Stephen was born in 1433 in the principality of Moldavia (modern-day Moldova and parts of Romania and Ukraine). The son of Bogdan II, a prince of Moldavia, Stephen was called to leadership at a young age. He ascended to the throne in 1457, stepping into a period of considerable political instability and military threats.
During his reign, Stephen successfully defended his territories against the Ottoman Empire, maintaining Moldova's independence and fortifying its Christian identity. His victories in battle earned him the title "the Great," and he became a symbol of resistance against the Ottoman conquest.
Beyond his military achievements, Stephen was also a devout Christian. He used his resources to build and restore monasteries, churches, and other religious institutions, fostering spiritual growth and Orthodox Christian traditions in Moldova. Among his most notable foundations is the Painted Monastery of Voronet, often referred to as the "Sistine Chapel of the East."
After a long and successful reign, Stephen the Great passed away in 1504. His burial site is at the Monastery of Putna, one of the many religious institutions he founded.
In recognition of his efforts to protect and promote Orthodox Christianity, Stephen was canonized by the Romanian Orthodox Church in 1992. His feast day is celebrated on July 2.
Saint Stephen the Great is remembered not only as a skilled and brave ruler but also as a pious and devout Orthodox Christian. His dedication to defending and strengthening the Christian faith continues to inspire and guide believers.
Those who wish to learn more about the remarkable life of Orthodox Saints are invited to explore our collection here. Discover the story of a saint who combined leadership, bravery, and deep faith to serve his people and his God.