Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

Living of the saints: Saint Mihail ( Michael ) Warrior the Bulgarian venerated November 22 in the Church

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2022

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Свети Михаил Saint Mihail (Michael) Voyn The Warrior  is known to be Bulgarian by blood origin.
He was born in the town of Potuk (it is assumed that this is today's Batak – the same region where just few years ago the Holy New Batak Martyrs about 1200 to 8000 people who suffered under the Ottoman Turks for Christ being collectively killed in the Church of Saint Nedely in Batak on the night of 2nd of May 1876 AD and were canonized in the Church just few years ago from now).

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Holy Batak New Martyrs icon

He probably lived in the time of the pious Bulgarian king Saint Boris-Mihail (King Boris – Michael the Ist known as the the Baptizer of Bulgaria, thanks to whose decision to receive Christianit and mass baptize of the Bulgarian nation and territories of his large country and his active work and financement to support the pupils of Saint Cyril and Methodius such as Saint Kliment Ohridski, st. Naum, st. Gorazd, st. Savva, st. Angelarius and the other many uknown holy man the Old Bulgarian cyrillic church books was translated from Greek and  shortly later other Slavonic nations could received the Church service Books in Old Bulgarian cyrillic whose slightly modified version in the 16th century become the famous Church slavonic language, which is used to these day in the Slavonic churches.

Saint Mahail the Warrior was the son of rich and noble parents, loved the pure life from childhood, had the fear of God, devoted himself to prayer and fasting, generously gave alms to the poor, which is why both his parents and strangers called him "the holy child".

When he was 25 years old, he was appointed the commander of a troppers unit in the Byzantine army.
At that time of living, his birth region even though having people inhabited with Bulgarians, had not yet entered the borders of the Bulgarian state.

In a war of the Byzantine emperor Michael III (865) against the Agarians (later known as the Ottoman Turks), Saint Michael the Warrior was left by the frightened Greeks alone with his subordinate warrior mates who followed his heroism.

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Invoking the name of God like the ancient saint all the while, he managed to drive away the enemies and together with the soldiers remained unharmed.

Returning home, he performed the heroic miracle same as of Saint Great Martyr George the Victorious:

He killed a huge dragon that came out of some lake, and thus saved a virgin from being eaten by it.
But the dragon whose head he cut off struck him with its huge tail so hard that he fell down and lay unconscious for some time.

Soon after his return to his native place, he died and the Lord glorified him with incorruptible miracles.

During the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, at the very beginning of the 13th century (in year 1206), the Bulgarian king Kaloyan solemnly brought his holy relics to his Capital Tarnovo and laid them in the Patriarchal Cathedral at that time dedicated to the "Holy Ascension".

After the fall of capital of Bulgaria Tarnovo under Ottoman rule in (year 1393), the traces of the saint holy relics were lost.

The great patriarch of Tarnov (Trnovo), St. Euthymius, compiled a biography of him, which has been preserved to this day and which is the main source for us to know about the saint.

Extract From: Lives of the Saints, Synodal Publishing House, Sofia, 1991, edited by Parthenius, Bishop of Levki, and Archimandrite Dr. Athanasius (Bonchev) with minor inclusions of the author of article Hip0

Author Notes: The story with Saint George Killing the Dragon, as being found mostly in medieval sources has been largely disputed by Theologians on its authenticity as the story originates from the 11th century A.D. with an oldest source for the tale being a Georgian Manuscript. In the 12th century saint George Killing the Dragon tradition has been already well known by the Western Christians. The theologians claim the story stems out of a living of saint Thedore Tiro ( Tiron ), who was very venerated and well known in Bulgaria. That would make some doubt in the authenticity of the story of both Saint George Killing the Dragon and might make them doubt that the story of Saint Mihail  (Michael) The Bulgarian Warrior is being taken from the saint George popular legends of the 11th century. However as a source of the original living for saint Mikhael has been saint Patriarch Eutymous of Tarnov (one of the most educated man of his time), who has been also the last Bulgarian patriarch before the fallout of Bulgaria under the Ottoman Turks in the year 1396 and a spiritual father and teacher of Hesychasm and  many of the Spiritual man such as Gregory Tsamblak and saint Cyprian Metropolitan of Kiev and all Russia ( 1390 – 1407 ) and many other famous copyist and enlightened people who moved out the Church service books and spiritual treasures of the Bulgarian Church as well as many holy miracle making icons and Christian art far in today's lands of Romania, Ukraine, and Russia, it is very less likely that the living of saint Mihail the warrior was compiled, based on false legends, especially by considering the fact that saint Mihael the Warrior lived only 3 centuries away from the moment in which his official spoken living was written down by saint Patriarch Eutymuous. Perhaps there is a Greek sources we don't know who was also the basis of st. Patriarch Eutymuous biography of saint Michael. The story of dragons and beasts tormenting people and regions has been common in medieval times, sometimes their real meating is interpreted by todays Theologians to be just an allegory to demonstrate the spiritual fight a certain saint has led with the originator of evil satan who as said in the holy scripture constantly fights against christians the Church and everything that is good and pleasant with the goal to destroy and kill. Other sources however such as Holy Mount Athos even by today has manuscripts written by monks of that time about the existence of large snakes and dragons who has been tormenting people and regions. We all know the numerous stories with Princesses and Dragons, but it seems these stories are based on monks testimonies about the reality of these things and later perhaps improved by people's imagination and desire of man put some difference in his every day monotonic life.
Thus some more conservative Theologians nowadays believe it is possible for such a large dragons and snakes to have existed and been conquered for real by saints, though we should keep in mind that some of the stories of the livings of medieval times has been including details, that were result of the personal imagionation of the author.

