Serbia: St. Lazar



  1. Students should be able to tell the story of St. Lazar.
  2. Students should be able to locate Serbia on a map of the world.

Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Tell the story of St. Lazar and the Battle of Kossovo:

                        The year 1389 marked the bitter defeat of the Serbs in the face of the Turks. But, why do the people of Serbia rejoice on that day and celebrate it as a national holiday? Instead of independence (Remember our 4th of July?), the Serbian people on that day lost their freedom.

                        The Tsar of all Serbia in that day was named Lazar. The ruler of the Turks was Sultan Murat. Murat sent to Lazar a letter. He demanded that Lazar turn over the country to him. If not, he would meet him on the Field of Kossovo and their armies would decide the fate of the nation. But, Lazar know that even more was at stake. The Turks had taken Constantinople and Greece. Serbia was the only country standing between the Turks and the rest of Europe. Lazar had asked for troops to help his small nation fight the mighty Turks. But the other European countries didn’t see their danger; they would not help little Serbia in its time of need. What should Lazar do now? He could not give up without a fight.

                        The evening before the great battle, as Tsar Lazar had dinner with his wife, Tsaritsa Militsa, she asked him if one of her nine brothers could stay home from the battle tomorrow. Both of them knew that death awaited the men on the battlefield. The Tsar agreed that a brother could stay behind to care for his sister. The next morning, the Tsaritsa waited at the city gates. One by one her brothers and father passed by; one by one they refused to stay behind. They would fight with their Tsar for the beloved land of Serbia!

                        On the evening before the battle a grey falcon flew away from Jerusalem, carrying a letter from the Virgin Mary on its back. The falcon was Elijah the Prophet. Do you remember his story? He dropped the letter on the knees of the Tsar. As Lazar read the letter, he grew sad. The Theotokos gave him a choice: if he chose an earthly kingdom, he would win the battle, but if he wanted the heavenly kingdom, he should build a silken church on the Field of Kossovo, take Communion, and prepare to die at the hands of the Turks. Lazar knew that an earthly kingdom would last only a short time, but a heavenly kingdom for eternity. He built the silken church and took Holy Communion with all his soldiers.

                        The next day, at first it seemed as if the Serbian forces could win the battle. The Tsaritsa’s 9 brothers and old father rode gloriously into battle, but all died. As each of Tsar Lazar’s forces entered the fight, they killed many Turks, but there were so many Turks! Then, one of the Tsar’s generals betrayed him and turned and fled from the battlefield. His men followed him. Tsar Lazar lost the battle and his life. But, all was not lost. When all of Europe heard of the Battle of Kossovo, they united and prepared to fight the Turks. The rest of Europe was safe because of the sacrifice of the Serbian nation.


  1. Look at a map of Europe. Constantinople, Greece, and Bulgaria were already in the hands of the Turks. All of the Holy Land and northern Africa were also in Moslem hands. Southern Spain had also fallen. Do you remember how France was saved? Charles the Hammer turned the Moslems back at the Battle of Tours. The Christian nations of Western Europe were at great risk. Remember that Mohammed promised immediate entry into heaven for any Moslem who died in battle fighting “infidels”. Hundreds of years after Charles the Hammer, little Serbia stood between the Turks and Austria, Switzerland, and Italy. So the defeat in the Battle of Kossovo, just like the earlier victory in the Battle of Tours, united Europe against their common enemy. Slowly the Moslems would be pushed back – by Isabella and Ferdinand in Spain (Remember them from the stories of Columbus?) and, finally, from Greece and Bulgaria. Serbia and Greece won their freedom about 200 years ago, after about 500 years of Turkish rule. Only Turkey itself, with its capital of Istanbul (Constantinople) remains in Turkish hands.


  1. Play a learning game: Hangman – Use names from this week’s lesson. Draw a gallows with dashes beside it for each letter of the name. As the students guess letters in turn, either write the letter in the name on its space or draw a part of a body. Will the man be hanged before the students guess the name? Some names to try:









  1. Make Lazar’s Banner: Lazar’s troops rode into battle with banners ablaze with golden crosses. We’ll make a windsock to fly in his honor. Take a piece of tagboard or foam, maybe red for the blood of the brave soldiers or purple for the Tsar, 8x18 inches. Bend into a circle and staple. Decorate with gold crosses – cut from wrapping paper, or gold glitter glue. Can you do different styles of cross? Use streamers of red, white, and blue – the colors of Serbia – of crepe paper stapled on. Add a hanging string and display proudly for Lazar’s brave death for a heavenly kingdom.


6. Close with prayer: Lord, give me as much love for You as had St. Lazar.