Tuesday, June 28, 2011

St. Lazar the Tsar-Martyr

Joyous feast! St. Lazar, also known as Lazarus, is remembered primarily for his leadership of the Serbian armies at the Battle of Kosovo Polje that saw the destruction of much of the Serbian nobility and the occupation of what was left of the old Serbian Empire by the Ottoman Turks. St. Lazar first rose to prominence at the court of the last Serbian emperor, Tsar Stephen Uros V, after whose death the Saint assumed leadership of what was left of the Serbian Empire with the titles prince and autocrat, hence the common references to him as also being a tsar or 'caesar.'

Although St. Lazar labored to unify and strengthen free Serbia, his defeat and martyrdom at Kosovo Polje left Serbia without strong leadership or enough troops to continue the resistance to Ottoman encroachment and thus the battle, which equally devastated both sides, led to the extension of the Turkish Yoke to Serbia.

St. Lazar's incorrupt relics were translated from a church near Kosovo Polje to the Ravanica Monastery, which he had founded during his reign, two years after the battle in 1391. When the Ottoman Turks destroyed the Ravanica Monastery in the late 1600s the Saint's relics were removed to Srem and then to Belgrade during World War II. In 1989 on the 600th anniversary of his martyrdom St. Lazar's relics were again translated, this time to their former resting place at the Ravanica Monastery.

More on St. Lazar's life can be found here. May his blessing and prayers be with us all!

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