Posts Tagged ‘pilgrimage’

Introduction of Holy Virgin Mary in Solomon’s temple feast in Orthodox Church – 21 November

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

Presentation-of-Theotokos-st-Joachim-and-Anna-bringing-the-Virgin-Mary-to_Jerusalem_Temple_feast-of-introducition-of-Mother-of-God-into-temple
Presentation (Introduction) of the Holy Mother of God (Virgin Mary)
to the Solomon's temple (at that time of event the second temple) is celebrated on 21th November each year in the Orthodox Church (some Orthodox Churches like Russian / Serbian Orthodox celebrate the feast 13 days later because still celebrating the feast according to the Julian Calendar). Feast is celebrated also on November 21 in Roman Catholic Church but not celebrated in Protestant Church, because the feast is part of Church's tradition and its source of veneration is not the Holy Bible but the apocryphal book the Infancy Narrative of James (Gospel of James) also known as Protevangelion dated from (~ 147 A.D. – 170 AD

The feast is one of the Great feasts in the Church part of 12 Central Church Feasts;

September 8, the Nativity of the Theotokos
September 14, the Exaltation of the Cross
November 21, the Presentation of the Theotokos
December 25, the Nativity of Christ/Christmas
January 6, the Baptism of Christ – Theophany, also called Epiphany
February 2, the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple
March 25, the Annunciation
The Sunday before Pascha (Easter) – the Entry into Jerusalem or Flowery/Willow/Palm Sunday
Forty Days after Pascha (Easter) – the Ascension of Christ
Fifty Days after Pascha (Easter) – Pentecost
August 6, the Transfiguration
August 15, the Dormition (Falling Asleep) of the Theotokos

The feast commemorates the entrance of the Holy Theotokos for a first time into Jerusalem's temple which (for Jewish was the only temple where believed God lived in his full Glory). The Jewish even though gathering in Synagogues to read the Old Testament (Talmud) and pray, does not understand Synagogues in the sense we Christians understand Churches. According to Old Testament given revelation to the Jews, there was one temple holding the (The Ark of the Covenant) nowadays said to be kept in Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the city of Axun. In this temple people went for a special pilgrimage, thanksgiving to God and prayer. The Temple of Jerusalem was a religious site for pilgrimage which is similar to Mecca is for Muslim and  as Jerusalem's Tomb of Jesus (The Church of Sepulchre) is for us Christians. The temple was separted in 3 major parts:
Porch, Holy Place and Holy of Holies. In the Holy Place only priests and priest helpers could enter to service to God and in the Holy of Holies only the High Priest could enter once a year to sacrificy animal according to Jewish Custom. For us Orthodox Christian the High Priest nowdays is the Bishops, Arch-bishops, Metropolitans and Patriarchs). 

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All believing members of the Jewish community B.C. had to be presented "officially" in front of God in the Holy Temple. When the Holy Virgin was born from the already aged (around 90 years old) St. Joachim and St. Anna. The parents out of thankfulnes to God for giving them a child dedicated their child Mary to God and when Virgin Mary turned 3 years old, st. Joachim and st. Anna decided the time to fulfill their promise and offer the Holy Theotokos to the Lord has come and after gathering other young neighbor girls (which were to introduce Mary) holding lighted torches walked in front of the young Mary.

Remarkably the Holy Theotokos walked straight without even looking back to their parents weeping (as most children does) or felt regret for being separated with parents. It was remarkable miracle showing she was choosen by God to become the Mother of the Saviour when her parents left her on the first high step (out of 15 big steps) leading to the temple, she could climb freely like a grown person without falling or showing any weakness a usual kid would do. As the young girls were singing from the Holy of Holies the High priest being told in advance by the Holy Spirit came out to receive the young kid which later become the Mother of our Saviour Jesus Christ. 

Entrance_Introduction_Presentation_of-the-Virgin-Mary-to-Jerusalem-Temple
The young Mary run in joy to the hands of the High Priest Zacharias who were waiting her at the gate of the temple with other elders outrunning the other maidens.

Zacharias blessed her saying, "It is in you that He has glorified your name in every generation. It is in you that He will reveal the Redemption that He has prepared for His people in the last days."
Then, Zacharias brought the child (being moved by the Holy spirit) into the Holy of Holies place where only the High Priest was permitted to enter once a year on the Day of Atonement. He placed her on the steps of the altar, and the grace of the Lord descended upon her. The Holy Theotokos arose being overfilled by the unspoken joy that only the Spirit of Truth.

