Posts Tagged ‘holy relics’

Origin of Halloween (All Hallows Eve) or the Day of All Saints is actually Christian

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

 

 

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Many people would "celebrate" Halloween today, however many don't know or understand the true feast origin. It would probably news to many that halloween that is today so much associated with satanism, evil spirits and horror has christian origin! Here is what wikipedia States about Halloween quote:
 

The word Halloween or Hallowe'en dates to about 1745 and is of Christian origin. The word "Halloween" means "hallowed evening" or "holy evening". It comes from a Scottish term for All Hallows' Eve (the evening before All Hallows' Day). In Scots, the word "eve" is even, and this is contracted to e'en or een. Over time, (All) Hallow(s) Eve(n) evolved into Halloween. Although the phrase "All Hallows'" is found in Old English (ealra hālgena mæssedæg, all saints mass-day), "All Hallows' Eve" is itself not seen until 1556.

 

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Before Christianization of Western societies – e.g. Irish, Old English, Scots and the other Gaelic nations, in Ancient celtic traditions Samhain (celebrated at end of October) give the beginning of the Celtic New Year. Celts believed that the spirits of the dead over the previous year come to roam the world looking for living people to possess. As a mean of protect Celts put on their face animal skin and other objects in order to be as scare as possible to drive out spirits from themselves. The Celtic people of Europe and Britain were pagan Druids (priests / educated people) whose major celebrations were marked by the seasons. At the end of the year in northern Europe, people made preparations to ensure winter survival by harvesting the crops and culling the herds, slaughtering animals that wouldn't make it. Life slowed down as winter brought darkness (shortened days and longer nights), fallow ground, and death. The imagery of death, symbolized by skeletons, skulls, and the color black, remains prominent in today's Halloween celebrations.

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The "Samhain" season used to be a favourite times before Christianization and (even by some witches, later haunted by Inquisition) for occult practices such as divination and communication with the dead. They sought "divine" spirits (demons) and the spirits of their ancestors regarding weather forecasts for the coming year, crop expectations, and even romantic prospects. Bobbing for apples was one practice the pagans used to divine the spiritual world's "blessings" on a couple's romance.

Interetingly in Eastern Europe countries, there is similar traditions in multiple countries – e.g. Romania, Moldova Serbia, Greece, Macedonia, Croatia even in my own Bulgarian culture we still have regions celebrating similar pagan feast, on whose feast KukeriKukers are called the dressed people in the form and masked as scary beasts with horns dance on the streets in hope to drive away with their awful looking outlook any "evil spirits". Kukeri traditionally appear still in Eastern Bulgaria, the feast has been known to have origin from Thracians.

kukeri in Bulgaria Shiroka Lyka

It is intriguing that since, even very ancient times people believed in immortality of the human spirit and this is not coincidence, because from ancient times people know "instinctively" the soul is importal and life continues on after physical dead of the body.

The modern version of Halloween celebrated mainly by kids wandering the homes of neighbors with the question "Trick or Treat?" started being marked in that way in England, Belgium, Germany, Austria and Italy at least as early as 15th century.
Traditionally groups of poor children would go to homes collecting the so called soul-cakes (special burned small breads) made as an aim of remembrance of the Christian relatives who passed away – it was a very widespread custom to give food to strangers as a mean of charity  just like it is still in Orthodox Christian countries, we give away food to strangers as an aim to remembrance of our departed (and forgiveness of sins) to our relatives.

Halloween-christian-tradition-soul-cake-with-Cross-on-it

In the Middle Ages, churches displayed the holy relics of martyred saints for veneration and those parishes that were too poor to have relics let parishioners dress up as the saints instead a practice that some Christians continue in Halloween celebrations today.

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Unfortunately the Christian root of Halloween tradition gradually mixed with some of the old still not completely forgotten beliefs of paganism in pre-christian times and with the gradual raise of materialism, the protestant reformation, the enlightenment, the french revolution, the world wars etc. this mostly Christian traditions loose their Christian ground and left mostly its pagan element.
After Christianization of Europe from the 9th century onwards the Church, pagan traditions continued to be practiced by many, probably because the Church "mass" language and preaching was in Latin, people doesn't have bibles and many even baptized doesn't really had a good knowledge / understanding on Christian faith.
It is not a coincidence the Church's decision to place the All Hallows Eve (The Day of All Saints) on "Halloween" feast on 1  November.

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The feast of All Saints on its current date, is traced to the foundation by Pope Gregory III (731–741) – (who was a defender of true Orthodox Christian faith  and openly against the heresy of Iconoclasm) who set this date to be  "of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world", the feast was moved to 1 November from the prior feast from 13 May suppressed.

With the emigration of many Europeans to America the secular Halloween feast has been transferred to America and set itself as one of the United States citizens tradition in which reminded emigrants for their homeland europe making the feast popularity to boast. The bloom of TV advertisement and the decrease of faith in people, increase of occult mindset in society made the feast primordial understanding to invert associating Halloween with evil which is fun in the mass. This is quite strange as evin the ancient pagans, had not associated with evil but used the feast as a mean to protect from evil. That's another sign in what kind of tragic state currently society is … sadly the feast Americanization made it to the number of "International feasts". And now there is almost no country where Halloween is not celebrated in a secular way.

It is not a hidden fact that Halloween feast for its connection with magical powers, paganism and occult is often believed and said to be 'A feast day for Witches and magicians', its considered important feast in Anton Sandor Lavey's Church of Satan.

A lot of parents nowdays does encourage their children to celebrate the feast not understanding the real Christian roots of it and teaching children to enjoy evil often without even realizing the psychological damage this makes to a kid.
Some countries such as Russia has already legislation prohibiting the pupils in school to mask like monsters and celebrate publicly the feast.
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If you're a parent it is always a good idea to tell your kid that the truth is Halloween feast is not connected to darkness as it is often publicly illustrated but on the contrary Halloween tradition is early Christian one.

Venice Italy – An Ancient Church city and San Marco’s and saint Lucia Holy Relics – Travel impressions from Venezia

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

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I’m on a honeymoon with my wife Svetlana in Italy our first stop from our 16 days trip through out Venice, a root governing region of the Holy Roman Catholic empire. We’re staying in CA Fortuny hotel, which I warmly recommend to anyone willing to visit Venice (Venezia). We had a flight to Vienna and from Vienna we took another flight to Venice. My first impressions from Italy was the Venice airport which is simple and the snacks and coffee from the coffee machines were on affordable price. As we flight from another EU country member of the Schengen zone, there was no need to do any passport check so we just had to wait 15 minutes and pick up the luggage from bag platform. Once there we looked forward for the information which is located nearby a Change Buro. We were told to go to the nearby ticket office where we learned, to travel to Venezia we had a few options, one was to travel by bus to Venice and walk by 30 minutes to the hotel costing only 6 euro per person and the other was to travel by boat transportation but this was exceesively expensive 15 euro per person!!!. The lady on the tickets office in Airport tried selling us a tickets each 15 euro automatically in responce to my question to give us tickets for transport to San Marco square / Piazza San Marco, good that my wife asked about an alternative transportation and we knew about the cheaper bus. The bus is pretty straight forward to find it is right infront of airport exit. The bus led is directly to Venice, as we didn’t know how to go to San Marco square, we answered a kind Italian who explained us in fluent English. Another lady nearby in the bus heard, where we wanted to go and told us we’re in her direction so we can follow her. As it was raining heavily, she said whe might pick up the Vaporetto (a transportation boats used through out all Venice like a bus :). We had a small chat with the kind lady Gabriela, who explained us she is an English teacher and she is coming back from England for a weeks study exchange seminars and she knows well CA Fortuny hotel which is a 10 room Romantic hotel in the heart of Venice. As we walked by about 30 minutes we talked about various stuff ranging from life in Venice, English study, the current state of education in Venice, the state of Christianity nowadays etc. Once being in the Hotel, we were warmly received by the porter a young man probably age 20-25. I was schoked by the door-man piercing which was scary looking like a just hammered nail in the center of a spider crawling. I asked the portier what is this and he answered this is a micro-dermal implant or something alike. I’ve noticed that people living in western europe have started to get crazy on tatoos and piercings. It seems it is exceptionally modern among youngster people in western europe to Tattoo their right hands or do piercings on various places. It seems less and less people know what does the Holy Hible says about Tattoos and piercings?, I quote literally from the scriptures on tatoos and piercings
Leviticus 19:28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.King James Version Bible (KJV). There is also even an old testamental holy bible instruction against the so popular nowadays skinning of head hair (the so called) skin-head movement.

