The Nun Jefimija
The Nun Jefimija was born in 1350 but it could not be precisely determined the time of her death. It is clear only that she died after the 1405.
Helena (later on became nun Jefimija ) was daughter of a prominent Serbian aristocrat Caesar Vojhine, at the court of Emperor Dušan. Her husband was a despot Jovan Uglješa Mrnjavčević who has with his brother Vukašin imposed for a powerful ruler in the southern areas of the Serbian Empire against the Uroš and Dušan’s widow, Empress Helena, later abbess Jevrosina. They ruled from the city Ser (Serres in Greek) whom John Cantacuzenus (Byzantine emperor and the main opponent of Emperor) called “big and beautiful city. ”
Helena’s happiness and welfare were short-lived. First her father died and then died the four-year old son and at the end died her husband Uglješa in 1371 in Černomena battle. She lost family, property, income and country at the very short time.
As customs of the Middle Ages required, she took the monastic vows, and from then she was known as nun Jefimija. She found her piece and shelter in the country and on the court of the Prince Lazar. Here she became a witness to the many sufferings of his people including the tragic battle at the 1389 in Kosov when, beside most of the aristocracy, were killed also her patron, Prince Lazar.
In those evil times she stayed on the court in Kruševac, with Empress Milica, Serbian ruler, who also became a nun, known as a nun Eugene. Empress respected very much opinion of a nun Jefimija, particularly in relation and politic towards the Turks and the rival family Branković.
Soon the two nuns went right to Ser to Sultan Bayezid to justify and defend the young Stefan Lazarević, Milica’s and Lazar’s son who was in prison at the court of Sultan Bayezid and accused of infidelity and the planned betrayal, and they asked to bring relics of St. Petka in Serbian.
It is very important to mention the willingness and strength of this humble woman who was willing, now as wretched and the poor nuns walking through the city (Ser), where once she ruled and in that same, once this palace was her, begs for mercy Bayezid and the Turks who destroyed her life.
The wisdom and politics of the nun Jefimija was confirmed by the fact that she prayed relics of St. Petka from the Bayezid and he, indeed, happy allowed the relocation of the earthly remains of Saints Paraskeva, explaining that only with religious reasons. However, Jefimija has another intention in this act. Specifically, the St. Petka is a Christian Demeter, protector of the land, all crops that gives the ground. Farmers in those bad times leaved the country, but suddenly, the arrival relics of the Saint Petka, stop emigration and even they began to return to their homes. In this seemingly religious act, we see brilliant mind and wisdom of nun Jefimija.
Her wisdom and eloquence were described also by the Philosopher Constantine.
Her unfulfilled mother’s love, wisdom and knowledge, Jefimija transferred to the young prince and then the Despot Stefan who sad for her that she was wisdom ruler, eloquent lady and caring mother at he same time.
Jefimija’s saved legacy includes three writings which are certainly one of the best jewels of Serbian medieval literature, of which the most famous is the Praise to the Prince Lazar.
Jefimija died, as we have already said after the 1405 and was buried in the Ljubostinja Monastery where are her mortal remains even today.
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