How can St. Mardarije intercede for us?
Especially because St. Mardarije suffered from tuberculosis, you can pray to him to overcome personal difficulties, especially illnesses and hard times.
The Life of St. Mardarije
Born in Kornet, Ljesani County, in Montenegro, on November 2, 1889 to Petar and Jela Uskokovic, St. Mardarije was baptized in his village church dedicated to St. George and received his baptismal name Ivan. Both of his parents were well respected in their community holding the office of leadership and particularly his father was a captain of their clan.
Considering his parents’ status, young Ivan was sent to further his education, first in Rijeka Crnojevic, Montenegro, and then in Belgrade, Serbia. While in Belgrade, young Ivan decided to serve God and the Church, and so from there he went to the monastery Studenica where, after a short period of novice life, he was tonsured and received the name Mardarije. With the decision of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church, young hierodeacon Mardarije was sent to Russia where he spent twelve years (1905-1917) furthering his theological education and growing in wisdom. From there, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church sent him to the United States of America to organize the Serbian Orthodox Church. On December 1, 1923, Archimandrite Mardarije was appointed as administrator of the Serbian American-Canadian diocese, seated in Chicago. That year, he purchased ten acres of land in Libertyville, Illinois where later he personally built St. Sava monastery. Every day, Fr. Mardarije would ride his bicycle from Chicago to Libertyville, a Chicago suburb. At this time, Fr. Mardarije suffered from tuberculosis. Fr. Mardarije’s friends and fellow priests pressed that he should
stop his feat, but Fr. Mardarije persisted to build his monastery dedicated to St. Sava. He was elected by the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church as the first bishop for the newly established diocese in America and was elevated to the rank of bishop.
From then on, His Grace Bishop Mardarije, the first bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North
and South America, labored tirelessly in building churches, sowing Christian love, and spreading the gospel of Christ throughout his diocese. Having labored as bishop for nine years, he died peacefully
on December 12, 1935, hospitalized in Ann Arbor, Michigan, while writing his last Nativity Encyclical to his beloved flock. His earthly remains were laid to rest at St. Sava monastery in Libertyville. The Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church decided in 2015 that his name should be added to the diptych of saints of the Holy Orthodox Church. St. Mardarije was canonized.
When St. Mardarije was exhumed from his grave, it was discovered that he is incorrupt from his knee
up. St. Mardarije was, by mistake, not buried facing East. During the exhumation, the drill incorrectly drilled through the casket. Because St. Mardarije was incorrectly buried and was only incorrupt from the knee up, no damage was made to his body. If St. Mardarije had been buried facing East, it is likely that the drill would have entered the casket through the skull.
His relics can be venerated today at St.
Sava Monastery in Libertyville, IL.
Adapted from “Saint Mardarije”
- Why do you think St. Mardarije continued to build St. Sava Monastery despite his health problems and the pressure from his friends? What inspires you to continue to serve God even when you face personal difficulties or ridicule from others?
- St. Mardarije is one of the few recognized Orthodox saints in America. What does it take to be listed among the saints? What do you think are the challenges that we face in America on the path to holiness? What opportunities do we have in America to become holy like the saints?
- St. Mardarije’s life is notable because of his commitment to living the gospel fully, but it is not marked by any of the intense experiences we often find in the lives of other saints–of intense asceticism, of martyrdom, of writing theological treatises or attending important councils. In a way, St. Mardarije was “just” a bishop. How can we look to his example so that we, too, can be “just” ourselves, content with whatever God calls us to do and willing to live the gospel fully in this life?
Learn his Troparion
“Tireless preacher of Christ the Lord, leader on the path of St. Sava for your people in diaspora, labor-loving practitioner and teacher of repentance, Holy Mardarije of Libertyville and America, together with all the Enlighteners of the American lands, entreat the only Lover of Mankind, to grant all Orthodox Christians peace and unity!”
Pray to him
O holy Saint Mardarije of Libertyville, who tirelessly endeavored to travel to America and build St. Sava Monastery, intercede for us. We pray for those who suffer to overcome harsh illnesses, as you suffered tuberculosis while continuing to serve our Lord and finish building the monastery. O blessed Hierarch Mardarije, may you continue to guide us through our physical and spiritual struggles so that we may learn to serve Christ through every struggle in our lives. We pray that, through your intercessions, we be able to overcome temptations from the evil one and prevail through any physical and spiritual burden that we may face. O blessed St. Mardarije, we ask for your intercessions so that we may be found worthy of eternal life. Our holy Hierarch, Father Mardarije, pray unto God for us!
St. John Maxomovitch