Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

Saint King Boris feast and a Holy Liturgy in the Great Basilica of Pliska – 2nd of May 2018

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

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Pliska is the first capital of Bulgaira and an ancient city that traces its roots back to the Baptizmal of Bulgaria by Saint King Boris (The Baptizer of Bulgarian lands and Slavonic People) the feast is of a great importance for Bulgaria to be pressent on the map of Europe over the last XV centuries since Bulgaria's establishment in 681 A.D. 

 

Pliska which is an enormous architectural complex dated from IX / X century hsa played a pivotal role for the Baptizmal process of Bulgarian nation as it was King Boris's palace at that time and the Christianization of Bulgarians and Slavonic (natioons) people started exactly in the newly built so called Great Basilica of Pliska  which was an archibishop seat and a central Monastery and Palace Church of Bulgaria, the building was completed approximately in 875 A.D. and was the biggest Cathedral church in Europe for about 1000 years onwards with the gigantic area of 2,920 square meters (31, 400 ft).

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20 century reconsturction of the Church walls based on descriptions from history annals 

The Basillica was build on top of ruins of older Bulgar pagan temple and has martyrium (a place dedicated to a martyr who has been martyred there) as many of the ancient Churches had. It is believed that the martyrium may be Saint (Boyan) Enravota – the first Bulgarian saint (circa 833). The basillica has a form of a Cross shaped mausuleum.

 

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Reconstruction of walls left part of the Altar


The archibishop residence was north and south of the basillica on the northern yard there was a residential building with a bath which included hypocaust (an ancient water warming system). Building south of the cathedral was used as school and scriptorium. Nearby the basillica are situated necropolis (most likely monk graves).

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Pliska Sarcophagus near the Great Basillica Church altar

As with every basilica of that time there is a special allocated place of the Church for nobles. Yard northside was used as a kitchen and a dining room and accomodated other monsatic buildings.


The Old Basilica reconstruciton original model should have looked something similar to below picture which is found in the Museum (which holds a little part of the artefacts found) situated about 1.5 kilometer from the Basilica.

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A presumable reconstruction model of the Old Basilica

On 2nd of May KIng Boris Feast in 2015 for a first time since many centuries in memoriam of 1150 years since Christianization of Bulgaria in the Great Basilica was served an Eastern Orthodox Christian (an open air) Holy Liturgy headed by the Bulgarian Patriarch Neofit with many Metropolitans guests from other Eastern Orthodox national Churches where the ex-president Rosen Plevneliev and the Living ancestor King Simeon the III-rd was present.

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Patriarch Neofit Patriarch and head of Bulgarian Orthodox Church blessing in Great Basilica y. – 2018

The event in 2015 was continued with the idea to become an yearly event on the feast of Saint King Boris each 2nd of May yesterday in 2018 by the Metropolitan of Varna and Veliko Preslav his eminence Metropoltian Ioan (John).

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Orthodox Christian Believers in the Great Basilica Preslav 2018 (People gathered being transported by free of charge buses organized by the Eparchy from Dobrich, Varna, Shumen, Targovishte 

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Fr. Peter reading The Apostle readings

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Metropolitan Ioan (John) of Varna and Veliki Preslav Blessing in Holy Liturgy 2018

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The Holy Altar with the Holy Sacraments in Pliska Basilica in 2018 (Metropolitan Ioan and his deacon)

The Church service was a big gathering for the region (if we take the fact that the current town Pliska has about 900 citizens and is in practice a village), the overall present people were perhaps about 200 to 250. More than 1/3 of the priests (38 priests) from the whole Eparchy served the service together with the Bishop. The weather before the service was rainy but just after the service and onwards, it came sunny again just like it was saint King Boris with all the Christian saints rejoiced to see so many Christians gather together just like the times when Christianity started to spread from this same place over the lands of Bulgaria country and later during the golden age throughout the territories of Bulgarian Empire and all the Slavonic borderlines such as nowadays Romania, Serbia, Ukraine and Russia. 

The whole set of pictures from saint King Boris feast in Pliska can be seen on the official  website of Varna and Veliko Preslav eparchy here

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Attending Hope: How Church Can Help Seniors Revitalize Their Life

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

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For senior citizens living alone, life can sometimes feel isolated and detached.  Attending church can revitalize people by providing a net of social and spiritual support. Recent studies have suggested that churchgoers see plenty of health benefits, ranging from the physical to the emotional to the spiritual.

Health

As Today reported, attending church is good for your health. The benefits are not limited or exclusive to a particular faith, and include any place where people gather to worship. Attending these communal gatherings provides a feeling of companionship, compassion, and the idea that one is accessing something bigger than oneself. All of this helps reduce stress, which can affect people’s appetite, sleep habits, and overall mental health.

According to the New York Times, going to church weekly is good for you; religiosity boosts the immune system and decreases blood pressure. Declining physical health or decreased mobility can be a contributing factor to depression in senior citizens. Attending a church service helps seniors get out of their house and interact with the world. Getting to church, however, can often present a problem for senior citizens who lack transportation. There are plenty of options seniors can use to get around. Most churches or community centers are accessible through public transportation like bus routes and trains. Some churches even offer pick up services for seniors and people with disabilities.

Social Support

For senior citizens living alone or without family, going to church can provide a stable and comforting community and social interaction. When people get older, they might become separated from their usual activities due to medical issues, retirement, or inability to perform certain tasks. Church provides an immediate form of social support, which is important in fighting off the physical effects of loneliness. Places of worship tend to have closer communities of people that take an interest in each other’s lives and help support the needs of their members, while offering public support in the form of food pantries, winter clothing, or emergency preparation. Many churches also host activities dedicated to senior citizens. They offer spiritual outings or gatherings that encourage community building amongst the local senior population.

Spiritual support

Attending a church or a spiritual center is a holistic way to approach challenges and personal suffering. As stated in the Huffington Post, the church’s role is to fill a void in the community for people looking for a “spiritual fix.” For seniors in need of this spiritual guidance, the church can help heal past wounds, worries, and lingering regrets.  Whether they’re struggling with depression, anxiety, or financial instability, churches also offer guidance and counseling to help people through their trials and tribulations. Having a second family with which to share problems and questions about life can keep seniors from sliding into isolation and depression.

Part of a church's spiritual support lies in the comfort one receives from others, but also in the messages of love and hope most churches embrace. Services can provide meaning and answers to life’s toughest questions. A church is not about a building, but about the people that gather there and the common purpose of truth and inner peace. Becoming part of a church community restores optimism in the lives of those who need it most.

Senior citizens should not feel isolated from the world. The church has always provided a safe haven for people most in need. Attending services and becoming part of a community will help seniors revitalize their life, form new friendships, and stay healthy.

 

Author: Jason Lewis

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Ancient Orthodox Christian Monastery Patleina and Great Preslav the First Bulgarian Kingdom Capital city near Shumen

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

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Recently I had the great oportunity to Visit another two great History Landmarks of my homeland Bulgaria the monastery Patleina (Saint Pantaleon (known in Slavonic tradition as Panteleimon) – in memoriam of the great healer Christian Saint) where according to Orthodox Church tradition and archeologists is the historical monastery where Saint (Tzar) King Boris the Baptizer of Bulgaria has concluded his early life as humble monk praying for the heavenly blessing and prosperity of his young Christinized Country Bulgaria.

Saint Panteleimon is famous in west Roman-Catholic Christian tradition to be one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers a patron of doctors and herbalists especially famous during the middle ages 14-19 century summoned by people as a shield against various diseases and asked for help for untreatable sicknesses.

Besides the famous monastery Patleina region is a natural reserve 40,62 hectars in North-East Bulgaria, after 893 just few years after the Christianization of Bulgaria in 865 by King Boris the region is famous for being a host of a world famous ancient Presval Literary School near the region are found the oldest known cyriic datable inscriptionsJust to name a few of the famous Preslav Literary School authors that is Saint Naum of Preslav, Bishop Constantine of Preslav (Author of Alphabet Prayer), Historics and various other ancient Bulgarian spiritual literature, John the Exarch, Tchernorizets Hrabar etc.

