Posts Tagged ‘saint’

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

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

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

 

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

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

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

 

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Reconstruction of walls left part of the Altar


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

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Pliska Sarcophagus near the Great Basillica Church altar

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


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

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A presumable reconstruction model of the Old Basilica

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

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

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

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

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Fr. Peter reading The Apostle readings

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Saint George’s day in an Elder – Spiritual father Georgi (91 years old Priest) in Jeglarci’s Village Bulgaria

Friday, May 9th, 2014

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This year on 6th of May – saint George's day Church feast and army celebration in Bulgaria I had the blessing to be in a small village with 868 citizens – Jiglarci (Jeglarci).
Jeglarci is situated about 40 km from Dobrich. Father Georgi from Jiglarci is a well known priest in Dobrich region. He is spiritual father of many priests, monks and nuns here in Bulgaria. This is the 3rd time I'm visiting Jiglarci one time I was on Great and Holy Friday – the day on which the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified and one time I was a few months ago with some brothers and sisters from Holy Trinity Church in Dobrich. This time I had the blessing to go fr. Georgi with my wife Svetlana with Russian family from moscow Mihail and Mariana, and Denica (a sister from Church in Dobrich).

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The Church saint George in Jeglarci village

Each time I visit father Georgi I have the blessing to see and hear a living proof of God's existence. Father's Georgi from Jeglarci is famous all around Bulgaria for being one of the spiritual elders of Bulgaria. He is now 91 years old but even though his age  continues his service for God (serves Holy Liturgy every day during great Lent!), continue to preach and accept dozens of people almost daily looking for spiritual advice, spiritual help, confession, or questions on how to deal with life hardship situations.
Father Georgi is known in the world under the secular name Georgi Stoyanov Peev his life is full of miracles, interesting events and wondrous facts. In communism times of atheism and Orthodox Christian faith persecutions, father Georgi was one of the many priests who underwent tortures and persecutions for his faith in Christ. Because of his firm faith of zealous priest, the Lord endowed the fr. with great spiritual gifts. In short I will mention some facts about fr. Georgi From Jeglarci life as the father is an example of a living saint, very much like another Bulgarian Church Elder (Dijado) Dobri from Baylovo.

Father Georgi has been nurtured with Christian virtues since his childhood – his aunt (sister of his father) was a nun. By his own words, "Since a child, the joy of my life was in faith". Since his youth years his faith was strong and because of that God has helped him in numerous times. Fr. Georgi had 6 children 3 sons and 3 daughters. All of his sons choose the way of priesthood and are now priests in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. His nephew fr. Stoyan is also a priest in Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Dobrich. The father become priest while being 43 years old, by studying in seminary after feeing the call of God and need for firm believers and mass disbelieve in atheistic communist times. In seminary father Georgi studied together with his son. To be able to support himself and his family financially, he worked all kind of hard labour  (sand mining near his village). His all life was labor and prayer in all his free time during studing he learned the church services, readhing the living of saints and holy bible.

Thanks to the house whom he turned into a small chapel almost 20 people become priests later in Bulgarian Orthodox Church. In his priesthood fr. Georgi was among the minority which opposed the ungodly communistic regime, he rejected to comply with communist desires to close the Church in Jeglarci and as a responce to their closure opened as a Church his own house. He was questioned and asked for reports being increminated from local Communist authorities, threatened with death and called in police stations many times because of his refusal to stop his service in Church and preaching the Gospel.

Here is a story of fr. Georgi's youth:

"Our Lord as a Good Father, not only listens our prayers but also reads in the hearts. In 1953 my brother Atanas was a soldier. We received a letter, that soldiers will be dismissed in January next year, this was a very long time. It was st. Dimiter's feast and I wanted my brother to be home for Christmas. At night I prayed the Lord, simple and by all my heart: "Lord for you nothing is hard or impossible. I beg you – in one way or another make it possible, that my brother Atanas to come home earlier.

I had a strong faith in God. My faith in God was so strong that I was feeling like being able to fly. In 3 days later only, when I saw my brother Atanas on the front door, my legs started shaking and I sat down, started crying and in my thoughts started giving thanks to the Lord, "Lord, Lord I'm a big sinner and what you've done for me the sinner …
In a short while, my brother told me how in a human way everything ordered in a way that he was able to come home, 3 days after my prayer. When I received the letter on St. Dimiter's day I've prayed, the prayer was heard and God moved. The human mind is a spiritual substance connected with God. God orders things and we in a human way receive them. On the next day after st. Dimiter's feast the coy was gathered and the commander said, "Atanas Stoyanov Peichev, make 5 steps forward and start Marching!". Together with another man commander sent them in hospital, where a doctor had to inspect their health. The two soldiers took their luggate, foreseeing that they might be kept in hospital. The health check prooved they're healthy. There were 4 months until service completion but in hospital the doctor told them – "Come on go home. Your service is over". – Do you see how in a human way the things ordered. Disbelievers would say it was a coincidence but believers knows the Lord hears our prayers, when they're prayed by our whole being and with pure heart."

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Saint George Church in Jeglarci – Altar and Dveri

Another of his stories is connected with fasting:

"The fasting of the body is a big power. It does clean up the body and draws us near God. The fasting gives a big power. I was hindered in many ways, disbelieving authorities in the village has done me many attempts to do me evil but the Lord has saved me. Didn't allowed them nothing bad to happen to me. He grant me powers, spirit to speak the truth and to not resign from righteousness. But I leave fasting …

Fasting and Prayer are lights leading to God. I was warned 3 times by our Lord about fasting significance. When we were living in North Dobrudja, following thing happened to me: " I was 15 years old. Near our village Karamankyoij a river rich of fish was flowing. One day my bigger brother cought a lot of fish from the white one. My father and all of us was tempted, we wanted eating and it was during the Great Lent. My father said, "Okay prepare the fish and let us eat, God will forgive us?" Notice he said that in faith! apostol Paul writes, 'who eat eats for the Lord and who doesn't eat- also doesn't eat for the Lord'". We have done so as well, we were big family 7-8 children,  grandma, grandpa, my father, mother. Some eat others doesn't. I was in the group of those who ate. We ate and we went to bed. A sudden pain in stomach came … hard to explain. Nothing helps, a thought came to my mind: "Lord forgive me, I will no longer eat fish during fasting". The pain immediately disappeared I immediately got well.

But unfortunately I was weak. On the other day my brother prepared fish again and invited me.

– Genyo, come lets eat.
– I suffered yesterday – I don't want.
– Don't worry your pains was from something else not from the fish, come eat I beg you.

I was tempted and ate. We played until night time and all was well with me. In night, I fall asleep, but suddenly the pain come again, 3 times more painful. I thought I am dying, I was all sweating. My mother and grandma tried to heal me but nothing helped. Then I turned with a prayer to the Lord: "Please Lord forgive me this time also." And out of a sudden I hear a noise like from many waters coming like from heaven. Something went through me and took away the pain. There was a flash in front of my eyes. Do you see how merciful is the Lord!"

Among the many spiritual gifts of fr. Georgi is the gift of "foreseeing" (thoughts and deeds, and future). Many people who visited him later narrated the father told them things which helped them improve their spiritual life. During my first visit of the father I had the possibility to raise few questions on my spiritual life, his answers was a proove for myself that the fr. has truly the gift of sagacity.
Father Georgi had many dreams during his life and many of his dreams were prophetic about future events to come. By his own words often God spoke to him in "dreams and visions". A very notable gift he has is the gift of humility and pure Godly love. He speaks in his stories about everyone including of many who tried to do him evil with profound love and forgiveness.

