Lazar, Prince of Serbia

English Language Study for Russian Orthodox Learners

Holy Martyr Lazar, Prince of Serbia
(June 15/28)

Lazar, Prince of SerbiaThe Holy Martyr Lazar, ruler of Serbia, died for Christ’s name at the Battle of Kosovo.  He is a beloved hero of the Serbian Orthodox.

Lazar was born in 1329.  His father served as an imperial chancellor.  Lazar was educated at the court and received the title of knez (prince) from Serbian Emperor Stefan Urosh V.  After the Emperor’s death, Lazar became the country’s leader.  

Prince Lazar was a faithful servant of the Lord.  He built churches and founded many monasteries, including the Monastery of St. Panteleimon on Mount Athos.  With the help of St. Lazar, a Synod was called (созван) which elected a new patriarch.  At that time there was some disagreement between Serbia and Constantinople.  The unity of the Holy Church was very important to the prince, and, in order to heal relations, he sent a delegation of monks to Constantinople.  As a result, full communion between the two churches was re-established.

For a long time Serbia suffered attacks by the Ottoman Empire.  Prince Lazar protected his land from invasion and fought against the Turks in many battles.  The Battle of Kosovo Field, in June of 1389, was his last.  

Sultan Amurat gathered an army of 40,000 soldiers.  Lazar had about 15,000 knights, and 12,000 more were in command of Prince Lazar’s son-in-law, Vuk Brankovich.     

Before the battle, St. Lazar was visited by an angel of God.  The angel gave him a choice between an earthly kingdom and a Heavenly Kingdom.  It was a choice between surrender and defeat.  Lazar and his army decided to fight to the end.  “We die for Christ, we live forever,” the Holy Prince told his soldiers.  They all prepared to die a martyr’s death for their country and the Orthodox faith.

Prince Lazar did not know that Vuk Brankovich had made an agreement with the Sultan before the battle.  Amurat promised him the crown of Serbia in return for betraying Lazar.   At the most critical moment of the battle, Vuk Brankovich left Kosovo Field, taking about 12,000 soldiers with him.  Those who followed him thought it was a maneuver to deceive the Turks.

The rest of the Serbian army was defeated.  Saint Lazar was captured and beheaded by the Turks.

Soon after his heroic death, Prince Lazar was glorified.  His relics now rest in a monastery in Serbia.

Church of the Holy Prince Lazar, Birmingham, England

Церковь св. Лазаря в Англии, г. Бирмингем