March 4, 2022

Saint Nikanor of Hilandar (+ 1990)

St. Nikanor of Hilandar (Feast Day - March 4)

By Monk Moses the Athonite

The late Elder Nikanor was born in Divci, near Valjevo of Serbia, on August 13, 1903 to pious and simple parents. From a young age he had the zeal of the early Christians. In the world he was known as Nikola Savic.

He came to the Sacred Monastery of Hilandar, which was founded by his compatriots and in which many live until today, on August 17, 1927. There he was tonsured a monk on September 15, 1929. He was elected abbot of the monastery of his repentance, which he fervently loved and tirelessly served, on December 31, 1941. In 1963 he was the First Administrator of the Holy Mountain, and for several years a commissioner and representative of his monastery in the Sacred Community. He also worked in the vineyards and the chestnut groves of the monastery.

The late Metrophanes of Hilandar (+ 1999), with whom he collaborated, told us, with emotion, about the late Elder Nikanor, that he was a very serious and important man, deeply spiritual and all-encompassing. He had great love for everyone. He had a bit of a reservation for the Germans, because many of his compatriots were hanged during the war. But he did not hate them. He had struggled to correct himself. Although he was only a graduate of the first grade, he studied a lot until his old age. Study was a great source of knowledge for him. He loved books and authors very much. When researchers went to his monastery, he served them in every way, and encouraged them to publish their research efforts.

He was the first to enter the temple every day and the last to leave. Fatigue, old age and illness did not bother him. His attitude gave courage to those who went to take a little nap. For seven hours almost every day he was a pillar of light in the katholikon. The warmth of his soul was evident in his gentle speech and tender gaze. He immediately won over his interlocutor. But he always kept a discreet distance. He connected people with Christ and not with his own person. His every move was conscious and responsible. He had a wise vigilance for himself and for his monastery. He knew how to gather, to crouch within himself, to excavate, to reproach himself, to enjoy the monastic life. He had discernment. He knew when to be silent, to withdraw, to wait, to hope. He was a manager of the house and a benefactor. He was very happy to give money to print soul-beneficial books. He communicated comfortably with the many pilgrims and discussed various spiritual matters with them in a friendly manner.

"The most important thing," he said, "is to be as good as possible in church. Everything else is secondary. Let's just do the essentials. We pray to God that better days come for the monastery. Let those who will come do the most." During communism he went to his homeland to wake up the sleeping Christians. He gave a small fortune he had to repair the church of his village. He adored Hilandar.

He especially loved Mount Athos, Greece and monasticism. He was compassionate, serious, prudent, discerning and honest. We knew him a little, but we heard a lot about him. Death found him in high service. He was sent by the Serbian Patriarchate to faraway Australia to bring concord to two communities there. While there he reposed on February 19, 1990, the Sunday of Orthodoxy, the most-Orthodox Abbot Nikanor of Hilandar, the revered man of God. He was buried the next day at the Monastery of Saint Savas in Elaine."

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos. 

Troparion in Tone 8
Having been raised on the paths of the Holy Mountain
In the sacred imperial lavra of Hilandar,
O Venerable Elder Nikanor.
Arriving as a unifier and conciliator to the Serbian people in (distant) Australia
Witnessing for us the love of Christ and having sanctified our land by thy holy departure.
Thy holy relics are part of this sky which is adorned with the Southern Cross.
Thus this thy Cross-bearing people do beseech:
Pray unto Christ God to save us and preserve us in His harmony.

Kontakion in Tone 8
Rejoice thee O furthest scattered monastery of St Sava.
For in thee was glorified the pro-abbot of Hilandar -
Elder Nikanor of the Holy Mountain, Australia and New Zealand.
With thee do exult all the Orthodox of Oceania,
and we the spiritual children of the Elder cry in unison
with songs of thanksgiving to the Creator of the whole Universe:
that He may save us by the father's prayers.


* Elder Nikanor asked that if he died in Serbia, to be buried around Niš (at the Hilandar metochion); if in America, near Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich; if in Australia, near Saint Savas Monastery, in Elaine. As it happened, he died in Sydney, and was buried in Elaine.

Although Saint Paisios the Athonite is the first Orthodox Saint to ever step foot in Australia, Saint Nikanor is the first to have reposed there.

Elder Nikanor left Mount Athos when he was 88 on his last missionary trip: to "reconcile the brothers in conflict". As he said to then-Bishop of Banat, Amphilohije: "I will go, even if I happen to stay there forever". He visited many parishes in an effort to heal the wounds of schism.

Miracles of the Holy Elder have been reported at the Monastery of Saint Savas in Elaine.

He has been seen multiple times walking the grounds of the monastery after his death, bathing it with incense.

Mr. Lysanko was healed of a tumour (seen at the last scan before surgery) after praying to Elder Nikanor.

Multiple people have noted that a warmth comes out of the tomb of the Elder.

Mr. Kefalidis was miraculously healed from a serious illness overnight.

A service for Elder Nikanor was written by Fr. Marjan Knezevic, though rarely used.

The service for Saint Nikanor was compiled by Bishop Irenej of Australia and New Zealand.
He was glorified by the Church of Serbia around 2010, and is celebrated each year on March 4 (both calendars).