Leviticus 21:55 They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh.King James Bible Version (KJV). Actually for me it is no strange that so many western people tatoo, their right hand as in the advertisements and throughout our daily lives there are hidden messages trying to convince us to accept the 666 future mark of the beast that will appear in the times when the enemy of Christ the antichrist appears publicly and tries to deceive everyone to accept his 666 mark on the right hand. From the saints and holy fathers we Christians know that this 666 mark will stand up for his name …

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In Venice we had truly a great time, we were close to the city center so logically we went to see the most important place in Venice St. Marc’s Square, the square is called like this because it is infront of a Basicila (Roman Catholic Cathedral Church), which is keeping the holy relics of Saint Evangelist Apostle Marc who wrote the New Testament Gospel of Mark.
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The Holy relics of St. Apostle Mark are kept in a stone sarcophagus in the Church alter. It is interesting fact that holy relics were stolen from Alexandria with help of two greek monks to save them from muslim desacration and destruction.

Because the whole city is “living on a water” in venice there is no public transportation (no land bus, land taxi etc.), all transportation is on water. There is water bus / taxi – Vaparetto
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, there are boat-markets selling fruits and vegetables, water-police, water-ambulance and even water catafalque

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People interested in history and particularly Christianity will definitely enjoy venice as the whole city is full with Roman Catholic Churches in various types of architectures some medieval some from the 11-th century and some started even in more ancient times. Orthodox Christians would be happy to know there is even a Russian orthodox Church in Venice San Zan Degola (In English Saint John the Baptist).

By God’s merce we had the chance to venerate the holy relics of Santa Lucia / Saint Lucy of Syracuse (year 283 – 304) whose incorruptable body is kept in a Catholic Church.

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The saint body is preserved incorruptable for amazingly 1710 years!!! This is a clear proof of a saintship and truthfulness of Christian faith as well is a real miracle before your eyes one can see !!

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As Venice is an ancient city it is a great site for Christian Orthodox pilgrimage for Russian speking people a very good Russian resource listing most of the Venice related holy relics is here .
Near San Marco Piazza it is worthy to enter Doge’s palace which is currently a museum exposing a great a lot of Venice culture and history. Doge’s palace was the supreme authority of Republic palace, to make an analogue it used to like Kremlin in Russia nowadays.

A ticket for Doge’s palace costed 16 euro per person and ticket allows you to visit another 3 museums in Venice.
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Venice has 177 canals on 177 small islands as there is no public transport and venice is small most of the time we walked in order to save money for Vaperatto (whose ticket costs 6 euro). There are no bus station in Venice but there is a train station (Santa Lucia railway station). Current Venice population is around 270 000 ppl.

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As a notable tourist destination unfortunately everything in Venice is quite expensive. Even simple things as ice cream costs 3-4 euro per ice-ball, to have a restaurant dinner usually you will have to spend at least 30 / 40 euro per person. There are also some cheaper Trattorias – a type of less formal restaurant with casual service and less shiny looking but usually with cheaper food. You can eat in Tratoria a full 3 course meal for as cheap as 12 to 15 euro per person. Also in Tratoria you can experience more of an Italian type of restaurant, as the personal there usually doesn’t speak English and most of people to eat there are Italians.

We were in Venice only for one full day in Venice and thus we eat only once in a restaurant type of place recommended by a local the Taverna San Trovaso . A 2 persons meals plus 2 cups of wine there costed us cheap for Venice about 30 euro.

The building architecture in Venice is truly unique and you can see piece of art and beauty on literally any corner of it. The shops are all around the city and every kind of souvenir is quite expensive, though you can usually try to bargain to buy a souvenir for half the price 🙂
A notable traditional souvenirs to buy is beautiful colorful glas souvenirs and ofcourse the famous ball masks

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Pilgrimage to Holy Mount Athos, second most holy place on Earth – The Garden of Holy Virgin Mary – Agios Oros Authonomous Orthodox Christian Monk Republic and how to go there

Monday, September 1st, 2014

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By the mercy of the most holy Virgin Mary, I had the opportunity to be for 2 days and a half to the second most holy place on earth after Jerusalem's (Holy Sepulchre Church of Christ Resurrection) and biggest monk governed republic on planet earth ( Άγιον Όρος ) Agios Oros Athon (Holy Mount Athos)Светая Гора Афон – Света Гора Атон. Holy Mount Athos exists as a large monks community since 96.

To visit Mount Athos, the general requirement is to be orthodox christian only 10 visas per day are issued for non-orthodox pilgrims.

This immersely blessed place on earth can be entered only with a special monastery issued Visa (Diamontirion)

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There is a special procedure which usually takes up from 1 month max to 2 weeks min to receive such a Athos visa. The procedure to receive Visa for Holy Mount Athos includes sending of a fax to the Bureau of Pilgrimage in Thesaloniki (Solun) with a copy of the ID Card (Passport) the tel. number to send the fax to plus.
In fax message should be included the desired monastery to visit and the stay period. Visa which is usually issued for 2 / 3 days period costs 25 euro. There is a daily quota of visits to be issued which is about 100 visas per day.
People who want to stay for more than 3 days in monastery has to follow special obediences (work given to pilgrimage inside the monastery).
Extensive information
on how to visit Holy Mount Athos monks republic is on holy mount athos website.

Diamontirion is given only to man (only man can visit holy island), because the Mother of God The Holy Virgin Mary said she will be the only woman on this island unto the end of the world. There were a couple of times through out history from the IX-th century from which Holy Mount Athos exists as a monk republic in which woman try to enter the island, but such attempts failed and usually woman who tried to break out the island female enter prohibition (known as ABATON) get severely sick after that and couldn't get well for a long time some died some female after serious redemption confession and taking the holy sacraments recovered by the mercy of the Virgin Mary. There are already several stories of woman who tried to enter the island dressed as men and which have suffered from the quick heavenly judgement and later told the world their stories to warn other woman from trying to enter Athos which is the most eastern part of Chalkidiki peninsulaIt is curious fact Holy Mount Athos is the one and only place on earth existing prohibited for woman.
While talking about woman it is a curious fact that the only woman that are allowed being iconographed in Holy Mount athos due to rule are the Most Holy Virgin Mary, The Anna and the Hermit Saint Mariya of Egypt. First monk is said in Monastic Chronicles is Protos in y. 908.

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The region is governed by the "Holy community" – every monastery from the 20 orthodox monasteries (actually the monasteries are 21 but one is schismatic with so called Zealots, therefore not counted).

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There are (Greek, Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian) monasteries as well as Sketes, Cells, small chapels of other Orthodox nations – e.g. Romanians, Georgians, Macedonians, Monte-Negro etc. Holy Mount Athos monasteries are under the ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople – currently patriarch Bartholomew, however the patriarch is not having power to decide anything the monasteries or the monk republic and he is more than a public person with no authority over internal island monks life.

Entrance Holy Mount Athos is possible only through a small  ship due to monks republic governing law. Boats transport people with issued visa only from Ouranoupolis  port everyday from Monday to Saturday, there are at least 2 boats going to Agion Oros – one in 06:15 and one in 09:45 which costs 6.30 euro per person.