Notable to see near Patleina monastery are Orthodox Christian icon craftman workshops.

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Ceramic Icon Workshops near Patleina region (picture source Wikipedia)

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Just 6 km away from Patleina is situated another Great Historical Landmark, the first Bulgarian capital Great Preslav (Veliki Preslav).
 

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9th century Monastery Patleina Church wall remains – picture source Pravoslavieto.com

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Patlejna (Also known as Saint King Boris Monastery) IX century entrance Church wall remains
 

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Patleina IX century monastery Church alter view
 

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Veliki Preslav the famous Ceramic Icon found during archeological excavations in Patleina Monastery (2 km away from Veliki Preslav)
The icon style reminds of Byzantine art of 10 century, the icon image looks very much alike saint Theodor Stratilates though it not 100% proven whose image does the icon depicts – It is interesting fact that Patleinas craftman workshops are believed to be the biggest ceramic workshops on Balkans in 10th century consisting of a separate ceramic plates – picture source Wikipedia

Besides its  ancient monastery and archeological excavations Patleina region is famous for being a reserve keeping one rare type of tree Carob Tree (or Ceratonia siliqua).

Just about 300 meters away from the ancient monastery Patleina there is functioning monastery that was recently restored bought back by Bulgarian Orthodox Church from the Government, the monastery building started in the 1930s (in which Bulgaria was in a serious spiritual and economical boom, however the building completed right before the completion of the Second World War before 9.09.1944 the date at which the Third Bulgarian Kingdom finished its existence and the communist came to power.

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Saint Panteleimon Monastery Patleina region – (notice the unusual architecture, the whole monastery is one big rounded monastic wall

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Saint Panteleimon Monastery near Veliki Preslav (picture source pravoslavieto.org)

The monastery saint Panteleimon was planned as in impressive building as in the 30's there was a hope for a restoration of Patleina as a spiritual center that will elevate itself to the importance it once had in the 9th century for the raise of Bulgarian Empire, the building is 4 floor and has the shocking number of 120 rooms. 
The fresh air and nature all surrounding it makes it a great place for rest for people who are overwhelmed by their daily stressful life and as far as I understood there is possibility for renting some of the rooms for a couple of days for pilgrims or even tourists.

Currently the whole enormous monastery is inhabited by only one monk Hieromonk Father Constantne who is also appointed as an Abbot of the Monastery and is in process of doing his best for restoration of the monastery and building a monastic brotherhood.

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Hieromonk Konstantin (the only abbot and monk of saint Panteleimon monastery near Shumen)

As it is visible from the picture (the boxes under the icon of the Virgin Mary) the monastery has holy relics of Saint Panteleimon and relics of few other saints. What is interesting about father Konstantin is he used to be working in the Bulgarian Atomic Central (AEC Kozlodoi) scientific work before he converted to become a fervent Christian. 

After father Konstantin understood God is a reality he decided to dedicate his life to Christ and he used to be a (novice – neophyte) in the Holy Mouth Athos monk republic in the Bulgarian Monastery saint George for 8 years!!!

It seems in this years father Konstantin realized he would be more helpful to become a monk in Bulgaria instead of Holy Mount Athos as here in Bulgaria, there is a lack of monks at the moment Bulgaria has according to what I heard a maximum of about 200 (monks and nuns) which is critically low.

Holy Liturgy Church service is being served regularly in the small monastic Church which is more looking like a Chapel and is on the first floor situated in the monastery building.

Father Constantine is famous for his hospitally just like most of the Holy Athos monks and right after the Sunday Service it is a tradition to feed all his guests, as a guests we were richly fed and we shared his lunch table just like Agape (the dinners of love of ancient Christian times).

To find out more about Saint Panteleimon Monastery check out the monastery official site here.

Very near to Patleina Monastery there are other great landmarks for those interested in archeology as Veliki Preslav (Great Preslav) the first Bulgarian Capital and Ancient Center of Orthodoxy who had a major influence on Russian Cyrillic and Orthodoxy and from where most likely many Christian icons and books were transferred later to Russia to help them raise their spirituality after Baptizmal of Russia is situated just few km away.

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Entrance Walls fortress Great Preslav (picture source Izvora)

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Fortress Walls Great Preslav – The First Bulgarian Capital (ruins from the IX-Xth century) – picture source Wikipedia

In the historical Veliki Preslav the most notable archeological remain is the so called Golden Church

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Great Preslav the famous Golden Church – the Church was partially restored to show the visitor how approximately it might have looked like in the X-XII century (The church was found during archeological excavations in 1927-1928 by Krystio Miatev and Jordan Gospodinov – according to  written sources from 907 by Tudor Doksov, the Church coincides with the Church built by Simeon I the Great who proclaimed himself an Emperor of Bulgaria 

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Preslav the Golden Church (also famous as the Round Church) – picture source fonstola.ru

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Cross on a Stone The Round Church – photograped by Angel Pavlov


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Patleina and Great Preslav region view

Another Memorial Church worthy to visit in the region is situated on another fortress nearby to Great Preslav. The Memorial Church has the size of a Cathedral and is one of the biggest Cathedral Churches in Bulgaria.
 

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Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius Memorial Church (In veneration of the creators of Glagolic Alphabet, later Bulgarian Cyrillic Alphabet)

St. St. Cyril and Methodius Church was planned as a memoriam of Saint Methodius (1000 years since his passing to Christ) planned to be build earlier in 1890s but delayed and later built in memorium of the Christianization of Bulgaria and 1000 years passed since the glorious Rule of King Simeon I, the Church building works completed thanks to Metropolitan Simeon in 1926 (the building works were delayed from 1897 'till 1918) A.D..

Very near the Church, one can see the ruins of another old Monastery dating again from the IX – X century, the construction is of a massive craved stone and was a masterpiece in the X century.

As an ex monastery the place can be considered holy as well and some people says it along with Veliki Preslov are a Gracious Energy filled places that can positively impact the human spirit.

Very near is situated also an Archeological Museum containing some of the artefacts found in Patleina, Veliki Preslav and the surrounding monasteries  – the museum is in the list of 100 Bulgarian National Museums and Landmarks.

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Archeological Museum Great Preslav – picture source 100 Bulgarian National Landmarks

The museum has a very unique collection of artefacts and the entrance costs of 5 EUR is bearable, note that it's closed on Sundays.
The museum has an overall of 35 000 objects but unfortunately only 1700 artefacts are shown for the visitor, it is notable for holding one of the largest collection middle age Byzantine insignias, The Preslav Golden Treasure, bronze silver and ceramic artefacts.

The archeologists so far has determined that Veliki Preslav with all its Past Greatness and enormous territory, Churches and surrounding monasteries nearby has been planned as a rivalry Empire city to Constantinople and Preslav will definitely impress you if you're keen into archeology and history, hope you visit it soon, Enjoy! 🙂

 

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A great way to relax visit to Sliven Cathedral, Planetarium ( Observatory ) and an Ancient History museum in Yambol, Bulgaria

Monday, January 29th, 2018

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It is very odd that nowadays most of people, don't know even their own countries but visit many other countries and significant places, without even knowing the hidden gems (the great places you can relax in) in their own country. I'm not exception to this rule and I've never made a trip visit through whole Bulgaria even though I live here most of the time for the last 34 years of my life. Just before Christmas, I was in Pomorie Monastery for a 4 days spiritual and physical rest and it happened that one of the Monks Father Sergij with his novice monk Damian had to travel to a village near Yambol for an unexpected funeral of the Godfather of Damian.

Since they were about to travel to Jambol (Yambol) and there was 2 places in the car, they agreed to take me and my wife for a short few hours trip to Yambol. And that's how I got the great chance to visit Yambol, Bulgaria for a first time in life. I didn't know what to expect as I've never been in Yambol but only have been near by in Bakadjika's Monastery and the nearly organized Motorcycle Show Rocker feast just one time.

