The life of the Venerable to the abdication of the throne

The great ascetic, our venerable father Simeon Mirotočivi - Stefan Nemanja, was first the great ruler of the Serbian people, the unifier of the Serbian lands, the creator of the independent Serbian state, the defender of Orthodoxy, the exterminator of heresy. Moreover, all his life - a man of great faith, great love, great prayer, great mercy, great evangelical zeal. In the words of his biographer, the Hieland monk Domentian, "the young man loved to serve God with holiness and justice before Him in all the days of his life." His life, rich in God and evangelical justice, was described by his two holy sons: Saint Sava and Saint Stephen the First-Crowned, and the disciple of Saint Sava, the Hilendar hieromonk Domentian.

Stefan Nemanja was born in Zeta, in Ribnica; and there he received Latin baptism. And when his father returned to his table place, he received baptism for the second time from the hands of an Orthodox saint and archbishop in the middle of the Serbian land in the temple of the holy all-glorious and supreme apostles Peter and Paul. He was the youngest of the brothers, but "by God's grace the highest." He grew up in the home of his parents in every good faith and purity. As a young man, Stefan received from his father a part of his fatherland: Toplica, Ibar, Rasina. Wise and agile, he first became the prefect of Raska, from 1149; then, from 1165, he became the great prefect of Serbia, who united under himself all the countries where Serbs lived. Saint Sava says about that: "He renewed his father's ancestry (Raska), and strengthened it with God's help and his wisdom given to him by God. He raised his ruined ancestry and gained from the coastal land the area of Zeta with towns, from Rabno - both Pilots, from the Greek land of Patkovo, the whole of Hvosno and Podrimlje, Kostrac, Drškovina, Sitnica, Lab, Lipljan, Glubočica, Reke, Ušna and Pomoravlje, Zagrlata , Levče, Belica. "Everything that was once taken from his grandfather by violence, he gained with his wisdom and work." At first, Nemanja, like his father, was in a certain state dependence on the Greek emperor, but later he got rid of that dependence and became a completely independent ruler, and called himself "the lord of all Serbian lands". Its capital was "in the middle of the Serbian land", the city of Ras, half an hour from today's Novi Pazar.

Simultaneously with the unification of the Serbian lands, Stefan Nemanja diligently worked on establishing Orthodoxy, thus satisfying both the state and his personal spiritual needs. At the same time, he came into conflict with his brothers, many of whom he suffered. Full of faith, he hastily built the temple of the Most Holy Mother of God in his area, in Toplica, at the mouth of the river Kosanica. And since he decorated it with all the needs of the church, he established a choir of nuns in it, with his honest and God-loving wife Ana. And he handed over the temple of the Most Holy to her, to take care of it in every part and of the nuns he established in that holy monastery. And she listened with all obedience and kindness, guarding the temple of the Most Holy Mother of God, dedicated to her by her holy lord. And again, continues Stefan Prvovenčani, this holy lord of ours, unable to stop his heart, inflamed by the love of Christ, began to build a temple to the holy archbishop and miracle worker Father Nikolaj, near the Holy Mother of God, at the mouth of the river Banjska. And while he was walking barefoot, because of the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: "Everyone who ascends will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Matt. 23:12; Luke 14: 1), and while built a temple to the holy miracle worker and quick in misery protector Nicholas, his brothers, encouraged by the devil and overwhelmed by evil zeal and angry anger, came to grieve the Saint and destroy his work, saying: "Why do you do what should not be done? You didn't agree with us, and you do more than us. " And the Saint answered them meekly and with a gentle smile on his face: "My dear brothers, we are the sons of one father and one mother; let not this work of mine, which I have begun and completed in my field in the Lord, be angry with you. And what your heart loves to do, you do in your areas. Whatever I do, whether evil or good, let it be in my part. Ask the Lord God for many good and imperishable graces, that each of you may receive them. "

And he finished the temple to the holy miracle-worker Nikolaj, and established a monastic rule in it, to constantly glorify the Lord God. And he lived in peace, thanking God and the Most Holy and holy miracle-worker Nikolaj, until the devil's malice and malice attacked him. Because the brothers agreed with the eldest of his brothers, who ruled the Serbian land at that time, so they called this chaste and holy man, caught him, chained his arms and legs, and threw him into a stone cave.