The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple signifies her total dedication to God and her readiness for her future vocation as the Mother of the Incarnate Lord.  

HYMNS OF THE PRESENTATION OF THEOTKOS TO JERUSALEM TEMPLE

Apolytikion (Fourth Tone)
Today is the prelude of God's pleasure and the proclamation of man's salvation. The Virgin is clearly made manifest in the temple of God and foretells Christ to all. Let us also cry out to her with mighty voice, "Hail, fulfillment of the Creator's dispensation."

Kontakion (Fourth Tone)
Today, the most pure temple of the Savior, the precious bridal chamber and Virgin, the sacred treasure of God, enters the house of the Lord, bringing the grace of the Divine Spirit. The Angels of God praise her. She is the heavenly tabernacle.

 

Nessebar – Ancient Christian city and a wonderful rest resort

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

nessebar-an-ancient-Christian-city-a-great-resort-place
Last Friday together with my best friend Mitko together with an old-school good friend Samuel and another friend Geоrgi travelled to Pomorie Monastery. The reasons to go there was to have a short pilgrimage journey and to baptize Samuil who had the good desire to receive Baptism. As always it is a God's blessing to spend time in monastery and this was time it was not different. We started the trip from Sofia to Pomorie in about 08:15 and with a few little breaks we reached theMonastery about 12:30. Before we start journey I call Pomorie Monastery's abbot father Ierotey to ask if he will bless our pilgrimage (for those who never was in monastery's everything  happens wtih a blessing and it is best before a monastic trip to ask a blessing). Once arrived the novice monk Milen met us and accomodated us in two of the monastic rooms.

On next day, there was the standard morning prayer service and the bells rung to wake us up, after the service we had a small talk with father Sergiy, met some of the brothers and with abbots blessing together with father Sergiy, we went for a few hours pilgrimage journey to Nessebar.

Nessebar (the town ancient name is Mesambria) is an ancient city situated 16 km from Pomorie (known in ancient times as Anchialo / Anchialo). Both Pomorie and Nesebar was a great historical Christian sites from very ancient times, a cities where first civilization started before Christ. Here according to excavation Christianity started somewhere in the early II-nd century and undergoes а bloom until the XI, XIII century. Here in those places according to some historic datas used to even have an archibiship seat. It is less known fact that Nessebar is one of the most ancient cities in all Europe and started its existence about 3200 years B.C.!
In ancient times before Christianity Mesambria used to be inhabited with Thracians.
On the road to Nesebar we passed through Aheloy (Achelous) – a town where occured the Battle of Achelous (y. 917) which is the biggest battle in medieval European history (120 000 troops participated in battle).

Bulgarians_defeat_the_Byzantines_at_Anchialos_battle_biggest-battle-of-10-th-century-medieval-times

Nesebar is a significant historical city and thus part of UNESCO's world heritage world site. It is divided in new and old city, whether new city's doesn't shiny with architecture, the old town architecture is preserved and absolutely unique. The fact that Nessebar used to be a important Christian center is still evident as even though the town area is situated in peninsula (consisting of only 850 meters width and 350 meters hight), it has 12 Churches !

Nesebar_Church-of-Christ-Pantokrator
Nessebar Church of Christ Pantokrator

Some of the ancient Churches in nessebar are dated from around VI to VIII century. Many of the Churches are in a style specific for Bulgarian empire build in analogy with the  Tarnovo capital of Bulgaria at that time architecture, such architecture is very common for Bulgaria and Byzantine empire in the XIII and XVI centuries. Churches dated from the XIII c. is St. Parascheva, (XIII c.) St. Theodor (XIV c.), St. Archangel Michael and Gabriel (XVI).
По това време са построени църквите “Св. Параскева (XIII в), “Св. Теодор” (XIV в), “Св. Архангели Михаил и Гавраил” (XIV в), имащи преки аналогии в столичната търновска архитектура.
 

ancient-church-in-Nessebar-1

Unfortunately though there are many Churches in Nessebar, many of them are just historical monuments nowadays and others are turned into Painting Galleries. In all ancient city only 1 Orthoox Church – The Dormition of Virgin Mary is functional with regular Holy Liturgies served. The Church has a miracle making of the Theotokos. Many people have found relief and cure or fast help from God after praying in front of the miraculous icon.