1. A first stop Sliven Cathedral Saint Demetrius Sliven

We jumped into the Car and father Sergij drove us to Yambol with a few minutes stop in Sliven, because father Sergij had something to do in the Metropolitan Building (Bishop Residence) in Sliven (just for info Yambol is a spiritual district of Sliven and the city is governed by Sliven's Metropolitan Joanikije), meanwhile we used the time while hiero-deacan Sergij was on his visit with the metropolitan to eat some food and have a 10 minutes walk around and a few minutes to pray in the Cathedral Sliven's Church Saint Demetrius of Sliven

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Cathedral Church saint Demetrius of Thesaloniki holds icon of saint Demetrius of Sliven

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Holy Icons of Saint Demetrius of Sliven the New Martyr (A Bulgarian Christian Martyr of the Turkish / Ottoman Slavery)

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The Church Interior a Holy Liturgy Snapshot with his eminence metropolitan Joanikij

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The Holy Relics of Saint Demetrius of Sliven new martyr

Here in Sliven, it is interesting facts that earlier there was quite an attempt from Roman-Catholicism missionaries to take over the Christian Orthodox people but by God's grace and efforts of the Holy Synod and the bishops who were governing the city, catholicism never spread widely even though catholics did they best to attract people by means of money, free education and other various mathods which franciscans and other catholic missionaries use.

Sliven historically has always been a city of revolutionaries and played a key role during the Bulgarian-Turkish Liberation war, the city has given a multitude of national heroes, it also an important war preparation center both during The Ottoman Bulgarian slavery as well as onwards during the years of communism 1944-1989, even nowdays there is a military forces in the city, near the city are a lot atomic shelters left from communism carved as caves in the mountains. Other interesting thing about Yambol is that near it are located the so called Blue Stones, which are rich of uraninite and therefore near it the region is higher in radiation.

2. Visit to the Planetarium (Observatory) in a Mathematics High School and a History museum in Yambol

Onwards we jumped in the car and travelled to (Yambol) Jambol – an old thracian city which lies on both banks of Tundzha river which lies in the historical region of Thrace. Near Jambol there is a historical ancient thracian city Kabyle.

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Ancient Thracian City near Yambol – Kabile

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Yambol Park Ormana (picture source Wikipedia)

It is interesting Yambol Peak on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named after Yambol.

To be honest my first impressions from Yambol were much far from excitement, you see some old buildings left from communism situated on a stiff places in a short it looked like a city of ruins of an old communist experiment, but if you put away the not ideal architecture and communistic landmarks and the kind of little depressing mood (maybe partially because of the winter) and partially because of the many buildings that are to gone through repairment works or be totally destroyed, once seeing the river and the sideview of short mountains, the mood cheers up a bit and one things maybe I was over pessimistic about this place, after all there also live people like us and perhaps they had a lof things we miss in our places.

 

Yambol center area makes big difference from rest of the city, as it seems shortly being reconstructed and it looks pretty much new and shiny while compared to rest of the city.

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Yambol city center, the 4 domes buillding leftside is an ex-turkish Bathroom, the other right side dome bld. is a Mosque
(Notice how odd and unusual seems to see some Ottoman Medieval buildings mixture with the Concrete high-heel buildings) – picture source Delnik

On our way to the city center, we passed through a Armenian Apostolic  Church building Serp Agop, all surrounded by a buildings which looked in a post-war state

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Armenian Apostolic Church – saint Agop Yambol
 

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Yambol city in pictures (src. Wikipedia)
 

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Yambol Panoramic view from Borovets (src. Wikipedia)

After having a walk on the city center, went to a caffeteria had a coffee with Svetlana and walked near river, we went to see the Ancient history museum, which keeps a lot of artefacts found in the Kabyle ancient Thracian village, the museum is also rich of national folklore costumes traditional for the regions, artefacts left from the Turkish-Russian liberation war an exposition of local poems, writtings, information about local customs connected with ancient Thracians and mostly a lot of artefacts before Christ.

To find the location of Yambol history museum, we had to ask some local people, as the museum is situated in a building that is not on the main centrain square but a bit aside in a cross street nearby.

After having really enjoyable time in the Museum, we went to look for the Planetarium (Observatory) which in my opinion is the greatest attraction in Yambol.
I've been to a Planetarium somewhere in Bulgaria one time as a kid and this experience has inspired me so much that later on in school the cosmos and the knowledge about the stars has always being in my heart and I learned Astronomy subject in 11 grade in school with such joy, that it was among the most interesting things I ever learned in life.

Yambol Planetarium is situated in a Yambol Mathematics High School and the Observatory is functional already for 47 years, the projection of the Stars is made via a complex device with a lot of lens manufactured by the famous Karl Zeiss East German optics and lens producer

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Picture Source ranica.eu

 

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Karl Zeiss lens Stars projection device in Yambol Observatory (Pretty Futuristic), ain't it?

The price of the Planetarium for a group is only 20 leva per group (10 EUR per group) and usually a group of 10 people each paying 2 eur is visiting through
prior reservation. But for people like me and my wife who don't have a previous reservation, you have to ask for a school pass by the school guard person an old good hearted man.
The price for 2 people was 5 EUR per person and we had the luck to visit the planetarium without any prior reservation, but I guess other visitors or foreigners can also agree
easily to have a visit to the Planetarium for the symbolic price of 10 eur per Planetary show.

The Planetarium's system of projection is pretty old but still the overall experience is really outstanding and it is impressive even for an grown kids like us. The lady that give us presentation
about the stars has a very indepth knowledge on astronomy and is a teacher of astronomy herself in the school (as far as I understood). The overall presentation of the stars in the Planetarium was about 2 hours and we learned tons of information about the constellations, the star order how to recognize them under a clear night sky etc. etc.

Planetarium rox and it is definitely a place to visit for people with kids, beside the planetarium room, there is an observatory with a relatively modern telescope, where on clear sky, one can enjoy watching the night sky.

Finally our trip to Yambol was over with our visit to Yambol Cathedral, saint Nicolas the Wonderworker.
The Church saint Nicolas the wonderworker was built after the Russian-Turkish liberation war, the church History starts in 1878, where a Small Russian Chapel was built by the Russian army on the place of the 2 Turkish houses. In 1894, the new Cathedral initiated by the Mayor of the city started and a Majestic Church was built whith today is an emblematic one for the city, the size of the Church is really impressive especially for a city where only 60 000 people live.

No doubt the Church is beautiful both outside and inside but unfortunately as many things in Bulgaria is to begone a reperation works so donations are welcome for sure.Yambol-Cathedral-church-st-Nikolai-chudotvorec-worndermaker

Saint Nicolas the Wonderworker Cathedral Yambol

Our trip to Yambol ended here, where we waited for father Sergij who took us with his car Daewoo and brought us back to Pomorie, where we had 2 more blessed days in Pomorie Monastery.
The trip to Yambol and the time spend with the fathers in Pomorie, as always was a real gift from God to me and my family, so if you have some free weekend and you wonder where to go in Bulgaria or you simply live or come to Burgas region and you want to change the routine boring daily pictures visit Pomorie, Sliven and Yambol, I'm sure you'll enjoy.

 

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Saint Andrew the First called Apostle “Protocletus” by Jesus Christ celebrated on 30 June and 30 November in Bulgarian Orthodox Church

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

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38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?

39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.

40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.

41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.

John 1:38-41 King James Version (KJV)

Church Troparion (Tone 4)

    Andrew, first-called of the Apostles
    and brother of the foremost disciple,
    entreat the Master of all
    to grant peace to the world
    and to our souls great mercy.

Church Kontakion (Tone 2)

    Let us praise Andrew, the herald of God,
    the namesake of courage,
    the first-called of the Savior's disciples
    and the brother of Peter.
    As he once called to his brother, he now cries out to us:
    "Come, for we have found the One whom the world desires!"

