[[Image:Stefan Decanski ktitor.jpg|left|thumb|200px|St. King Stephen of Decani - fresco in Decani Monastery - 14th century]]
== Life ==
Stephen was born about the year 1285, the only son of the King Milutin (Stephen Uros II) and his first wife Anna of Bulgaria. Raised at the court of his father, Stephen received a good education, studying the language and writings of his people as well as the [[Holy Scripture]] and the teachings of the Orthodox Faith. The fruits of his upbringing
proved itself when King Milutin was forced to send him as hostage to the Tartar chief Nogai Khan of the Golden Horde. In spite of the potential dangers, Stephen was obedient to his father's will and did not resist, trusting his life to the Lord, which was not in vain. He eventually made friends with one of the Tartar nobles, who succeeded in assisting his safe return home after Nogai's death in 1299.
When Stephen came of age, his father arranged that he marry the daughter of the Bulgarian King Smilatz, Theodora, and the young couple were given the land of Zeta, where they settled until such a time as Stephen would be called to succeed his father to the throne.
Taken together with his children, Dusan and Dusica, his guards, using red hot pokers, blinded him as they passed through Ovcepole (Sheep's Field). That night St. [[Nicholas of Myra|Nicholas]] appeared to Stephen in a dream: "Be not afraid," he said, "your eyes are in my hands." Comforted by this vision, the sightless Stephen arrived in Constantinople where Emperor Andronicus took pity on the young exile and received him graciously. Stephen settled in the [[monastery]] of Pantocrator, where he impressed the [[monk]]s by his meekness and his long-suffering acceptance of the bitter trial that had come to him through his own father. Five years passed and King Milutin was growing old. Having heard good reports about his son, his heart softened, and he called Stephen home to Serbia. Before leaving Constantinople, Stephen had a dream in which St. Nicholas again appeared to him, holding in his hand a pair of eyes. When Stephen awoke, his sight was restored.
Three years later, his father died, and Stephen, always popular with the people, was crowned King of Serbia by [[Archbishop]] Nikodim I in Peć Monastery on [[Theophany]] [[January 6]], 1322. His royal title was Stephen Uros III King of Serbia and Coastlands. His brother Constantine, resenting this turn of events, raised an army in order to wrest the throne away from Stephen. Desiring to avoid bloodshed, King Stephen addressed a letter brother:
:"Put far from thee thy desire to come with a foreign people to make war on thine own countrymen; but let us meet one another, and thou shalt be second in my kingdom, for the land is great enough for me and thee to live. I am not Cain who slew his brother, but Joseph who loved him, and in his words I speak to thee. Fear not, for I am from the Lord. You prepared evil for me, but the Lord has given me good, as you now see."
His final trial was the most agonizing. His son Dusan's successes on the battle field gave him an appetite for power and glory. Encouraged by his entourage of nobles, Dusan decided to take the throne from his father. In 1331, King Stephen was taken as a prisoner to a fortress in the town of Zvecan and cruelly murdered by some nobles (some accounts say he was hung, another that he was strangled). His son did not know that these nobles wanted to kill his father, and soon the guilty were killed.
Almost immediately Dusan was struck by remorse. Earnestly and tearfully, he repented of his treachery. The following year, on the feast of the Holy Apostles [[Apostle Peter|Peter]] and [[Apostle Paul|Paul]], he had his father's remains transferred from Zvecan to Decani. There, they were placed in a marble tomb. In 1339, the tomb was opened and his body was found to be [[Incorruptibility|incorrupt]]. That same day saw many [[miracle]]s of healing.
Especially did the holy king prove to heal diseases of the eyes, and at his [[relics]] blind people received their sight.