The institution of the order of St. Sava was described by the law of the 23. january 1883 by King Milan I . It is the same law that concurrently ruled the order of the white eagle and the order of the takovo cross with swords . The order of the St. Sava was established in the way to reward civilian citizens for merits in achievments of science and arts. It was the first serbian only civilian order that was created. The order was subordinated to a first changment of the law text on 24. november 1904. Then King Petar I ordered the change of the monogram MI on the reverse with the cypher 1883 which coresponds with the insitutional year of the order. A second changment was made on 22. november 1914 when the text was changed in the way that also all military personel could have awarded the order of St. Sava for military merits.
The order is a white, blue edged eight pointed maltese cross ending in golden ball finals. Beetween the arms of the cross are placed crowned double headed eagles bearing the royal serbian coat of arms. The upper arm of the cross ends in a fleyr-de-lys to which a royal serbian crown is attached by a hinge axis to which the loop suspension is attached. The avers side of the cross bears a oval polychromed enamelled portrait of the bishop St. Sava. The center is encircled by a blue ribband worked in enamel and holding the motto of the order in old cyrillic letters " One's own work achieves all". The way the bishop is shown on those medallions differs from different types of produced orders. The revers side is showing in the originally instituted form the crowned monogram of King Milan I. In a white enamelled center is a golden crowned M I cypher. The four coat of arms on the eagles between the cross arms are often unenamelled on the reverse side of the order. After the first changment of the order law, the M I cypher was ommited and replaced by the cypher 1883. The size of the cypher varies with differrent types of production.