Sitting in a cave, with sorrow in his mind, he prayed to the holy great martyr of Christ, the martyr and invincible soldier George, thus saying: and even though you were in great trouble and torn to the point, you called on your Master, your Lord Jesus Christ, to come and deliver you, heal you, and comfort you. For you, seeing your slaughter, as the innocent lamb of Christ, said: "Receive, O Lord, my supplication: those who are in misery and trouble, or in prison, or at sea, and in my name call on Your love for humanity, You, Lord, for the sake of Your untested mercy, be merciful! ”And the Bishop answered your prayer and fulfilled your request because of your worthy labors. For you would be truly worthy, holy martyr of Christ, by pleasing the Master to your Christ. And I, sinful and unworthy, appear to the Lord. But with what eyes can I, darkened, look to the heights of heaven, or with what lips will I call on the terrible Father and you, Saint? But having pity, martyr of Christ, on me passionate and miserable, hasten to your Lord Jesus Christ, who promised to fulfill your prayers, to deliver me now in your holy name from these torments and to serve you, Saint, all the days of my life, until of your last breath, in a way that is pleasing to the height of your suffering, by the grace and mercy of Christ who glorified and crowned you in the whole world, for all ages, amen! "

The martyr of Christ heard the prayer of this holy man, and he fulfilled everything that he prayed for. And this holy gentleman began urgently, without any delay, with zeal and love to build a temple to the holy and glorious great martyr of Christ George [2]. And he finished it, summoning his quick assistant, and beautifully decorated it with every beauty and all the needs of the church. And he established the monastic rule that monks serve the Lord with holiness and justice, and that they constantly glorify the martyr George, the holy protector in trouble, to praise the Holy One and to sanctify him and to save the monks.

When the evil brothers hired German, Greek, and Hungarian soldiers, and led them against Stefan Nemanja, and entered his fatherland to a place called Pantin, he cried from the bottom of his heart for help to his Lord Christ, and to the great martyr of Christ George. And being near the town of Zvečan, where the church of St. George the Great Martyr was, he chose several priests and sent them to pray to St. George, to come to his aid and to fight with him against his enemies. The sent priests, by the order of their master, celebrated the evening vigil and the morning service, and then the holy and divine liturgy. And when, after that, the priests lay down to rest from their work, a holy fast assistant came to one of the priests and appeared to him in military uniform. Terrified, the priest asked him: "Who are you, sir?" And he said: "I am the servant of Christ George; I have been sent by the Lord God to help your lord, to defeat his enemies with the weapon of the cross and to destroy their vain intentions. "

The priest immediately informs his master. And the next day there would be a mighty battle. With the help of God and the holy glorious great martyr of Christ George, Nemanja defeated his enemies and foreign nations. Then he returned to his country, to the throne of his fatherland, and lived, thanking the Lord Christ, the Most Holy Mother of God, the quick helper in trouble, the holy miracle-worker Nicholas, and the comrade in battle, the holy great martyr George, who kept him unharmed from the enemy. service before the Lord. And so, having received all his fatherhood, he served the Lord in purity of heart and with a humble spirit and a contrite heart. And she gave birth to sons and daughters, and brought them up in all good faith and purity, and taught them all the fear of God and great humility and wisdom. In addition to all that, says Domentian, who can express his many night prayers and daily mercies, which he did to nothing and to all the saints, orphans and widows, and all those in need? For he had heard the word of the Lord, spoken through the prophet Daniel to King Nebuchadnezzar: "My counsel, O king, be pleasing to you: cleanse your sins with almsgiving and your iniquities with mercy to nothing" (Dan. 4:24). And the Venerable fulfilled what he heard, in part, responding to everyone's request, dressing the naked, satisfying the hungry and eating the thirsty, visiting the sick, redeeming the indebted, freeing the slaves.

The Christ-loving ruler, full of holy zeal for the divine truths of the Orthodox faith, made a confessional and courageous effort to eradicate heresies in his fatherland, because they poisoned the soul of the orthodox people with their false teachings. One of his orthodox soldiers said to him: "Lord, I am one of your worst and least servants, and seeing your zeal for your Lord Jesus Christ, and the Most Pure Mother of God, and their holy benefactors, your protectors, who support your strong hand power unharmed, I am free to report to your power, that you hate and damn heresy is already rooted in your country. "

Nemanja immediately convened a council, to which he invited his archbishop Jevtimija, monks with abbots, honorable priests, elders and nobles, from small to large. And he said to all: "Go and see, fathers and brothers, although I am the worst among my brothers, but God, and the Most Pure Mother of His Mother, does not look at the face of man, but honors me the worst, who believe in the one and indivisible Trinity, to I keep this flock handed over to me by Them, which you see now, so that the weeds of the cunning and disgusting devil are not sown. And I never thought that he was in my country, but I already hear that the villain took root in a short time, and blasphemed the Holy Spirit, and shared the indivisible Deity, which the foolish Arias said, cutting the one-trinity Trinity. In the same way, these fools follow his teaching, not knowing, poor people, that because of such faith, they will go down to the bottom of hell with him. "