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By prayers of father Georgi many miracles has happened, he openly speaks of this miracles, believing that through this the weak in faith are strengthened. The father says "Even if the whole earth is convincing me to deny what I saw and experienced with my spiritual eyes I will not forsake.

His humility is sincere, he says about himself: "I am just negligible mot and the miracle is not in human deed but in God's. God uses a lot simple people and through them creates miracle to edify "the smart", those which is of God is being remembered like it happened today.  Wondrous are God's deeds!"

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"The Spiritual deed is very hard. I have worked many kind of works, when you get tired you take a rest, and for the spirit there is no rest.
What to say, how to behave, how to determine the spiritual in you, to be vigilant for your food and for body pureness for pureness of your thoughts and your heart … And of course the Prayer! This is a hard labour. The devil is trying to hit us exactly there, because in all those is the direct relationship with God. Your thought is careless, you remember "important" things, you get tired to be concentrated … And it is most harder to collect your mind and feelings and enter the heart with pure infinite faith that the Lord is with you and he hears you and then pray from all your heart and soul … So is this all easy?! And there is no end and there is no station. But once you live like this there is delight and you can't live no longer in another way …"

 

 

Saint Cyprian the Bulgarian – Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russians

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Saint Cyprian the Bulgarian Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russians

Probably few Bulgarians and even less Russians have heard about Saint Cyprian the Bulgariana great saint who played a ey role in esblishment of nowadays Russian Orthodox Church.. I have learned about the living of the saint just recently. Cyprian (The Bulgarian) (c. 1336 – 16 September 1406) was Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus' with the Metropolitan's residence in Moscow. (The official title was Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus' until 1448, even though the metropolitans were in Vladimir-on-Kliazma and later Moscow since 1299.)

Saint Cyprian was a Clergyman of Bulgarian nationality, he lived for some time at Mount Athos. In 1373, the Patriarch of Constantinople Philotheus Kokkinos picked him for his devout lifestyle and excellent education and sent him to Lithuania and Muscovy on a mission to reconcile the princes of Lithuania and Tver with Metropolitan Alexius. In 1375, after the hostilities between Moscow and Lithuania had started all over again, the Lithuanian princes asked to appoint Cyprian their Metropolitan. Philotheus Kokkinos made Cyprian Metropolitan of Kiev, all Russia and Lithuania, so that he could unite both ecclesiastical provinces after the death of Alexius. In 1376 he was ordained as a bishop in Constantinople at the behest of the Lithuanian grand duke Algirdas and become Mitropolitan of Kiev. Because this ordination was not recognized by Moscow, he was driven out from Moscow on his first arival there and had to wait in Constantinople until he was officially recognized as Metropolitan. He became officially regognized metropolitan of "all Rus" by the Moscow Duke later in 1389.

His residence from there on was Moscow, although he visited Kiev and other Ukrainian eparchies regularly. In 1378, Metropolitan Alexius died. As a result of the ensuing skirmishes and intrigues, Cyprian became Metropolitan of Moscow in 1381. One year later, however, he fled from Moscow due to the approaching armies of Tokhtamysh. Subsequently, he was removed from Russia and replaced with Metropolitan Pimen (1382–1384). The latter was succeeded by Metropolitan Dionysius (1384–1385). In 1390, Cyprian was returned to Moscow by Vasili II, who he had always supported, and appointed Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia. Cyprian is remembered as a wise and experienced church administrator who fought for the unity of the Russian church.

In fact, he is mainly responsible for uniting the Church in Russia and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. He faced serious opposition during his metropolitanate; Dmitry Donskoy and his advisors were excommunicated for opposing Cyprian's efforts to take up his place in Moscow, and Novgorod the Great – especially Archbishops Aleksei and Ioann II – also opposed his efforts to adjudicate ecclesiastical cases there, which would have allowed him to gain the court fees from Novgorod during the time he sat in judgement there. St. Cyprian was an erudite person and oversaw the copying and creation of a number of important works, including the Troitskaia Chronicle (or Troitskaya letopis') and, probably, the Metropolitan Justice (also known as the Pravosudiye metropolich’ye or Правосудие митрополичье). He also rewrote the Life of Metropolitan Peter, originally written around 1327.

Under st. Cyprian's governance, a church "reform"  was made on how the iconostasis is build the called "high few raws of icons" on the Church Alter wall iconostasis so common nowadays in Russian Church is actually his invention.
He also corrected biblical books and translated a number of ecclesiastic works from Greek into Old Church Slavic.
A little known fact is Andrei Rublev was under St. Cyprian's spiritual guidance when he painted the most famous Russian icon (and the only canonical icon depicing) "The Holy Trinity".

Andrey_Rublev_The_old-testament-Holy_Trinity_icon made under spiritual guidance of Saint Cyprian the Bulgarian

St. Cyprian is buried in the Assumption Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin. He was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in the 15th century. One curious fact is St. Kiprian Peak on Greenwich Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named for Cyprian.

Here is a movie Saint Cyprian the Bulgarian (unfortunatelyin Bulgarian language)

:

Film about Saint Cyprian the Bulgarian – Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russians

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 🙂

Saint Nicolas’s feast day in the Netherlands / Sinterklaas – Saint Nicolas protector of Amsterdam, SinterKlaus and the origin of Santa Claus

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Saint Nicolas feast in the Belgium Holland and Germany - Sintaklaas Sinta Klaus with Zwarte Piete (the lblack helper of saint Nicolas)

Today 6-th of December in Bulgaria we celebrate Saint Nicolas's day (Nikulden) in our autocephalous Orthodox Church – Bulgarian Orthodox Church. As I'm in the Netherlands it was interesting for me to find out in the Netherlands, there is a tradition to celebrate the memory of one of the greatest saints of the One Holy Apostolic – The Orthodox Church Saint Nicolas Bishop of Myra (Myra is nowdays located near to Bulgaria in the territory of modern Turkey and back in the day when Saint Nicolas was a bishop Myra region was part of the Byzantine (Greek) Empire. Saint Nicolas is considered the patron saint of Sailers also being venerated as a patron of the people who travel and just as I found today he is a considered heavenly protector of children in Roman Catholic parts of Holland, French and Germany.

saint Nicolas as being depicted in western europe - Sinta Klass kids protector in Roman Catholic Church

As of time of writting the Holy Relics of Saint  Nicolas, are located in Bary Italy, after Italy attacked Myra and carried away his relics to Bary. they were transferred there a while after his passing to Christ. It is interesting fact that Saint Nicolas (Sinter Klaas) is being venerated in almost under some form in all European Country. It seems his memory and veneration is stronger on countries neighboring a Sea or Ocean and Rivers. The reason why saint Nicolas is considered as heavenly protector of Mariners and all who travel by Water vessels is  he rescued sailors in the Aegean Sea during his lifetime.

What is the origin of Santa Claus Sinterklaas Zwarte Piet origin of Santa Claus picture

On above picture, you see SinterKlaas (Sinter Klaus)'s still "living memory in tradition" in the Netherlands. In this year 2012, (probably by the Holy prayers of Saint Nicolas), here in Holland it snowed, making up the usual snowy Christmas which surronds Santa Claus 🙂

As Saint Nicolas was a Bishop of Myra he holds the Bishop stick and the Bishop's Mytra ( cap ), as long as a costume which even to this day can be seen worn almost identical in Eastern Orthodox Church in West in Roman Catholic Church – the priests cassock nowadays has evolved so is not so similar to Sinta Claus's dressing. The Black guy on the left of SintaClaas is called Zwarte Piet [The Black Piet (Zwarter Piet) – or Black Peter ]. According to some legends, the Black Piet was a slave who was bought and let to freedom by Saint Nicolas, as a courtesy the ex-Slaved black person stayed and was helping to Saint Nicolas in all his deeds until the Saint's passing to Christ.

