Text below is taken from CD Chilandar (Belgrade 1998) which was published by Studio A, Aetos, Library of Serb Patriarchate and Chilandar monastery. On Njegos.org with courtesy of Nebojsa Jovanovic, participant in development of CD Chilandar.
Grand Zhupan (1166 - 1196), + February 13, 1199
Monk Symeon, St Symeon Elaiovrytis (He Who Flows With the Holy Oil)
Stefan Nemanya is the founder of the Nemanyich Dynasty and unifier of
all Serbian lands.
He proclaimed Orthodoxy the state religion, and spent all his life trying to strengthen
the church in his country. He organized it according to the Byzantine church models.
Stephan Nemanya founded, restored and assisted the monasteries all over Serbia. The
best-known amongst them are Djurdjevi Stupovi in Ras and the "Temple of the
Immaculate Holy Virgin the Benefactor", known as Studenica. He also bestowed
donations on many churches abroad, such as The Big Church (Patriarchate) and the
Church of St. John the Forerunner in Jerusalem, Church of St Theodosios "in the
Desert", the Virgin Evergethide Church in Constantinople, St Demetrios Church in
Salonika, St Peter's Church in Rome, St Nicholas Church in Bari.
After having united the country and organized state and religious conditions, he
abdicated the throne to his second son Stefan in 1196. Then he renounced the secular
life and retired to the monastery Studenica. There he entered a monastic order and
received the name Symeon. Eventually he went to the monastery Vatopedi, on Mount
Athos, to join his youngest son, Monk Sava, who had been living there for a few years.
Shortly after that the two of them reconstructed the ruined monastery of Chelandari, in
the North of Mount Athos, "in order to receive there people of Serbian descent who
wanted to dedicate themselves to the monastic life".
Stefan Nemanya died in the narthex of the Chilandar church , before the icon of the
Virgin Hodegetria. On his deathbed he swore in his son Sava to have his body
transferred from Chilandar to Serbia, "when God permits it, after a certain period of
time". The Monk Sava did itt in 1207. He transferred the relics to Serbia and put them
into the tomb made ready for them, in his father's endowment, the Holy Virgin Church
of Studenica, where they still rest in peace.
In the person of the founder of the Nemanyich dynasty the Serbs got their first saint,
whose cult is connected with the Studenica monastery. The Monk Sava wrote the
Liturgy of St Symeon, where he called Symeon saint, blessed, and his relics miracle-
working and exuding the holy oil.
The community of Chilandar has been ever since cherishing the memory of St
Symeon, as well as the traces of his sojourn among the Athonite monks: Charter of the
Grand Zhupan Stefan to Chilandar, old and new reliquaries of St Symeon, the vine of
St Symeon, the cypress of St Symeon, the cell of St Symeon, the icon of St Symeon.
(+January 14, 1236)
Monk Sava, first Serbian Archbishop, Saint Sava
Rastko was the youngest son of the Grand Zhupan Stefan Nemanya.He was only
seventeen when some Russian monks arrived to his father's court. As soon as he had
learned from them about Mount Athos, he left the court and went there in disguise. He
had entered a monastic order in the Russian monastery Old Roussikon, but invited by
the Vatopedi abbot, he moved into their community. He bestowed on them rich
donations, erected two churches and re-roofed the katholikon.
Five to six years after Sava had arrived to Mount Athos, his father, at the time already
Monk Symeon, joined him there.
They met in the Vatopedi monastery and remained there for a certain period of time.
Soon both of them felt a desire to build a monastery for their own Serbian people. After
having gone through many troubles, they eventually received the constitutional charter.
By the Chrysobull of the Emperor Alexios III the Angel, they were granted the ruined
settlement of Chelandari to found there a Serbian community. They started building it in
1198, and when Symeon died in 1199, Sava continued with the works on his own. He
went to Karyes, and founded there the Kellion of Saint Sava of Jerusalem, where he
subjected himself to a strenuous ascetic discipline for some time. There he wrote the
Karyes Typikon, thus laying the foundations of a strict monastic tradition, which has
been respected up to the present day. Beside writing the Chilandar Typikon andKaryes
Typikon, Monk Sava is also credited with translations of liturgiical literature. He wrote
the father Symeon's hagiography, the first literary work in Serbian. It was in Chilandar
that he conceived the idea of writing the Code of Rules, as well as the Studenica
According to his father's wish, and at the request of his brothers Stefan and Vukan,
Sava had the relics of Nemanya transferred to Serbia in 1207. When Stefan received
the title of a king, in 1217, Sava returned to Mount Athos. He arranged the work of the
hospital in Chilandar, and then withdrew to the kellion in Karyes. Shortly after that, he
left for Nicaea, where in 1219 he received from the Byzantine Emperor and Patriarch
the autonomy for the Serbian church, and the title of Archbishop for himself. The
monastery Zhicha was chosen as the seat of the autocephalous Serbian Orthodox
Church, and it was there that Sava, some time later, preached his famous sermon on
Orthodoxy. He ruled the Serbian Church as an Archbishop for fourteen years, and
during that time he put it in order and strengthened its foundations.
