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Serbian Orthodox Church

An autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Church

Top 10 Serbian Orthodox Church related articles

Serbian Orthodox Church
Српска православна црква
Srpska pravoslavna crkva
ClassificationEastern Orthodox
ScriptureSeptuagint, New Testament
TheologyEastern Orthodox theology
PrimateVacant (Hrizostom Jević as administrator)
Archdiocese of
Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric
LanguageSerbian and Church Slavonic
HeadquartersBuilding of the Patriarchate, Belgrade; traditionally Patriarchate of Peć
TerritorySoutheastern Europe (Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, North Macedonia, and Slovenia)
PossessionsNorthern, Eastern and Western Europe, Americas, Australia
FounderSaint Sava
Recognition1219 (Autocephaly)
1346 (Patriarchate)
1557 (Patriarchate)
1879 (Autocephaly)
1920 (Patriarchate)
SeparationsMacedonian Orthodox Church
Montenegrin Orthodox Church
Serbian True Orthodox Church
Members8[1] to 12 million[2]
Official websitewww.spc.rs

The Serbian Orthodox Church (Serbian: Српска православна црква / Srpska pravoslavna crkva) is one of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Christian churches. It is the second-oldest Slavic Orthodox Church in the world (after the Bulgarian Orthodox Church).

The Serbian Orthodox Church is composed of the majority of the population in Serbia, Montenegro, and the Republika Srpska entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is organized into metropolises and eparchies located primarily in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Croatia. Other congregations are located in the Serb diaspora.

The Serbian Orthodox Church is an autocephalous, or ecclesiastically independent, member of the Eastern Orthodox communion. The Serbian Patriarch serves as first among equals in his church; the most recent patriarch was Irinej, who died in November 2020.[3] The Church achieved autocephalous status in 1219 under the leadership of St. Sava, becoming the independent Archbishopric of Žiča. Its status was elevated to that of a patriarchate in 1346 and was known afterward as the Serbian Patriarchate of Peć.

This patriarchate was abolished by the Ottoman Turks in 1766, though the Serbian Church continued to exist with its exarchs in Serb-populated territories in the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburg Monarchy, the Republic of Venice and the First French Empire. The modern Serbian Orthodox Church was re-established in 1920 after the unification of the Patriarchate of Karlovci, the Metropolitanate of Belgrade and the Metropolitanate of Montenegro.

Serbian Orthodox Church Intro articles: 159

Historical background

Early Christianity

Christianity spread to the Balkans beginning in the 1st century. Florus and Laurus are venerated as Christian martyrs of the 2nd century; they were murdered along with 300 Christians in Lipljan. Constantine the Great (306–337), born in Niš, was the first Christian Roman emperor. Several bishops seated in present-day Serbia participated in the First Council of Nicaea (325), such as Ursacius of Singidunum. In 380, Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius I decreed that his subjects would be Christians according to the Council of Nicea formula. Greek was used in the Byzantine church, while the Roman church used Latin.

With the definite split in 395, the line in Europe ran south along the Drina River. Among old Christian heritage is the Archbishopric of Justiniana Prima, established in 535, which had jurisdiction over the whole of present-day Serbia. However, the Archbishopric did not last, as the Slavs and Avars destroyed the region sometime after 602, when the last mention was made of it. In 731[4] Leo III attached Illyricum and Southern Italy (Sicily and Calabria) to Patriarch Anastasius of Constantinople, transferring the papal authority to the Eastern Church.[5]

Christianization of Serbs

Seal of the prince Strojimir of Serbia, from the late 9th century – the oldest artifact on the Christianization of the Serbs

The history of the early medieval Serbian Principality is recorded in the work De Administrando Imperio (DAI), compiled by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (r 913–959). The DAI drew information on the Serbs from, among others, a Serbian source.[6] The Serbs were said to have received the protection of Emperor Heraclius (r. 610–641), and Porphyrogenitus stressed that the Serbs had always been under Imperial rule.[7] His account on the first Christianization of the Serbs can be dated to 632–638; this might have been Porphyrogenitus' construction, or may have . It likely encompassed a limited group of chiefs, with lesser reception by the wider layers of the tribe.[8]

The establishment of Christianity as the state religion dates to the time of Prince Mutimir (r. 851–891) and Byzantine Emperor Basil I (r. 867–886).[9] Porphyrogenitus attests that Croats and Serbs sent delegates asking for baptism, thus Basil "baptized all of them that were unbaptized of the aforesaid nations".[10] The Christianization was due partly to Byzantine and subsequent Bulgarian influence.[9] At least during the rule of Kocel (861–874) in Pannonia, communications between Serbia and Great Moravia, where Methodius was active, must have been possible.[9] The pope must have been aware of this when planning Methodius' diocese and that of the Dalmatian coast, which was in Byzantine hands as far north as Split.[9] Some Cyrillomethodian pupils may have reached Serbia in the 870s, perhaps sent by Methodius himself.[9] Serbia was accounted Christian as of about 870.[9]