According to our Orthodox Christian Church tradition Saint Nicolas played a key role and was in his God inspired polemics defending the True Orthodox faith against the heresy of Arians at the Ecumenical Council of Nicea.
His popularity  in Russia, Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia is of great esteem. Where it is interesting in Russia almost all Church or Shrine (Paraklesos) has a holy icon of saint Nicolas.

It is rather interesting that for some not very clear reasons (people legends and mixture between local traditions and Christian believes) his veneration in Western Europe from being a saint protector of Mariners changed of being a saint who looks after Sailors to saint who brings gifts to little children.
On 5th of December the night before 6th of December in similar same way as in America and across a lot of other Christian countries on Christmas (24 December), the kids leave empty shoes (traditionally near chimney) waiting for SintaKlaas to bring them a gift. Differently from the 24th Christmas gift tradition, for SinterKlaas kids shoes are filled with small things, cookies chocolate or fruit and is not so common for Sinta to leave "bigger" gifts like Santa Claus on Christmas eve. It is a custom here in the Netherlands that on SinterKlaas's day a Gingerbread biscuits are eaten in big quantities (this seem to be the most traditional "meal for the feast"). In Bulgaria a bit differently it is our local tradition that each family eats fish on saint Nicolas's day. Here in Netherlands, there are plenty of children song being sung on SintaKlaas's day – most of them secular.

Sinter-claes-SinterKlaas-saint-nicolas-Amsterdam-dam

The memory of the saint is very strong in the Capital of the Netherlands Amsterdam. There is a big Roman Catholic Cathedral dedicated to memory of Saint Nicolas. By Amsterdam inhabitants st. Nicolas is considered as a heavenly saint protector.

saint Nicolas Church Amsterdam SinterKlaas Amsterdam

Later when immigrants from Europe mostly (Roman Catholics) moved to America the Sinterklaas (Sinta Klass) changed to the kids favorite good old man  Santa Claus who brings them gift. Rather sadly Santa Claus tradition profanization mainly due to commercialization and globalization and "Coca-Cola culture", nowadays made Santa Claus to more remembered person than our Lord and Saviour of the world Jesus Christ whose birth should be the main accent of Christmas.

Nowadays believing and atheist families know and remember Santa Claus, but there are only few of them who tell their kids about Christ's birth in the inn (cave).
Saint Nicolas's miraculous living  is on OrthodoxWiki's site check it here.

Saint Nicolas / Sveti Nikolaj Orthodox Church holy icon

Here is the Church Troparion and Kontaktion sung in the Orthodox  Church as translated to English:

 


 

Church glorification Hymn to Saint Nicholas – begging st. Nicolas's prayer intercession to the Lord Jesus Christ

Troparion  (Tone 4)

In truth you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith,
an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence;
your humility exalted you;
your poverty enriched you.
Hierarch Father Nicholas,
entreat Christ our God
that our souls may be saved.

Kontaktion (Tone 3)

 

You revealed yourself, O saint, in Myra as a priest,
For you fulfilled the Gospel of Christ
By giving up your soul for your people,
And saving the innocent from death.
Therefore you are blessed as one become wise in the grace of God.

 In Russian and across the Orthodox Churches who are still following unrevised Church calendar for most feasts, the memory of the saint Nicolas of Myra is commemorated 13 days later.

Let by the Holy Prayers of Saint Nicolas of Myra, The Lord Jesus Christ be merciful on all of us Christians.

Holy God servent Nicolae pray the Lord our souls be saved!
 

 

Saint Anthony’s Cave and the Coptic Orthodox Church / Extreme Pilgrim – Ascetic Christianity movie

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

saint Anthony icon and desert Christian hermit fathers saint Anthony Cave and monastery

 

I held interest in Coptic Orthodox Church. As I had meet a Coptic Orthodox Christian and his faith has significantly impressed me. Before some time I've found on youtube a video talking about one Australian person who from Atheist become Coptic Christian and later choose a living as Desert Monk Father in  one of the most ancient Christian monasteries monastery  Saint Anthony The Great. Father's Lazarus until this very day lives in Saint Anthony's Monastery. You can see an interesting documentary about fr. Lazarus "different life"  in the Last Anchorite a Movie about Coptic Oriental Orthodox hermit life.

Every Orthodox Christian as well as any Christianity historian should know very well the name of st. Anthony the Great. St. Anthony is probably the father of Monastic life and the monastic tradition started by his followers is living in various Christian monasteries (predominary Eastern Orthodox and Coptic Orthodox) all around the world. The monastery was established in year 356 by direct followers of the Great saint. Saint Anthony himself was illiterate but same time achieved holiness and God knowledge which only few in whole human history did. Recently my personal thoughts on Human Progress, ProgRes = (Programmed Resources), were leading in the same path testifying myself that the the path of "Higher Education" and big knowledge we all took, though leading us to big inventions and "fleshly developments" is more and more depriving us of the path of Truth and Love for God, which in its essence is a life of simplicity and humility.
 Saint Anthony's desert Monastery is one of the oldest Christian monasteries  in  history of mankind. It is  one of the innumerous God miracles that the monastery built by saint Anthony's pupils is existing until today for already ABOUT 17 centuries (1700 YEARS!!!!)! It is located deep in the Red Sea Mountains (334 km from egypt Capital Cairo) very near to the Saint Catherine's Eastern Orthodox Monastery.

Saint Anthony the Great, is among the most venerated Christian saints also for  the reason he fearlessly defended true Christianity from the heresy of Arius during  first Ecumenical Council in Nicea A.D. 325. Arianism used to be one of the most deadly spiritual  heresies since the Birth of Christ's Church. Arians rejected the Godly nature of Christ. Many protestant Christian sects nowadays are matching teachings taught by Arians. 

Below movie BBC Extreme Pilgrim – Ascetic Christianity was produced by a Protestant (Anglican) Priest Father Peter Owes. From an Eastern Orthodox Christian perspective it is interesting  to see his easy digestive "pinky" view on Christian faith and general life as it is typical for most western people.

Saint Athonoy's Cave and Saint Anthony Monastery – Extreme Pilgrim – Ascetic Christianity

During watching the movie some of his sayings are quite inappropriate and very much displaying the protestant bloated view of Christianity that is ruling over England, however near the end of the movie one can see Peter's change for good (the monastery and monks prayers changed him); he talks more spiritually wise and he started changing his understanding of Christianity and life. As the Extreme Pilgrim Ascetic is a few parts documentary the other 2 parts are exploring the Wondering Mystics of the Himalayas Mountains and a Confu-Monks of Central China (Buddhism) etc.

As most of the people in the Western World, though Peter being a devoted Christian and priest in the Church of England (Anglican Church), "pater" Owes does not have obviously clear understanding on True Christian belief system. In his complete sequelmovie he is putting on the same plane Buddhism, Mysticism and Christianity lowering truthfulness of our Christian faith to the other religions! This is no strange as this tendency is quite evident in Western European Countries (mixed Roman Catholic / Protestant countries). The previous Roman Catholic Pope himself John Paul II was for unification of all world religions not in the name of Jesus Christ but in the name of  a fake (anti-Christian) World Peace.