Sava travelled twice to the East, to visit the Holy Land and the Holy Sepulchre. From
his journeys he brought back many relics, icons and other holy objects, many of which
have been preserved in Chilandar and in its kellia to the present day; icons of the Virgin
Troyerutchitsa (of the Three Hands) and the Virgin Galaktotrophousa (She Who
Suckles), episcopal staff of St Sava of Jerusalem called Pateritsa, a fragment of the
True Cross, a splinter from the Crown of Thorns and other.
Archbishop Sava died on January 14, 1236 in Trnovo, on his way back from the Holy
Land. The Serbian king Vladislav had his relics transferred to the monastery Milesheva,
in 1237. Out of fear from the saint, Sinan Pasha, a Serb converted into Islam, had the
relics of St Sava transferred from Milesheva to Belgrade, where he had them burnt on
the Vrachar pplateau in 1594. On that veryplace, out of respect and gratitude, the
Serbian people have now been erecting the largest Orthodox temple in the world.
The monks of Mount Athos and Chilandar monastery traditionally make daily mention
of Saint Sava's miracles, of his building of Chilandar, his writing of the Karyes Typikon
with a cross-like stamp on it, his kellion, hospital, tower in Chilandar. Many places that
he used to visit still bear his name: at the Sava's Kellion, Sava's Water, St Sava's
The national tradition ascribes to St Sava many parables, miracles and tales, and the
Serbian people put him into the first place among their teachers and educators. His cult
is a very strong one.
St Sava's feast day is January 27th (14th by the old calendar), and it is being
celebrated both by the Serbian Church and all Serbs wherever they may live. It is also
celebrated as the school feast day.
STEFAN THE FIRST-CROWNED
Grand Zhupan (1196 - 1217), King (1217 - 1228)
St Simon the Monk
Stefan was the second son of Stefan Nemanya. He succeeded his father Nemanya to
the Grand Zhupan's throne in 1196 and was crowned the first Serbian king in 1217.
Through his political activities he helped his brother, the Chilandar monk Sava, to
obtain in Nicaea, in 1219, the document of autonomy of the Serbian Church, as well as
to be appointed the first Serbian Archbishop.The seat of the Archbishopric was in the
monastery Zhicha, the endowment of Stefan the First-crowned.
In memory of his father, he wrote his hagiography and several charters to various
monasteries. Before his death, he had entered a monastic order and received the
name Simon. He was buried in Studenica, but due to frequent war dangers his relics
had been transferred for fourteen times, until they were finally returned to Studenica,
where they still rest in peace.
King (1228 - 1234)
Radoslav was the oldest son of Stefan the First-crowned. He received the title of king
from the first Serbian Archbishop, the latter Saint Sava. Later, he entered a monastic
order himself, under the name of John.
He had a large exonarthex added to the famous foundation of his grandfather
Nemanya, which is known as the Radoslav's narthex in the Holy Virgin Church of
Studenica. He is also credited with the exonarthex of Zhicha, the building of which had
probably started before the death of Stefan the First-Crowned (1228).
STEFAN VLADISLAV I
King (1234 - 1243)
Vladislav was the second son of Stefan the First-crowned. In 1218 he had the
monastery Milesheva erected. About 1224 he ordered that all the distinguished
members of the Nemanyich dynasty should be painted in the monastery narthex. The
procession started with Stefan Nemanya, and finished with the figure of the donor, still
a prince at the time, holding a model of Milesheva in his hand.
Sava, the First Serbian Archbishop, died in Trnovo, Bulgaria, in 1236. Vladislav had
his relics transferred to his endowment Milesheva, where he buried them in the Church
of Ascension, in 1237.
STEFAN UROSH I
King (1243 - 1276)
Urosh was the youngest son of Stefan the First-crowned. Like all the other members of
the Nemanyich dynasty, he was particularly zealous in building and decorating Serbian
monasteries and churches. He was the donor of the monastery Sopochani, which he
also endowed with some properties, besides presenting it with various gifts. In the 60s
of the 13th century he erected the Tower of Transfiguration next to the Holy Trinity on
the Saviour's Water, within half an hour walking distance from Chilandar. Shortly after,
an important workshop for literary and transcribing activities was formed there.
Amongst others there worked the great Serbian author and Karyes ascetic Dometian. It
was here that he wrote, to the order of Urosh I, the hagiography of Stefan Nemanya,
with the title of "The Hagiography of St Symeon".
King (1276 - 1282)
St Monk Theoktist
Dragutin was the older son of Stefan Urosh I. He abdicated the throne to his younger
brother Milutin, at the Dezhevo Assembly, in 1282. Until his death in 1316, he ruled
over a mighty kingdom in the regions of Podrinye, Posavina and Shumadia-
Branichevo, independent of his brother Milutin.
He erected various churches, the most famous being the Church of St Achillius in
Arilye, the seat of the Morava Bishopric, in 1296. He entered a monastic order at the
end of his life, receiving the name of Theoktist.
He led a deeply religious, almost ascetic life, making many good deeds. In his home
he manufactured liturgical vessels which he gave away as presents to many churches
and monasteries in Russia, Jerusalem, on Mount Sinai and other holy places. He took
care of religious purity and had many Bosnian heretics converted into Christianity.