The first Serbian bishopric was founded at Ras, near modern Novi Pazar on the Ibar river.[9] According to Vlasto, the initial affiliation is uncertain; it may have been under the subordination of either Split or Durazzo, both then Byzantine.[9] The early Ras church can be dated to the 9th–10th century, with the rotunda plan characteristic of first court chapels.[9] The bishopric was established shortly after 871, during the rule of Mutimir, and was part of the general plan of establishing bishoprics in the Slav lands of the empire, confirmed by the Council of Constantinople in 879–880.[9] The names of Serbian rulers through Mutimir (r. 851–891) are Slavic dithematic names, per the Old Slavic tradition.

With Christianization in the 9th century, Christian names appear.[11] The next generations of Serbian royalty had Christian names (Petar, Stefan, Pavle, Zaharije, etc.), evident of strong Byzantine missions in the 870s.[9] Petar Gojniković (r. 892–917) was evidently a Christian prince,[9] and Christianity presumably was spreading in his time.[12] Since Serbia bordered Bulgaria, Christian influences and perhaps missionaries came from there, increasing during the twenty-year peace.[13] The Bulgarian annexation of Serbia in 924 was important for the future direction of the Serbian church. By then, at latest, Serbia must have received the Cyrillic alphabet and Slavic religious text, already familiar but perhaps not yet preferred to Greek.[14]

Archbishopric of Ohrid (1018–1219)

Map depicting the Archbishopric of Ohrid in ca. 1020.

After the Byzantine conquest of Bulgaria in 1018, emperor Basil II ordered an autonomous Bulgarian Archbishopric of Ohrid to be established in 1019, lowering the rank of the autocephalous Bulgarian Patriarchate because of its subjugation to Constantinople, and placing it under the supreme ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Gradually, Greek replaced Old Church Slavonic as the liturgical language. Serbia was ecclesiastically administered into several bishoprics: the bishopric of Ras,[15] mentioned in the first charter of Basil II (r. 976–1025), became part of the Ohrid archbishopric and encompassed the central areas of Serbia, by the rivers Raška, Ibar and Lim, evident in the second charter of Basil II. In the chrysobulls of Basil II, dated 1020, the Ras bishopric is mentioned as serving the whole of Serbia, with the seat at the Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, Ras. Among the first bishops were Leontius (fl. 1123–1126), Cyril (fl. 1141–1143), Euthemius (fl. 1170) and Kalinik (fl. 1196). It later joined the autocephalous Archbishopric of Žiča in 1219, at the time of Saint Sava.

The 10th- or 11th-century Gospel Book Codex Marianus, written in Old Church Slavonic in the Glagolithic script, is one of the oldest known Slavic manuscripts. It was partly written in the Serbian redaction of Old Church Slavonic.[16] Other early manuscripts include the 11th-century Grškovićev odlomak Apostola and Mihanovićev odlomak.

Serbian Orthodox Church Historical background articles: 47


Saint Sava, first Serbian archbishop
the White Angel fresco, from the Monastery of Mileševa

Autocephalous Archbishopric (1219–1346)

Serbian Orthodox Monastery of Dečani, from the first half of the 14th century (World Heritage Site)

Serbian prince Rastko Nemanjić, the son of Stefan Nemanja, took monastic vows at Mount Athos as Sava (Sabbas) in 1192.[17][18] Three years later, his father joined him, taking monastic vows as Simeon. Father and son asked the Holy Community to found a Serbian religious centre at the abandoned site of Hilandar, which they renovated. This marked the beginning of a renaissance (in arts, literature and religion). Sava's father died at Hilandar in 1199, and was canonised as St. Simeon.[18] Sava stayed for some years, rising in rank, then returned to Serbia in 1207, taking with him the remains of his father, which he interred at the Studenica monastery, after reconciling his two quarreling brothers Stefan Nemanjić and Vukan.[19] Stefan asked him to remain in Serbia with his clerics, which he did, providing widespread pastoral care and education to the people. Sava founded several churches and monasteries, among them the Žiča monastery. In 1217, Stefan was proclaimed King of Serbia, and various questions of the church reorganization were opened.[20]

Sava returned to the Holy Mountain in 1217/18, preparing for the formation of an