Let by the Holy Prayers of Saint Mihail The Warrior (Bulgarian) the world finds more love, peace and goodness !
Holy Father Mihail Warrior pray for us !

 

Holy righteous King Upravda Justinian (emperor Justinian I the Great) feast day 14th of November

Tuesday, November 15th, 2022

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Saint Justinian, emperor of Byzantium, was a Slav by geneology.

He was born in the village of Vedryani near the town of Sredets (today city of Sofia) in Bulgaria. His uncle Justin, born in the same village, went on foot to Constantinople, carrying nothing with him but a leather garment.

Here, thanks to his natural gifts, he quickly rose to the top, and then even became emperor. He brought to Constantinople his wife Lupkina and her sister Beglenitsa, Upravda's mother.
After the death of Justin Upravda occupied the Byzantine imperial throne under the name of Justinian. A note to make her is Upravda is an ancient Bulgarian name.

Emperor Justinian is known in history for his successful wars against the enemies of the Byzantine Empire and also for issuing the complete collection of Roman laws.

But in addition, he became famous for his services to the Christian Church and Orthodoxy.

He took great care of the spread of Christianity and the eradication of paganism.

He closed the pagan schools in Athens and ordered the sciences to be taught by monks.

He persecuted paganism most in the capital of his kingdom, Byzantium, and also in Asia Minor.
In order to convert the pagans to Christ, Justinian sent Bishop John of Ephesus to Asia Minor, who baptized about 70 thousand pagans !, and the emperor built more than 90 churches for the newly converted.

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Along with the spread of Christianity, the pious Justinian advocated for the purity of the Orthodox faith.

During his reign, the Orthodox Church continued to be disturbed by the Nestorians, who taught the heresy that Christ was not a God-man and that the Divinity only dwelt in Him as in an ordinary man.

But more than the Nestorians, the Monophysites shaked the Church, who taught other terrible heresy, telling that in Jesus Christ the Divine nature absorbed the human.

Against these arbitrary inventions of human reason, the pious king composed the song:

saint-emperor-Justinian-I-the-Bulgarian-only-begotten-son

"Only-begotten Son and Words of God", which he ordered to be sung at the Divine Liturgy Service
A liturgy song, that is being sung in every Holy Liturgy in the Church even today !

Through his efforts, in year 553 A.D., the Fifth Ecumenical Council was convened to condemn the Nestorian thoughts in the writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrrhus and Iva of Edessus to end the dissensions in the Church.

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As a zealot of Orthodoxy and piety, Justinian was very concerned about the worship in the Orthodox Church and the beauty of the temples as places of worship.

In his code of laws, he included, among other things, a law on the mandatory universal celebration of the feasts of the Nativity of Christ, the Baptism of the Lord and the Resurrection, the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and others.

In addition, he built many beautiful temples to the glory of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Theotokos), the apostles and other saints. His most famous work is considered to be the church temple of Saint Sophia, God's Wisdom, in Constantinople.

Erected by the Equal-to-the-Apostles King Constantine, during a rebellion during the time of King Justinian, this temple was burned down.
The pious king gathered the best builders, spared no expense in gold and money, and built a temple, wondrous throughout the ages for its grandeur and beauty.

In his private life, Saint Justinian showed great piety.

Always devout, he spent Lent in strict abstinence and prayer, did not taste bread, but contented himself only with vegetables and water, and that he made every other day or two.