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For people who want visit Holy Athos by airplace, Ouranoupolis is located 120 km by car or bus from Thesaloniki Airport so you should fly to there. We have travellet to Uranoupolis by car from Sofia – it is about 6 / 7 hours driving – only 631 km.  Crossing the border from Bulgaria to Greece is very quick a passport check is made only one time on the border. Once arriving to Ouranopolis – one have to park somewhere, there is cheap paid parking only 5 euro a day, where one can park (nearby the port from where ship departs). To get the Athos visa there is a special Bureau where you go with you present your password and receive the visa. Visa is received in a very speedy manner it takes up to 30 seconds after showing the pass, you're name is checked and if visa is already present and printed for you you're handled the diamontirion.

There are also privately owned boats (scooters) which can transport up to 4 people – in case there are is not enough space in standar boats, but this are really expensive something like 120 EUR.
The Boat-Ship travelling from Ouranoupolis to Agios Oros is named after saint Anna (The Mother of Most Holy Virgin Mary – In Greek Panagia).

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The ship is travelling only on days where the weather is suitable for travelling so some certain days there are no cruises to the garden of Holy Theotokos. The ships cruising back from Holy Mount Athos to Urunopoli schedule is also twice daily – and are the same ships travelling in the morning. One is saling back in 12:00 (stopping on each of the near coast monasteries ports) by reverse order and one in 16:00. Sometimes the ships doesn't stop one some of the ports and you can't go back to Urunipoli, when the ship has to many people or for some other God known reason.

On the ship of one moun Athos one can see a truly international monks community – there were literally Orthodox Christians monks from all around the world and people from all around the globe that has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, there was even an African priest and a batushka (priest) from Cyberia. Most of the people on the boat were pilgrims from many nationalities but for major Church feast like The Dormition of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) which is each year celebrated on 28 August a lot of monks from many country come to Athos to venerate the Mother of God and receive heavenly blessing.

We have stopped to leave some laggage on the Port of Bulgarian Monastery (located 7 km from Zographou Monastery – saint great martyr George (Свети Георги Зограф) and then continued to port of Dafni. Going back from the ship one can feel the abundant heavenly grace and the heavenly protection of the Theotokos. There were a small caffeteria where we drink Greek Coffee (a coffee prepared on a hot sand – very much like the Turkish coffee) and eat fasting food something like Bulgarian Banica but instead of cheese it is filled with baked pumpkin.
There are small bus-es moving in Mount Athos which brings to some of the more famous monasteries on Athos – bus ticket is 3 euro. However as we wanted to visit more monasteries and because every step made on Agios Oros is a blessing and as the elders say Agios Oros is to be walked, we choose to walk. We took a steepy pathway leading to Xiropotamos. Xiropotamous is famous from the XII century Crusaders times, Roman Catholic Crusaders has invaded the holy mount and tried to turn monks to Roman Catholicism by force, those who rejected to receive Catholic faith were killed by Catholics – became martyrs. Some of the Monks of Xiropotamou, decided to save their lives and accepted to recognize the authority of the Roman Pope, Roman Catholics entered the monastic Church and served a Roman Holy Liturgy in the moment where the Pope was mentioned in prayers as a head of the Church, the Church walls fall and killed most of the people in the Church, those who survived, escaped and converted back to Orthodoxy – by this God clearly showed which is the real Christian faith. As all monasteries on Athos Xiropotamou's brotherhood has holy relics – the biggest holy relic of Xiropotamos is about 20×5 cm sized part of the True Holy Cross on which the Lord Jeus Christ was crucified.

Xiropotamou_monastery_Holy_mount_Athos_Agios_Oros_The_Monastery_holding_big-piece-of-True-Crufixion-cross-of-the_Lord_Jesus_Christ

Xiropotamou was founder in 10th century, and is dedicated to the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste.
The monastic walls were closed when we reached there around 10:00 in the monastery receives visitors only 2 times a day one in 11:30 and one in 16:00. Waiting for to become 11:30, we walked around the monastery and saw the small chapel the grapes, the monks fruit gardens all is exceptionally beautiful – the monastery is quite big. In 11:30, when inner monastic walls opened we were invited into Arhondarik (The Monastic Guest-house), where the monk bring us immediately a cup of fresh water, Turkish delight and 50 grams of Greek national drink – Uzo 🙂
We met two other Romanians who wanted to also venerate the Holy Cross and we had a small nice chat with them in 11:30 the Church was opened and a priest bring us to a small square near Holy Altar opened a golden case with emeralds keeping the big piece of the True Holy Cross it is an amazing miracle that for this 1980 years from the Crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ the wooden didn't rot but preserved – any normal wood decays for such a long time! God's grace (The Spiritual Power) that one feels nearby the Holy Relic is amazing. The monastery is also famous with an orange tree giving a miracle making (healing) fruits, the three failed to give its fruit when Catholics came to Holy Mount Athos and started giving its fruits again after Catholics leaved Agion Oros. We saw a couple of trees with Orange fruits on it but was unsure which of the trees is the actual tree about which monastic tradition tells.
After the monastery we catch the way to Karyes (Καρυές) which is like Capital town, seat of the administration and has the name "Megali Mesi Lavra" (Big Central Assembly). – they have Agios Oros Police, Hospital, Bakery, a Caffeteria, Public Toilet, 2 small shops in Karyes is also located the major church at Karyes, the Protaton, which is the church of the Protos, or president of the monastic community. It is Curios fact that initial "rules of the republic" were written in XII century by saint Archibiship Sava creator of Serbian Orthodox Church who lived in a small cell in Karyes (Карея).

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In the Church on the picture is keeping the famous miracle making holy icon "Dostoyno Esty" / Достойно есть in Greek Panagia known as "Axion Estin" meaning It is Truly Meet . This icon is so important and connected to Orthodox Christiainity, that it has a Troparion included to be sung on each Holy Liturgy in praise of the (Theotokos) Mother of God  and sung on almost all kind of morning and evening services or private prayers, it is curious fact that the icon before its glorification was situated in a small monk cell near monastery Pantekrator (All Keeper). There is a notable miracle how the second part of Axion Estin Church troparion was given by an Angel supposedly given by Archangel Gabriel. At the Axion Estin cell in year 982 was living an old virtuos monk Gavrail with his desciple, that night Gavrail was outside of the cell to nearby monastery for all night vigil leaving the young monk (also Gavrail / Gabriel)  at midnight a stranger come knocked on the door and in Agios Oros tradition was received as a stranger, the stranger also went for the night vigil in the morning the stranger and the old monk sung together troparion in glorification of the Holy Mother of but the stranger sung it differently adding few words to the already well known and established church song lyrics, the monk liked the song so much that he asked the monk to write down the lyrics, they didn't have a pen and paper and the stranger took a piece of stone and write down the lyric using his finger! The monk stunned realized the stranger is actually an angel and a short after the angel disappeared.

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Here is the Dostoino Esty Troparion lyrics text as given by the Angel in Church Slavonic, Greek and English:

Достойно есть Church Slavonic:

Достойно есть яко воистину блажити Тя, Богородицу,

присноблаженную и пренепорочную и Матерь Бога нашего.

Честнейшую Херувим

и славнейшую без сравнения Серафим,

без истления Бога Слова рождшую,

сущую Богородицу Тя величаем.

 

Axion Estin In Greek:

Ἐπὶ σοὶ χαίρει, Κεχαριτωμένη, πᾶσα ἡ κτίσις.
Ἀγγέλων τὸ σύστημα καὶ ἀνθρώπων τὸ γένος,
ἡγιασμένε ναὲ καὶ παράδεισε λογικέ,
παρθενικὸν καύχημα, ἐξ ἧς Θεός ἐσαρκώθη
καὶ παιδίον γέγονεν, ὁ πρὸ αἰώνων ὑπάρχων Θεὸς ἡμῶν·
τὴν γὰρ σὴν μήτραν θρόνον ἐποίησε,
καὶ τὴν σὴν γαστέρα πλατυτέραν οὐρανῶν ἀπειργάσατο.
Ἐπὶ σοὶ χαίρει, Κεχαριτωμένη, πᾶσα ἡ κτίσις
δόξα σοι.

