Stefan Nemanja - Life - Abdication, Later Life and Death

Abdication, Later Life and Death

On March 25, 1196, Stefan Nemanja summoned a Council in Ras, where he officially abdicated in favour of his second son, Stefan, to whom he bequeathed all his earthly possessions. Although Vukan was Nemanja's eldest son, Nemanja preferred to see Stefan II on the Serbian throne mostly because Stefan was married to Byzantine princess Eudokia. This decision was not in accordance with the traditional right of primogeniture, according to which Vukan, his first son, should inherited the throne. This was not accepted lightly by Vukan as he reacted on this change in succession by declaring himself King of Duklja. Nemanja took monastic vows with his wife Ana in the Church of Saint Peter and Paul in Ras and adopted the monastic name of Simeon. His wife took the name Anastasia. Simeon subsequently retired to his Studenica monastery and Anastasia retired to the Monastery of the Mother of Christ in Kuršumlija. After numerous pleas by his son Sava (originally Rastko), Simeon left to the Mount Athos, and joined his son in 1197 in the Vatopedi monastery. In 1199, the two rebuilt together the ruined Eastern Orthodox Monastery of Hilandar given to the Serbian people by the Byzantine Emperor, which became the heart of Serbian spiritual culture. Simeon died in front of his son Sava, on 13 February 1199, in front of the icon of the Virgin Hodegetria in his 86th year of life. He was buried in the grounds of Hilandar monastery. His last words were to request that Sava take his remains to Serbia, "when God permits it, after a certain period of time". Nemanja's son Sava wrote the Liturgy of Saint Simeon in Nemanja's honour.

According to a belief, a holy oil (myrrh) seeped from his tomb. This is how he gained the epithet the Myrrh-streaming. This miracle is said to have not occurred in the past 300 years. His body is, however, even in modern times supposed to give off "a sweet smell, like violets". It is because of this and numerous miracles that occurred over his dead body that the Serbian Orthodox Church canonised him in 1200, and declared his feast-day on 26 February . In 1206 his son Sava brought his remains to Rascia. The civil war between Nemanja's other sons Stefan and Vukan was tearing apart the Serb lands. It is over Simeon's deceased body that the two brothers made peace and returned to their demesnes. Simeon was re-buried in 1207 in his personal foundation, the Studenica monastery, where holy oil again seeped, from his new grave. The cult of Saint Simeon that was founded maintained his heritage and the foundations of a firm national identity amongst the Serbs. The Cult still lives on in Studenica and among the monks of Mount Athos, cherishing his life, works and remains.

Read more about this topic:  Stefan Nemanja, Life

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