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 draped over the Great Martyr’s sarcophagus: “From thy youth thou wast raised among the beauties of this world, O New Martyr Lazar. With a courageous heart and a desire for piety, thou didst set out against the enemies of the Church of God. Thou didst receive from God the crown of martyr- dom. Do not now forget thy children. Kneel down before the Master Who has crowned thee; pray to Him that thy beloved children may lead their life in a God-pleasing man- ner. Pray that the Orthodox faith may continue in violate in thy homeland.”3
On the Kosovo plain the Holy Martyr’s son, Stefan La- zarević, erected a pillar of marble, in scribed with these words to greet those who make a pilgrim age to this jeru- salem of Serbia:
You, O man, who have now entered into the land of Ser- bia, whether you come from afar or are from here, no mat- ter who you are or what you are, when you come upon this field, which is called Kosovo, and see that it is totally full of the bones of the dead, and notice the field’s stony character, may you not pass by me [i e , the stone pillar] Here there was once a great sovereign, an earthly prodigy and Tsar of Serbia, Lazar, the great Prince, the steadfast Pillar of piety As a good shepherd and protector of these noble and glori- ous men, he wisely led them to lay down their lives coura- geously for Christ and to obtain the crowns of martyrdom, so that they may become partakers of the glory on High
it was not long after these events and the praises to Prince Lazar were heard especially immortalized for all on the gusle4—that the Divine Services to the Holy Great-Martyr were composed and icons were painted throughout the fallen kingdom of Serbia. The good news of Holy Lazar was not solely kept among the Serbs or even within the realm of the Byzantine empire. Holy Russia knew of these events and glorification. The Russian Orthodox Deacon ignatius, a pilgrim in Constantinople at the time of the bat- tle, sent by Metropolitan Pimen of Moscow and accompa- nied by Bishop Michael of Smolensk, heard of the news of Sultan Murat’s death, and of the heroic podvige of Prince Lazar. They relayed this news back to Russia only a few short weeks after the great battle. and it is well known that were heard especially in 1564, during the reign of ivan the Terrible, depicted on the walls of the Cathedral of the Holy archangels in the Moscow Kremlin (built in 1508) were the Byzantine emperor Michael Viii Paleologos, and the Ser- bian Saints Sava, Venerable Simeon (Stefan Nemanja), and Great-Martyr Lazar.
3 Milica’s lament is found in the writings of Patriarch Danilo iii; and the laments of the Maiden of Kosovo and the jugović Mother are found in Serbian epic Poetry. Milica’s exaltation of her husband La- zar is found in a poem entitled, Come, Avenge Me with Thy Blood. Besides her encomium Blessed jefimija also wrote, Pohvala Svetom Knezu Lazaru (Praise to Holy Prince Lazar). all of these texts can be found in their entirety in Serbian and english in Thomas Butler, Mon- umenta Serbocroatica (ann arbor, Michigan, 1980).
4 a stringed folk instrument.
Prince Lazar Cephalophoros, around 1758
Many details of Lazar’s appearance in this icon testify to a steady medieval tradition of visual presentation by Serbian artists of the Baroque era. Prince Lazar’s dome-like crown resembles ancient royal stema, which Prince Lazar never wore. also, his decorated vestment with the loros imperial belt, over his arm, resembles ornamentation of the medieval Serbian rulers, as does the scep- ter formed as a cross, richly decorated with pearls and gems. The torso of Christ who is blessing the Prince also speaks of the me- dieval iconographic technical formula of a ruler’s portrait. Typi- cally medieval is also the representation of a martyr decapitated by his enemy. in spite of a vague background which points to an unearthly world and the eternal life of Prince Lazar the Martyr, Baroque forms of sky with the frame of the plate bearing the in- scription, along with the painter's mannerism, speak of an edu- cated artist of the 18th century.
The holy Prince’s sacrifice not only taught the Serbs about the significance of following Christ at all times, “even unto death,” but also had great import for Western Christen- dom. The Orthodox Kingdom of Serbia must always be acknowledged by Western europe as that “sacrificial” king- dom which stood in the path of total Moslem captivity, since the Moslems, after the Battle of Kosovo, never re- gained the strength to take europe. Besides this, St. Lazar’s life represents a supreme example to the West in another way, as St. Nikolai Velimirović repeated so often in his writ- ings: that true Christian communion is not simply a result of political or military arrangements, but a “defense of the Faith” based on a return to the martyric life of the saints.
The life-giving relics of Holy Great-Martyr Prince La- zar remained at Ravanica for three hundred years, until 1690, when Patriarch arsenije Crnojević (1674–90) of Peć, along with forty thousand Serbian Orthodox families from Serbia and Kosovo and Metohija, in the “Great Migration,” fled Ottoman oppression to Vojvodina (then under aus-
The Cult of the Great-Martyr Prince Lazar of Serbia

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