It is truly meat English Translation:

All of Creation rejoices in thee, O full of grace:
the angels in heaven and the race of men,
O sanctified temple and spiritual paradise,
the glory of virgins, of whom God was incarnate
and became a child, our God before the ages.
He made thy body into a throne,
and thy womb more spacious than the heavens.
All of creation rejoices in thee, O full of grace:
Glory be to thee.


In shops it is forbidden to sell meat, because monks doesn't eat meat and meat consumption on holy mount Athos is generally forbidden. The only think closer to meat sold in shop is fish, octopus and other sea food. There is also a small shop selling Church / monk accessoaries, icons, prosphoras etc.

On the city center there is free drinkable water, each Monastery has a building like Embassy – which is both a monastery representative and a strangers guest-house (Konak). People who want can sleep a night in the Konak with a blessing, each Konak has a small chapel inside dedicated to Mother Mary or a certain saint.

On many places on holy mount athos there are springs with drinkable water so almost always there is a spring on every few hours walk in the mountain woods. About 10 or 20 minutes walk from Karyes, there is a Greek Monastery Koutloumousiou, the monastery has many miracle making icons and to me personally is very favourite place – Koutloumoush is famous with being the monastery where the Elder Paisios served as a monk for many years.

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After praying there, on the road we saw a sign for the cell of Elder Gavrijl and after some time we reached a little house with a bench in front and around 10 people from all age waiting for the Elder to go out for a while of his cell and tell some spiritual advises.

For non-Orthodox Christians, we have Elders who have a very close connection to God and due to their holy living God has blessed them with the gify of claiorvoyance, Starets Gavrijl is said by many on holy mount Athos that he has the gift of clairvoyance.


Elder Gavrijl speaks only Greek, so I couldn't undestand his preach, nomatter that even his presence made my spirit joy. After the preach we all took a blessing from those saintly living man.
I asked one of the Greeks to translate to me the Starets was talking about the Christian family and importance for husband and wife to be patient with each other, respect each other and truely love each other and most importantly forgive each other. He said that in this time it is of the main thing the devil wants is to destroy family and we have to not let family broke, he also said we should never quarrel infront of children, because when children grown they will do the same with their children.
I've asked the Starets about personal matters and he gave me the same answer as the Elder fr. Georgi of Jeglarci which is a proof fr. Georgi also have the gift of prophecy.

After leaving elder Gavrijl we headed to the monastery of Iveron to be on the all night vigil and the feast of Dormition of the Holy Theotokos. On the same way nearby 15 minutes away from the pathway we saw a sign leading to the cell of the Elder Paisios and we went for a pilgrimage there. After 15 minutes on a steep ways we reached in front of Elder Paisios small house. The house is now inhabitated by a monk who is still growing the same vegetable garden grown by Elder Paisios. The house is really small and the Starets lived in a small room 4×4 meters, the room has two big icons on the east just like a Church and light up night-light infront of the icons of Pantokrator (All-Keeper) Lord Jesus Christ and the Most Holy Theotokos, each wall in the small room has few icons hanging I remember clearly the icon of saint Arsenios the Great.  On entrance, we were threated by the monk with Turkish Delight and a cup of water, just like the Elder Paisios used to while still alive. Turkish Delight (Lokum) was the most delicious one I ever eat and on my way out I asked the monk for another two pieces 🙂

Going out of Elder Paisios cell we walkted through the Athos mountain woods passing by parakleses (small chapels) and on many places there were wooden crosses and icons with lightning candles in front right in the woods. We met some Romanian group of pilgrims and had a little chat on the road, Romanians are very good people, all the day we had the blessing to meet mainly Romanians.

approaching_Iveron_Monastery_Dormition-of-the-Most_Holy_Virgin_Mary_Mount_Athos

We reached in Iveron monastery (located nearby the sea coast) about 17:30 by God's mercy, the feast of Dormition had already begun there, it is an Orthodox Tradition to do a Lithia with the Miraculous Iveron icon of Most Holy Virgin also famous as Vratarnica.

Iveron_miracle_making-icon-Mother-of_God_Vratarnica-Holy_Mount_Athos
The monastery was full of people, there were probably about 800 people, probaly about 200 monks and priests were also there for the feast. It is a tradition that at that night the monastery gives a sleeping packs for all the pilgrims, so if someone feels to sleepy he can use the blanket and have a sleep on open air. There was an evening service just like it is done before Liturgy is served on next morning and right after the service, everybody present in the monastery was fed (all people ordered and had to enter 3 the monastic dining room divided by 3 waves). The food was some macaroni with some pieces of sea food (probably octopus), one tomato and 2 little pieces of watermelon. Even though the food was little it was enough to completely feed me plus it was so delicious you can't imagine, blessed  (manastic food) is always more delicious 🙂

Right after the dinner, the Night Vigil started, night vigils are common in the night before a feast of the Saint in whose honor is local Orthodox Church named in this case the Church of Iveron is in honor of the Dormition of the Mother of God and this was the reason for the Night Vigil. I and Pavel (the brother in Christ) which whome we travelled last night to Holy Mount Athos were quite tired and thus we didn't kept awake for the night vigil but immediately went to sleep and woke up on next morning about 5:10 and saw just a litte part of the night vigil and stay for the Morning service and the Holy Liturgy served. The Atmosphere in the Church was hard to explain in words it was powerful monks spirit. The service was in Greek as it is Greece Monastery and the service is serviced in Ancient Greek and as all ancient languages Ancient Greek is much more spirited than modern languages which are much more profane. Also it is distinctable that everything in the service was sung in Byzantine (Eastern) Orthodox singing style. For the service was also present 3 or 4 bishops, the atmosphere was mostly solemn and the fact that so many Orthodox Christians were gathered and praying together is an outstanding experience which I wish you feel someday.
All the Church service is done on candles, there is no electricity in Churches in Holy Mount Athos and I believe this is a right thing. In short the Church services in Athos is an the perfect example which the rest of us Orthodox Christians should try following.
After end of Church service, we left the monastery before the feastly lunch given to everybody who came to monastery to venerate the Dormition of the Mother of God, because we wanted to quickly move to pilgrimage the Miracle Spring, where the Mother of God has steped for a first time on Athos, we drink water prayed a bit and moved on and catched one of the minibuses stopping near the monastery to Karyes. In Karyes we drink some water have a small rest, drink coffe had some chat with Pavel and ate few peaches and apples, actually it is quite a miracle that we ate so little these 2 days on Athos, but in there you don't feel hunger and you don't feel sleepy and you need less sleep than usually because of the abundant God grace.
In Karyes, we had a small discussion where to head up from now and after calling monk Kliment from Zographou monastery for advise where to go he advised we go to the Russian Monastery Saint healer great-martyr Panteleimon (who is one of the main doctor Church saints). I was quite happy for our decision to go to the Russian Monastery, because actually I wanted to go there. Then, we had a safe 4 hours walk through the mountain pathways surrounded by a wild nature, we passed by a Sketes where saint Siluan of Athos  lived (1866 – 1938, Russian new-times saint).

saint_Siluan_Athonski_holy_orthodox_christian-icon

Athos is a very interesting place, because even your stay there for a little time teaches you a lot about the spiritual reality and just being there improves seriously ones spiritual life. Reaching the Russian monastery, I was stunned by the Beauty and size of the monastery, monastic yard is all green and beautiful there is a spring with water in the form of flower in front of monastic doors, the sideview of sea coast and the stones also left a bright mark in my mind.

saint_Great_Marty_Pantheleimon_Holy_mount_Athos_Russian_monastery
st. Panteleimonos monastery is known in whole Athos with its strong rules and ascethism, we asked if it is possible to sleep a night in the monastery but was told we need to do a one day in advance reservation to stay there (which by the way is a good thing because that way the brotherhood is not interferred by monastic guests but prepared to receives them). In the small Church nearby the bell-tower there are holy saint relics of about at least 200 saints!!! We had the Chance to see the Holy relics just to mention few of the Holy Relics of the monastery (the right hand of great martyr Panteleimon, the head of Saint Cosmas and Damian, relics of saint Seraphim of Sarov, head of saint Siluan of Athos, relics of many hermit saints, relics of Saint Basilius the Great, Saint Grigorius and saint John of Crysostom).

