Portal:Saints/Selected biography/7

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A Serbian icon of Prince Jovan Vladimir, who was recognized as a saint shortly after his death

Saint Jovan Vladimir or John Vladimir (Serbian Cyrillic: Јован Владимир; died 22 May 1016) was ruler of Duklja, the most powerful Serbian principality of the time, from around 1000 to 1016. Duklja was conquered in around 1010 by the expansionist Tsar Samuel of Bulgaria, who took Jovan Vladimir prisoner. A medieval chronicle asserts that Samuel's daughter, Theodora Kosara, fell in love with Vladimir and begged her father for his hand. The tsar allowed the marriage and returned Duklja to Vladimir, who ruled as his vassal. He was acknowledged as a pious, just, and peaceful ruler. In 1016 Vladimir was beheaded in Prespa by order of Samuel's successor, Ivan Vladislav, and was buried there. He was soon recognized as a martyr and saint; his feast day is celebrated on 22 May. Kosara reburied him in Duklja, and in 1381 his relics were preserved in the Church of Saint Jovan Vladimir near Elbasan. Since 1995 the relics have been kept in the Orthodox cathedral of Tirana, Albania; on his feast day they are taken back to the church near Elbasan for a celebration. The cross Vladimir held when he was beheaded is traditionally under the care of the Andrović family from southeastern Montenegro. The cross is carried on the Feast of Pentecost in a procession to the summit of Mount Rumija. Jovan Vladimir is regarded as the first Serbian saint. He is fabled to have carried his severed head to his place of burial.