miracle-making-holy-icon-of-Virgin-Mary-Nessebar-Bulgaria
Nessebar Miracle Making Icon of Holy Theotokos

To give thanks to Mother Mary many people who received cure or whose prayers came true by praying in front of the miraculous icon deliberately left their gold earings, necklaces and even war medals.
In the Church there are holy relics of number of Christian saints – saint Cyprian and Justina, saint Tatyiana, st. mrtr. Marina, st. Vlasij, st. Macarious

Father Sergij walk us through the city telling a bit of history of each of the Churhes one of the Basilicas was much bigger the rest and fr. Sergius explained that this used to be a Church where a Metropolitan or a Bishop was serving.

We learned that in Nessebar was a very desired king region a place, a highly spiritual place with an overall of 40 Churches!
On the entrance of old nessebar there are remains of the old city fortress walls, the whole city houses and architecture is renessance with a lot of wooden houses.
fortifications_in_entrance_of_Nesebar
Nessebar city entry fortress remains

Nesebar_-_Wooden_Houses
Wooden Houses in Nesebar

Besides the beautiful Churches the sea side is breath taking and from sea shore you can in the distance another resort city Sunny Beach.

nessebar-hills picture
Nessebar winter sea coast view

In Nesebar there are plenty of souvenir shops, caffeterias, small ethnographic styled restaurants assuring a great time for every touries.Very neart to Nessebar is situated also a beautiful rest resort village Ravda.
About 13:00 we left Nessebar and headed back to Pomorie with fr. Sergij who told us a what of Christian faith stories rich in wisdom. On next day Sunday after the end of Holy Liturgy the Abbot of Pomorie Monastery (fr. Ierotey)  baptized Samuel and we had a lunch together with the brotherhood.In early afternoon we  headed back to Sofia. As always father archimandrit Ierotey and fr. Sergius presented us with Christian literature as a gift and a CDs with faith related movies.

Minsk Monastery trip to saint Elizabath’s Nun Convent – Spiritual realms of Belarus

Monday, April 7th, 2014

st_Elizabeth_Romanova-monastery-Church
If you happen to be in Belarus's capital Minsk and you're a Christian you would definitely will be interested to see the spiritual side of Belarus. I was in Minsk with my wife for a month and had the chance to go for a pilgrimage in st. Elisaberth's Orthodox Christian Convent.

In Belarus about 80% of population of population are Orthodox Christians with about 7% Catholics, some 4% protestants and 9% atheists. I'm Orthodox Christian myself so mostly I kept interest in exoeriencing Orthodox religion life there. The religious life in Belarus so deeply impressed me so I decided to even document it here.

I was in a couple of Orthodox Churches during the Great Lent first week attending afternoon (Great) Repentence services canon of St. Andrew of Crete. And was amazed how many people are religious in this God fearful country. All Churches where I was during the Great Canon or Holy Liturgy was so full of people that you cannot even enter the Church if you're late for the service. People attending were also very concentrated on the service and most of the people came to services bringing most of which holding a book with the Great Repentance Canon following the service and concentrated in praying and doing ground prostrations. One thing to note is Belarusian Orthodox Church is a sub-division of Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), Belarusian doesn't have their own patriarch but are under the patriarchy of Russian and all Moscow patriarch – Kiril I.

Few weeks ago for Sunday of All Orthodoxy (Triumph of All orthodoxy) for Holy Liturgy service me and Svetlana with a close friend of her Tatyiana went to St. Elisabeth's Monastery. 
Monastery is named in honour of St. Elizabeth Feodorovna Romanova – which is the last Russian Grand Princess of the Romanov family later executed with her husband and kids by Communists Bolsheviks, canonized by ROC in the 1990s.

Saint_Elizabeth_holy_orthodox_icon_monastery_Minskst_Elizabeth_Romanova-monastery-Church

The monastery as almost all Churches in Belarus is so full of people you cannot move (it seems in Russian Orthodox Church – there is an amazing spiritual awakening at the moment). I wanted to confess and even though I was in the Church building before beginning of the holy liturgy and there were two priests to confess the queue of people to confess was so long that confession lasted until the end of the Holy Liturgy. In order to able to confess I've waited on the "confession queue" for about 2 hours and a half. Even though Holy Liturgy completed confession continued and those who confessed after the Church service end was also offered the Holy Sacraments. Another stunning thing for me was the amount of young and obviously intelligent people who was in the Church – just to compare here in Bulgaria, seeing young people in most Churches and monasteries is a rare thing ..