For Christians not aware of the existence of Ecumenical World Religious Unification movement check Ecumenism – A terrible treat to Orthodox Christianity see here.
It is great Father Peter made this video so we Christians can have a look on how a hermit christian life is like. Though the movie is so nice the general message it spreads sadly is  very much in the spirit of World Religions Ecumenism that is so popular in these days, so Christians has to be careful with that.

Hopefully after he experienced some authentic hermitage Christianity, Peter Owes spiritual eyes will re-open for the true Christian Church and faith tradition kept  in , the One Holy Apostolic Church – the Orthodox Church. I should also mention, that though Coptic Spirituality is on such a high level, Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is sadly officially not  in eucharist communion with  Easter Orthodox Church due to their rejection of the Ecumenical Councils after the III-rd Ecumenical Church Council (gathering). Along with preserving a very ancient Church tradition practices in the Coptic Church, from what I've saw in further researching about Coptic Orthodox Church has a bit of inclanation in iconography towards Roman Catholicism iconography. Of course some of this Roman Catholic iconography  fragments are also evident in some of 19th century iconography in Russia, but in general in rest of Eastern Orthodox world this is much less than what I see in Coptic Church.

Most of the belief system and feast days of Coptic Orthodox Christians is almost identical to the rest of the Eastern Orthodox Church, making our Churches core teaching identical, however we're not officially one Church in holy communion unionl.

From what I've saw also it is evident that Coptic Church adopted a lot of arts along with the Greek language for their liturgy, as they sing the Kyrie Eleison prayer in Greek = (Lord Have Mercy). Also something to be noted is some of early Christian traditions in Copts were unchanged, they make the sign of the cross (from left to right) – little similar to Roman Catholics, whether we the Eastern Orthodox Christians, make the sign of the cross from right to left – you might want to see at my previous article why Orthodox Christians make the sign of the Cross different from Roman Catholics.

In any means, I'm mostly thankful to God will blessing me to have a look at the Cave of Saint Anthony  – where he spend most of his life and the Great monastic life they still thankfully lead in this spiritual cloister  ! I also hope my little post will be of help of people searching for Authentic Christianity and interested to strengthen their faith.

Here is the Church prayers saint Anthony the Great Glorification Hymns (Troparion and Kontaktion) as we sing them in the Eastern Orthodox Church:

Troparion (Tone 8)

You are most glorious, O Christ our God!
You have established the Holy Fathers as lights on the earth!
Through them you have guided us to the true faith!
O greatly Compassionate One, glory to You!

Kontaktion (Tone 8)

 

The Apostles' preaching and the Fathers' doctrines have established one faith for the Church.
Adorned with the robe of truth, woven from heavenly theology,
It defines and glorifies the great mystery of Orthodoxy

Let by the Holy Prayers of Saint Anthony the Great, God have mercy on all of us Orthodox Christians.

Saint Willibrord, Western Orthodox Saint, Heavenly protector of The Netherlands, Bishop of Utrecht and Apostle of Frisia (Holland)

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

 

saint Willibrord Apostle of Friesland (Holland) - Unknown origin

saint Willibrord Apostle of Friesland (Holland) and First Bishop of Utrecht- Unknown origin

Many people might not know, that Holland used to be an Orthodox Christian Country back in the day. The current state of the country is highly divided spiritually in terms of faith roughly it can be said half of Holland is Roman Catholic and Half is Protestant. Just like mixture of population and cultural mixture the country did mixed up its Christian believes too. The reasons for this are complex, but what is important is nowdays true Christians who live in the Netherlands, can be joyful to find out Holland in its primordial state of existence (i.e. Dutch land was not clearly separated from German and English), the country was evangelized by true Orthodox Christians. Just like we in Bulgaria have our highest venerated patron saints protectors and prayer intercessor of all Bulgaria Saint John of Rila and Saint (Saint Apostle equal) righteous Tzar (King) Boris, it was rather amazing for me and probably will be for many to find out that Holland has their patron saints too!

Saint Willibrordus apostle of Holland ( from Husstege's icons)

Saint (Heilige) Willibrord icon (from Husstege's icons)

Saint WilliBrord though probably well known saint among native Dutch inhabitants and devoted Roman Catholic Christians, however little (almost none) of the foreigners who came to live, study or for tourists who keep tight to their Orthodox Faith, have heard of him. Saint Willibrord's memory is still however commemorated in many Roman Catholic Churches on 7th November, as this great saint played key role for the baptism of the Frisian lands (primary nowadays constituting ofHolland lands), therefore it is obvious St. Willibrord was a man of great courage a devoted missionary a vigilant Christian saint who lived and worked for building Christ's Kingdom on earth (The Church). St. Willibrord is among the few persons through Church history so far who played important role for rooting the Christian faith in nowadays Holland. St. Willibrord importance for Holland Christian faith could be probably only compared to the importance of Saint Cyril (Kiril / Kirilos) and Methodius (Metodii) in Great Moravia for rooting the seed of faith and future existence of Christian faith in nowadays Balkans countries (Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Romania, Moldova) as well as few centuries later for Christianization of whole Russia. As many who live a true Orthodox live know, the Western Church (Roman Catholic Chuch), which split from Eastern Church during Great Schism – consequentially through the next centuries changed things concerning faith made it even further astray from true Christ ChurchThe Eastern Church (Orthodox Eastern Church). After the XI-th century Roman Catholics loose the status of Apostolic Church, as it was claimed by Roman Catholics Pope's Primacy over other Patriarchs from the East; because of this reason and the ex-communication of Roman Catholic from our Eastern Orthodox Church and fact that st. Willibrord operated his mission under the authority of the Pope Sergius I, this great saint memory become less remembered in Eastern Orthodox Church and probably with time in many Eastern Churches his importance for  Western Christian evangelization  was distanced from the ongoing life of the Eastern Orthodox Church apart from Roman Catholics dilusion.

Nomatter that as nowadays true Christ's faith the Orthodoxy is re-discovered by many who either born in today's Roman Catholics in Western Europe Lands (Holland, Germany, England, Ireland) or converted to true Christian faith Orthodoxy coming from a protestant background; with this the veneration of the saint memory by Orthodox Christians in the West also become restored.

All who has at least a basic idea about Christianity today in the Western lands, know the complexity of western Christian life and the general demise of Christian faith here. Even though this, still the Orthodox Church is slowly marching and returning its prior state in the West as many people are found, touched and led by our Saviour and Saviour of the World Jesus Christ to the One Holy Apostolic Chruch – Eastern Orthodox Church.

With all above said, as I'm currently in Holland the Netherlands and am an Orthodox Christian. Finding out information about Saint Willibrord was a true blessing for me.

St. Willibrord Apostle of Friesland (Netherlands) Italian parish orthodox icon

Saint Willibrord Italian parish orthodox icon

Also it is rather God's providence that my interest in the saint progressed over the last 1.5 month. And I started reading more diligent just since 2 days time. I was really amazed to find out while reading St. Willibrord saintship is commemorated by Dutch Eastern Orthodox Christian (Community of St. Willibrord) community on exactly 6th of November the date on which I complete my article. in Roman Catholic Church – st. Willibrord memory is also marked a day after on 7th of November. I've used the internet AllMercifulSaviour Orthodox  website for the sake of this article to obtain icons of the saint which I include in this article, all copyrights of icons if any belong to the respective Icon painters.

   The Living of Saint Willibrord – Heavenly protector of Frisia (Holland)

 

Saint Willibrord Orthodox saint of Utrecht heilige van Utrecht, a saint who lived near Arnhem,  Holland
( Born circa 658 – Passed to Christ 7 November 739 )
 

a. The Preparation of st. Willbrord for his mission (658-690).