As we couldn't sleep in Russian monastery, we were instructed by monk Climent if they don't accept is to go to Xenophontos. So we took the way to Xenophontos which is 3km away about 1 hour near shore walk.

Xenophontos_monastery_holy_mount_Athos
It was on the way to Monastery that I learned Xenophontos's heavenly protector is my saint George ( Georgi / Georgius), I was very happy to learn that because I already felt a bit of regret I still haven't venerated my saint protector on Holy Mount Athos.
Reaching the monastery we saw on the monastic door a monk going out of the monastery and asked him if we can stay for the night, the monk which we later learned is called Prodromos was very hospitable and accepted and accomodated us. I went to the monastic Church where still there was an Acathist ongoing in glorification of The Holy Mother of God. The saint who founded Xenophontos Μονή Ξενοφώντος is saint Xenophont. The monastery is very beatiful just like all the rest of Holy Athos monasteries. Monk Prodromos, who was mostly kindly to us give us food even though the monks had already had their dinner earlier as we were in the monastery around 21:00 at noon. Talking about time it is notable to say in Athos, they use Byzantine time which is +3 hours to Greek time, meaning we were in monastery around midnight Byzantine time (as this is early the sun was going to its sunset). Xenophontos is famous with its two miracle making icons of Saint George and The Holy Mother of God, I greatest holy relic kept in monastery is the right hand of saint George. On next day the morning service started in 4 o'clock early in morning before sunrise, we went for service around 5:00 because we couldn't get up at time, the Church bell rings around 03:50 in morning! and then on a couple of times bells at the end of morning service right before holy liturgy and whenever they serve an Acathist. In Summer morning services in holy mount athos start everyday in 04:00 (7 byzantine time) and in 03:00 (08:00) in Winter time. Everyday Holy Liturgy is served in Holy Mount Athos in every monastery and monks have an evening service starting exactly in 17:00. I would skip here to explain the Church atmosphere and the spirituality because this cannot be retold but has to be experienced. The Holy Liturgy ended around 08:00 and the monks rests for about an hour until 09:00 when the monks had an Acathist until 09:30 in the second old Church whose wall paintings dates backs probably as early as 13 or 14 century. After the Acathist, we were invited for a breakfast which was scarce but delicious. During we ete a text was red from the Ancient Paterik (The Living instructions of the Ancient time Abbas hermit saints).
After the breakfast, I had a coffee (in the guest-room) there is a free-coffee machine 🙂

We had chat with few other Greek pilgrims, and one of the Greeks was especially hospitable with us, he brought us and show us the small monastic fabric where all kind of wooden things are produced by few monks and layman (in that number icons are built there monastic chairs – tables, Church wooden ornaments etc.). We were shown by this kind greek the monastic ossuary, the monastic greenhouses, the monastic graveyard. I later learned this Greek has so special attitude to us Bulgarians, because he is architect and he was working in Rila Monastery as architect for a while while still atheist and after that when he came to Greece he believed in God thanks to the prayers of the greatest Bulgarian saint John of Rila.
After Xenophontos last monastery we visited Dochiariou monastery which is honor of Archangel Michael.
Dochiariou_monastery_in_honor_of_Archangel_Michael_Holy_Mount_Athos_Agios_Oros
This monastery most holy relic is the infamous holy icon of The Theotokos SkoroPoslushnica (Quickly Hearing), the icon is called like this because it hears and answers the prayers of whoever prays in a very quickly manner.
Dohiar-monastery-Sveta_Bogorodica_SkoroPoslushnica_Holy_Mount_Athos

The monks in this monastery was very active, we saw some preparing wine from grapes, others doing some construction work, the monastic icon was locked in a special room in a small chapel in front of the monastic Church which was also locked, so by God's grace we asked a monk to open for us. The monk who keeps the key of the icon gave the key to a small 10 years old kid which unlocked for us and we prayed in front of the Most Holy Virgin. The grace this holy icon emits is just amazing the love and piece you feel is unsaid, I think one can feel that even by seeing the icon here in that post. A small note to make here is the pictures I've put in this post are not mine but are from the Internet and I do not hold copyright for them, thanks to whoever made the pictuers and I hope they were made with a blessing.
If I'm not mistaken Dochiariou is famous with that due to the prayers to the Archangel Michael (a warrior Angel), the Archangel drive back the invasion of the Arabs to Athos, there is also an icon in front of monastery showing this scene. It was impressive that in this monastery, there were a lot of kids helping the monks I saw at least 5 kids. I got the impression it is like a monastic tradition that kids are welcomed and help there since a long time.
Finally after spending some 2 graceful hours in Dochiariou and walking through and seeing the interesting and beatiful monastic walls and buildings architecture, flowers etc. we left off and waited for the ship Ourenopolis to come to monastic port. The ship came take us and after two more stops on Zographou port and Hilandar Serbian Monastery it is a curious fact that Hilandar used to inhabited with Bulgarian abbot and Bulgarian monks for about 80 years.
Hilandar_Serbian_Monastery_port_Serbian_port

In the ship we had a small chat with monk Makarious which is a monk in the Zographou St. Martyr George Bulgarian Monastery. We were sent by  the Holy Mother of God bt few dolphins sailing after the boat and doing water  jumps in grace and joy.
Love for Holy Mount Athos is strongly into my heart into even this moment when I write this article. Actually to be honest I was unwilling to leave this piece of earthly paradise. I yearn to be there again soon when the Mother of God Holy Virgin Mary lets me to.

Trip to Ruen Monastery Saint John of Rila – The birthplace of a saint, a God piece of Heaven beauty on earth

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

ruenski_monastery-beautiful-mountain-view-near-birthplace-of-a-saint

Last Saturday me and my wife Svetlana together with a Christian friend family (Tsvetomir and Dimitrina with their < 2 years old boy – Boris) went to a small 1 day pilgrimage trip to Ruen Monastery – (Ruenski manastery). The holy cloister is situated very near Skrino village, the birth village of greatest Bulgarian saint saint John of Rila. The village is located about 90 km from Sofia and is very near to town of Boboshevo. To reach Ruen Monastery when coming from Sofia, the traveller has to move in direction of "Kulata / (The Tower)" and to pass the village of Djerman and Usoika. Then before entering the village of Skrino there is a 5 km steep car road leading to the monastery.

ruenski_manastir_near_sightview

Saint John of Rila lived in Skrino until his twenties and due to Christian tradition he accepted monkhood in the nearby monastery next to Skrino and a bit later started a hermit life dwelling himself in his first hermit cave situated near Skrino. The Cave of hermit dwelling of Saint John of Rila is now situated about 200 meters from Ruen Monastery and represents a tiny cave encraved in a rock. The rock is so small that maximum of 2 people can be in cave together. It is amazing how a man could live in such a small space.

hermit_cave_of_saint_John_of_Rila_near-his-birthplace
 

Current Ruen monastery Church is recently rebuild in 1995 and the rest of monastic buildings are completed in y. 2002, but according to history it is known a monastery was existent on same place known in medieval times under name "The Holy Father" in  XV century.

Veneration to Saint John of Rila was so high in mid centuries that obviously people recognized Saint John of Rila among the greatest saints.

The nature view near monastery is breath taking .. On the road to it there is Struma river the monastery itself is situated in Vlahina mountain from it there is a sightview of part of Rila mountain.

piece-of-heaven-on-earth-near-ruenski-monastir

Near the monastery buildings there are two paths one leading to the Cave of Hermitage of Saint John of Rila and another one leading to a place with a Cross visible from throughout the region.

the-cross-on-top-of-mountain-ruenski-monastery

The monastery though being among the newest rebuilded ones in Bulgaria has already 3 saint holy relics, one of which is Holy relics from Saint George the Victorious. We had the blessings by God's grace to also meet RuenAbbot Father Ioan (John). We asked the father how many monks are inhabiting the monastery just to get the humorous answer that half of the inhabitants are present (meaning currently in the monastery there are only 2 monks). Fatehr John was evidently very young kindhearted  person  probably in his 30s. He was quite hospitable and invited us for tea and cookies in the small monastic dining room. We had quite a few spiritual talks and spoke on hardship of being a monk in nowadays confused world.

