Sava of Gornji Karlovac

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Our father among the saints Sava of Gornji Karlovac (Serbian: Свети свештеномученик Сава горњокарловачки) was a bishop of the Church of Serbia who during World War II was arrested, tortured, and martyred by enemy Italian and Croatian personnel.


Svetozar Trlajić (Светозар Трлајић) was the son of Stefan and Jelisaveta (maiden name Karakašević). He was born in Mol on July 19, 1884. His education included primary school in his hometown, grammar school in Novi Sad, and seminary in Sremski Karlovci. Svetozar graduated from the Faculty of Law in Belgrade and passed the qualifying examination for judges at the Faculty of Law in Zagreb.

He was ordained deacon by the Bishop of Timisoara and then presbyter ten days later. As a parish priest he performed his duties in Peška and Bašaid. At the beginning of 1927, he was elected an officer and later principal secretary of the Holy Synod of Bishops. Being a widower, he took monastic vows on October 27, 1929 in the Krušedol Monastery and was tonsured with the name Sava. Soon afterwards he became protosyncellos and archimandrite and was appointed abbot of the Krušedol Monastery. On September 30, 1934, Sava was elected Auxiliary Bishop of Srem. He was consecrated in Sremski Karlovci by Patriarch Varnava, Bishop Emilijan of Timok, Bishop Jovan of Niš, Bishop Tikhon of Zahumlje-Herzegovina, and Bishop Simeon of Zletovo-Strumica. He was elected Bishop of Gornji Karlovac on June 22, 1938. After the death of Bishop Miron of Pakrac in 1941, he was also named administrator of Pakrac Diocese.


At the beginning of World War II in 1941, he refused a demand, given to him by the Italian occupational forces, to leave the diocese and go to Belgrade. He was arrested on July 17, 1941, and confined, together with three other Serbian priests and thirteen eminent Serb laymen, in a stable of an Ustasa Josip Tomljenović in Plasko. After experiencing awful torture, Bishop Sava and the priests Bogoljub Gaković, Đuro Stojanović and Stanislav Nasadilo were chained and taken to Gospic on July 19. They were tortured there until the middle of August, when Bishop Sava was taken, together with 2000 other Serbs, in the direction of Velebit Mountain. Somewhere on this mountain he suffered a martyr’s death together with thousands of other Orthodox Serbs. The site where Bishop Sava died is still unknown.


In 1998, at the regular session of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church Bishop Sava was glorified and entered into the list of the names of the Serbian Church saints as hieromartyr.

Succession box:
Sava of Gornji Karlovac
Preceded by:
Bishop of Gornji Karlovac
Succeeded by:
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