We are fortunate in having an early life of St Willibrord, written by his own relative, Alcuin of York (735-804), in 796. This was based on an even earlier Irish life which is now lost. We also have a calendar of St Willibrord with a biographical note written in his own hand and a penitential written, it seems, by the saint or at least dictated and used by him.

Willibrord was born probably on 6 November 658 in Yorkshire, near the north coast of the River Humber, which juts out into the North Sea, not far from the present town of Hull. This is directly opposite the Frisian Islands. His father was a very pious man called Wilgils. He later became a monk, founded a small monastery dedicated to the Apostle Andrew, became a hermit and was locally venerated as a saint. Willibrord was educated as a child in Ripon, at the monastery of St Wilfrid, Bishop of York. Here, aged only 15, Willibrord became a monk – an age not so uncommon in those days.

In 678 after St Wilfrid’s departure from York, Willibrord left for voluntary exile in Ireland. Here he spent twelve years in a monastery of English monks, learning the ascetic life of the Irish, who had been inspired by the monks of Egypt. These ascetic practices included living in exile and reciting the Psalter by heart, with hands raised in the form of a cross. The Irish were great missionaries and considered exile to be a ‘green martyrdom’. In other words, self-exile
to other countries was a pilgrimage, which shows us that whatever our earthly homeland, we all have the same heavenly homeland, and that is our only destination. Separation from our earthly homeland is a form of asceticism, of separation from the world.

In this way Willibrord would learn to combine the practical organisational abilities he had obtained in England with the ascetic and spiritual practices of Ireland. We can consider that
this whole period was an apprenticeship, a preparation for what was to come. In Ireland he was ordained priest and here in 690 he decided to go to Frisia.
Why this decision to go to Frisia after twelve years in Ireland? First of all, Frisia was well known in England. The Frisians were near neighbours and there was much trade between Frisia, especially the port of Dorestad near Utrecht, and London and the other ports of eastern England, where many Frisians lived. Let us not forget that Willibrord came from eastern England, from an area that juts out into the North Sea, on the same latitude as the Frisian Islands. As we have said, the language was the same. But there were other, more personal reasons too. Willibrord’s first mentor, St Wilfrid, had briefly been in Frisia as a missionary in
678-79. In Ireland his Abbot, St Egbert, had long wanted to go there. A priest in the
monastery, Witbert had spent two years in Frisia, though without success. Abbot Egbert was to find another volunteer in Willibrord.

In any case, it is clear that Willibrord must have heard much about Frisia as a neighbouring territory, where people spoke virtually the same language as English and yet did not know Christ. What could be more natural for the English than to want to bring the good news of Christ to their neighbours, who spoke the same language and lived in the land from where, less than 200 years, eight generations, before, the English themselves had set sail for Britain?

b.St. Willibrord Frisia Mission (690-714).

In the year 690, the thirty-third year of his life, Fr Willibrord set off from Ireland for Frisia via England, together with eleven disciples. These were almost certainly English monks from the same monastery in Ireland. Although several of the twelve became bishops and others were martyred, we know the name of only one other of them. This was the future St Swithbert, who would become a missionary between the Rivers Yssel and Ems and then Bishop of Kasierswerth in western Germany, not so far from St Willibrord. Fr Willibrord and his followers crossed the North Sea, landing on the coast at Oude Rijn near Katwijk. From here, he and his companions sailed to Utrecht, the Roman Traiectum, near the trading centre of Dorestad. Here he met the Frankish ruler of the area, Pippin II, and set up camp in the old Roman fortress of Vecht, set up on the ford over the river. Utrecht itself
means uit – trecht, downriver from the ford. In Roman Utrecht there was already a small church which had been built by Frankish missionaries in the early seventh century.

South of the River Rhine, Frisia was occupied by the Franks. To the north there was great nationalistic enmity between the Franks and the Frisians. In the north and east of Frisia, that is, the north and east of present-day Holland, the pagan King Radbod of the Frisians detested the Franks and all that they stood for – including, unfortunately, Christianity. However, Willibrord understood that he could do nothing without the support of the secular authorities,
that is, of Pippin.

In search of spiritual support, in 692, Willibrord paid his first visit to Rome, to the Syrian Pope St Sergius I. He knew that he needed the support of the Church authorities, just as he needed that of the secular authorities, indeed, to counterbalance them, if necessary. He received great encouragement from the Pope. We should not be surprised by this search for support. For example, if we wanted to start a mission in, say, India, we would seek the support of our Patriarch and also that of the Indian authorities. This is what missionaries have always done, from St Augustine in England, to Sts Cyril and Methodius in Moravia, to St Nicholas in Japan. We do not begin missions without the support and approval of the Church. We do not act alone, but together, because salvation comes to us together.

Fr Willibrord returned from Rome with relics of the saints and headed for Antwerp, on the southern edge of Frisian territory. Here he found the church of Sts Peter and Paul, which existed there already, thanks to the earlier labours of Sts Amand and Eloi. Here he affirmed the Faith, before returning northwards to evangelise Frankish Frisia, Utrecht and the villages around it. From this point on Radbod had a less negative attitude towards Willibrord. Indeed, his daughter actually married Pippin’s son in an alliance.

Saint Willibrord apostle of Frisians Bishop of Utrecht with his pupils

Saint Willibrord apostle of Frisians Bishop of Utrecht with his pupils

In November 695 Fr Willibrord was again in Rome at the request of Pippin. This time he was consecrated Archbishop by Pope Sergius. This took place two days before the feast of St Clement, the third Pope of Rome. Willibrord was given the new name of Clement by thePope. This indeed is his official name, although he is still generally known by his old name Willibrord. But Clement is still a fitting name because of St Clement’s apostolic fame, his writings and because of his links with the sea – something which should also link him with Holland.
Archbishop Willibrord-Clement returned to Frisia with liturgical vessels and relics, which still survive today in churches at Emmerich and Trier. The Archbishop now settled in the Roman fortress in Utrecht, gifted to him by Pippin with 10% of his revenue. The new Archbishop of Utrecht made the town into his Metropolitan see. He rebuilt the church inside the fortress, dedicating it to St Martin. Martin remains a very common name in the Netherlands to this day. He also built in Utrecht his Cathedral dedicated to the Saviour. The choice of the dedication was and is natural to a Christ-centred mission. We are reminded that in New Rome the great Cathedral of the Holy Wisdom of God, Hagia Sophia, is also dedicated to the Saviour, the Wisdom of God. In Canterbury St Augustine had dedicated his
Cathedral to Christ, Christchurch, and in the centre of Moscow today, the great symbol of the victory over Communism is the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

In 698 the Archbishop was granted land by Pippin’s mother-in-law, abbess of a convent near Trier. This land was nearby, on the site of a Roman villa in Echternach, now in Luxembourg.

It was to become the largest and favourite monastery founded by Archbishop Willibrord and is famous for the Echternach Gospels. This was the place where he lived the monastic life of Ireland. After his repose and burial there, it became the centre of his veneration and pilgrimage and a centre for manuscript production.
It was during this period in the early eighth century that the Archbishop met the pagan Frisian King Radbod, who now showed him indifference rather than hostility. The Archbishop also travelled beyond the Elbe to southern Denmark to try and convert the people there. He returned with thirty young Danes, whom he instructed and baptised. On his return from there he was driven by a storm to the island of Heligoland, where there lived pagan Frisians.
He baptised three of these, but one of his monks was martyred there by angry pagans. King Radbod threatened Archbishop Willibrord, but he was fearless in his answers to the King, denouncing his idols as devils. The King respected him for his courage.