We were send with the Father's blessings and a gift – an icon of saint John of Rila and a book with the history of the monastery from ancient times to now – the book included also the Testament of Saint John of Rila

On our way back before entering Boboshevo we stopped to see and pray near an ancient Church from the 5th century consecrated under saint Theodor (Stratilat) – a Christian martyr saint from the 4th century who lived near Black Sea.

church-saint-Theodor-stratilat-church-5th-century

The Church is an unique Cultural monument as it contains wall patings probably dating back to at least 10th century or even earlier.

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Thanks God the weather was quite warm for the Winter season leaving impression Spring has come 🙂

Pilgrimage to Holy Relics of saint Alexander Nevsky in St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral, Sofia Bulgaria

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

st Alexander Nevsky Cathedral Sofia Bulgaria

It is my third day, I'm staying in Sofia and I'm trying to use the time as efficient as possible. I had a dinner with my school years friend and my current employee Anton in a small restaurant near Hotel Pliska called King's breakfast. I wanted to save some money so use Sofia's public transport to reach to hotel Pliska from a train stop near the so called "Winter Palace". The bus I traveled with was crowded, I was not sure of which bus-stop I had to go down of the bus so tried to ask the bus driver. Interestingly he seemed puzzle that I asked him and being lazy to explai me or not being sure of the number of bus stops I had to count until I reach to Pliska Hotel, he suggested to ask someone in th ebus. Thanksfully there were some people helpful and thanks God the young student Lady which sit near me, had to go down on the same bus stop as me and was kind and helpful.
I should stop for a second and mention few words on the bus hygiene, I've not been in Bulgaria over the last 5 months and I didn't travelled in Sofia bus for maybe at least 2 or 3 years – the hygiene was worse than critical it looked unhygienic there were some weird stickers which was supposed to instruct the reader something but they were so intuitive, that I hardly doubt anyone fully understands, some of the visual instructions seemed also ridiculous …. The bus I traveled with was probably at least 20 or 25 years old, and it seemed the last time it was clean by someone was maybe a few months before, of course the weather was rainy and this is one of the reason of the dirt, but even besides that it was obvious noone puts even a cent for hygiene and the bus aesthetic appearance. Well so far so good. What I liked of the bus is the ticketing system which was very old fashioned, you buy a ticket which costs the low fee of 1 lv (0.50 cents), you pierce it on a mechanical pierce machine located on few places on left and right and that's all, in some buses a control person comes by and checks if the person has pierced the little piece of paper … Just for comparison in Arnhem, the ticketing system was a bit different whether you desire to buy it from the driver, he give you a ticket and stamps it with a date and hour, then the ticket is valid 1 hour after so you can use it in another bus as well. Also just as a matter of short comparison in Holland, maybe 50% of people or more already use the new contactless OV-Chipkaart which is a standard way to pay for transportation. Happily, such a system is not available in Bulgaria – and hence from purely tracking perspective and freedom prespective and efficiency the symplicity of ticketing system in Bulgaria and the low price rox and IMHO beats up Western one 🙂
Back to where I was after using Bus number 280, I reached and having the dinner with my dear friend, I had a walk of about 30 minutes from Hotel Pliska (which is one of the most key (and busy) central bus stops in Sofia). The walk was not nice, a multitude of cars, dirty air smog, muddy streats, broken sideways, very little space allowing only one person to walk by …. The infrastructure of this Boulevard was meakly said SHIT and it seems it was not planned at all for people like me who like walking or for bikers.
On the way I've seen a bunch of beautiful architecture buildings and this was all the enjoyment besides the dirt, something that little raised up my very negative opinion of this 30 minutes walk was the sideview of Vitosha mountain (worthy scenery to see).
After 25-30 minutes I reached a Subway of a central busy place, which was leading to city Sofia's State University St. Kliment Ohridski, to the city center where st. Alexander Nevski, the National Assembly and the Bulgarian Patriarchate is located.
I wanted to go and pilgrimate to st. Alexander Nevski's cathedral, since I was there just one or two times and my memories of the Biggest Cathedral Orthodox Church on the balkans was little. St. Alexander Nevski's size and architecture is mostly amazing surely even for non-believers.As a believer I was thankful to God for being able to enter the Church light up a candle and pray, my joy was double cause in the Church I found there wss a miracle making icon of Holy Virgin Mary (probably from Holy Mount Athos), there was acathist (a little prayer service in glorification of the Mother of God asking the Holy Mother of God to pray the Lord Jesus Christ for us. I stayed for the Church service and tried litening to the priest leeading the serive, there was a young deacon helping in the service, which I happened to have met and know in my stay in Pomorie Monastery before 5 months time. After the end of the acathist, all Christians who stayed until the end of prayer service including me went and bowed down to venerated the Holy icon. I take a quick look in st. Alexander Nevski and venerated the rest of icons I see in the Church. I was mostly surprise to find on the left side near the ikonostas a small treasurer holding incorruptable (finger) of the Saint.

Holy Relics of Saint Alexander Nevksi kept in largest bulgarian Orthodox Church in capital city Sofia - venerate holy relics of St. Alexander Nevsky

 

I venerated and asked st. Alexander Nevski to pray the Lord for me the sinner this completed my short pilgrimage to the Patriarchate Cathedral and biggest Church building in whole Bulgaria. I had desire to venerate also the other neraby ancient Church saint Sofia, but it was already 6:30 and the Church was closed.
On left side of the exit of st. Alexander Nevsky is located another of the old and important buildigns in Sofia, the holy synod palace (Синодална Палата) – a place where Bulgarian Church hierarchs, gather routinely to discuss and take important decisions concerning our autocephalous Church. This building represents a Roman Catholic Holy See Orthodox Church equivalent and if I'm not mistaken is an official residence of the Patriarch.

Bulgarian orthodox church synodal palace sveti sinod holy see of bg orthodox church
Since I had to go back to my friend's house which is nearby the Winter Palace, I took bus 280 from the bus stop located nearby Sofia State University and went back, engraced and thankful to God for the big blessing to be able to venerate the Holy Relics of one of the greatest Russian Saints st. Alexander Nevski.
 

st Alexander Nevsky orthodox icon

Last year 2012 in st. Alexander Nevski Church, his holiness Patriach Maxim – Patriarch of our Bulgarian Orthodox Church who recently passed away together with all metropolitans and bishops canonized the Holy Martyrs of Batak slaughter. St. Alexander Nevski is a monument also playing singificant importance reminding Bulgaria for back times, when Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians and Romanians helped us to receive liberation from Turkish 500 years slavery. If you happen to be visiting Bulgaria, somehow I warmly recommend you visit this magnificient Church, even if you're not a strong believer or Catholic, you will certainly appreciate the beautiful wall paintings and megnificient

Pilgrimage to the Holy Relics incorruptable body of Saint King Stephan Militun in Cathedral St. Nedelia Sofia, Bulgaria

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Saint Stephan Milutin II Holy King of Serbian with Inoccuptable Body testimony for Truthfulness of Holy Christian faith
 

 

As I've landed in Sofia and I'm staying few days in a friend thus I had the opportunity to take a quick look over one of the oldest cities in Europa. Sofia is known under the ancient name Sredets and is dates back to times before Christ. Yesterday I had a walk near NDK (Национален Дроврец на Културата – National Palace of Culture), nearby I saw a little Church which looks orthodox. I dropped by to pray and light up a candle as I usually do when I see an Orthodox Church building I was not in before. In front of Church I saw a priest which looked pretty much like Orthodox, Church interior looked strange as it contained a mosaic of Christ's face which seemed a bit like Catholic. I spoke a little with the priest asking him if he is priest or monk (in orthodox Church we have priest – who marry and monks who didn't). He said he is a Bishop which puzzled me since it is not very common a Bishop to smoke cigarette in front of a tiny Church building …. Later I understood he is from the so called Schismatic Synod – the so called Alternative Synod which claimed our last Church patriarch Patriarch Maxim is not choosen canonically because he was choosen in communist times) ….. I deeply regretted I had the misfortune to enter a schismatic – heretic Church and quickened to leave. Just on the street from NDK Enormous Building which is one of the most well known places in Sofia center.

