now my hart has found its peace and my soul rejoiced with unmatchable joy. Only know did I understand what I yearned for. Father, what should I do so I can escape the crowded life of this world and be worthy enough for the angelís life you have described? If my parents tie me up with a marriage held with loving of my future home I will never reach the life I now discovered. I would love to run away, but since the way is not known to me, I could get lost and my father being so powerful would certainly catch me and brought me back and moreover, I would make my father sad and brought disgrace to myself,

The old man admired his warm love to the God and the magnificent flames that have enlightened his soul. He listened to this young manís words full of chastity and excitement and then he said to him: "I see my child that your soul has reached the depths of Godís love so hurry up to accomplish your good wish to prevent the bad seeds destroy the good ones and make your wish disappear. I will be your servant for such deed and with Godís help I will lead you to the Athos, where you want to go, just prepare a horse for me so we could escape from your father.

Having listened that, he immediately submitted to his will and said: "Merciful God, I thank you for this stranger who has comforted my heart.

Filled with joy, he went right away to his parents asking for a permission to leave the court. Like he used to, he asked them for a prayer and blessing saying: "My lords, I was told that there are a mountain with great number of beasts in it. If I could take your grace, you would bless me and let me go to hunt, and even we come back somewhat late, do not be mad at us since I have heard that I can find beautiful deer there. His father pleased him and said: "Let the God be with you my child, let him bless you and show you the way." And his mother, being like all mothers, hugged him and kissed with love telling him to return shortly. They did not know that he was not going for a deer hunt but to quench his soul in a Christís well of life.

During that night the servants who were with him fell asleep and he ran away with few of them who knew his secret having God and a monk as his guides. When a new day came, those servants started looking for him, and, alas, they could not find him nor see him. Being sad and confused they ceased the hunt and returned to the master, his father and told him that they did not know where his son was. And his parents, having heard such unpleasant and unexpected news, became so sad that they almost died. All of them started crying and weeping, the parents for their son, brothers for a brother and the people for their master. They recollected for a moment and remembered that it must have been that Russian who had taken him to Athos because they knew that he had desired to do so.

Suddenly, his royal father, strongly commanded to everybody to stop their cries, and having thanked the God, he told to the present courtiers and the mother of his child: "Do not be afraid, we should not be in sorrow, my sin will not perish. Merciful God who has given him to me through my hope will allow me to see him again and taste his love again." After that he called many good men and gave them powerful horses to go to Athos. He wrote a letter to the main priest of the Thessalonica region and asked him to help get his son back.

The followers traveled and having reached Athos asked about the man they were searching and they described his appearances and handsome figure. Some people told them: "One man matching your description has entered the Russian monastery few moments ago." Having heard this they hurried because they feared that he might get away. They saw him walking around the monastery, his hair wasnít cut and he still was in his ordinary clothes. And, having met him, they kissed him and their faces were covered in tears. They thought that could tie him up but they also feared him because he was their master. Having seen that his pursuers are firm in taking him home and that there was no one who could help him, he cheerfully hugged the duke and convinced him that he will come with him but secretly, in his sighs he was begging God to help him in his intention that was both divine and full of deceit. He asked the priest to arrange a big feast in order that his guest are properly fed and honored but he also told him to order that morning service start during the night.

So a big feast was organized and the abbot and the boy himself were serving the guests. And when the dinner was almost over, the abbot said that he must go to the morning service and the boy went with him. His pursuers followed them because they couldnít let the boy take any chance and escape. The service was long and they repeated it several times until the guards, weary from the long trip and the feast, fell asleep.

As soon as this divine youth noticed that the guards fell asleep, he went and kneeled in front of the holly altar, made his vow to the God and after the priest and one old man who had a rank of a clergyman blessed him, he went to the monastery tower and said: "My God I praise you because you have accepted me!" The abbot having finished with his sermon cut his hair, dressed him in the robe of an angelic look and changed his name from Rastko to Sava.

When all this was finished and the guards awoke they started looking for him. They searched him everywhere, in the church, in the monastery, they started yelling and because they couldnít find him they started beating the monks. Having heard this he came and said: "Arenít you ashamed of your honor and your God? Is it good to attack those people in the church? What evil did they do to you? If youíre looking for me, here I am. All that is happening with me is Godís will, because He who was leading me from my father to here that you couldnít find me saved me again from your hands. You want to separate me from the mild and wanted way of mine so you can brag about it to your master. But my God, to whom I trusted and praised, was my assistant and as you can se, he will lead my life into a better way according to his will. So take my so wide known clothes and the hair that was cut from my head and return peacefully to your homes and give these signs to my parents and brothers so they can believe that you found me alive, take this with Godís mercy and my name is Sava." He also wrote a letter to his father: "Do not cry for me as I was dead and donít be sorrow but pray to God that I can do good deeds that I wanted to. You, as much as you can, take care of your soul and donít do anything to see me again there as long as you are alive, but, if that may be Godís will, I will wait here at Athos and see my father, and I will take delight in his holly and honest old age and I will be fed with his sweet and everlasting love."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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