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Saint Andrew the first called Bulgarian Icon

The saviour Jesus Christ choose saint Andrew (the brother of saint Peter) to be the first among apostles in the number of his 12 (desciples) apostoles. The name Andrew is translated from Greek to Brave / Manhood, there is no known Hebrew or Aramic name as that which means that most likely the name Andrew was perhaps given by him in later times when he preached among pagans.
It is believed. As the gospel tells us he immediately turned to Christ follower and desciple being honored to be the first desciple and among the first that received baptism after Jesus Christ, he was one of the desciples of saint John the baptist (as we and once he heard the "living water" words of the savior he immediately followed without reasoning.

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The Lord Jesus Christ summons saint apostle Andrew for apostelship service (VI Century Ravenna Mosaic)

Saint Andrew's birth place according to our Orthodox Christian tradition is the village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Gallee (which has actually the size of a Lake), he was called with his brother saint Peter and promised by Jesus to be made a  "fishers of men" (Greek: ἁλιεῖς ἀνθρώπων, halieis anthrōpōn).
At the beginning of Jesus public life both apostles are said to have occupied the same house in Capernaum. He is believed to be the first bishop and founder of the holy see of Byzantium (later Constantinople today's Istanbul) in A.D. 38 and have ordained the first bishop of the city Stachys. He is known to have preached also among Thracians and travelled through the Black sea shelf (today Bulgarian lands) establishing Christian communities across the shelf lands.

He also preached in today's Greece in Peloponnese, Greece, and Epirus: he converted many to the Faith and ordained bishops and priests for them.

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Saint Andrew Georgian Icon holding the Holy Theotokos Icon

On a boat he entered Georgia from Ajara, preached Christianity in Atsquri, built small church there and left miracle-working icon of Theotokos (the Holy Virgin Mary). Travelling back from Georgia, he visited today Russian lands, went through Kiev, he planted a cross on one of the high hills of Kiev, and he prophesied a city that would have many golden-domed churches, and a bright Christian future for the Rus' people.

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Saint Andrew's prophecy of Kiev depicted in Radzivill Chronicle.

St. Andrew was martyred in Peloponnese, in the city of Patras. The Proconsul Aegeates' family believed in the miracles and preaching of St. Andrew, and the enraged Proconsul tortured and crucified St. Andrew. The new converts wanted to remove him from his cross, but the saint would not allow them. Instead, he comforted them from the cross and as he prayed an extraordinary light encompassed him for about a half hour. When it left, he gave up his soul. It was the year 62 AD.

St. Andrew's relics were taken to Constantinople, his head to Rome and a hand  perhaps transferred from Kiev to Moscow when the Russian capital changed.

agios_Andreas-martyrdom-holy-orthodox-icon

The X Crossed Martyrdom of saint Andrew

Early texts, such as the Acts of Andrew known to Gregory of Tours describe Andrew as bound, not nailed, to a Latin cross of the kind on which Jesus is said to have been crucified; yet a tradition developed that Andrew had been crucified on a cross of the form called crux decussata (X-shaped cross, or "saltire"), now commonly known as a "Saint Andrew's Cross" — supposedly at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus had been. The iconography of the martyrdom of Andrew – showing him bound to an X-shaped cross – does not appear to have been standardized until the later Middle Ages.

Saint Andrew is the patron saint of several countries and cities including: Barbados, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Ukraine, Amalfi in Italy, Esgueira in Portugal, Luqa in Malta, Parañaque in the Philippines and Patras in Greece. He was also the patron saint of Prussia and of the Order of the Golden Fleece. He is considered the founder and the first bishop of the Church of Byzantium and is consequently the patron saint of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

It is interesting that in Romania there is a cave in Romania the so called Saint Andrew Cave where saint Andrew lived for a while on his journey from Black Sea Shelf to Kiev after he preached the Gospel to Daco-Roman people in province Dobrudja Region nowadays (Scythia Minor), this tradition was a local believe and was not widely aknowledged until the 20th century.

Entrance_to_saint_Andrew-cave-in-Dobrudja-Romania
Entrance to Saint Andrew Cave in Dobrudja

According to Hippolyte of Antioch, (died c. 250 C.E.) in his On Apostles, Origen in the third book of his Commentaries on the Genesis (254 C.E.), Eusebius of Caesarea in his Church History (340 C.E.), and other sources, such as Usaard's Martyrdom written between 845–865, and Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend (c. 1260), Saint Andrew preached in Scythia, a possible reference to Scythia Minor, whose territory was part of Bulgaria but was integrated into Romania in the late 19th century.

Let by the prayers of saint Andrew we Christians grow in the understanding and love and be able to withstand the temptations of the hard times we live in!

 

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ArchAngels day 8 of November, the day of All Angels and Archangels – Who are the ArchAngels and why we should venerate them?

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

Archangel_Michael_A_Warrior-Angel-protector-of-all-Christians

Today on 8th of November, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is celebrating the day of Arch Angels (Primary Angels) who stay always near God Almigthy the Creator of this world.

Accroding to Christianity, there are seven main angels called (Arch Angels),  each of the Archangels has its own specific ission, one is a messanger of secrets that has to be revealed to man, other is a healer of infirmities.

The names of the Seven main Arch Angels in Eastern Orthodox Christian faith are:

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  •     Michael in the Hebrew language means "Who is like God?" or "Who is equal to God?" Michael has been depicted from earliest Christian times as a commander, who holds in his right hand a spear with which he attacks Lucifer/Satan, and in his left hand a green palm branch. At the top of the spear there is a linen ribbon with a red cross. The Archangel Michael is especially considered to be the Guardian of the Orthodox Faith and a fighter against heresies.

     

    Holy-Archangel-Gabriel_orthodox-icon
     

 

  •     Gabriel means "God is my strength" or "Might of God." He is the herald of the mysteries of God, especially the Incarnation of God and all other mysteries related to it. He is depicted as follows: In his right hand, he holds a lantern with a lighted taper inside, and in his left hand, a mirror of green jasper. The mirror signifies the wisdom of God as a hidden mystery.

     

    Holy-Archangel-Raphael-orthodox-icon
     

  •     Raphael means "It is God who heals" or "God Heals" (Tobit 3:17, 12:15). Raphael is depicted leading Tobit (who is carrying a fish caught in the Tigris) with his right hand, and holding a physician's alabaster jar in his left hand.

     

    Archangel-Uriel-orthodox-icon
     

  •     Uriel means "God is my light," or "Light of God" (II Esdras 4:1, 5:20). He is depicted holding a sword against the Persians in his right hand, and a flame in his left.

     

    Archangel_Selathiel_Herodion-of-Patras_1840_Russia
     

  •     Sealtiel means "Intercessor of God." He is depicted with his face and eyes lowered, holding his hands on his bosom in prayer.
    Archangel-Jegudiel-holy-orthodox-icon

     
  •     Jegudiel means "Glorifier of God." He is depicted bearing a golden wreath in his right hand and a triple-thonged whip in his left hand.
    Archangel-Barachiel-the-archangels-the-peace-blessed-by-God
  •     Barachiel means "Blessed by God." He is depicted holding a white rose in his hand against his breast.

     

    holy-Archangel-Jerahmeel
     

  •     Jerahmeel means "God's exaltation." He is venerated as an inspirer and awakener of exalted thoughts that raise a person toward God (II Esdras 4:36). As an eighth, he is sometimes included as archangel.

 

The accent of todays feast (Synaxis of the Holy Archangel Michael and the other Budiness Powers) is Archangel Michael, so I find it worthy to say few words more about Archangel Michael.

Archangel Michael is "the keeper of the souls and a fighter against evil in the world".

That is the reason why Archangel Michael is often depicted with a firy spear at hand piercing the devil.
In the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith there is no other God servent guardian angel with so many duties.

Archangel Michael is:

1. Chiefman of the Heavenly (Bodiless) Powers

2. A fighter against the spirits of wickedness (spirits of evil)

3. A Protector of Christians from the devil

4. A Chief Leader of Christ's armies against the pagans and heresies

5. A Keeper of All Christian Souls

6. The Archangel that is present on mens deathbed and divides the soul from the body
 

Archangel_Michael_piercing-the-devil

The dividing of the soul on a men deadbed is perhaps one of the most important of Archangel Michael's missions it does stop our earthly way and collects the soul. Just before this according to our Orthodox Christian faith, each one of us Christians is given by God during Baptism with a personal guardian angel, who keeps him from perils, troubles and sorrows.

