June 22, 2018

Saint Anastasia of Serbia, Mother of Saint Sava (+ 1200)

St. Anastasia of Serbia (Feast Day - June 22)

Saint Anastasia was the mother of Saint Sava of Serbia (Jan. 14). She came from a noble family, though her origins are unknown, and received the name Anna when she was baptized. Later, she married the Serbian Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja (Sept. 24), making her the princess consort of the Serbian Principality around the year 1150.

Through the marriage with Stefan Nemanja, they had three sons and three daughters. Stefan Nemanjić, Stefan Nemanja's successor. Rastko Nemanjić, or Saint Sava (+ 1236), the first archbishop and patron saint of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Vukan Nemanjić, Grand Prince of Doclea (1190-1208), and Grand Prince of Serbia (1202–1204). Jefimija, married Manuel Doukas, Regent of Thessaloniki (+ 1241). A daughter who married Tihomir Asen, and gave birth to Bulgarian Tsar Constantine Tih Asen (reigned 1257–1277).

Although they had been blessed with children, the most-pious Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja of Serbia and his wife Anna, after twenty-five years of marriage, in around 1175, desired another child. However, Anna was sick and was fifty years old, while Stefan was sixty-one, but with faith in God they prayed for this with tears and fasting. The Lord hearkened to the imperial couple and granted them a third child, whose name was Rastko at baptism, but later became the famed Saint Sava of Serbia. After the conception of this beautiful child, the imperial couple did not have marital relations, since they had promised God that they would remain in chastity to the end of their lives. In 1192, at the age of seventeen, Saint Sava went to Mount Athos.

On 25 March 1196 Stefan Nemanja summoned a Synod in Ras, where he officially abdicated in favor of his second son, Stefan, to whom he bequeathed all his earthly possessions. Nemanja took monastic vows with his wife Anna in Ras' Church of Saint Peter and Paul; she was 71 years old. He took the monastic name of Symeon; his wife became Anastasia, after Saint Anastasia of Sirmium. He went to Studenica Monastery and then to Mount Athos to join his son, and she went to Monastery of the Most Holy Mother of God, also known as Petkovača, located on a plateau between the Kosanica and Toplica rivers, and near the entrance of Kuršumlija. The monastery was first built as a convent between 1159 and 1168 by Stefan Nemanja. Stefan Nemanja's wife was one of its first caretakers, and during the course of her supervision, she became a nun.

Saint Anastasia reposed in her monastery in peace on 22 June 1200 at the age of 75, four months after her husband Stefan who died at the age of 86 at Hilandar Monastery in Mount Athos. She was buried in the Monastery of Studenica, where her relics rest till this day.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Abundant in virtue, and adorned with meekness and piety, you shone forth through the purity of your life; therefore, you were granted the grace to be the mother of our people’s Luminary. Thus, we cry aloud to you: Rejoice, O venerable mother Anastasia.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Having been blessed by marriage, and living a life of sobriety, you humbly taught your children to love God above all else. As you now stand before Him, intercede for us who cry aloud to you: Rejoice, O venerable mother Anastasia.

Ruins of the Monastery of the Most Holy Mother of God, also known as Petkovača

Relic of St. Anastasia