A saint is someone who is glorified by God, recognised by the Church as a holy person, filled with God and close to God. Sainthood is the end goal and the high point of Christian life, that which is worth living for. And die. Who dies with God, never dies.
Saints came to love God with all their hearts and for them He became the most important. For them, Christ is Everything: they offered Him everything they had, even themselves. Their lives celebrated Christ and He celebrated them by removing their mortal nature, returning it transformed, illuminated by the light of God’s blessing. He made them God’s adopted sons, participants in the Eternal Life, dwellers of the Kingdom of God.
All the Christian are invited to sainthood and to become saints in various ways, in various vocations and upon various paths of life. The saints recognised by the Church are just a fraction of all the saints in history, and the names of all of them would cover the entire world. If people do not remember their names, God does – forever. For the Church saints are also those incorporeal angels of God, the first being Archangel Michael.
The Church dedicates special days – feasts – to the saints, but above all to God who is the source of their light. God is one, but roads to Him are many. In a church calendar we find apostles, prophets, great martyrs, martyrs, hermits (those who spent all their lives in austerity and prayer), etc. The Christ’s Church also recognises many women saints. There are women great martyrs, martyrs, confessors, hermits, etc.
A great number of saints could heal the sick. And after their death they went on helping those who come to them in faith and in fear of God.
God glorified many saints in that that their bodies never decomposed after their death, leaving their remains. The remains are sometimes complete, sometimes just bones. Some bones outpour a fragrance or are myrrh streamers – streaming fragrant oil.
Saints are common to the whole Church, whatever the nations. The Orthodox Christians have their own saints. The Serbian nation has given, and is still giving, a great number of saints: from St John Vladimir, a Prince of Zeta; St Prohor Pčinjski (Prohor of Pčinja); Stefan Nemanja – St Simeon the Myrrh Streamer; St Anastasia – Ana, mother to St Sava; St Sava… Many of the Nemanjic Dynasty who were dedicated to God, bishops, archbishops, monks and nuns, intercessors and hermits, martyrs for their faith. They are all bright examples, before God they all represent their people, but also the whole mankind – for eternity. That is why the Serbs address them in their prayers, together with some “older” saints of other nations, venerate them on family patron saint’s days, invoke them when the times are hard and thank them when the times are good.
St Simeon Bogoslov wrote, “The saints of each generation, gathered with those who left this world before them, filled with light, make a golden chain, where each saint, as a single link, is connected to the next through faith, deeds and love. Thus in one God they make a chain which cannot be broken.”
SOME OF THE BEST KNOWN SERBIAN SAINTS:
John Vladimir – holy, Prince of Zeta
Prochorus of Pčinja, venerable
Gabriel Lesnovski, venerable
St Simeon the Myrrh Streamer, Stefan Nemanja
Anastasia,, venerable, mother to St Sava
St Sava, the first Serbian archbishop
St Peter of Korisha
Stefan Vladislav I, holy, king
St Stefan Milutin, king
St Stephen of Dečani, Stephen Uroš III, king
St Lazar, the holy martyr – prince
Stefan Lazarević, holy, despot
SINAITS, THE VENERABLE ONES
Romulus of Ravanica, Roman, Nestor, Martyrius,
Sisoes, Zosim Tumanski, Grigorius Mlčalnik, Job
Joannicius of Devič, venerable
Angelina, venerable, despotess
St Maximus, archbishop, Đorđe Branković, despot
Đorđe Kratovac, holy new-martyr
Raphael of Banat the Hilandarian, venerable
St Basil the Miracle Worker
Stephan of Piperi, venerable
St Peter of Cetinje the Miracle Worker
Habakkuk, venerable – deacon
Vukašin of Klepci, holy martyr
St Nikolay of Serbia, archbishop