Saint Elisabeth's Monastery is the only monastery situated in (very near 19 km away) from MINSK on Vigotskogo 6 str. We reached the monastery by taking bus from regular Minsktrans (state's bus company) city bus nr. 26, other bus and trolley riding there are – bus 18 and trolley 33, 38, 55.
Monastery was established in 1990 after dissolvement of USSR and is situatuated on a place where previously there was no church or a monastery. The SisterHood in monastery is enormous by size and consists nowadays of 7 Churches!!!

St_Elizabeth_Monastery_Monastery_Minsk-picture

The main Church of the Monastery has saint relics from all around the known Orthodox Walls, to venerate all the saint relics you will need at least 20 minutes!! The Holy Relics of the monastery are so much that they remind me very much of Monasteries I've seen on Holy Mounth Athos. The spiritual father of the monastery is father Andreya Lemoshonka.

father-Andreya-Lemeshonka-spiritual-father-of-st-Elizabeth-monastery-Minsk


From ruromrs the sisterhood in monastery consists of about 120 sisters (and even maybe more), some of them are Nuns and others are the so called "Sisters of Mercy" (something like the "White Sisters" moveing in the Roman Catholic Church) – woman who deliberately decided to help the monastery often walking the streets shops and metro stations collecting charity for poor, sick and people in need. Sisters of mercy are something exception and seeing a lady dressed in white robes on the street or metro with a prayer book at hand is something rare to see in today's crazy materialistic world. Some of this kind sisters of mercy are novice nuns in the monastery and others are just worldly woman with family whom the monastery employes on a small renumeration.

Minsk-sister-of-mercy-sestri-miloserdie-Belarus

The cloister is a unique place next to the majestic Church buildings, the monastery has a coffeteria where you can have a coffee / snacks or even a dinner after service, there is a Church shops full of icon and all kind of orthodox spiritual literature,a Christian games for kids (Orthodox Lotto, kids collapsible Churches from cardboards) as well as a food store with fasting and non-fasting food and even a shop for Christian clothing "Православная Одежда". 

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Orthodox Clothes Shop near St. Elizabeth's monastery Minsk

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A Honey Store – St. Elizabeth Monastery Belarus

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Orthodox Foodstore near St. Elizabeth Monastery Misnk

In one of the Churches there is a 3 floor tiny shop first floor sell icons, books and faith related things, monastic souvenirs and on the second floor there is a herbal pharmacy  with healing herbs for almost all kind of physical and nervological disorders etc. Part of monastic life is the evening and morning service which occur everyday in the monastery. The spiritual father of a monastery Andreya Lemoshonka who is a married priest is also leading frequent lectures on faith and is often helping people coming to him for a spiritual advice, a problem or question related to faith. The Nuns are fasting each Monday, Wednesday and Friday – fasting also in Mondays even though this fasting day was only observed in ancient Church and in many Orthodox monasteries, Monday fastings (In veneration of Angels) is no longer observed – i.e. sisterhood life is very strict. Near the monastery is situated a Mental Hospital and one of the duties of nuns is to often visit the mentally sick there. The sisterhood helps orphanage homes and is bringing for Holy sacraments often a lot of sick children.

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Part of monastery service is sheltering the homeless, alcoholics and drug addicts offering them encouragement and work in the small monastic farm. The monastery has also workshops where people with disability work in making gloves, icons, decorations, souvenirs embroided by hand. Near the monastery there is a wooden shop where one can order all kind of custom crafted wooden wardrobes, chairs or anything wooden you like for your home.

What I saw there make my heart joyful. It seems Minsk Monastery achieved something which is rarely seen in Orthodox world a symbiosis between Faith, charity and a monetary funding model that works
The monastery very much reminded me to an Orthodox movie Forpost and to the Godly initiate in Bulgaria by father Ioan of Novi Khan who by his efforts, Gods help and the charity of hundreds of bulgarian takes care for about 150 homeless orphans in a monastery.

 

'Forpost' (Outpost) – What the Church Can Accomplish. 

