Friday, November 11, 2016

St. Milica the Princess of Serbia

Princess Milica Hrebeljanović née Nemanjić ca. 1335 – November 11, 1405) also known as Empress (Tsaritsa) Milica, was a royal consort of Serbia. Her husband was Serbian Prince St. Lazar and her children included despot Stefan Lazarević, and Jelena Lazarević, whose husband was Đurađ II
Balšić. She is the author of "A Mother's Prayer" and a famously moving poem of mourning for her husband, "My Widowhood's Bridegroom."

After the death of her husband St. Lazar at the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, Milica ruled Serbia until 1393 when her son, Stefan Lazarević Hrebeljanović, came of age to take the throne. At that time,
Ljubostinja monastery
much wisdom and personal courage was needed to reign in a country which was nominally free but always under threat of invading forces, from the East and the West. It was difficult to maintain a national spirit without provoking neighboring kingdoms or pashaluks to raid or plunder. Milica proved herself an able ruler of the country at a very trying time. Her personal tragedy (losing her husband and sending her daughter Mileva (Olivera Despina) to marry Bayezid I, who had ordered the execution of her husband Prince Lazar in 1389) did not interfere with her carrying out her duties. She founded the Ljubostinja monastery around 1390 and later took monastic vows at her monastery and became the nun Eugenia (Јевгенија, later abbess Euphrosine, Јефросина) around 1393.

In 1397 she issued the "A Mother's Prayer" together with her sons at the Dečani monastery. She commissioned the repairing of the bronze horos of Dečani.

In later diplomatic negotiations with Sultan Bayezid I, Eugenia and Euphemia, the former Vasilissa of Serres, both traveled to the Sultan's court in 1398/99.

In 1403, Eugenia went to the Sultan at Serres, arguing in favour of her son Stefan Lazarević in a complicated dispute that had emerged between her two sons and Branković.

She was buried in Ljubostinja, her monastery. She was canonized by the Serbian Orthodox Church. Princess Milica was also a writer. She wrote several prayers and religious poems. It appears that her grief and loneliness were captured in her highly lyrical and poetic address to Prince Lazar (Hrebeljanović). Although conceived as a church hymn, it contains a personal note and lyrical tones unusual for solemn and somber church hymnody.

St. Milica is the patron of writers (especially religious ones) and poets. 

A slava is very popular among Serbian Orthodox faithful. Since St. Milica is one of the patron saints of Serbia, consider hosting a slava in her honor.

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