The Archbishop evangelised around his Metropolitan centre in Utrecht, building churches and monasteries, with money from Pippin. He ordained deacons and priests, among them many native Frisians, and consecrated bishops. He also travelled to Susteren, where he built a monastery, to Zeeland and to the island of Walcheren. There he destroyed a pagan idol, for which deed he was struck on the head and nearly killed. From Echternach he also served the nuns in Trier, where they still have a portable altar of the Archbishop. We can see an Irish element in the Archbishop’s unceasing travels.

c. Crisis and Restoration (714-739).

Having assassinated his son-in-law, that is, Pippin’s son, in April 714, the pagan Frisian King Radbod welcomed the death of Pippin in December 714. At once, in 715, Radbod turned against the Franks, destroying churches and monasteries, killing priests and driving out Archbishop Willibrord and his monks. They took refuge in Echternach and patiently waited for the tide to turn. Four years later, in 719 the Archbishop was able to return to Frisia. The new Frankish King, Charles Martel, had put down the Frisian revolt. Radbod had died and the Archbishop baptised King Charles’ son, who was to become Pippin III, called ‘the Short’.
Back in Utrecht Archbishop Willibrord set about rebuilding, with Charles’ help. His success grew in preaching and then baptising. Now came the period of restoration and also expansion. Notably, he travelled to the east of Frisia outside Frankish Frisia, where he had never been before. St Willibrord truly became the Archbishop of the Frisians, leaving only limited pockets of paganism in the far north, what is now Friesland. He was also helped for three years by another English missionary, Boniface, who later achieved fame as a saint and as the
Enlightener of many peoples who live on the territory of modern Germany.
Although the Archbishop was now in his sixties, in many ways this was his most fruitful period. But as he grew older, his strength began to fail him and he delegated more and more to others.

All Frisia west of the Zuyder Zee had been converted to Christ. There were only pockets of paganism left towards Dokkum. St Willibrord started to withdraw to his favourite monastery at Echternach and it was here on 7 November 739, aged 81, that he reposed in peace. Miracles had been recorded in his lifetime and these continued after his repose. He was
soon venerated as a saint.
The writer of St Willibrord’s life, his relative Alcuin, gave this physical description of him in his prime: ‘He was of medium height, with a dignified appearance, handsome face, he was cheerful in spirit, wise in counsel, pleasing in speech, serious in character and energetic in everything he undertook’. Alcuin also calls him ‘the holiest of fathers and the wisest of teachers’.

There is no doubt that St Willibrord depended on the support of the Frankish Kings to evangelise the Frisians. Neither is there any doubt that he made use of the spiritual support offered to him by the Pope. As Patriarch of the West, it was only natural that Willibrord should have that blessing and support.
But it is also clear that without the efforts of St Willibrord himself, the story of the
evangelisation of Frisia, modern Holland, would have been very different. The fact that he was not one of the Frisian national enemies, a Frank, but that he was an outsider, an Englishman, undoubtedly helped him greatly. Without St Willibrord surely the evangelisation of Holland would have been much more difficult and would have come much later.

    Lessons we modern day Orthodox Christians can learn from st. Willibrord

Apart from the above, I think that there are four more lessons that we can learn from the three parts of St Willibrord’s life and mission:

Firstly, we can see that for over thirty years Willibrord had been preparing, mainly
unconsciously, for his mission. Here we have a sense of destiny. In his mission to the Frisians, St Willibrord fulfilled the mission that God had put in his soul. In this we achieve nothing if we are not thoroughly prepared. This is our first lesson. And we can see its practical application, inasmuch as before baptising the Frisians, Willibrord always preached to them, instructing them. He prepared the ground, sowing before harvesting.

Secondly, we can see in St Willibrord the Incarnational principle of the practical and the spiritual. And in fact these are the two sides of the same coin. In him we can see the English and the Irish, the Roman organiser and the Egyptian monk. For example, he established an operational headquarters in Roman Utrecht. But he also operated out of a spiritual base, in his beloved monastery of Echternach. St Willibrord shows us that although we are very much in the world, we are still not of it. And all those who deny this principle of balance, taking only one side and not the other, as the Franks later did, come to grief and misfortune.

Thirdly, we can see through the life of the saint that God protects his workers. Time and again St Willibrord was under threat in dangerous circumstances. He worked under Frankish patronage among the Franks’ national enemies. He worked to destroy the old pagan religion and replace it with the new Christian Faith. Each time that threats came, he did not suffer, but his enemies did. He was fearless because he had faith. And what do we have to fear? The worst thing that can happen to us is death and that, for Christians, means paradise.

Fourthly, and finally, we see the patience of the saint. He thought in the long term, in terms of generations. Following the pagan reaction in 714-715, it seemed as though 25 years of work had been in vain. All was lost. However, the saint returned and began again. God was to give him another 25 years and more helpers to continue. Ultimately, we can say that he who loses is he who does not persevere but gives up. St Willibrord did not give up and therefore he won the battle. This is the great lesson to us.

To this day, in the streets of Echternach, every year on the Tuesday of Pentecost, the third day of the Feast, clergy and crowds of pilgrims perform the dance of St Willibrord. ‘Heiliger Willibrord, bete fuer uns’, they cry. Until the Second World War, they performed the original form of the dance, three steps forward and two steps back. Nobody knows the origin of this
dance. But I could suggest a spiritual interpretation for it. It means that though we go
forwards in life, we also, through our human weakness and sin, go back, but never as far back as we go forwards. This dance is then a sort of rule for our spiritual life. Let us not be discouraged when we go backwards, because we have actually already advanced even more.

As long as we do not give up, the victory is still ours. Two steps back, but three steps forward.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips
                           22 April 2010
                            Wijk aan Zee
                             Netherlands

The original text of Saint Willibrord's Living collected by Archipriest Andrew Philips is here in PDF

saint Willibrord Dutch ( Huesstege ) Orthodox icon

 

There is plenty more to be said about St. Willimbrord. According to some Roman Catholic sources for st. Willibrord's living the saint had been blessed with the gift of sagacity Here is a text I found on catholic-saints.info's website:

The Story and History of Saint Willibrord

The story and history of Saint Willibrord. Willibrord was born in Northumberland in 657, and when twenty years old went to Ireland, to study under St. Egbert; twelve years later, he felt drawn to convert the great pagan tribes who were hanging as a cloud over the north of Europe. He went to Rome for the blessing of the Pope, and with eleven companions reached Utrecht. The pagans would not accept the religion of their enemies, the Franks; and St. Willibrord could only labor in the track of Pepin Heristal, converting the tribes whom Pepin subjugated. At Pepin's urgent request, he again went to Rome, and was consecrated Archbishop of Utrecht. He was stately and comely in person, frank and joyous, wise in counsel, pleasant in speech, in every work of God strenuous and unwearied. Multitudes were converted, and the Saint built churches and appointed priests all over the land. He wrought many miracles, and bad the gift of prophecy. He labored unceasingly as bishop for more than fifty years, beloved alike of God and of man, and died full of days and good works.

Feast Day of Saint Willibrord

The Feast Day of Saint Willibrord is November 7. The origin of Feast Days: most saints have specially designated feast days and are associated with a specific day of the year and these are referred to as the saint's feast day. The feast days first arose from the very early Christian custom of the annual commemoration of martyrs on the dates of their deaths at the same time celebrating their birth into heaven.