As a closure word I want say Thanks and Glory be to the Holy Trinity The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit! for blessing me to the pilgrimage journet to St. Elizabeth's monastery!

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.

Christian Pilgrimage to Shipchenski Monastery in Shipka (near Shipka Mountain Peak) / Shipka Battle Pass memoriam Russian Church

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Shipka Memorial Church vault - Shipka Battle Pass died soldiers memorial Church picture Bulgaria

For a short pilgrimage journey I went to Shipka. Shipchenski Monastery is a mountaint monastery near Kazanlak, Bulgaria. The monastery monks cells buildings are new and doesn’t hold a hundred or thousand of years of history but still the place is very unique, surrounded by multitude of hundred year old pine trees just 3 minutes of climbing of an Orthodox Church building build in 1902 in memoriam of the great battles that occured for liberation of Bulgarian from Ottoman Turkish empire in Shipka Peak in years 1876-1877.

Yesterday night we spend the night in the monastery guest building. The monks there accepted us quite lukewarm and we were quickly accomodated in (a large room with 6 beds inside). The abbot of Shipka’s Monastery is Archimandrite Januarij (January) – an early Christian great martyr saint. The archimandrite was very hospitable to us, arranged quickly a fasting dinner for us as well as later we had a small chat where he treated us with some of his self-brew Liquor.

As of time of writting in Shipka Monastery lives 6 monks and 2 novice monks. Its worthy to mention the Abbot’s sharp sense of humour, fr. January was making nice jokes every few minutes.

The monastery had 2 dining rooms one for guests and one for monks. We had the chance to eat in both during the less 1 day stay in the monastery.

Getting out of the “monastic walls”, there are stone stairs leading to the monastic Church building.
The Church building is majesticly beautiful with “underground” crypt containing graves of Russian and Bulgarian soldiers, people who sacrificed heroic there lives in the bloody battle that occured between Bulgarian guerillas and Russians soldiers in The Battle of Shipka Pass
The Russian Church built in 1902 is dedicated as eternal memoriam of the heroic battle for the sake of Christ and restoration of Bulgarian Christian country, after we Bulgarians lived under the yoke of Islam for V centuries.

The Church is build fully in the tradition of Russian Orthodox Church buildings (probably by Russian Architects). The wall-painting (icons) are magnificient and painted in 19th century Russian renessance style.

In the Church it is pure joy for pilgrils as there are holy relics of many saints including the holy relics of Saint Alexander Nevski. Here it is maybe good to say today in Bulgarian Orthodox Church, we celebrate the “transferring” (carrying away) of st. Alexander Nevrski’s Holy Relics. The Church is called The Birth of Christ / Nativity of Christ in veneration of our Saviour’s Birth. it is huge cathedral building with 4 Alters, where on of the alters is dedicated to saint Alexander Nevski.
Especially for the feast of St. Aleksander Nevski the Metropolitan of Stara Zagora – his beautitude Galaktion came and served the Holy Liturgy service. There were also about 12 of priests and monks who came and co-served the holy liturgy in order to venerate the great Russian saint.
Going out of the Church the mountain view from is absolutely “breath taking” and something worthy to see if you come in Bulgaria.
Something interesting is the big Church bells, one of the Church bells is currently the biggest existing bell on the Balkans. As you can guess the bell ding is super loud 🙂
Here are some pictures from Rozhdestvo Hristovo (The Birth of Christ) Church to enjoy:

Shipchenski Monastery izgled ot Manastir kym Ruska Cyrkva, sideview from Monastery to Russian Church

Panorama from Shipchenski Monastery cells to Church

Shipka Memorial Church, Rozhdestvo Hristovo - Birth of Christ cyrkva picture

Church of Nativity of Christ

Shipka Russian Church - soldiers who died for liberation of Bulgarian from Turkish Crypt pictureThe Crypt of Soldiers who gave their life for nowdays Bulgarian freedom in Shipka Memoriam Church

Shipka Monastery Russian Church picture in front of Church dveri

Shipka Memorial Church Nativity of Christ Bulgaria, Cross triumphal over Muslim half moon crest

Shipka Memorial Church – Nativity of Christ (Orthodox Cross Triumphal over mulsim half crest

Very near to Shipka’s monastery, there is a pathway leading to exact place where severe bloody battles between Russian, Bulgarian liberators and Turkish army occured. Nowdays on Shipka Peak is a huge beautiful monument in ever-remembrance of the brave Bulgarian Russian soldiers who loose their lives for the sake of Bulgaria.

