February 13, 2010

Saint Symeon the Myrrhgusher of Serbia

St. Symeon the Myrrhbearer (Feast Day - February 13)

                                                              By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Stefan Nemanja, the great ruler [Great Zupan] of the Serbian people, the consolidator of Serbian lands, creator of the independent Serbian state, defender of Orthodoxy and exterminator of heresy.

At first, he was baptized in the Latin Church but later left this Church and embraced the Orthodox Church. In the beginning, he was dependent on the Greeks with regard to the State, but later he freed himself from this dependence and became completely autonomous. When Stefan consolidated the State and the Orthodox Faith in the State, then, following the example of his son Savva, received the monastic tonsure in Studenica Monastery in the year 1195 A.D., and received the name Symeon. His wife Anna withdrew to a convent, embraced the monastic tonsure and received the name Anastasia.

After two years as a monk in Studenica, Symeon traveled to Athos, the Holy Mountain. There he took up residence in the Monastery of Vatopaidi together with his son Sava. Father and son spent their days and nights in prayer. There, they built six chapels dedicated to: the Savior, the Unmercenary Saints, St. George, St. Theodore, The Forerunner and St. Nicholas.

They purchased the ruins of Hilandari and erected a glorious monastery in which Symeon lived only eight months and then died. When Symeon was on his deathbed, Sava, according to his father's wishes, placed him on a simple mat. With eyes directed toward the icon of the Mother of God and the Savior, the blessed elder spoke these last words: "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord." (Psalm 150:6), and took up habitation with the Lord on February 13, 1200 A.D.

More on the Repose of St. Symeon

The great Stefan Nemanja, whose authorative words everyone unconditionally heeded to and at whom people and emperors trembled, became a monk and served the monks of the Holy Mountain [Athos] as an ideal example of meekness, humility, goodness and piety.

Even his death was the death of a truly godly man and spiritual director. He became bedridden on February 7. He summoned St. Sava, placed his hands on him and blessed him saying: "My beloved child, the light of my eyes, comfort and protector in my old age! Behold the time of our separation has arrived. Behold the Lord is releasing me in peace. But you, my child, do not mourn because of our separation. For parting is the common cup of all and everyone; here we part from one another but we will meet there where there is no separation."

On February 12, St. Symeon asked Sava to clothe him in a burial cassock, to spread a mat on the ground, lay him there and place a stone under his head. He then summoned all the monks and asked their forgiveness. At dawn, on February 13, while the monks were chanting the Office of Matins in church and the voices were reaching the cell of the dying one, St. Symeon, once more his face radiated and he gave up his soul to his God.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Illumined by divine grace, even after death thou dost make manifest the radiance of thy life; for thou pourest forth fragrant myrrh for them that have recourse to the shrine of the relics. Thou didst also guide thy people to the light of the knowledge of God. O our Father Symeon, entreat Christ God that we be granted great mercy.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Second Tone
Living the angelic life on this earth, thou didst abandon the world and worldly dominion and didst follow Christ by fasting, O Symeon. In an apostolic manner, thou didst guide unto Christ them that loved thee and didst cry: Love ye the Lord even as He hath loved you.