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14th-century Serbian despot who battled Turks could be canonized by Greek Church

  • Religion

Ormenio, Evros, Greece, November 30, 2022   

According to the Chief Secretary of the Sacred Community of Mt. Athos, a 14th-century Serbian nobleman who died in battle against the Ottoman Turks could be canonized as a saint.

The Sacred Community represents the Holy Mountain’s 20 ruling monasteries. The Chief Secretary is currently Fr. Cosmas from Simonopetra Monastery, who announced the initiative to canonize Jovan Uglješa Mrnjavčević during a recent visit to the Church of St. George in Ormenio, reports

The initiative has the support of the entire brotherhood of Simonopetra, who honor the despot, the brother of Serbian King Vukašin Mrnjavčević, as their second founder.

Fr. Cosmas’ announcement came during the commemoration service for those who died in the Battle of Maritsa, near present-day Ormenio, including Jovan Uglješa, who was killed on September 26, 1371. The Athonite father also gave a talk in honor of the Serbian nobleman.

The principal domains of King Vukašin and his family were located in southern parts of medieval Serbia and northwestern parts of the modern region of Macedonia. According to Fr. Cosmas, although Jovan Uglješa is largely forgotten in Serbia today, “he never ceases to arouse lofty feelings in the inhabitants of the area he ruled.”

Simonopetra in the 19th century. Photo: Simonopetra in the 19th century. Photo:     

Thus, it’s no surprise that the movement to canonize him came initially from inhabitants of Ormenio, Fr. Cosmas said. There is also great conviction of his holiness among the monks of Simonopetra, he emphasized:

There are also historical evidences of his sanctity: successful rule and the healing of schisms between Churches, supranational politics, donations to the Holy Mountain and the building of monasteries, respect for Church hierarchy and monks, his martyric ethos.

Therefore, the conviction of us monks of Simonopetra is strong that the time has come to confirm the already existing reality of the sanctity of Jovan Uglješa, and that this act not be delayed, but that soon the monks of Simonopetra, instead of praying for him, will prayerfully turn to Jovan Uglješa as a saint for their salvation.

Fr. Cosmas spoke in particular about the Serbian nobleman’s great contributions to the Holy Mountain, including the construction of churches and hospitals. Among his most important works was the construction of the stone ensemble of Simonopetra in place of the previous smaller, wooden monastery.

“To this day in the monastery, Jovan Uglješa is commemorated as the second founder after Venerable Simon the Myrrh-Gusher. Every September 26, a memorial service is held in his honor. Thanks to Uglješa Mrnjavčević, Simonopetra monastery became official, in line with other large monasteries and remains so to this day,” the Athonite father explained.

Jovan Uglješa also made significant donations to the Serbian Hilandar Monastery and the Russian St. Panteleimon Monastery.

The most significant achievement of his 6-year reign was, according to Fr. Cosmas, his work towards healing the schism between the Serian and Constantinopolitan Churches that had arisen during reign of Emperor Dušan.

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Source: Orthodox Christianity