Shipa memoriam monument of Bulgarian Russian Turkish bloody battles near Shipka Pass (Peak)

My observations on brotherhood monks life in Pomorie Monastery or how life flows in a monastery

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

My Observations on Brotherhood monks life in Pomorie Monastery - How Life in Bulgarian Orthodox Monastery goes

I'm currently once again on a pilgrimage in Pomorie Monastery St. George (Bulgaria) – EU as you should read in my previous day post. The brotherhood here is very hospital, since our coming (with Kliment), we were treated like being a part of the monks community. We're given food and allowed to eat together with the monks on one table and even we can enter into some of the interesting discussions after food :).
The life in a monastery is actually quite fascinating, though on the outside it seems boring.

As a general rule monks eat a meal twice a day. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the meals are cooked and served usually without oil (except if the Abbot didn't bless differently). The abbot in the Monastery is like a King. The order in the whole monastery resides very much a Kingdom, where the abbot is king some of the monks are his (left and right hand and counselors) etc.

Just like in kingdoms, there are workers who help the kingdom to flourish. With the case with the monastery workers are (mostly believing people) hired (with a wage) to help with the monastery works.

The kitchen "district" has a (chef) cook lady, person/s (usually believing Christians) who help with cooking cutting and vegetables and various meal preparations etc. and serving the brotherhood and workers dinner and lunch. Oh yes I almost forgot, monks didn't eat breakfast. Their usual first meal is like 12 or 12:30 as a straight dinner.

As in Other Orthodox monasteries, here in Pomorie Monastery the monastery is named after the heavenly protector of the place Saint Martyr George.

The brotherhood life here is not as tough as the monasteries located in desert destinations, though just like in other mountain situated Orthodox Christian monasteries the monks has an established everyday Morning and Evening Church Service.

The morning Church service usually starts around 06:00 or 06:30, while on a feast days like Sunday (The Day of Resurrection of Jesus Christ) the service starts a bit later in 07:00 or at very special occasions in 07:30 …

The Evening Services usually start around 04:30 or 05:00 o'clock and continue (depending on Church calendar feast day (saint)) from 30 to 40 minutes up to 2, 3 hours (in biggest feasts or fasting periods).
All the monks should be present on Morning and Evening service, where a bell is rang whether the monks has to gather together for a Church service prayer.

As of time of writting officially Pomorie monastery has 4 monk brothers. One is the Abbot, the abbot's left hand, one other hiero-monk who sometimes is serving the Holy Liturgy church services and another monk who is in his 70s and is mostly doing Church book readings.
Occasionally the brotherhood accepts a novice pupils who want to enter the monastic life, but as long as my observations goes (during the few years I came as a pilgrim here) many of the novices find the monastic life for them and quit after a few months or a year time.

Just a year earlier the brotherhood, here had 6 monks. Unfortunately the oldest monk Father Tikhon who lived inside the monastery more than half of his life (40 years in the monastery W0W!) passed away after a short sickness and hospitalization.
Another one of the monks (Father Joanikius) was transferred by the Sliven's Metropolitan (named also father Joanikius) to serve his monkship (obedience) in our Bulgarian Monastery situation in Holy Mount Athos (Greece) , e.g. to Zographus monastery.

The Abbot of the monastery (Father Yierotej) is a young and energetic person (35 years old) with a good sense of humour and a great God given wisdom grace and joyful temper.

Besides the core monks brothrehood currently the monastery has 5 workers and about 5 to 10 persons (people who are in hardships and have no place to stay) and were accepted to get a healing and a life stabilization while living for a while in the monastery. Some of those people are almost full time living inside the monsatic walls helping with their knowledge and talents to the brotherhood
The overall number of people who inhibit the monastery is about rawly 15 people.
All this people are given free meals 2 times daily and eat together often either in the monastic kitchen or the dining-room (which is also serving as a guest room).

Before and after each meal intake the people gathered together in the dinner-room pray together asking Jesus Christ to bless their food and drink. Usually the Abbot whenever on the table is the one to ask God for a food blessing. After the meal is complete the Abbot or some of the monks says a thanksful prayer thanking Jesus for giving the daily bread and asking God to give us also the heavenly spiritual food.

