I grew up hearing stories of Stapar. It’s a small town outside Sombor in north Serbia. It’s where me and my sister were born. It’s where my father was born and his father and so on. The stories were in epic fashion. You’d think it was some magical place where kings ruled and everyone lived happily ever after.
In reality it’s a small, agricultural town. I still have family there and visit when I can. The photo above is from a trip to Stapar almost a decade ago with Vaso. I went two years after that with Lazo and the plan was to continue the visits with Nikolina, Jelena and so on. I was very happy that Vaso got to visit on his own last year.
But here’s the thing, while all this emphasis and all these stories of where I’m from spread during my childhood, my birthday would go unnoticed. Granted, not completely. We’d have so-called birthday parties but it was usually my parents and their friends getting together.
A similar thing happens when we think of the Saints – we know where they’re from but we don’t know when they were born. Tomorrow is St. Mardarije of Libertyville or as Metropolitan Amphilohije will refer to him as: St. Mardarije of Ljesan-Libertyville. The region of Ljesan is where he was born. Next week is St. Nicholas of Myra in Lycia. He was born in Patara which is in Lycia (so is Myra where he served as bishop). St. Demetrios of Thessaloniki, St. Elijah the Tishbite all come to mind.
Of course this isn’t the general rule and some Saints are known for other things “the Baptist”, “Chrysostom”, “the Merciful”, and so on. The old saying comes to mind: Never forget where you’re from.
Oddly, there’s no mention of when.