Serbian-Ukrainian Saint: First the War, Then the Apocalypse

Simeon Daibabski could be called a Serbian-Ukrainian saint. He spent the years of his youth within the walls of the Kiev Theological Academy and Seminary, and took monastic tonsure in the Kiev Pechersk Lavra. In this way the spiritual maturation of this great Serbian elder took place in the mountains of Kiev.

The spiritual legacy of St. Simeon is still little known to our readers, as it is still waiting for its translator. But those who have visited Orthodox Montenegro should be familiar with the Monastery of Dajbaba, a few minutes' drive from the capital of Montenegro, Podgorica. It was founded back in the days when the first Christians were hiding from persecution, fleeing deep into the Roman Empire. But the Venerable Simeon gave a new life to the monastery after one remarkable event, about which we will tell in detail.

Simeon (baptized Savva) Daibabski was born in Cetinje, the former capital of Montenegro, in 1854. The future saint lost his parents early, and was brought up by his grandfather and his brother, a parish priest. Since childhood, imbued with a love of Bible study and drawing, the young man wanted to find his place in the life of the Church. But his grandfather opposed this, wanting to marry his nephew and make him his heir. Eventually his father's own brother intervened in the dispute and was able to influence Savva's grandfather. After that, the future elder sent his footsteps to Kiev to study in the theological schools.

The Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra with its sanctuaries, underground temples and cells of ascetics made a huge impression upon Savva. There he received monasticism with the name Simeon and was ordained. After his graduation and ordination, hieromonk Simeon spent some time on pilgrimages to Russian monasteries and shrines, and then he returned home to Serbia.

A little later he visited the Holy Land and Mount Athos. Having absorbed different images and examples of monastic life, hieromonk Simeon, with the blessing of Metropolitan Mitrophan of Montenegro, opened a monastic school at the monastery of Ostrog. Here he met an orphan, a poor peasant from the village Daibabe, whose name was Petko Ivezich. He told Father Simeon a wonderful story that happened to him when Petko was herding his cattle in a deserted place.

The shepherd told the elder how one day when he settled down for dinner, he felt a strong fragrant smell of incense. When Petko looked around, he saw a man dressed in golden brocade clothes, with a mitre-like hat on his head and a cross on it. In his hands the stranger held a staff, on top of which were golden apples and a yellow veil. Beside him stood two bright young men.

At first the shepherd thought it was some evil spirit, and was greatly frightened. But the man who appeared to him, seeing the shepherd's thoughts, calmed him down, saying that he was not an evil spirit, but a saint who was buried here. His relics were hidden by Christians from the Turks in this place. "I want you to build me a monastery here," the saint said. "But I am poor, Father." "I do not desire the rich. I would if I wanted to. To begin with, build a little church. I want to tell you everything and set boundaries for everything."

The saint went on to explain in detail where, what and how it should be arranged. He also showed where his relics and the relics of other saints were located. Told in detail in what style the temple should be built, where and what painting should be done. The saint even talked to the shepherd about the peculiarities of the structure of the heavenly angelic hierarchy.

This story impressed the elder Simeon. It was clear that the uneducated shepherd could know neither the peculiarities of Byzantine temple architecture, which he described in detail, nor how to properly place the paintings in the temple. Nor could he have known that the relics of one of the disciples of St. Sava of Serbia had really been hidden somewhere in this place when the Turks began to smash Christian shrines.

At that time, the Turks burned the relics of St. Sava, as well as the holy sons of Blessed Angelina of Serbia. The Monk Simeon decided to devote his whole life to the work of building this monastery and arranging it in the order that the shepherd had told him about. And Petko himself accepted monasticism with the name Platon and served until his old age at the monastery of Daibabe, as a hieromonk, ending his life at the age of 90.

The new church at Daibaba was consecrated in December 1897. It was unique in its own way. Only the facade and two bell towers were out of the rock, and the church itself was in a cave, which was painted by the elder Simeon himself. From this temple and began the birth of the Daibab monastery, which in some ways resembled the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. Memories of the years spent in the Kyiv cloister inspired Father Simeon in this work.

This place also became a refuge for the spiritual exploits of the elder himself. During the nearly 50 years he spent in the monastery, he was granted the gift of clairvoyance, miracles, and healings. For the Serbs, the elder Simeon became what St. John of Kronstadt was for the Russians.

Russian Prince Dmitry Golitsyn wrote of the saint in his notes: "The personality of Father Simeon reeks of boundless spiritual purity and evangelical humility, like our Father John of Kronstadt... he is imbued with light and quiet goodness, which is touching and delightful."

Another traveler, the Frenchman Nisle, spoke of the elder as "a truly angelic apparition, around which the spirit of heavenly bliss reverberates."

He was deeply honored by St. Nicholas (Velimirovich), and the Venerable Justin (Popovich) called him "the great Serbian Abba".

Father Simeon was known as a great prayer leader who healed the sick, cast out demons from those possessed by them, saw human souls and knew their fates. The elder was also a great doer of the Jesus Prayer, to which he gave all his free time.

Sensing the approaching end of his earthly wanderings, Father Simeon no longer concealed his gift of clairvoyance. He warned that a great war was coming into the world, and after it, after a short break, apocalyptic prophecies would begin to come true.

The elder's heart stopped in the early morning hours of April 1, 1941. After receiving Holy Communion, the saint quietly committed his soul into the hands of God. He was buried in the same church with which the building of the Daibab monastery began.

Miracles from the relics of the starets began to happen immediately after his burial. And now the monastery is one of the favorite places of prayer of Serbian Christians. Eighty years have passed since the death of Father Simeon, but as before, he hears the prayers and petitions of the suffering children of God and soon comes to their aid, of which there are many testimonies.

Reverend Simeon of Dybaba, pray to God for us!

Source: (Russian)

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