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.

 

Acta Apostolicae Sedis

The Acta Apostolicae Sedis or Acts of the Apostolic See (in English) is the official gazette of the Holy See, functioning like the official gazette of any government or state around the world. In here, one finds encyclicals, official decisions, appointments, etc. The gazette was established in 1908 by Pope Pius X and has been published every month since then.

Just on the face of it, this is very interesting to anyone that enjoys such things. However, what is particularly fascinating and an excellent source for those of us in the chivalric/heraldic world is that all those who have had the honor of being admitted into any of the papal orders are mentioned in the gazette. In other words, this resource is a quick and easy way to validate whether someone who claims to be a, say, Knight of the Order of St. Sylvester really is so.

As most of those that are involved in orders of chivalry, there are many (way too many) false orders and even more pretenders that claim to have more knighthoods than even the King of Spain! A very (un)healthy market has been the sales of false membership into papal orders. This has gone on for a long time and a few years ago was wildly popular. Naturally, this was completely false and many people were taken in as victims of these scams.

The availability of the Acta online is a veritable boon to all those who like to validate such claims.

The link to the online archive of every single publication of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis since 1909 is: http://www.vatican.va/archive/aas/index_en.htm

 

I’d like to thank Dr. Charles Drake for alerting me to the existence of the archive!

Note: image from Wikipedia

The shaping of a symbol – The double headed eagle

In what is perhaps the best online digital library of Greek or Greece related texts, I found an article written in the 1920s by the Archimandrite Zacharias Lianas (Ζαχαρίας Λιανάς, d. 1952), head of the Rizarios Hieratic School between 1923 and 1925.

The article gives a concise history, from a Greek Orthodox perspective (with emphasis on both Greek and Orthodox), of how the double headed eagle came to have the meaning it has today. Below is my translation of the Archimandrite’s words (apologies for the run on sentences but, that’s how the original is too):

It has always been that people used places, shapes, images, plants and animals as symbols to express an idea. These symbols, called hieroglyphics, are found in all populations and all religions. In those, the imagination of the people borrowed much from the kingdom of the plants such as the olive, the laurel, the lilly, the pomegranate, etc. These were used to express different meanings and ideas.

Also, since antiquity all peoples used as an expression of power, force and majesty the Lion. As an expression of height, poetic elation, wisdom and ingenuity was the Eagle. For this reason the Lion is used in the palaces of kings and the heraldry of nations and sovereign Houses, whereas the Eagle is found on the friezes of temples. Lions decorate the palaces of the kings of Babylon and Persia. Lions decorate as well the palace at Mycenae. Lions [in sculpture] were raised in Marathon, Thermopylae, Chaeronea, etc.

The Eagle, on the other hand, is the symbol and the messenger of the Olympian Zeus. An Eagle transfers Ganymede to Olympus. An Eagle eats, on Zeus’ orders, the liver of Premetheus who is bound to the Caucasus. An Eagle is places on the frieze of the temple of the Olympian Zeus and on the temple of the Capitol Zeus. With the meaning of ingenuity and inspiration, the Eagle was given as a symbol to the Apostole and Evangelist John the Theologian.

Ptolemy Lagus of Alexandria first placed the Eagle on the flags of his army as a symbol of the state and military power. From the Ptolemaic state of Alexandria, dissolved by the Romans, did the Roman Emperors take the Eagle for their military flags. Slowly, the Roman Eagle became the symbol of the entire Roman Empire. As the Roman Empire was split during the reign of Diocletian and Maximilian into two states, the Eastern and the Western, so was the Eagle split into two. The Eagle of the Western Empire had its head facing west and the Eagle of the Eastern Empire faced East. When the Roman State, through Constantine the Great, was united into a single Empire, the two symbolic Eagles were reunited into one. However, the previously single headed Eagle became double headed, symbolizing the unified empire with the two capitals: Old Rome and New Rome. For this reason one of the heads faced West towards Old Rome and the other faced East towards New Rome – Constantinople.

When the Emperor Constantine the Great saw in the sky, at high noon, the divine symbol of the cross with the epigraph ΕΝ ΤΟΥΤΩ ΝΙΚΑ [translated to Latin as “IN HOC SIGNO VINCES”], he was instructed in a vision where he was visted by Jesus Christ to construct a copy of the image of the cross and to use it throughout his military ranks so that he may be victorious through it. This is when Constantine the Great, according to the instructions he received, constructed the Labarum and replaced the until then national military flag of the Double-headed Eagle with the new Christian banner of the Cross. However, he maintained and established the Double-headed Eagle as the symbol and state emblem of the Imperial Dynasty of the Byzantine Roman State. In the following centuries of the height of the Byzantine State, the Double-headed Eagle was used as the Coat of Arms of the Byzantine Emperors, placed on the Imperial Palaces, decorating the chests of the imperial guards and the courtiers in general. It was embroidered on the imperial clothes, the saddles of the imperial horses and on the imperial shoes. In the sacristy of the Holy Monastery of Great Lavra on Mount Athos, is preserved the imperial coat with Double-headed Eagles embroidered in gold, once belonging to the Emperors Nicephorus Phocas and John Tzimiskes from the 9th century.