Saint Willibrord Dutch saint (Huesstege orthodox icon

Saint Willibrord  icon, picture taken somewhere in Netherlands

Saint Willibrord icon located (somewhere in the Netherlands)

Saint Willibrord Apostle of Frisians

St. Willibrord Apostle of Frisians

Movie about the celtic/anglosaxon monk Willibrordus who took the peregrinatio to Europe…

He was one of the first celtic monks who took the roman Form of Liturgie…but in his view of Life and Nature he was in the celtic Tradition… And this is also why he had troubles with Bonifatius the Reformer. Bonifatius wanted a unique church focused on rome and the pope. Willibrord, as many other celtic wandering monks, stayed for an individual Christianism as the celtic church did, focused on the Monasteries…


Saint Willibrord Bishop of Utrecht sitting on his Bishop throne

Saint (Heilige) Willebrord sitting on his Bishop throne

 

Echternach – St Willibrord Pilgrimage 2009 (Saint Willibrord traditional dance)

It is very interesting to see, that St. Willibrord dance looks very similar to Bulgarian folkore dancing – the so called Horo (Horo Dance)


For those Orthodox Christians who live in territory of Netherlands, but cannot be bodily on Moleben to St. Willebroard, here is Moleben from 7th November 2011

Supplicatory Canon to St. Willibrord (Utrecht), The Netherlands

St Willibrord preaching the Gospel good news to the un-christian pagan Frisians

As Enlightener of the Frisians, just like our Enlighteners of Bulgarian lands and Slavonic world St. St. Kiril and Methodi, saint Willibrord is also titled Apostle-Equal.

Saint Willibrord Pray the Lord Jesus Christ, our Souls be saved !

Why saint Apostle (James) Jacobs is called flesh brother to the Lord Jesus Christ / 23 October st. Jacobs feast in Bulgarian Orthodox Church

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012


1st ArchiBishop (Patriach) of Jerusalem, First Patriach of Jerusalem Orthodox Church, Saint Apostle James - The Lord's brother by flesh

Today in Bulgarian Orthodox Church. We celebrate the feast of Saint Apostle Jacobs (brother by flesh) as being known from Holy Gospels. I have many protestant friends and I know they literally understand the said about Saint Apostle Jacobs (James as usually used in English) and fall in the trap to think St. Ap. Jacobs was born by the Holy Theotokos (Virgin Mary). This is a very wrong understanding, which I myself have pondered in the early days when I believed in Christ.

What it is meant by “brother in Flesh” is therefore an ambigious milestone for all Protestants, who reject our Orthodox Christian belief that the Mother of God (The Holy Theotokos) gave birth to the Incarnated Logos (The only begotten Son of God Lord Jesus Christ without loosing her virginity !)
This is a great miracle of God and the more one thinks over it the more he gets astounished on the greatness of the Lord and the righteousness of the Orthodox Christian faith!

The actual reason why the Gospel talks about the Lord having saint Jacob as a brother in flesh is due to fact he was Joseph’s Son (a good note to make here is Joseph was actually a man in his old age already even physically incapable to have kids – again something protestant christian and the protestant tens of thousands of denominations often did not know or if heard reject it fully).

Joseph was instructed by God to take Mariam as wife for the only reason to not allow the most Holy Theotokos (Virgin mary – which we consider higher in veneration and Spiritual Rank than Angels) from being accused by Jewish. It was very uncommon for ladies to bring forth kids without being married for that time, probably thousand of times more shameful than now. Jewish considered killing by stoning ladies which give birth to kids born by ladies without husband.

It was God’s salvationary plan for us Humans to bore Christ from a Virgin and this is why The Holy Theotokos conceived without being married by the Holy Spirit, the Old Testament prophecies states this will happen among with multiple other fully fulfilled prophecies by Christ – (Check old testament Messianic prophecies fulfilled by Christ (Prophecies for Christ) here ) or here .

With this said we firmly believe in Orthodox Church, The Good Lord give Joseph the order to marry her in order to “save” her from shameful unrighteous jewish accusations..
Joseph himself obeying to God’s instructions to live with Mariam (The Holy Theotokos) was a widowed a man with Sons born by a Holy woman. One of Joseph sons was Saint Apostle James who martyred for Christ in 63 A.D.

The Mother of God (Holy Thetokos) and Joseph were man and Husband officially during, all their earthly living, however they never lived together as man in life and never had sleep together (in a sense of man and wife) but lived in holiness and prayer during their whole living.


The Holy Family Greek Orthodox Christian Icon - The Holy Theotokos with Joseph and the Lord Saviour Jesus Christ

The Holy Family – Greek Orthodox icon

Therefore it is incorrect and sinful thinking to Think Virgin Mary gave birth to others except the Messiah (Christ) Lord Jesus.

Because saint James lived his life as official part of the Holy Family, later in Gospels he was called the brother in Flesh along with his other brothers / other sons of Joseph. Due to God’s desire st. Apostle Jacob was later also choosen in assembly of Holy Apostles, which gathered together and choose st. Jacob to be the first Patriarch of the Jerusalem Church.

St. James Orthodox icon window to heaven Anna Edelman

An Orthodox Church patriarchy which exists even to this day kept by the Grace of the Holy Spirit.

In moment the Good Lord Jesus Christ revealed himself to me and blessed me with the gift of Faith about 8 years ago, I didn’t believed in him reading Orthodox Christian Literature, Holy Apostles writings, the Living of the Saints, or not even had a clear idea that there is difference between Christians). How I believed was, I read the Holy Bible and the Holy Gospels of pure interest. Actually I was in a severe desperation not finding a meaning in life and cause of that researched different major faiths around the world (I put here this details because I think maybe there are others around in same or similar situation and my testimony might strengthen their faith in Christ and his one Holy Apostolic Church – The Orthodox Church). In my quest for truth, I decided to read the Holy Bible with a mindset that Probably it contains some Good Wisdom not believing back in that time it is 100% true). My reasoning to read holy Bible was due to fact Holy Bible is today one of the oldest circulating easy accessible books.

Now having a bit of personal story, I can continue with why Saint Apostle James is called flesh brother to the Lord Jesus Christ; I hope my personal shortly writen story on how I ended up believing in truthfulness of Orthodox Church will be useful for Protestant Christians seeking true faith and will help them find the true faith Christ has given us in the realm of our One Holy Apostolic Church nowdays known as the Orthodox Church

In Holy Gospels it is said Saint Apostle James is brother in flesh to the the Lord Jesus Christ. Earlier when I started being in deep interested to Christian faith and found Orthodox Christian faith is the only true faith in Christ currently present, in small steps I started realizing the teachings of Orthodox Church and Orthodox Saints are the only 100% trustable sources of interpretation which correctly explain the Holy Bible, Gospels and thereon inside the Orthodox Church it is only place where true Christian can find true spirituality and more in depth information on the living of the Lord Jesus Christ; his death on the Cross for our Salvation, His Glorious Resurrection triumphing over deapth, living of the saints, the desert fathers livings and the innumerous number of events and miracles which happened before the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, after his Resurrection (from the Death) and all events related to Christianity and Church for passed 2000 years of Church existence.

According to our Church tradition Saint Apostle Jacob believed in his “brother in flesh” to be the Christ after listening to his words of life after the Lord Jesus’s first public preach.

After The Lord’s Resurrection, as st. Apostle Paul mentions the Lord show himself with his resurrected victorious body over death in front of 500 people and st. Apostle Jacob as well.

The Church tradition continues that saint Apostle Jacobs lived and spend all his life before his martyrdom in Jerusalem along with the rest of The Lord Jesus desciples, working for building, strengthening and extending the Church and faith in the Resurrected Savior.