NDK Sofia Bulgaria center one of most notable buildings

I saw in the end of the street a huge Orthdox Cathedral and though it is the biggest Orthodox Cathedral in the balkans – st. Alexander Nevski.

Sofia Orthodox Cathedral Church building where saint King Milutin incorruptable body is kept

Now it is good time to write about great God's providence. I very much wanted to venerate st. King Milutin for some time, since the moment I heard his holy relics are kept in my homeland capital Sofia. In Nijmegen where I was going to church in the Serbian Church, I had the opportunity to venerate a little particle of st. Stephen Milutin's holy relics and actually it is from where I heard from a first time for this saint. Many saints in our holy Orthodox church has incorruptable bodies like st. Stephen Milutin but so far I never had the opportunity to see such a great unexplainable by science miracle, where a saints body is preserved incorruptable for 9 centuries!!!! St. Uroš II (Stephan) Milutin Nemanjić who was a ruler of Serbia and one of the biggest contributors and donators of Serbian Church ruled over Serbia for 45 years, over this 45 years he donated a multitude of villages, money provisions, gold and all goods to serbian Church. He had promised to God to build so many churches as his years of rulership will be he stand up to his promise and build 45 Churches over his 45 years of rulership. He was well known for dressing in beggar cloak and going out of his castle to be among poor people and often bring them food, clothes and money. In his rulership his greatest stronghold and hope was the Holy Orthodox Church. st. King Stephan Milutin made a lot of donations for Monastiers including the building of newer and more beautiful Church building and a protection tower in Serbian Monastery in Holy Mount Athos Hilendar. St. Stephan is born in y. 1253 and passed away to Christ in October 29, 1321. Here is a picture someone has taken of st. Stephan Milutin Holy incorruptable body.

saint King Milutin holy incorruptable body relics saint Nedelia Sofia Cathedral

 More complete living of st. Stephan Milutin can be read on Orthodox Wiki here.

The size of St. Nedelya Cathedral is impressive, the whole church is full of beautiful icons. It is keeping also a miracle making icon of the Holy Theotokos Virgin Mary – the well known – Joy of all sorrowful. If you happen to drop by the temple you can find it on the left of the entrance / exit door of the Church. The Holy iconostasis of the Church is all in Gold, the dome of the Church contains most beautiful images of Christ surrounded by Angels the fresco seems quite ancient though I'm not sure from which year it dates back. In the right of the Church entrance door is found the grave of exarch Stephan – the head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church after the liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman Turkish 500 years long slavery.
The Church is a functional and Holy Liturgy is served every day also an evening service is done everyday. St. Nedelya Cathedral original building dates back from the ancient 10-th century and is connected to a times, where Slavonic translations of the Holy Bible was still young. Going out of St. Nedelya Church just few meters away is located another Christian Church in glory of St. Petka of the Balkans (The Bulgarian). There was times where holy relics of Saint Petka Bylgarska, holy relics resided in that catacomb ancient Christian church. In st. Petka Church there is a small book where one can write all the miracles that happened of people who prayed for prayed to Christ for their various needs, physical healing etc. Also something that strike me in this little Church was the odor in the air which is typical to smell from holy relics of saints. Just 20 meters away from saint Petka's Ancient Church is located another more ancient Church from the 4th CENTURY in veneration of Saint Martyr George the Glorybringer!
The Rotunda st. George is something must see for anyone that never was in Sofia before and I thank God for being able to pilgrimage on such an early Christian church.
Rotunda_of_St_George_4-th-century-Sofia-city-center-Bulgaria

The story line of Saint George Church is pretty long and the visitor can read it. In short as I read the Church has three layers of icon paintings from 3 different periods of the Church use, the most ancient found one dates back from the 6th century.

dome Rotonda Sveti Georgi 4th century Sofia,Bulgaria  city center (Sredets)

The Church was used mainly for baptismals in a long time of its existence. Today there is a Holy Liturgy and evening prayer service daily and Church is fully functional and conducting its original purpose of bringing people to Christ.

St. Maximus The Confessor Holy Relics (incorruptable right hand) is for veneration in Varna

Friday, July 1st, 2011

St. Maximus the Confessor Orthodox Christian icon

Today by God’s gracy I was blessed to go to Varna’s Cathedral Church (“Dorminion of the Theotokos”) on a small pilgrimage trip to venerate the Holy Relics of Saint Maximus the Confessor.

The saint relics which are there for veneration today 30/Jun and 01 of July are the saint’s right hand which was slaughtered in the 7th century. Today 14 centuries later, the saint right hand holy relic is still intact (the skin of the hand is dried but it’s intact!).
This is a great miracle of God who does clearly show the truthfulness of Orthodox Christian faith. The saint’s holy relics are temporary moved from Holy Mount Athos monastery St. Apostol Paul, where kept.
As one can read in saint Maximus biography, st. Maximus is one of the biggest Orthodox Christian martyr from the time before the great Church Schizm.

St. Maximus the Confessor was a Christian monk and a great Church scholar. He became a monk choosing willingly to abandon his great richness and political life because of Christ.

The Saint’s title The Confessor is given because of his great suffering for Christian faith.

Sv. Maxim Izpovednik many miracles icon

Because of the saint’s firm staying in faith during an icon fighting heresy emperor Hiraclious (Iraklii) slandered the saint and he was send to a trial where he was immediately vilified as a state traitor.
A severe beating was ordered to be done on the saint and the whole ground was sprinkled with his blood, the saint’s torturers also cut his tongue and his right hand was chopped off.
The heretical torturers were ordered to slay down his right hand and his tongue in order to prevent the saint to confess/preach and write down about the Orthodox Christian faith.

The descpile of the saint Anasthasius has also faced the same faith. After the butchery the two saints were walked around the city streets to mock them publicly behind the shocked crowds eyes.

Even though the sadistic torments by God’s providence saint Maximus the Confessor did not died immediately but was sent to exile in today’s Dobrudja (Dobrich) region in Bulgaria.

Saint Maximus has died in his old age, aged 82 in August 680 A.D. Even though being a disabled because of the martyrdom, during his exile the saint was able to write a lot of treatise books against heresies and especially against Monotheistic Christian heresy, and a lot of other writting concerning the proper spiritual christian life. The saint’s major works are titled, Ambigua An exploration of difficult passages in the work of Pseudo-Dionysius and Gregory of Nazianzus, focusing on Christological issues and Mystagogy – A commentary and reasoning on the Eucharistic liturgy.

According to Church tradition after the saint’s tongue was cut in order to prevent him to preach the Christian faith correctly, God did a miracle where even without a tongue he preached the Gospel to the masses and he heretical emperor who ordered his suffering and the saint tormentors were publicly disgraced.

Saint Maximus the Confessor is considered a saint also in the Roman Catholic Church.

The saint was canonized officially about 22 years after his death on the oecumenical Church saints assembly in year 682.
After Saint Maximus’s death on his tomb many healing miracles occured.
On the place where he was buried three bright lights looking like candlesticks could be seen burning (a clear miracle atteting of the Holy Trinity) as the thrurthful one God.
God’s great omen on his tomb is also a clear sign that Maximus the Confessor has been accepted in the eternal paradise with God with all the rightous.

Let God always strenthen us and help us, to all us who does venerate the saint. Let God by his Holy prayers deliver us from all heresies and grant us grace to stay firm in the true Orthodox Christian faith now and forever.
Amen!