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The Guardian Angel each Christian receives during baptism

But man has to be cautious, the guardian angel does cries watching at us when we live careless sinful life, he is not enforced to keep for us eternally if we wish to live a life without faith or God, then he leaves us crying for our fallen state.

The more sinful life a man leads in this life, the more clean his soul is being collected by Archangel Michael.
The food we put on table Archangels day is a feastful one, it is a tradition here in Bulgarian to eat Lamb meat the so called (Kurban) and a special breads are prepared, the so called Rangel's Bread, there are 2 types actually (Bogovica and Rangelovo bludo).
A boiled wheat is also a common meal on the table, beans and of course red wide.

The meaning of 8 of Novembers feast is to celebrate the Congregation Integrity of all Angel ranks (just like in Army we Christians believe that Angels and they all work together for the same goal the salvation of each man's soul)

Archangel-Michael-collecting-soul-of-a-dead-man

Because of Archangel Michael being so famous to divide the soul from the body of the dying, perhaps it is not a coincidence why few days before 8th of November on the previous Saturday the Church calendar marks A Memorial day for all those who died (The so called Zadushnica feast), the meaning of which is that people give out food and goods for the remembrance of the souls of their departed beloveds, praying with hope for the deceased people begging God to have mercy over their souls. Because of this unwritten connection between the men deadbed and Archangel michael often in people's tradition ArchAngel Michael is seen to be an Angel of Death and historically has been highly venerated all across the Christiandome.

It used to be an old people believe that if one smiles on his death hour this means ArchAngel Michael has granted him to heaven and as a prize has given him a Golden Apple (in spiritual sense).

Synaxis-Assembly-of-All-The-Holy-Heavenly-Powers-Archangel-Michael

Let the Holy Archangels; Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel Selathiel, Jegudiel, Barachiel, Jarahmeel along with all angels and bodily powers pray for us so we find ways to become better people and clean up from our numerous sins by repentance.
Amen

 

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Living and Martyrdom of Saint Zlata of Meglen (Muglenska) one of the greatest Bulgarian Martyrs during the Ottoman Bulgarian Slavery

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

saint_Zlata-of-Myglen-one-of-the-greatest-Bulgarian-martyr-saints-protector-of-bulgarians-abroad

Saint Zlata of Meglen (Muglen) or also as we call it in Bulgaria saint Zlata Muglenska (Αγία Χρυσή) is a Great Holy Martyr Christian saint venerated mainly in Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia and Serbia (nowadays), however historically even though being from the nowadays Macedonian lands, she was Macedonian Bulgarian by blood heritage she lived in the times of deep physical and spiritual darkness that has been sheeding on the ex-Bulgarian empire lands in the XVIII century in a very poor family originating from the village of Slatino ( the Orthodox Christian eparchy of Slatino ), the Ex-Ochrid Bulgarian epipscopy.

For the time she had a extensively distinguished from other young maids with her beauty and her soul has been gifted with excessive humility, Godliness, pure heart and a truthful burning unshakeful faith in / for God.

Because of her unearthly unusual beauty, a young Turk fall in love with her and decided to kidnap her and to rape her.
One day she went to the deep woods to gather trees for the coming winter uknowing the young turk with other turk friends has prepared an ambush for her.
The turk descended over the pure virgin with the help of his other friends and they captured the God servent lady and brought her to his home offering
and promising her marriage under the turms that she convert to his faith Islam.
The turk told her she either has to merry him and convert to Islam or stay Christian and suffer Christian martyrdom because of her stiffness.

Saint Zlata of Meglen stood firm in her Christian faith and rejected the offer, but the young turk being pushed by the devil has decided that this young beauty has to become
his wife, so to help his goal to convert her to his Muslim faith he brough ladies to sing her enticing songs (as an ancient manipulation technique) to brainwash the lady to
reject her Christian faith.

The young turkish ladies which by the way belonged to someone's local person harem (seraglio), were singing and dancing, smiling at her and giving their
best to show her the beaties of Islam, they told her how nice the muslim treat their lifes and how superior is according to them Muslim faith, trying their best to convince her to reject
her faith and join their false godliness.

Saint Zlata looked at the songs and lures as a temptations from the devil recognizinig the unclean spirits works inside the young ladies and turks surrounding her and strongly stood
and was watching at them with deep disgust
, praying inside her self to the Lord Jesus Christ to help her and strenghten her to stand firm in the temptations, asking him better
for a martyrdom than false enjoyment of this temporary lieful and earthly goods which leads to the eternal hell.

The young turkish ladies seeing her firmness for Christianity and unwillingness to reject the Lord and Saviour of mankind The Lord Jesus Christ had an assembly together on how to behave and came to conclusion that the only ones that can turn her from Christ might be her own family (mother, father, sister, brothers) and adviced the young turk man that the only help here might be if the family of the young virgin Zlata influence her to change her mind to reject Christ and merry the turkish man.

The family of the woman knowing the craftliness of Turks and there unrespect for the life of the Christian saw that the only option for her daugher and sister in Christ to stay physically alive is to accept Islam, so they started convincing her to accept islam, perhaps secretly hoping she can become Mohammeddan on the surface but become Christian in her heart (something that many Bulgarian, Serbian and Greek, Albanian and (others from the so called Rum-Milet Cast people or People of the Eastern Orthodox Faith within the Ottoman Empire)  were forced to do to occasionally to save their lives).

But Zlata was unshakable in her decision and firm fireful faith for Christ and publicly reinforced her decision that she better die in suffering than to accept the ungodly eartly wicked religion of Islam.

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This unshakeful behavior of saint Zlata additionally scared off her family and they becomed crying in front of her continuing to convince her to convert to Turkish faith and reject Christ, they were scared about their own physical lives and this cry outs were not a cry outs by reason but a cry outs inspired by the devilish fears for the body, they were forgetting Christ words who says, "Don't fear those who kill / destroy the body, but better fear Whom who has power to throw out body and soul into the eternal Ghehenna (Hell)", the exact citation from Holy Bible is  like this "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." Mathew 10:28.

Of course seing the closest beings of her crying in the soul of Saint Zlata become a division, common for us mortals.
The love for her parents and her sisters was pushing her to listen to her family and the love for the world was pushing her to listen to the turks but the love for God Christ and her Christian Duty were pushing her to become unshakeful 'till the end and accept martyrdom for Christ.

But in the young virgin the love for the world was less than the love for Christ and she screamed boldly but humbly at her spiritual torturers.

st-Zlata-of-Meglen-holy-martyr-helper-of-foreigners-abroad-living
 

– Even if you my parents my sisters, are forcing me to reject the Lord Jesus Christ, do know that you're no longer my parents, no longer my sister!
– My father remains only my Lord Jesus Christ and my mother – the Most Holy Mother of God (Holy Theotokos) Mary, and my brother and sister are now – all the martyrs for Christ!


The turks underestood now the virgin is not willing to change her faith, and decided to force her with other means (by physical tortures) to change her faith.
Consequently three months they beat her with staffs. And then when the staffing did not help them change her mind, they started cutting skin out of her body back
and show that bloody skins to her eyes to scare her off.

A rivers of blood flow of the young pure martyr. Finally they took a glowing iron stick and pricked (holed) her head from the eye to the eye.
Christ's Grace were helping the saintly Virgin Zlata to endure all this and even after all this unbearable for a normal human body torturings
she become alive.

She was left temporary in a prison by her maryrs and by God's providence right in that time she heard the Priest (spiritual elder of her parents, and pro-Igumenos (main abbot) of Holy Mount Athos the hieromonk Timothey (Timothy) visited Meglen village.

Through one of the Christians who visited her regularly in prison she send a beseech to hieromonk Timothey to fervently pray for her, so that God gives her an honorable end of her Christian Martyrdom.