While there was a great debate at the Council, the daughter of one of Nemanja's orthodox nobles came, who was married to one of those heretics, who was in them and learned their impure abominations, but did not touch their faith at all. She fell at the feet of the Holy One, and confessed clearly, saying to him: "Lord, my lord, here I see how your country is discussing this hateful and disgusting faith. Verily, my lord, according to the law of marriage, I would be asked through my father, your servant, who thought that there was one faith in your country. And I would be in those law-breakers, and I saw, sir, where they truly serve Satan himself, who has fallen away from the glory of God. And unable to endure the stench of deaf idols and hateful heresies, I tore myself out of their hand and fled, and cried out to your power: defeat those who fight with us with the cross, so that the wicked enemies may experience how powerful your faith is, sir.

The holy ruler brought this woman before the Council and distorted the heresy of heretics. A decision would be made at the Parliament to eradicate heresy. And zealous for the Lord God Almighty, as once the holy prophet Elijah, the God-loving Nemanja sent an army against heretics: he showed them in various ways, expelled some from his country, and distributed their homes and all their possessions to lepers and nothing; he cut off the tongue of their chief teacher and their elder, who did not confess Christ, the Son of God, burned his wicked books, and sent him into exile, threatening not to mention the accursed name at all. And completely eradicate that accursed faith, that it has not been mentioned in his country since then, but the one-united and indivisible and life-giving Trinity was celebrated: the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

And so, guarded by God's help and surrounded by the honorable cross, says the biographer Domentian, our holy lord gathered the lost land of his fatherland, and wise his princes with the wisdom of the Most High Benefactor, and taught his elders to be like him, giving thanks and praise to his benefactor Christ, and exterminate the memory of infamous heretics according to his fatherhood, and plant every good faith, and they all glorified the Holy Trinity: the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Spiritually uniting the people with one faith, Nemanja set to work to annex to his country and other areas inhabited by Serbs, which were under the Greeks. "And he added, says St. Svefan Prvovencani, to the land of his fatherland, the area of Nisava to the end, Lipljan and Morava, and called Vranje, the Prizren area and both Pologs to the end. He restored Diocletian and Dalmatia, his fatherland and place of birth, his true ancestry, which was held by violence by the Greek people, so that the Greek region was named, and in it the cities were created by their hands, whose names : Danj grad, Sardonika grad, Drivost, Rosaf grad called Shkodra, grad Svač, grad Lcinj, slavni grad Bar. And Kotor fortified and transferred his court to it. " And the Holy First-Crowned adds: "Defeat your enemies, unwaveringly carrying the cross of Christ before your eyes, and with it bringing victory over the enemy barbarians." And he lived in thanksgiving to God and in prayers day and night. "

When, with God's help, all this was over, says the holy First-Crowned King, this holy lord of mine, always having in his heart the unspeakable fear of God, fearing the Savior's story, said: He said to a rich man, He reborn a field, and he thought to himself, "I will destroy my barn and build a new one, and I will gather grain and all my goods. !! (Luke 12, 16-19). And, not paying attention to the time, the word that finally said to me will reach me: Fool, tonight I will take your soul from you, and whose have you prepared, whose will it be? (Luke 12:30). Ox, then, brethren, who will endure or endure that ugly and terrible judgment of His, or the irresistible wrath that will be upon us sinners? Or who will then call on the terrible and ugly Judge to help himself, without doing mercy and violating the command of his Creator, as I am a sinner? But, Lord, Lord, spare and have mercy on Your servant, because, I know, my iniquities are truly great, and they are always unconcealed before You, Lord! That is why I set the beginning in my heart: to blink and to be afraid of Your holy name. According to the Apostle Paul, I say: You who have wives are like those who do not have them, being kept in purity and in the commandments of the Lord (1 Cor. 7:29). That is why you and I, sinners, give Your Most Pure and Most Holy Mother as the guarantor of my firm intercession and guardian, for the sake of Your holy name: mine and the teacher of the way, by which I go and glorify Your name, I will not stumble. I will also build a temple to Your Immaculate and Immaculate Mother, the Benefactor, and there I will fulfill to You my vows that were uttered by my lips. "