Because of his great holiness he was well known in Jerusalem during his living by both the Church members and the rest of Jews. Publicly they address him as “Jacobs (James – The Just”.

Because of different translation in different languages there is some unambiguality between the old times (Old Testament) Patriach saint Jacobs and some of the new testamential saints also called Jacobs, hence in English st. Jacobs is often called James.


Saint Apostle Jacob the Just the first Hierarch of Jerusalem Antiochian Church orthodox icon


It was also st. Apostle Jacob who first has give the final decision concerning the big “argueing” division between people who claimed circumcision is necessery for salvation and the Church members who said that it is not. The Jewish people claimed it is necessery for everyone to be well educated in old testamential law and follow the circumcision and all jewish laws and tradition in order to obtain salvation. In Jerusalem on the assembly st. Barnaba and st. Paul along with st. Jacob and all the Church hierarchs decided led by the Holy Spirit in truth that gentiles will not be required to circumcise and follow all jewish traditions. They decided together that every Church member receives his salvation by the Grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Apostle assembly (council) occured in year 51 A.D. This assembly was an example on how huge Church discussions should be decided for future and set the building stone of the next Church Ecummenical Councils in which major decisions concerning our faith was taken.
The Jewish people who was in hatred for Jesus (rejecting him as Christ = Messiah (being the Messiah the Saviour of Israel) and the only one begotten Son of God) killed Holy Apostle Jacob by , first threw him from the summit of the Temple in Jerusalem and (being unable to kill him by throwing him down), then killed him with stones (stoned him). According to Eusibeus who retold what Hegesippus (earlier source history writer writen), the jewish broke the Holy Apostle skull with a fuller’s club trying to completely destroy his holy relics. But obviously as Psalm reads, they couldn’t – As “The memory of the righteous continues live on forver”. –

Psalm 112:6 Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever.

While I never before in depth read about Saint Apostle James – (often called THE JUST) for his holy living, whilst reading in in OrthodoxWiki about him, I found also the Church Hymns as translated in English. It is strikingly beautiful to hear and pray with them in this times of decaying less and less faith. Also I was amazed to read about such unachiavable in our generation righteousness in which St. Ap. James lived in; His glorious martyrdom is also one of the most striking ones I ever red ….

The Holy Apostle gave up the spirit after a short prayer, before the Jewish stoned him. He was aged 66 when he received his martyrdom for Christ.

St. James the Just – Troparion – (Tone 4)

As the Lord’s disciple you received the Gospel, O righteous James;
As a martyr you have unfailing courage;
As God’s brother, you have boldness;
As a hierarch, you have the power to intercede.
Pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved.

saint Apostle Jacob The Just and saint Dinisius from Areopagita / Teophan Kritski, Church Wall painting in Greece
Church Wall Painting painted by st. Teophanus from Crit and Smeon (year 1546) Church Saint Nikolas (Monastery StavroNikita Holy Mount Athos)

Kontakion in veneration of Saint James the first Patriach of Jerusalem – (Tone 4)

When God the Word, the Only-begotten of the Father,
Came to live among us in these last days,
He declared you, venerable James, to be the first shepherd and teacher of Jerusalem
And a faithful steward of the spiritual Mysteries. Therefore, we all honor you, O Apostle.

It is interesting fact actually the most ancient Holy Liturgy, text ever written is writen by Saint Apostle James (The Brother of God) himself. This year Praise be to God, a Jacobine Holy Liturgy, will be served in Vidin with blessing of Vidin’s Metropolitan – I read this news in Dveri.BG , an information site discussing Bulgarian Church and related news. Saint Jacob’s Holy Liturgy is served only once per year on his Church feast day. If My memory is not mistaken saint Jacob’s Holy Liturgy is served also on Our Lord Jesus’s Resurrection Day every (Easter), right before the Holy Fire descends from Heaven and lights up the candle of Jerusalem Patriarch

Let by the Holy Prayers of st. Apostle Jacobs (a brother in flesh to the Lord), God have merce on me the sinner and all Christians.

19 October – Saint John of Rila (The Greatest venerated Bulgarian saint) Dormition feast day

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Saint John of Rila The Greatest Veneration Bulgarian saint Hermit of all times feast day in Bulgarian Orthodox Church 19 of October

Today I’m joyed to note here in our Bulgarian Orthodox Church calendar we venerate the Greatest Bulgarian saint and maybe one of the greatest Hesychast (Hermits) of our timesSaint John of Rila

The spiritual ancestry of this great saint does enrich the Orthodox Churches around the world even to this very day. St. John of Rila is considered the forefather of Hermit Life in Bulgaria and officially heavenly protector of Bulgaria and our Bulgarian Orthodox Church

Great are the mercies over the years, we as Bulgarians received throgh the holy prayers of st. John.
The saint is called of Rila because he spend biggest part of his life in Rila Mountain “desert”, living a life of solitude and holiness. As his living states, he has numerous times been fighting the passions and been fighted by the devil and evil spirits, who tried to shutter his faith unsucessfully. With his vigilance and persistance in faith and his deep love for Christ, he achieved saintship.
Pupils of the saint has later established Rila Monastery – a monastery holding rich spirituality and being a spiritual fortress of Orthodox Christian faith. St. John is also considered a building stone (not to say creator) of Bulgarian lands monastic life. Here is the Troparion to the Saint:


Тропар на Св. Иван Рилски / St John of Rila’s antiphon

For his holy living our Lord Jesus Christ granted the Saint, great spiritual gifts including the gift of miracle making and healing.

The most famous story the meeting of Saint John with King Peter I is well known and documented in historical sources, Here is the story itself (Story is copied as translated from Bulgarian to English and located in wikipedia free encyclopedia:

Tsar Peter I (son of tsar Simeon I) took a 120 km. trip to the Rila Mountains in order to meet St. Ivan and seek spiritual advice. Their meeting is described in detail in one the hagiologies of St. Ivan Rilski as well as in the Testament of St. Ivan of Rila itself. After a long and exhausting trip, tsar Peter I reached the place where St. Ivan Rilski lived, however, upon arrival, the tsar then realized that the dwelling of the saint was inaccessible, probably due to the rough local terrain. As the medieval hagiologies point out, St. Ivan of Rila refused to meet the tsar in person to avoid the temptation of vanity and pride due to the extraordinary visit. As such, the two men only bowed to each other from a distance. The emperor sent a soldier to deliver the gifts that were brought for the saint. St Ivan of Rila kept only the a small portion of food and returned all of the gold and precious gifts, advising the tsar that monarchs need gold in order to protect the country and help the poor.

According to local Bulgarian Church Tradition, due to his saintship God granted the saint Dormition. Dormition is less used (word) term outside of Orthodox Christian faith, in short it means Jesus himself went down from Heaven with with Holy Theotokos and his Holy Angels to receive St. John of Rila’s saintly soul!

Those familiar with Orthodox Christian faith base, would know over the whole humanity history, there are few respected to receive Dormition. Most famous and greatest Dormition is of course, the Dormition of Holy Theotokos; According to our Church history in a similar way to Holy Theotokos Dormition, saint John received his Glorofication and Salvation on the day of his Dormition.

Shortly before his death (Aug 18, 946) St. Ivan of Rila wrote his Testament Zavet (the bulgarian word for testament). st. John’s Testament is a literary work and a a deeply spiritual Christian message instructing his successors how to adjoin to proper a high spiritual life. The testament is an instruction dedicated to teach the whole Bulgarian nation to stick firmly to faith in Christ and live a good life in Christ.