And God had honored her with a final martyrdom and an eternal honour in his One Holy Eastern Orthodox Church.

The torturer turks being embittered by their failures to break off the fervent faith in Christ of the Holy Martyr, invented another final bestiality.

The-pear-tortures-by-Ottoman-Turkish-of-Saint-Agia_Zlata-of-Meglen

They hanged Saint Zlata on a pear tree and come to her sticking her with knifes and finally they hunged her on the same tree, after which to prevent
other Christians to bury her in a Christian rite, they cut the body in parts.

In that manner of unhuman but spiritually glorious manner the Holy Great Martyr received her glorious Martyrdom for Christ
and she become an Eternal prayer for all the true Christians all around the world.

Like a clean gold, cleared by the sufferings, saint Holy Great Martyr Zlata give up her soul to God on 18 of October 1795 year filling up
the sonhms of Christian and Bulgarians saints for the Savior of the World Lord Jesus Christ.

Her martyrdom by God's providence has happened just one day before the celebration of the Greatest Bulgarian saint and Hermit saint John of Rila whose Dormition happened on 19th of October 946.

Pieces of her martyred body, were distributed among believing Christians for a blessing and many received healings from her Holy relics.

Saint Zlata is said to protect the emigrant and Bulgarians abroad and is doing miracles and helping people who stood firm in their Christian Believe 'till this very day.

Holy mother and Great Martyr Zlata Muglenska pray the merciful Lord Jesus Christ to save our sinful souls!

 

Sources used:
The Livings of the Saints – Synodal edition, Sofia 1991, under the edition of Bishop Parthenij Levkijski and Archimandrite dr. Athanasij (Bonchev), including some reasoning and additions to details by the Article Author Georgi Dimitrov Georgiev as inspired by God

 

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Trip to Bakadjiiski ( Bakadji ) monastery Bulgaria near Yambol peak Bakadji and a Rocker Moto feast- A little known tourist Mountain virgin perl of Bulgaria

Saturday, May 13th, 2017

Bakadjiiski_monastery-Holy_Saviour_little-known-cheap-tourist-destination-perl-of-Bulgaria

Perhaps many of Bulgarian citizens and people in Europe who have heard about Bulgaria and its Capital Sofia or have been on a tourism trip to Bulgaria know Saint Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Bulgaria capital Sofia.

However perhaps few know or have heard that saint Alexander Nevskij's Cathedral is not the only Church dedicated to the Russian saint but earlier another small Christian church was build as a remembrance and honor of the Russian-Turkish War Bulgarian liberators who were consisting of (Russian, Belarusians, Ukrainian, Finish and Romanian) soldiers who have sacrificed there life (according to official sources about 70 000 – 100 000 deaths from Russian side) but unofficial sources says 200 000 – 300 000 as a real numbers of victims of Russians and about les say at least 80 000 victims of Bulgarian side.

The Russian-Turkish Liberation war of 1877 and liberation of Bulgarian from Ottoman slavery are among the most notable events for Bulgarian history.

With the coming of peaceful times, the warm feelings and high appreaciation of Bulgarian nation to Russian liberators have been demonstrated numerous times with the creation of innumerable number of Christian Churches and Chapel and other Christian monuments, the most notable along with saint Aleksander Nevski on the city center of Sofia is the monument of emperor Alexander Nikolaevich II-nd   the Liberator

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The first monument in remembrance of the Russo-Turkish Bulgarian Liberation war was built nearby the city of Yambol after the victory of 23rd Donsk – Khazak regiment in Yambol is established 55th infantry (Podolski) regiment, 95th infantry regiment of Krasnoyarsk and some other Russian troop forces while finally in the end of year 1878 here is established 30th infantry regiment of the corups of General Skobelev-Junior.
In the beginning of next year the famous General discusses with Yambol citizens his idea to build a Church "for eternal remembrance of Russian soldiers on the battlefield during the liberation of Bulgarian of Ottoman slavery".

 

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It is decided the idea to be implemented with joint forces between the North slope on the first peak of Bakadjika – also known as "Saint Spas", and on its ridge – on the same place of the Destroyed by Turkish soldiers Monastery "Sveti Spas / Holy Saviour) during the Bulgarian Uprising of April (Aprilsko Vozstanie).
Gen Skobelev and the local people decided to build a small chappel in honor of Russian saint Alexander Nevski who played key role for the rise of Russian nation and thanks to whome Russians managed to escape slavery from the surrounding Turkish khan rulers like Bhatai Khan etc.

With the success of preliminary plan, the place become a common visited (usually mostly during Summer months) by citizens of about 12 km far Yambol city.

With the withdrawal of last Russian soldiers of the region while departing from there general Skobelev gave a precious gift to the newly built Church – an Evangelion with an Engraved Cross.

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Evangelion gift by general Skobelev

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The Cross gift by General Skobelev to the new built memoriam Church saint Alexander Nevski

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Icon of Alexander Nevski kept in the St. Aleksander Nevski Memorial Church in Bakadjika Holy Saviour Monastery.

After the depearture of Russian soldiers the consturctuion works of the temple are completed by Bulgarians with the material aids from Russia.
The iconostasis follows the Russian Orthodox Church tradition engraved by Russian monks and moved in parts to be mounted in the Church.

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The gonfalons and most of the icons are brought by Kiev Pechersk Lavra (The biggest and one of oldest if not earliest monastery on Russian lands) nowdays in capital of Ukrain Kiev.

In 1884 with the presence of the Russian embassador for Eastern Romelia with many official guests and locals
the official sanctification of the Church-monumentum st. Alexander Nevski (nowadays Bakadjishki monastery) has beenmade.
The Church and monastery had gone through a really hard times during Communism (Socialism) in Bulgaria 1944-1989 and until 10-15 years ago it has been left in a very bad state.

However thanks to locals and a Hieromonk Sofronij (known by many locals as Stefan Bradata (Stefan The Beard), the monastery has been quickly starting to recover its material base.

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hramov_Praznik_Sv-Spas-Bakadjika-near-Yambol-monastery

Fr. Sofronij has been in process of building monastic corups where guests can stay for a night or few but is facing financial problems and he is kindly asking anyone who has the finances and love for Christ and the Eastern Orthodox Church to help with finances, material goods or even workforce and of course novice monks are always needed.

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Nearby the monastery there is a famous Cave well (holy spring water), which according to the local tradition has been revealed in a dream to a monk and the monks has dug hardly the cave wall about 30 meters and then dug down exactly the the place where the monk had the Vision of the Blessed Mother Mary.
Just like in the dream the Miraculous Holy Spring water has emerged exactly on the place shown in the dream, because of the resemblance of the Well found with the Evangelion story of the Samaritan woman at the well – whose name btw in Christian Eastern Orthodox tradition is Photinia, the well later received a name The Well of Samaritan.

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The entrance door leading to the Cave Samaritan Well

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Fr. Sofronij with the Italian sculteres of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Samaritan

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The Well with (Buklica – traditional water vessel in Bulgaria)

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Italian statues of Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well (Holy Water / Agiasmo / Aiazmo Spring)

In case if you want to spend the night in Bakadjika Monastery for a really cheap – 5 euro please contact:

Yambol Bakadjicite
089 895 4611
bradara_indjata@abv.bg


Each on Bakadjika it has become a local tradition for Rockers / Metalheads and Moto fans all around Southern Bulgaria
to gather near Bakadji just 1 km away from Bakadjiski monastery.
Since ancient times the spiritual centers has always attracted people and perhaps this is also true for Bakadjika which earlier has been a place for a heroic battles for freedom and nowdays has become a rocker arena of a different understanding of wild life and human freedom.

This year 2017 it is the 20th anniversary for Rockers gathering on 12 of May on Bakadjika-Yambol Moto feast to meet other who are alike. The rocker event is about to last 3 days until 15 of May.
For the safety of Rockers this year the rockers has been granted a great honor as a Bishop of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (Bishop of Agathopol – Ierotey Kosakov his whole biography is on Bg-Patriarchy website here) has personally come to the event to pray (with the so called Vodosvet – Or Blessing of Water) for the well being of the Rockers who are to ride and take participation of organized games and racing events of Bakadjika feast.