The most common food eaten here is vegetables and fruits and in non-fasting days they eat some youghurt, cheese or fish. Eating meat however is un-common and most of the food consumed is fasting food (meat is considered inappropriate food for Orth Christian Monks).
The monastery is surrounded by a around a meter monastic walls. In the middle of the monastery is located the Monastic Church Saint Martyr George whichs basic walls dates back to the distant XIX century.

Pomorie Monastery oldest monastic found stone (orthodox depiction of Saint George basrelief).

Facing the church about 40 meters from the Chuch are located the monks dwelling rooms also in monastic language called (cells). The monk's cell is full of icon and holy water, crucific crosses and all kind of faith related books so in a sense the monks room looks like a tiny Church.

Right in the middle of Pomorie Monsatery there is a holy spring – disease healing water which by God's providence healed the first Abbot and beneficient of the monastery (ironically the Turkish Abbot Salim Bey who converted from Islam to Christianity and donated all his land to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in the 18 century when still Bulgaria was enslaved by Turkish).

The monastic yard is filled with green beautiful Peach and Plumb Trees. In the monastery yard they have sew of; potatoes, tomatoes, corn and few other "basic" self-grown. vegetables.

Flowers in front of Holy Sprint Pomorie Monastery St. Martyr George

Along with the plants in one of the corners near the monastic wall there is a henhouse where some chickens and few turkeys are grown for getting fresh (natural) eggs.

In the old days the brotherhood was growing all their food by themselves as it was a tradition in the Monasteries, however with the changing times and the huge decrease of monks, growing all the monastic food on their-own became an impossible task ….

The monastery is mainly living on pilgrim or local believing people donations and the monastic land, as well as to sales of Orthodox icons and tiny faith related objects (crosses, holy bibles, church related books and literature) etc.

As I hear from some of the monks the harsh economic situation and severe world crisis that is plaguing the world also has a negative influence on the financial balance of the holy cloister too.
A monk shared with me the financial expenses of the monastery tend to be "dangerously" growing lately as the amount of people whose the brotherhood is feeding and taking care (healing) daily along with the money for restoration works are raising and the monastery experiences a shortage of money.
Still they're not discouraged but as I was told praying and hoping on God's grace to send them kind heart donators to help the monastery.

On Pomorie Monastery's website there is an e-PayPal donation form through which willing donators can help financially the monastic community

Most of the people who are in the monsatery not for a theraupetic reason (with a severe disease) work all day long. Though the work seems to be never ending here, one feels calm, relaxed and gracious.
Even staying for few hours here, makes you filled-up with God's grace and gives you new energy and hope to continue the harsh daily stress filled life.

Besides the Monastery the town of Pomorie is also very beuatiful and have all the facilities and entertainment a tourist might like to have from a modern beach resort. Yesterday I went and had my first beach time here in Pomorie.
Something interesting I noticed on the beach is the sand color which here in Pomorie is a bit blackish. The sea coast here near the beach is not big but feels cozy and there are bars near the beach shore, so anyone wanting to enjoy some of the world goods too can have a fanastic time here 🙂

The Thrice Holy Orthodox Christian hymn sang on Holy Mount Athos

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

 

Last year by Holy Virgin Mery Theotokos I was able to visit probably the second by holiness place in the world – Holy Athos. Agios Oros as called in greek is an island in the deep of Greece inhabited only by male monks. In fact there is a prophecy that if woman start visiting the place by God's desire the place will sunk. Holy Mount Athos is alsothe biggest orthodox monks community nowdays existing on the planet. Athos is inhabited by more than 1600 monks all from different orthodox nations. Some of the Orthodox Monasteries present by nationalities are:
 

– Ours Bulgarian Monastery (Saint Martyr George the Glory Bringer)
– Serbian
– Russian
– Greek

Probably there are more but this is ruffly the main ones I can remember
There are also Ukrainian and monks belonging to the other orthodox Churches. There are a lot of monks on Agios Oros that still are living a type of life as hermits. Even probably there are secret people who live completely as hermits. As the times are changing quickly and the earth is going to destruction the existence of such a big place inhabited by monks to pray Christ for us is truly a great God mercy to us. If you're interested in Agios Oros and you're orthodox Christian and want to visit it for pilgrimage pray to The Holy Theotokos and if it is God will you will be permitted to go.

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!

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!