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Orthodox Christian Saints
St. Sava of Storozhevsk and Zvenigorodsk in his early youth left the world, accepting tonsure under St. Sergius of Radonezh, for whom he was one of the first disciples and co-ascetics.
St. Sava loved the quiet life, he shunned conversing with people and he lived in constant toil, in lamentation over the poverty of his soul and remembrance of the judgement of God. The saint was a model of simplicity and humility, and he attained to such a depth of spiritual wisdom, that "in St. Sergius Monastery he was a spiritual confessor to all the brethren, a venerable starets-elder and exceedingly learned". When GreatPrince Dimitrii Donskoy, in gratitude for the victory over Mamai, built the monastery of the Uspenie-Dormition of the Mother of God at the River Dubenka, Sava became its hegumen, with the blessing of St. Sergius. Preserving the simple manner of his ascetic lifestyle, he ate food only of plants, wore coarse clothing and slept on the ground.
In 1392 the brethren of the Sergiev Lavra, with the departure of its hegumen Nikon into the wilderness, besought St. Sava to accept being hegumen at the monastery. Here he "did well shepherd the flock entrusted him, such as he could and such as the prayers of his spiritual father Blessed Sergius did aid him". Tradition imputes to his time as hegumen the finding of a spring of water beyond the Lavra walls.
A godson of St. Sergius, prince Yurii Dimitrievich Zvenigorodsky, regarded St. Sava with great love and esteem. He chose the saint as his spiritual father and besought him to come and bestow blessing upon all his household. The saint had hoped to return to his monastery, but the prince prevailed upon him to remain and set in place a new monastery, "in his fatherland, near Zvenigorod, where the place was called Storozh". Striving after the solitary and silent life, St. Sava accepted the offer of the Zvenigorod prince Yurii Dimitrievich, and with tears before an icon of the Mother of God he besought Her protection for the wilderness place. On the Storozhevsk heights, where formerly was encamped a sentinel, guarding Moscow from enemies, he set up a small wooden church of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God, and not far off from it made a small cell for himself. And here in the year 1399 the saint established a monastery, fondly accepting all that were come for the life of solitude. St. Sava toiled much at the building up of his monastery. He himself dug out a well below the hill, from which on his shoulders he carried his own water; he encircled the monastery with a wooden palisade, and above it in an hollow he dug out for himself a cell for a life of solitude.
In 1399 the St. Sava blessed his spiritual son, prince Yurii, to go off on a military campaign, and he predicted victory over the enemy. Through the prayers of the holy elder, the forces of the prince were granted a speedy victory. Through the efforts of the saint, a stone church of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God was also built.
St. Sava died at an advanced age on December 3, 1406.
Veneration of St. Sava by the local people began immediately at his death. The miraculous curative power, issuing from the grave of the saint, and his numerous appearances, convinced everyone that Hegumen Sava "is in truth an unsetting star-radiance of the Divine light, by the shining forth of his miracles illumining all". In a letter of 1539 St. Sava is called a wonderworker. Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich had particular esteem for him, repeatedly going on foot to venerate at the monastery of St. Sava. Tradition has preserved for us a remarkable account, of how the saint had saved him from a ferocious bear.
The Life of St. Sava, compiled in the XVI Century, relates how at the end of the XV Century (years 1480-1490), the saint appeared to the Savinsk monastery hegumen Dionysii and said to him: "Dionysii! Wake up and write my face upon an icon". To the question of Dionysii, as to whom he was, came the reply: "I am Sava, the founder of this place". An old starets-elder of the monastery named Habbakuk, having in his youth seen St. Sava, described the outward appearance of the saint. And it was precisely such as the saint appeared to Abbot Dionysii, who fulfilled the command and wrote the icon of the saint.
The feast day of St. Sava of Zvenigorod was established in the year 1547. On January 19, 1652 the incorrupt relics of the saint were uncovered.
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