And he began to build the temple of the Most Holy on the Ibar, on the river called Studenica. In doing so, he always and constantly sends prayers to the Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, and to His Immaculate Mother. He also sent gifts to His saints: the Great Church of the Lord in Jerusalem and the Church of St. John the Baptist, the Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Rome, the Church of St. Theodosius in the Desert, the Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in Bari, the Church of the Holy Virgin Evergetida the church of St. Michael the Archangel in Skopje, which he erected, the church of St. Demetrius the Great Martyr in Thessaloniki, and the church of St. Panteleimon the Great Martyr in Nis, which he built. Day and night he cried out continually, saying,

"Holy Primates and Archangels of Christ, prophets and apostles, martyrs and hierarchs, venerable fathers and hermits, black-faced and venerable camels, pour out your prayers before the Master of all, our Lord Jesus Christ, so that he does not condemn me on the Day of Judgment and Terrible Interrogation, but to be merciful, quiet and condescending to me, and to do for me the prayers of Your Most Pure Mother and yours, Holy One, that I, having overcome the storm of life, may enter a quiet and true and undisturbed harbor and see my unfading Light - my Lord and Savior and my God , the king of Jesus Christ, who is among the Saints, the praise of Israel. For the prophet said, In thee did our fathers trust, and were not ashamed; in you they trusted, and were saved (Ps. 21: 5-6). Therefore, O Lord, do not leave me poor who trust in Your mercy; do not reject, Savior, and have mercy on Your sinful creature, that, rejecting the beauties of this world, it may follow You, praising and thanking Your holy and innocent name, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, both now and always and through all the ages. "

Creating such prayers from the depths of his heart, he struggled cheerfully around the temple of the Most Holy, making sure that it was almost completed. For when this holy lord of mine, says the holy First-Crowned One, watched the building of the temple of the Most Holy, believe me, O gentlemen and brothers, I saw how his mind was fixed on the heavenly, like some heavenly eagle, held on the earth bound with iron ropes, so he tore himself up and ascended to the heights to reach that immortal and holy spring and to see the temple of the divine city, the Heavenly Jerusalem, whose citizen he truly became.

Stefan Nemanja leaves the throne, and becomes a monk

When the thirty-seven years of the reign of our God-loving father are over, says Saint Sava, the merciful Lord did not overlook his wholehearted prayer, but as a merciful recipient and rewarder, he wants everyone to be saved. For when the time came, this clairvoyant man considered all the glory and honors of this world to be low and the beauties of this world seemed to him like smoke, and the love of Christ grew in him and kindled his heart as a home prepared for Christ and as a pure abode of His Holy Spirit. Because Christ had somehow inhabited his mind and guided it. And he called to himself his noble children and selected boyars, small and large. And he began to speak unto them, saying,

My dear children, whom I raised! You all know how God, by His providence, made me to rule over you; You also know how I found our country ruined in the beginning, but with the help of God and the Most Holy Mother of God, I, according to my powers, was not lazy, nor did I give myself peace, until I fixed everything. And with God's help, I increased your land in length and breadth, which is known to all. So far, I have raised all of you, as my children, and taught you to adhere to the Orthodox faith. Many foreigners rose up against me and attacked me like honeycombs, but in the name of the Lord I opposed them and resisted them. That is why you, my dear children, do not forget the teaching and the orthodox law, which I established. Because, by sticking to him, you will have God as your helper and the Most Holy Mother of God, and my, although sinful, prayer. And now release me, your ruler, in peace, that my eyes may see salvation, which the Lord has prepared before the face of all men, a light to be revealed to the nations and to the glory of you, my flock. Because I see how everything human, which does not remain after death, is vanity; wealth does not remain, glory does not remain, because when death comes, it destroys it all. That is why we graze in vain. The path we walk is short; life is our smoke, steam, earth and dust. It reappears for a while, and soon disappears. Therefore, indeed, everything is vanity. This life is a shadow and a dream, and every earthling grazes for nothing, as the books said: when we acquire the whole world, then we move to the grave, where kings and the poor are together. Therefore, my dear children, let me go quickly to see the consolations of Israel.

With such words a good gentleman and a gentle shepherd taught them, and they all wept a lot and said to him: Do not leave us poor, sir, because you avenge us and you teach us and you enlighten us, good shepherd, who lays down your life for the sheep, because never in your days does a wolf snatch a sheep from a flock of flocks given to you by God. And for all thirty-eight years of your reign we would be preserved and brought up by you, and we would not know another lord and father except you, our lord!