Only upon his death it was revealed how blessed he really was. Namely, when the
courtiers wanted to bathe him, they found out that under his sumptuous garments he
had all his life worn coarse linen clothing, the straw-belt of which was deeply cut into
His relics were first buried in the monastery Djurdjevi Stupovi. They were transferred
to Studenica at a later date, and they still rest there next to the tomb of St Symeon.
STEFAN UROSH II MILUTIN
King (1282 - 1321)
St King Milutin
Milutin was the younger son of Stefan Urosh I. He was, after St Symeon and St Sava,
the biggest donor of Chilandar and the biggest donor in general among all members of
the sacrosanct Nemanyich dynasty. His hagiography writers claimed that he had
erected more than forty churches and monasteries. He built in Jerusalem,
Constantinople, Salonika, in Macedonia, Serbia and on Mount Athos. He also built in
Bari and Rome, but most of all in Chilandar.
He gave the final touch to the Chilandar monastery precincts, giving it splendour, so
all the other donors only added to or repaired damaged buildings. Without Milutin there
would be no Chilandar katholikon, which is maybe the most magnificent building of
Mount Athos. There would also be no Chilandar refectory, built on the place of the old
refectory of St Symeon and St Sava. He also completed the Cemetery Church, which
was first dedicated to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and later to Annunciation. He
also took care of defence objects of Chilandar, and had the upper third of the St Sava's
Tower built. Between 1300 and 1302, he answered the request of the Chilandar abbot
Kyriakos, and erected the large Hrussia Tower. Immediately after that, he had a
magnificent tower built on the Sava's Field, which was named after him Milutin's Tower.
With his monies he also erected the tower of hieromonach Theodoulos in Karyes, next
to the Kellion of St Sava, but it has not been preserved to the present day.
King Milutin filled up all these buildings with frescoes, icons, ecclesiastical vessels,
books and embroideries. A lot of them were lost with the time, but many of them have
also been preserved in churches and in monasteries' treasuries. The exceptional
diptych with miniatures of Venetian art, was donated to Chilandar monastery by the
"Christ loving and God fearing King".
STEFAN UROSH III OF DECHANI
King (1321 - 1331)
St Stefan of Dechani
Stefan Urosh III was the son of King Milutin. Out of his love for Christ, as well as
gratitude to the Chilandar community which had mediated in his reconciliation with his
father Milutin, Stefan built in the courtyard of the Hrussia Tower, in Chilandar, the
Church of St Basil.
He built many more endowments, the most famous being the monastery of Christ the
Pantocrator near Dechani, in Metochia, after which the King was named by the people
"Stefan of Dechani". Because of its architectural symmetry, lavish sculptural
ornamentation, theological themes of paintings and richness of the monastery treasury,
Dechani represents one of the most significant monuments of the Serbian medieval
Relics of the donor, Stefan of Dechani, are resting in peace in the Dechani monastery.
STEFAN DUSHAN THE MIGHTY
King (1331 - 1346), Tzar (1346 - 1355)
Dushan was the son of Stefan of Dechani. Borders of Dushan's state included the
most important centre of Orthodoxy of the Byzantine Empire - Mount Athos -The Holy
Mountain. The State Assembly in Skopje accepted the proclamation of the Empire and
Patriarchate. On Easter day 1346, Dushan was crowned the Tzar by the Serbian
Patriarch Ioannikos and the Patriarch of Trnovo Symeon.
At Dushan's time not many enlargements were done at the Chilandar monastery, but
he bestowed it with many gifts and untold wealth. He was generous also to other
monasteries of Mount Athos. The legend credits him with donation of the Holy
Archangels Church. To Tzar Dushan and his time at Chilandar are also related the
epitaphios (the holy shroud for the altar) of the Archbishop John of Skopje, which
represents an exceptional cult object of art. Chilandar monastery also keeps a cup of
Tzar Dushan, with an ivory decoration from the 16th century, Dushan's hasha (a rich
Venetian horse cover), Dushan's cross and Tzar Dushan's olive tree.
For Dushan's sake the Athonites made a precedent, unique in the history of this
monastic state, accessible only to men. Namely, since the plague raged all over
Serbia, Dushan and his consort, Empress Helen, took refuge from the black pestilence
at the only safe place - Chilandar. In order not to have the holy ground desecrated by
woman's feet, the Empress was carried all the time in a sedan chair. The legend has it
that for a moment her feet touched the sacred ground which cracked then and there.
STEFAN UROSH V THE FEEBLE
Tzar (1355 - 1371)
St Stefan Urosh
Urosh the Feeble was the only son of Tzar Dushan the Mighty. In the year 1346,
when Dushan was crowned the tzar, Urosh was simultaneously crowned the king. He
became his father's co-ruler, and after Dushan's death, the second Serbian tzar.
Together with his mother, the Empress Helen, he completed Dushan's endowment,
the monastery Mateich, and he erected the Holy Trinity Church in Skopje.
With Urosh the Feeble's death the sacrosanct Nemanyich dinasty was extinct, and
Mount Athos was not within the borders of the Serbian state any more.