Pomorie Monastery Holy relics from st. George’s day pictures

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Here are the pictures of the holy relics which were temporary sojourned in Pomorie’s Monastery for veneration in the the period 04.05.2011 – 14.05.2011.

It’s been like a tradition that the monastery is blessed with having a different saints holy relics on the Monastery feast day (St. George’s day).

Last year in the monastery were exhibited for veneration the holy relics (the hand remains) of St. Dasius

This year the holy relics the good tradition by God’s grace was continued as the holy relics of the saints:

  • Saint Great Martyr George
  • Saint Venerable Macrina
  • Saint Marina
  • Saint Cyprian and Saint Justina

were for veneration in the Monastery Church called also Saint Great Martyr George / Sveti Velikomachenik Georgi

Here are the pictures of the holy relics I was able to obtain:

Holy relics of the hand of saint great martyr George / Georgi Saint Great Martyr George hand holy relics
Saint Venerable Macrina Holy Relics picture from Pomorie Monastery Saint Venerable Macrina Holy Relics (hand bone)
Saint Cyprian and Justina holy relics Saint Cyprian and Justina Holy relics
Saint Martyr Marina Holy relics (hand bone) Saint Martyr Marina Holy relics
There were also few other particles of saints which are permanently in the Pomorie monastery and christian pilgrims can freely go there to venerate them so I would not post pictures of this holy relics here.

What is really striking is that all the Holy relics had a very specific odor (similar to Roses) but as the monk Father Sergii said (an Odor not of this world).
God’s grace can be felt with one’s spiritual heart when he is near the holy relics of this great saints, the monk father Sergii also told me that the reason for the odor is that God testifies in through the odor that the holy relics belong to his holy saints.
Each saint holy remains had a different (parfume like) odor, it’s really amazing and hard to believe if you don’t smell it yourself but I have smelled the scent myself, the almost 15th century old bones (miraculously preserved by today) emits a specific beautiful odor.
The preservation of this holy relics for all this centuries is another great miracle of God, as any normal not hermetically preserved bone kept for veneration for all this years would have decayed by so far, however this saints relics are obviously not!
As you can see truly Great is God in his saints! Glory be to the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit now and forever and ever. Amen!

st. Georgi’s day in Pomorie Monastery st. great Martyr Georgi pilgrimage of the relics of saint great martyr George

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

the relics of saint great martyr GeorgePomorie Monastery st. (George) Georgi miraculous craeting icon of saint George

Currently I’m once again in Pomorie’s monastery for the Saint George’s day

It is the second year I take the time to come for a pilgrimage in Pomorie’s Monastery st. great Martyr George (Georgi).<</b>

I’m named after the great Christian saint (It’s my Name day today :)!) and I do wanted to receive a spiritual blessing here in the monastery.

The believing Orthodox Christians this year could receive a spiritual blessing this year from the Monastery as some of the Holy Relics of many great saints are temporary in the monastery for the Monastery’s feast day which is the day we commemorate our great Orthodox Christian martyr saint Georgi.

It’s unique that this year by God’s grace the monastery has temporary received a small particle of the holy relics of st. George.
The pilgrims could come here and does venerate the great saint martyrs for which I thank God for being allowed by his providence to be here in the monastery and venerate the holy relics.

Here are few photos of the Holy relics from the monastery, on the pictures you see the holy relics of Saint Cyprian & St. Justina on the right, st. George’s holy relics in the center and st. Macrina’s holy relics on the left.
Saint Georgi (George) holy relics in Pomorie Monastery Bulgaria

Abbot of Pomorie Monastery Father Ierotei and holy relics of st. Macrina

On the picture above you see the Abbot of Pomorie monastery Father Ierotei (who is a truly great father and a wonderful spirited man !) with the holy relics (bones) of saint Macrina on his left.

On this last picture you can see the holy relics of the Pomorie’s monastery embedded into icons (the two icons on the right).

Pomoriiski Manastir Holy relics

I thank God for blessing me with being here in this holy cloister and blessing me with being able to venerate the holy martyrs relics and through this bless me and strengthen me.!

It’s important to say that we the orthodox Christians had the tradition to venerate our saint holy remains as a way to venerate God himself in accordance to the holy bible psalm which says Great and Glorious is God in his saints!

I’m sorry to provide my readers with this bad quality pictures, I’ll try to put some better quality pictures of the holy remains in very short time.
Being able to show this holy remains to other orthodox christian brother and sisters is also a great grace and blessing which by God’s grace was given to us the sinners! Just to close I’ll say glory be to our God – The Holy Trinity now and forever and ever amen!

Orthodox Christian Saints Incorruptable bodies, A Miracle proof of the truthfulness of Christianity

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

There is a miracle of incorruptable holy relics (Incorruptable Bodies) of many of our Orthodox Saints in the Orthodox Church.
Little or none is actually known in the non-orthodox christian realm about this great miracle proof of the truthfulness of our faith.

The incorruptability of saints has been a phenomena longly known to exist, some of the incorruptable bodies of saints are still preserved already for more than 10 centuries.

The phenomenon of incorruptable bodies is a sure sign for saintship in the Church. There are dozens of orthodox christian saints whose bodies are still intact.
Our Orthodox Church teaches that the incorruptability of the saints body is given by God’s grace for all us the believers as a confirmation of the Resurrection of the Dead, which is about to come in the Great day of the Lord as the scriptures teaches.

A good example for incorruptable body which exists for 10 centuries in the bulgarian lands are the incorruptable holy body of St. John of Rila.
St. John of Rila is the greatest known Bulgarian saint also officially recognized by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church as the patron saint of Bulgaria (protector of all Bulgaria).

In below’s videos I present you the antiphon of St. John of Rila:

Antiphon translated to English means (Song of Praise) dedicated to some Christian saint and is actually an Orthodox well-known Church term.

Saint John’s incorruptable bodies is still kept in his established monastery The Rila Monastery .
Each year on the saints feast his incorruptable body is being bringed out of the monastery for a procession around the Church monastery.

On that day all the pilgrims who are looking for St. John’s spiritual intercession in front of God (The Holy Trinity) are lined up to venerate the great God servant St. John of Rila.

Unfortunately there is no video that has video-taped the incorruptable body of Saint John of Rila. However there are plenty of videos which shows a lot of incorruptable bodies of saints some of which are even Roman Catholic.

Along with the saints bodies incorruptability, many of the saints bodies does emit a specific a flower like odor, nevertheless the body is a thousands of years old.

Here is an example of a saints remains which is considered incorruptable, his body is preseved for more than 60 years without any special chemical threatment.

What is most important is many believers does receive a spiritual blessing or get healed from various spiritual or bodily diseases, when they look up for the holy intercession of the saint, who has been honoured by God with incorruptableness.

Before a saint’s body is recognized as a saint and his body as incorruptable, usually there are testimonials by christian layman for healings by his holy prayers during his earthly living.
Some of the saints which are found to have incorruptable bodies has happened after a few years they have been put in a normal earthly grave.
In holy mount athos there is a tradition that (if I remember correctly 5 years) after a monk’s death and burial, his grave is being digged out to collect his remains and put it in a ossuary.

After this 5 years some of the holy monks remains are found to possess this miraculous graceful incorruptable bodies.

As we know from Holy Bible, the body is the temple of the holy spirit my logical interpretation of some of the saint’s incrorruptability is rooted in there saint’s way of living as they have achieved the Holy Spirit (The Spirit of God) in an immeasurable quantities that, the Spirit of Truth that’s being flowing out from their incorruptable bodies is still sustaining the body and prevents the natural laws to destroy it.

The bodily incorruptabilities of our Orthodox saints is also a clear sign for the truthfulness of Orthodox Christian faith.
The incorruptability is also a direct violation of the natural laws by God’s great providence and mercy and I guess is given as a stimulator of us whose faith in our saviour Jesus Christ and in God the Holy Trinity – The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit, to whom be glory now and forever and ever Amen!