After the Fall of Constantinople to the Turks (1453) the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople was recognized by the conqueror Muhammed II as the Ethnarch [national leader] of the Romans. As such, he inherited along with the other imperial symbols (the crown, sceptre, robes) the Double-headed Eagle as the symbol of the Nation. This symbol has been used ever since as the emblem of the Ecumenical National Patriarchate and used in the seals of the Patriarchal Bulls. Because of this, it is carved as the Coat of Arms above the gate of the Patriarchal churches. It is also carved on the walls and the floors of the Patriarchal churches and stavropegial monasteries and those houses made stavropegial. It is also conserved on the floors of many temples among which is the temple of the Metropolis of Mistras. It is embroidered in the Patriarchal clothing and robes. Embroidered on fabrics or tapestries, wherever Constantinople is depicted. In time, whenever a cleric in the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is ordained and the floor of the particular temple does not have the Double-headed Eagle carved, a tapestry with the symbol is placed under the feet of the ordained to show that he is stepping and is on Patriarchal ground, as spiritual subject of the Patriarchate.

As a Patriarchal emblem, the Double-headed Eagle became part of the Patriarch’s vestments. It is curious how this particular item did not become more widely adopted by other Bishops like the other imperial emblems did such as the Crown (mitre), the Purpure robes and the Sceptre (pastoral staff).

The spirit of the Greek people maintained alive throughout the years after the Fall [of Constantinople] the Byzantine tradition of the Double-headed Eagle and in the expression of Greek art. The Double-headed Eagle, that before the Fall has such symbolic value, did not lose it later. On the contrary, it was conciously kept as the symbol of the continuing Byzantine tradition and became the premier symbol of the national ideal of the recreation of the Great Empire.

For this reason, it is the most beloved theme of neohellenic art and has an excellent place there. How closely tied is the Double-headed Eagle with the popular concious [of the Greek people] is shown the innumerable depictions in all forms of Greek popular art whether it is in textile, woodwork, metalwork, jewelry etc. Even in our own century [20th] the wave of nationalism raised the Double-headed Eagle to the first and most honored position. It is still carved onto many objects of the Church and the residential furniture, woods, silver and gold objects. It is painted on many icons and carved onto seals. The seal of the Archbishopric of Athens as well as many other Metropolia use the Double-headed Eagle. It is also depicted on every other form of art upon which a national meaning is desired to be given.

 

Archmandrite Zacharias A. Lianas

 

The link to the original Greek is found here: http://anemi.lib.uoc.gr/metadata/c/0/0/metadata-908460e12ec80b3429d525c3e6f42648_1251357873.tkl

Link to the Rizarios Hieratic School: http://lyk-rizar.att.sch.gr/

Link to the Rizarios Foundation: http://www.rizarios.gr/

 

Note: Images from Wikipedia

No comment…

I haven’t posted in a while due to work overload but, I felt I had to share this.

I’m posting the link to this site without any comments: http://www.nobility.co.uk/index.php?dispatch=products.view&product_id=139

 

OK, maybe one link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There’s_a_sucker_born_every_minute

 

Orthodox Ecclesiastical Heraldry

Back in July of 2006, in the journal of the American College of Heraldry “The Armiger’s News”, the late Dr. David Pittman Johnson wrote a very good article trying to codify the system of ecclesiastial heraldry of the (Eastern) Orthodox Church.

As opposed to the Roman Catholic Church that has many established rules regarding its heraldry, the Orthodox Communion does not, mainly due to its decentralized structure.

Among the difficulties of this attempt is the fact that (1) heraldry is not very common in the East and in particular among the Orthodox clergy (at any level) and (2) each Orthodox Church is independent of each other and has its own particular rules and traditions within its hierarchy.

A good introduction on the organization Orthodox Church can be found, where else, on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthodox_Church_organization

I won’t reproduce the text here but will urge anyone with an interest in ecclesiastical heraldry and particularly Orthodox heraldry to read this very well written article. 

At this point, I want to make a note to say that the rules presented not only may apply to the Orthodox Communion but also those classified as “Eastern” or “Greek” Catholic.

I feel it necessary to say that what Dr. Johnson describes are not the rules of heraldry within the Orthodox Communion but rather a combination of observations and suggestions. Until such time as there are rules established by the Head of a particular Orthodox Church, every member of the clergy is pretty much free to do as he pleases. It is though recommended to try to create some standards and Dr. Johnson has provided us with an excellent foundation to do so.

The arms at the top of this post are those of the Rev. Fr. Deacon Nenad Jovanovich, head of the Board for Heraldic & Genealogical Studies at the Center for Research of Orthodox Monarchy (CROM-BHGS). These arms were emblazoned by the talented new heraldic artist Terry Sarros (who is also an associate and artist of the CROM-BHGS) following the basic principle of the rules described in the cited article but with a variation more appropriate for Serbia.

 It should be noted that the CROM-BHGS, under the leadership of the Rev. Fr. Deacon, has done much excellent work in the creation and promotion of heraldry within the Orthodox ecclesiastical community worldwide. A small sample of the work this group has done can be seen in their online gallery of ecclesiastical heraldry at this link: http://www.czipm.org/galerija-heraldika02-02.html

The article in question can be found at this link: 
http://www.americancollegeofheraldry.org/ORTHODOX.htm
and reprinted at the CROM-BHGS: http://www.czipm.org/dpj.html

 

Note: The image above was used with the approval of the Rev. Fr. Deacon Nenad Jovanovich and the artist Mr. Terry Sarros.
Note: I too am an associate of the CROM-BHGS.

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