And the blessed old man, as he advised them as a father with wise words to stop sobbing and tears, chose his faithful son Stefan with holy enlightenment, and made him an autocratic lord of all his states ", and said to everyone:" Have this instead of me! The good root that came out of my womb. I place him on the throne in the state, given to me by Christ. " And he arose from his throne, saith Domentian, and delivered him unto him with every blessing, and blessed him, saying:

“My beloved child, this throne of my country was given to me by the Lord, the King of Heaven; I did not take him by any force of mine, but the Lord my God looked at my calmness, overthrew the mighty from this throne, and raised me up to him calmly. And by His power I have reigned on this throne until now.

And from my youth I wanted to follow my Lord. But as the LORD hath pleased me, so hath the LORD my God dealt with me. But the time of the Lord has already come, which is for my salvation. And you, my dear son, be blessed to the Most High God who reigns forever and ever. And may this throne of mine be blessed by the Lord my God and by me, your father to you and your children, and after your children and to all your descendants forever. And may the Lord my God help you on it, walking and lying down and getting up with you, sweetening and rejoicing your soul and heart with the consolation of the Holy Spirit. And the LORD my God preserve thee; and may he be your protector in every place. And may the Lord my God protect you from all evil! And the LORD my God preserve thy way in and out of thine enemies' enemies. And the LORD my God shall teach thy hands unto the order of slaughter, and thy fingers to fight against thine enemies that rise up against thee. And may the Lord my God preserve you with His holy angels in all your ways! And my holy angel, who has kept me from my youth until now, may he be with you, and may he be the leader of your people, as he was mine, by the rich grace of the Lord my God! May he stand in line with you in all your battles! And may the Lord my God and my power teach your feet to do the will of God here on this throne and for ever and ever, amen! ”

And he taught him, says the First-Crowned One: to strive for every good deed in his country, to be kind-hearted towards the Christian people, whom he gave to him, his flock grazed by God, saying to him: “My dear child, feed this Israel of mine. , and take care of him, leading him like Joseph the lamb. " He commanded him: to take care of the churches and their ministers; to listen with pleasure to the hierarchs and priests; to respect the priests and watch over the monks, "so that they may pray for you, and that you may not be ignorant of God and men in anything."

He also blessed Stefan Nemanja and his other dear son, Prince Vukan, and appointed him Grand Duke, and gave him enough land, and gave him the commandments given to Stefan. And a good father appointed them both to surrender, and he said to them: "Sons, do not forget my laws, and let your heart keep my words, and years of life will be added to you. Do not forsake alms and faith; tie them around your neck, and write them on the tablets of your heart, and you will find grace. Think about what is good before God and people. Trust in God with all your heart, and do not boast of your wisdom. Make sure that the paths you walk are straight, so that your feet will not stumble. Do not think highly of yourself, but fear the Lord, and stay away from all evil; then your body will have health and your bones rest. Honor the Lord with your righteous labors, and give him the firstfruits of your righteous fruits, that your barns may be filled with the abundance of wheat, and that your wine may flow. Sons, do not despair when God punishes you, nor stay away when He rebukes you. For the Lord chasteneth him whom he loveth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. Blessed is the man who has found wisdom, and the mortal who has seen reason. For it is better to buy wisdom than treasures of gold and silver; it is more precious than precious stones; nothing evil opposes her, and she is sweet to all who approach her; every other treasure is unworthy of her, because the length of life and the years of life are in her right hand, and in her left hand is wealth and glory. Righteousness comes out of her mouth, and she carries law and mercy on her tongue. Her ways are good, and all her paths are in peace. She is the tree of life to all who cling to her and rely on her, like an indestructible rock. And I give you this commandment: love one another, having no malice among you. You, Vukan, obey and be obedient to this brother of yours, both from God and from me placed on my throne. And you, Stefan, do not insult your brother when ruling, but respect him. For he who does not love his brother does not love God. God is love. Therefore, whoever loves God, let him also love his brother. For in this is all the law: the apostles taught him, the martyrs were crowned with him, the prophets hung about him. And so, if you will and obey me, you will enjoy earthly treasures; if you will not and do not obey me, the weapon will eat you. May you, my dear sons, have peace from the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, and may the Spirit of God rest on you, strengthening you and slaughtering you from all visible and invisible enemies and guiding you on the path of peace. - Peace be upon you too, my lord and boyars! Peace be upon you young men, whom I have brought up from the birth of your mothers. Peace be to you all, the literal flock of Christ, given to me by God; I have fed you and preserved you unharmed, as a good shepherd laying down his life for you. Therefore I beseech you, my beloved children, rich and poor, old and young, keep the doctrine of my father. Fear God, honor the ruler, adorn the churches, so that they too may adorn you; listen to the bishops, respect the priests, respect the monastic rank, so that they may pray for you. And you, living in justice and love among yourselves, do not forget alms. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the Father and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all, amen. "