Bishop_Ierotey_Ksakovof_Agathopol-Bishop-of-Bulgarian-Orthodox-Church_Moto-rocker-feast-Bakadjika-2017

What is famous near the monastery and perhaps little known outside of Bulgaria and perhaps in Eastern Europe is the existence of Gigantic Monument (Soviet times / Communist) of Bronze build in year 1987 in honor of 110 years of the Liberation of Bulgarian from Ottoman Turkish Slavery. The monument is a kind of symbiosis between concrete plate with plastics and 32 tons of bronze.

The monument depicts events related to Bulgarian history divided on 3 parts.

1. A Russian Soldier and a Bulgarian (opalchenec = guerilla of the liberation war) – symbol of the heroic victory over Ottoman enslavers and the Victory of Christianity on Bulgarian lands over islam

2. Second comes plastics depicting a mother with a child – symbol of continuity between generations

3. A Cosmonaut (Spaceman) – a symbol for Bulgarian-Russian achievements in science and the mastering of cosmic space  and on the top with a plastic is a young-woman – a symbol for advance of resurrected Bulgarian nation

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Bakadjik-memorial-of-Russian-Liberators-1

Bakadjik-memorial-of-Russian-Liberators-4

 

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The feasts of healer saints Cosma and Damian and saint John of Rila holy relics return to Rila Monastery – An Orthodox Christian July Morning in Kavarna with Father Vasilij Selemet

Saturday, July 9th, 2016

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Saint Cosma and Damian Healer Saints Icon

As some who were in Bulgaria already know there is this new set metal / rock / underground feast called July Morning that started from years in Communism in Bulgaria but has a strong relation with pagan feasts being celebrated before Bulgarian inhabitans were baptized and Bulgaria become enlightened Christian land.

With recent serious attempt to resurrect all paganism under a new packaging through metal / rock / rap culture festivals and the rise of rebellion against the system by so many young peoplewhich started in America in the late 1960's by the Peace Anti-War / Hippy movement the tradition of rebellious and mixed head young people has quickly spread over all the lands which had a severe American Anglo-Saxon influence and after the fall of the communist-system and shortly before this influence born the so called July Morning a feast to receive the first Sun light on every 1st of July while camping near some of the beatiful Bulgairan beaches.

Young hippy / metal / rock / hardcore / techno people as well as other alternative people from all fields of undeground music and other sub-cultures from all places from Bulgaria and even abroad gather to have fun drink and enjoy the night and stay awake 'till early morning on 1st of July, then by tradition they play Uriah Heep's July Morning being inspired by the first Sun lights while others headoff themselves with inhuman quantities of alcohol, joint and other soft-drugs.

As Kavarna become over the last 5+ years, "The rock capital of Bulgaria" and a whole Europe famous metalheads destination the need for contra reaction from traditionally Eastern Orthodox Christian Bulgaria become so evident that one of the famous priests in eparchy of Varna – father Vasilij Salemet (A Besarabia Bulgarian Gagauz) who serves as a priest in Kavarna by God's great providence decided to start a new counterfeit tradition to give glory and prayer akathist to the double feast of ancient Christian healer twin saints Cosma and Damian (A.D. 287) known as Unmercenaries because of their refusal to accept any money for healing and The Transportation (Return) of Holy relics of the Greatest Bulgarian Saint John of Rila in 1195 from Tarnovo to Rila Monastery.

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The Return of Holy Relics of saint John of Rila from Tarnovo to Rila Monastery icon

This too significant Christian feasts providently coincided with the Secular July Morning and this was a good reason for setting the Eastern Orthodox Christian litia procession "march" antiope to secular July morning is the fact that in Kavarna on the Chirakman peak cape nearby the sea is situated an enormous sized ancient Basilica which was in favour of st. Cosma and Daminos. The Christian july morning started 5 years ago by the initiative of father Vasilij's laity from the Church in honour of The Dormition of the Most Holy Virgin together laity from saint Nicolas Varna Church and people from Varna's Orthodox Christian enlightenment Center archangel Michael which btw is also famous for organizing the Week of the Eastern Orthodox Christian book and other events who aim to help people understand the Truth and Light of the Lord Jesus Christ teaching and his established Holy Church, the Holy Eastern Orthodox Church.
 

In the event by tradition also the famous in Varna father Vasilij Shagan was present and he give a short talk on the topic of Today's world disintegration and the importance of the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ which called all for spiritual unity in faith of his Holy name through His established Church with his own blood on the Golgotha Cross.

A notable guests was  young people from Varna and Dobrich region, father Dimitrij who is priest in Moldovan Besarabia city of Bolgar as well as we had the blessing to have father archimandrite Konstantin an abbot of Patleina Great Preslav  / "Veliki Preslav" monastery which is either the most ancient monastery in Bulgaria or among the 3 most ancient established after the Baptismal (Christianization) of Bulgaria in 864 A.D

The host of the Orthodox Christian July morning event was father Vasilij who as always was very hospital and settled all the guests in the few Church rooms situated nearby the Church building on the second floor of a caffeteria building.

Akathist saint John of Rila July Morning Kavarna

Akathist to Saint John of Rila, the Klir singers back left
 

The whole prayer event started on 30 of June with an akathist to Saint John of Rila in order to honor also our great Bulgarian saint this year there was no vesper or a night vigil because the people were already too tired as some of the believers came in mid day on 30th and already went to Chirakmana (hill like) cape Basilica Saint Cosma and Damian in order to clean the remains of basilica foundations from the wild grass which was taking over the place because of the heavy rains this year.

Akathist to Saint John of Rila in Kavarna Church Dormition of Mother Mary

Akathist to Saint John of Rila 30 of June  2016 evening sideview to Alter Doors (Dveri)

 

After the akathist to Saint John of Rila there was a free dinner prepared by his wife presbitera (Matushka) Ekaterina and given by father Vasilij to all present borther and sister christians and father Vasilij Shagan give his 1.5 hour speach on the need of spiritual unity between Christians and through all through faith in our Risen Lord Jesus Christ, there was a lot of referrences to Bessarabia and their previous life in Besarabia and a short speeach by father Dimitrij from Bessarabia who as we understand used to be the inspirator for priesthood of both Father Vasilij Salement and Father Vasilij Shagan which in 1992 started their priest carrers as a humble seminary students in Sofia Spiritual Christian Seminary saint John of Rila.

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Father Vasilij (Left) and Father Dimitrij (from Besarabia)

Dinner Room in Kavarna trapezaria after akathist to st John of Rila

The Fathers Vasilij, Konstantin, Vasilij, Dimitrij during the dinner

It is always a true blessing to meet other Christians as Jesus said and the joy of the shared dinner which consisted of bread, clams, caviar, mashed potatoes  a nice salad of tomatoes, pepper, cucumbers and onion.

After having the shared table and joy to meet new brothers and sisters from Dobrudja region a lot of people had the chance to have long talks with Borislav Avramov (Borko Avramov) who is a key person and lecturer in saint archangel Michael Orthodox Center and Church and a truly famous person among Varna Orthodox Christian Youth.

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Starting the Lithia (Procession) 

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The procession – notice the unique beautiful nature

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The procession climbing the way to the Roman Basilica

The first Sun lights on July Morning in Kavarna

The Sun rising over the Chirakman cape, first sun lights

Chirakman peak cape sideview from top to sea coast and the many electricity generators on the background

Chirakmana peak majestic view from top sea shore – notice the many green energy producer fins

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The procession icon of St. Cosma and St. Damianos (right) and St. John of Rila (left) with the Holy Cross and Ripidions

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Lighting up charcoal for censor (incsensory)

The Open Church Alter in Chirakmana akathist to saint Cosma and Damian

Fr. Veliko (left), fr. Konstantin, fr. Konstantin, fr. Dimitrij

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Fr. archimandrite Konstantin reading prayers

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Christians praying at the Majestic Basilica Remains

In the morning the procession started from The Dormition of the Virgin Mary Church the youngest were given icons of st. Cosma and Damian and were leading the procession and the rest of Christians were following some of which singing troparions of Saint John of Rila, The Most Holy Trinity, Troparion of saint Cosma and Damian, Trisvetoe (All Holy Thrice) hymn, O Theotokos Virgin (Bogorodice Devo), Dostoino Esty and other Church troparions.

