Posts tagged ‘serbian orthodox church’

Orders of the Serbian Orthodox Church



Like her sister churches in other countries, the Serbian Orthodox Church has a number of orders of merit it gives out to deserving people, in recognition for their services. Though there are a number of decorations the process for awarding them is similar across: the candidate needs to be recommended by a diocesan bishop to the Holy Synod that will, in turn, confer on the matter and decide.

For those who are not familiar with the Orthodox Communion, the highest authority within any particular Church is the Holy Synod and not any particular individual.


Order of St. Sava

The creation of these awards of merit started in 1985 with the 800th anniversary of the birth of St. Sava, the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church and its first Archbishop. It was at this time that the Holy Synod decided to create the Order of St. Sava in three classes:

  • The first class has the colors of the order being white
  • The second class has the colors of the order being red
  • The third class has the colors of the order being blue

To qualify for the next higher class, one must be in the previous one for at least three years. The brevet for the order is signed by either the Patriarch or his deputy.


Order of St. Simeon the Myrrh-streaming

This award was created in 2009 in honor of the Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja who lived in 12th century Serbia and was canonized under the name of St. Simeon the Myrrh-streaming due to the reported miracles attributed to him. The award is given to statesmen that have contributed to the improvement of relations between Church and state. This award is open to both Serbs and foreigners.


Order of St. Emperor Constantine

Honoring the life and enormous contributions to the Faith that St. Constantine the Great made, the Holy Synod of the Serbian Church created the Order of St. Emperor Constantine. This high distinction is reserved for thos that have made great contributions to the freedom of religion and the promotion of human rights. There aren’t any nationality restrictions for the award


Order of the Holy King Milutin

Stephen Uroš II Milutin of Serbia was king of Serbia between 1282 to 1321 and managed to elevate his country to one of the most powerful states in the region. He also introduced much of the Byzantine culture to the kingdom and founded a large number of monasteries. Since King Milutin was such a great benefactor for Serbia, it is in his honor that this particular order was created in 2009 and it is meant to reward great philanthropists.


Order of St. Peter of Cetinje

Named after Petar I Petrović-Njegoš, this order was created in 2009 by the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church. It should not be confused with the order of the same name that is under the Royal House of Petrović-Njegoš (Montenegro).

This distinction is awarded in recognition of missionary work, evangelism, promoting peace and personal sacrifice.


Order of the Holy Empress Milica – Venerable Jevgenija

Named after Empress (Tsaritsa) Milica, wife of Serbian Prince Lazar, who is most famous for her poem of mourning for her husband “My Widowhood’s Bridegroom”. After the death of her husband, she became a nun under the name of Jevgenija. This particular award is given to those who have made outstanding contributions for the improvement of the lives of the poor, the sick, and the helpless.


Order of the Holy Despot Stefan Lazarevic

Named after the ruler of the Serbian Despotate between 1389 and 1427, he was the son of Prince Lazar and Empress Milica. He was an enlightened ruler and can be considered the one to have brought the Renaissance to the realm.

This distinction is awarded to those individuals who have made significant contributions to culture, where it be literature, poetry, the arts, etc.


It should be noted here again that the Holy Synod reserves the right to revoke any honor previously bestowed if the awardee violates in some way the Serbian Orthodox Church. It should also be stressed that the awarding of any Church award is not a form of salvation as the awardee must remain committed to the path of Christ and be an example to others.

All awards by the Holy Synod are gazetted in the official journal of the Serbian Orthodox Church.


Source: Very Reverend Protopresbyter Savo B. Jovic. “Ордени Српске Православне Цркве које додељује Свети Архијерејски Сабор, односно Свети Архијерејски Синод“. “Orthodoxy” newspaper of the Serbian Patriarchate.


Serbian Orthodox Church

It was just in November of 2009 that His Holiness Patriarch Pavle of Serbia, the 44th Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church passed away. He was very much loved in his country and widely respected.

Last week, on January 23rd, the 45th Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox, His Holiness Patriarch Irinej, was enthroned. He is a humble man and, from what I can tell, very much deserving of the honor and will definitely do an excellent job during his tenure.

What of the heraldry though?

As opposed to the Churches of the West, the bishops of the Eastern Churches don’t normally adopt a Coat of Arms unless they come from armigerous families.

This is the case with Patriarch Irinej. As the son of peasant farmers, his family was not armigerous and never adopted personal arms while rising through the ranks of the Church. Therefore, he uses the arms of the Office of the Patriarch displayed above.

What immediately stands out is the cross in base that appears to be the same as that found on Byzantine arms, also known as the tetragrammatic cross.

As was described in a previous post, the objects in each quarter are called “firesteels” or fire starters. The reason these were used in Byzantine arms (and later influenced all the Easter Churches) was because of Greek Fire. In any case, these firesteels are artistically depicted as letters. In the case of the Byzantine Empire and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, they were interpreted as “B”s and having the text “Βασιλεύς Βασιλέων Βασιλεύων Βασιλευόντων” or “King of Kings Ruler of Rulers”.

However, in the Serbian case, these symbols are called očila and in the Serbian tradition have also come to be interpreted as letter with a specific meaning. The letter it is interpreted as is the letter “C” which is the equivalent to the “S” in English. The text is “Само слога Србина спасава” or “Only Unity Saves the Serbs”. This is a text attributed to St. Sava from the 12th Century, a Serbian prince and ascetic who also was the first archbishop of the Church. This saying has united the Serbs for centuries and, it is said, that it was a rallying cry for the faithful Orthodox Serbs in their efforts to remain Orthodox in the face of the increasing pressure from Rome to convert to Catholicism.

(Note: images above are courtesy of Wikipedia)