May 11, 2020

Saint Nikodim, Archbishop of Serbia (+ 1325)

St. Nikodim of Serbia (Feast Day - May 11)

Saint Nikodim was a gifted writer of the Church and a learned theologian. Like many Serbian bishops, he was tonsured at Mount Athos and was abbot of Hilandar Monastery from 1312 to 1316.

While still abbot of Hilandar, Blessed Nikodim, at the request of the kings Milutin and Dragutin and the entire Serbian land, went to Constantinople to the Patriarch Nikon and Emperor Andronikos in order to promote the reconciliation of the warring brothers. The Saint, with the dignity of an archbishop, was at the head of the embassy of the Hilandar Monastery, who arrived in Serbia to ask King Milutin for the forgiveness and the return from exile of his son - Stephen Decanski. This is reported by the ecclesiastical writer Archbishop Daniel II, who also took part in the cause of reconciliation. Milutin was persuaded and allowed his son to return. Later, on January 6, 1322 Nikodim crowned Stephen Decanski King.

Nikodim ascended the throne as the "Archbishop of All Serb and Maritime Lands" in 1317.

Among his noteworthy writings are included a translation from Greek into Serbian of the Monastic Rule of Saint Savvas the Sanctified, which helped in the organization of Serbian monasteries based on the Palestinian model. In his translation, Saint Nikodim even notes how Saint Sava of Serbia wished for his churches and monasteries to be modeled after the churches of Jerusalem and the Lavra of Saint Savvas the Sanctified. And Saint Nikodim further states how he undertook this translation to fulfill the will of Saint Sava of Serbia. In the preface to this work, he says: "Almighty God, knowing our weakness, gives spiritual strength if we ourselves show labor first," and concludes his admonition with the following words: “I pray that those who come after me will complete what has remained incomplete for the sake of my short life.” Archbishop Nikodim also wrote The Lives of Serbian Kings and Bishops, which led to the inclusion of their names in the ecclesiastical calendar for commemoration.

Sincerely devoted to Christ's teachings and to his people, the Saint was an implacable fighter against false doctrines and heresies, especially the Bogomils. In a service dedicated to him, compiled between 1404 and 1412, by Bishop Mark, it is reported that the Saint fought a fierce battle with heretics, including the Latins. The hymnographer likens the Saint to a pole ax, cutting off the intentions of heretics coming from foreign nations.

He also co-founded the Vratna Monastery alongside King Stefan Milutin.

After serving as Archbishop for only eight years, he reposed in the Lord on May 11, 1325. The relics of Saint Nikodim were laid in the Church of Saint Demetrios in Pec. The exact date of their acquisition is unknown, but already in 1391 they were placed in a special coffin. The glorification of Saint Nikodim into sainthood happened quite early.