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During the Acathist to st. Cosma and Damian

We were pleasently surprised in the morning to find out that the priest from Holy Trinity Church from Dobrich father Veliko and his wife Conka with their 2 kids Mihaela and Andrea came for the akathist prayer to st. Cosma and Damian as well as our beloved brother Stelian and his girlfriend Marinela.

To reach Chirakmana cape the walk is downside about 40 minutes walk through a beautiful wild nature from both the right and left. The road has also a drinkable water for those who got too thirsty, once reaching near the sea there was another 25 minutes walk up to reach  Chirakmana cape peak  6th century ancient Basiiica of saint Cosma and Damian.

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Father Vasilij reading the Gospel after the Acathist

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The Basilica st. Cosma and st. Damian Alter

There were also people with cars so for those tired to walk the 40 minutes downside he can get near the seashore by car, I personally was too tired and we travelled with Galin and Andrea and their 3 children.

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Father archimandrite Konstantin blessing with the sanctified water from the Acathist

This year there was no Holy Liturgy service in open space on the basilica location like they used to serve 4 years ago but fr. Vasilij promised to do his best to make it possible perhaps on next year to have the proper tent installed in order to protect the Antimens and Alter from the wind.

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Common picture of everyone after the Acathist

We walked back the road from Chirakmana to near seashore and from their our friend Stelian took me and father Konstantin to drive us to the Church in other occasions I would have walked but since I was so tired from previous day, we travelled to Holy Dormition of Virgin Mary Church with Stelian's car after filling bottles with the mineral water spring situated on the road leading to the Church.

Once all come to the meeting point which was the dinner room we had a wonderful coffee, tea and a quick free breakfast generally given again by fr. Vasilij after which everyone who had a car travelled to Kaliakra Cape which is few kilometers drive way to venerate also the chapel in honour of saint Nicolas the Myrh-Bearer.


The overall experience and spiritual joy was great for everyone I expect the new pious tradition will continue for the next years to come. Everyone who wants is invited to visit and experience the truthfulness of the words of the savior of the Lord Jesus Christ who said:

"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." – Mathew 18:12

Let by the prayers of Saint Cosma and Damian and the Greastest Bulgarian Reverend desert father Saint John of Rila the All Holy Trinity have mercy on Bulgaria and all Orthodox Christian countires and All people living with faith.

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Preeminent Saint apostles Peter and Paul feast in the Holy Eastern Orthodox Church – June 29

Friday, July 1st, 2016

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"With the Grace of God I am what I am" (Corinthians 15:10)

This year the Peter and Paul feast period in the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church was just 3 days (27,28,29), because it is a movable feast and depends on the Great Lent's longitude

Saint Apostles Peter and Paul are named Preeminent because they have laboured the most in setting the basis for the Holy Christ Church.

Saint Apostle Peter together with his brother Andrew were the first which was called by the Lord Jesus Christ which was destined by the Great providence of God to become his desciples and apostles.

Saint Peter's distinguishing soul character was his pure heart and the soul simplicity. Always when the Savior asked questions from his desciples to illustrate them the greater spiritual truths of the Eternal Heavenly life and God's greatness shown through all creation and to reveal them the divine truths about the Holy Trinity it was saint Peter who answered first speaking from the name of all desciples.


That's how one time when Christ asked the pupils "Who do you think I am?", st. ap. Peter immediately answered:

"You're Christ, the Son of the Living God".
Then Jesus told him, "Blesssed are you Simon , son of Johna because no flesh and no blood has revealed this secret to you but my Father which is in heaven; and I tell you you're Peter (in Greek meaning stone), and on this stone I'll build my Church and the gates of hell would not prevail it." Mathew 16:14-18

 

This is the basis, this is the stone which the Lord used to establish his Church – the firmness of faith and the confession that Jesus is Christ (The Messiah), Son of the Living God. Since that moment apostle Peter started bearing also the name Simon-Peter.

 

By his age also saint apostle Peter was first among the apostles. After the Ascension of the Savior and the descent of the Holy Spirit over the Holy apostles he preached that firy sermon conquering the hearts and minds of the gathered many leading to the baptism of thousands.

He preached in many regions of the Roman Empire and many cities and wrote two letters which we find in today's Holy Bible, New Testament – First and Second Epistle of Peter also presented in the Roman Catholic and Protestant Bibles named Peter 1 and Peter 2.

Being in persecution, various griefs and sufferings, the primus in honor among apostles has restlessly preached the Gospel.
In 67 A.D. during the persecution against Christians in eperor Nero's time he was martyred.

His persecutors wanted to kill the apostle on the Cross because he was preaching the crucified Christ, but by his humble request to God for his
unworthiness to die with the same death as the Divine Saviour Lord Jesus Christ his executors decided to crucify him with the cross upside down where nowadays we know the inverted cross as a symbol of the holy apostle crucifix.
In later times the inverted upside-down cross started being paradoxically associated with antichrism and satanism but in reality few know that it is also a symbol left from ancient christian church.

Saint Apostle Paul before becoming the desciple and apostle of Christ was called Saulus. He was a very educated person for his time.
However even though his high education he was a soul blind and unenlightened person. He was initially a fierce persecutor of Christians and even requested by authorities to grant him a special task to persecute and kill all members of the new Roman empire "superstitio" as Christianity was called at that time.
On his way to Damascus a great miracle occured and he believed in the Risen Christ the Messiah (Saviour of the World)!

God blessed the repented persecutor with a glory. By a miraculous way the Lord Jesus Christ has appeared to him and he become from a fierest persecutor of Christians he become the most fervent preacher of the Saving Gospel and Love.
He travelled many cities and has enlightened many nations.
Often persecuted because of his preach and has been in chains was fought with sticks and received various tortures for the sake of Christ.
St. Paul wrote many apistles which are red for edification and example for perfect Christian life and dedication during Holy Liturgy to this very day in the Church and his epistle.

Finally in the same year 67 during emperor Nero after being convicted to be a Christian and an enemy of the pagan state not wanting to sacrifice to the Roman idol gods he received martyrdom being beheaded because he was a Roman citizen.

This are the short biographies of the two most glorious among the apostles. So what is the moral and the lesson by this two great saints?
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What is the common between the two originally contradictious characters / persons?

The first – simple fisherman, quick in speech and fearful in action who first has confessed the Lord Jesus Christ to be truly God and shortly after his ignition he has denied his Master and Christ thrice.

The other an educated but cruel man a persecuter and killer of Christians.
These two very different man became the two central building blocks of the Church that has enlighted a whole meriad of nations and give them examle and tutoring them in the true way of salvation in the Holy Faith and Love.

By the Grace of God which always heals the sick and the frail, by these grace which unifies not only st. Peter and st. Paul but also all of us in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. In this Church and through this grace we vitalize and are saved.

Not because of our own merits, not because we've done something worthy but only and because of God's Grace as it is also said in the Holy Scriptures "By the Grace of God I am what I am" (1 Corinthians 15:10) says apostle Paul. Let us overcome pride – the mother of all sins.
Because pride is the reason not to give the owed to God's Grace and deceive ourselves that we with our own energies and powers have become what we're.

Everything we achieve by God's Grace but the condition to attain the Grace is to humile ourselves and hope on God's mercy, because God is an enemy of the proud and to the humile he sends his Grace.

Hence, let us live by the Laws of the Gospels, handed in by the Holy Apostles and let us leave completely ourselves to the power of God's Grace and Love, Now and Forever and Ever. Amen!

Translated (with translator cosmetic changes) from Bulgarian Orthodox Church – "Church Newsletter" nr. 26 – year 1995.

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