12 February 2008

Greetings From Serbia - Saint Sava

Saint Sava or the Serbian Orthodox church is the patron saint of Serbia. According to my friends, the people here hereticaly revere him more than they do Christ and church leaders have been known to refer to Serbian Orthodoxy as 'Saint Sava's Faith."

Orginanlly named Rastko Nemanjić, Sava was the son of an early Serbia ruler in the 1100s and brother to the man who later became the first official king of Serbia. Typically a second son would become the leader of the army but Nemanjić joined the church instead and became the first Archbishop of Serbia after starting the religion.

Sveti Sava is the church being built for Saint Sava in Belgrade. Set to be one of the largest churches in all of Orthodoxy, construction was begun in 1985 and was set to finish in 2004. According to wikipedia, the church was nearly complete in 2004. Well, I guess since it has all its walls, ceilings, and windows in place it is nearly complete...but the inside is sadly filled with dust and dirt, bricks, piles of old scaffolding, and a few candle stands people moved in when they got sick of its emptiness. The outside at least is pretty impressive. I always know that I'm back in Belgrade when I see it. The dom can be seen from well accross the river in New Belgrade and is, I think, the highest standing structure in the city.

So now that we've admired my knowledge of history (courtesy of my friends and wikipedia) and my pretty pictures (courtesy only of me) I will tell my favorite Saint Sava story. Well, ok, no I'm not a trove of stories and anecdotes about Saint Sava, this is the only one I know.

In the time of Saint Sava Serbians built their homes without windows (that may be creative license on my part, possibly there was only one windowless house). Saitn Sava came across one such house and saw a man carrying two empty buckets into the house. The man then came back outside with the empty buckets, stood still for a few moments, turned and went back in. After watching the man repeat the process several times Saint Sava approached the man. "Hail my good man," greeted Saint Sava, "why dost thou carry empty pails in and out of thy dwelling?" "Good sir," replied the man, "I use the buckets to carry light into the house." "Oh thou stupid man," declared the saint and took up his staff and knocked it on the walls of the house. The bricks fell away where he had knocked and thus Serbian houses had windows.

And a few more pretty pictures. Saint Peter's it's not, but it is still fairly impressive for its sheer size if nothing else.

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