Thus, living in purity and piety, he reigned for 39 years and died peacefully in the Lord.

Because of his services to the Church and because of his piety, after his death he was canonized as a saint.
Together with him, his wife, Queen Theodora, who was a sinner at first, but later repented and spent the rest of her life in purity and piety, was included in the list of saints.

© Lives of the saints, translated into Bulgarian from the Church Slavonic text of Cheti-minei ("Chety-Minei") of Saint Demetrius of Rostov (with minor modifications from the publisher e.g.me hip0

P.S. The modern historians are disputing the saintship of Saint Justinian, however for the Bulgarian Orthodox Church for a long time he has been considering a saint for his great endeavor for Christianity and his zealous work for enlightnment of the empire and the nations in the then known world.

Saint martyr Angel of Lerina – a Bulgarian saint confessor and the Day of Saint Archangel Michael and of all Angels Archangels and Heavenly Powers

Wednesday, November 9th, 2022

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Saint Archangel Michael (Church of Saint  Archangel Michael Tryavna, Bulgaria) iconographer Yoanikij Papavitanov

On 8th of November in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, we celebrate the day to remember the gathering of Archangel Michael with all the Angels Archangels, Cherubims and heavenly powers that have kept loyal to the Holy Trinity God – The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.
The same arch-angels and powers who could do what they want and were created in the beginning of time after God as a helper Spirits to God and man.

The same angels are also supporting the whole universe with their deeds of love. They sustain the waters, make the wind blow, the clouds to move and give rain, the earth to give its fruits, possess and give wisdom or transfer secret messages from God to man when sent.

Others do protect all Christians and people from the evils of the fallen-agels who choose to misobey the True God Christ and follow the master of the evil spirits whose place is in the burning Gehenah and whose time is running out. 

They help the woman in birth-pain (like my sister Stanimira whose time to give birth is approaching), the make the organism of man to function properly. Or give the physics to make the stars shine on heaven, the Planet and heavenly bodies to move. Each and every place and Country and Church has its own guardian angels. And they're of a Big multitude the Church fathers says a lot about the Angels and many is still unknown and will be revealed in the that everyone will stand on the Judgement day in front of God and sees the Heaven and Hell realities and will stumble in fear seeing the gloriness of the archangels and cherubs (burning out of Love for God and man) made in a likeness of the Holy God.

The orthodox Church sticks clearly to the teaching of so called saint Dyonisious the Areopagites (often called in the Theology Pseudo Dyonisious), who was one of the important apostles of Christ, Athenian judge at the Areopagus Court in Athens, who lived in the first century. A convert to Christianity, he is venerated as a saint by multiple denominations.

 

The writings of Saint Dionysius the Areopagite hold great significance for the Orthodox Church. Four books of his have survived to the present day:

 

On the Celestial Hierarchy, On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, On the Names of God, On Mystical Theology

In additional, there are ten letters to various people.

The book On the Celestial Hierarchies was written actually in one of the countries of Western Europe, where Saint Dionysius was preaching. In it he speaks of the Christian teaching about the angelic world. The angelic (or Celestial-Heavenly) hierarchy comprises the nine angelic Ranks:

  • Seraphim
  • Cherubim
  • Thrones
  • Dominions
  • Powers
  • Authorities
  • Principalities
  • Archangels
  • Angels

 

The account of the Synaxis of the Bodiless Powers of Heaven is located under November 8.

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The purpose of the divinely-established Angelic Hierarchy is the ascent towards godliness through purification, enlightenment and perfection. The highest ranks are bearers of divine light and divine life for the lower ranks. And not only are the sentient, bodiless angelic hosts included in the spiritual light-bearing hierarchy, but also the human race, created anew and sanctified in the Church of Christ.

There is too much to be said about Angels, Archangels, through the years from ancient times, they can heal and help, and grant special powers to man and many, many more. There were innumerable heresies who have over-deified heavenly powers, especially gnostics and that is a well known fact. For those who want to read about Angels, and their hierarchy there is a lot ot read and learn, angels has helped the saints in their hardship in fight with evilness, there is really a lot about this for those who want to further learn. 

But what is less known is here in today's relatively small country of Bulgaria, we have a local saint Angel of Lerina who is born in Bulgarian family and stems from a Bulgarian village. As his endeveour and confession of his love for Christ and the Church was enormous he has suffered martyrdom for Christ in the 17th century during the times Bulgaria was enslaved by the Ottoman Turks. Thus as there is not much written about saint Angel Lerinski (Lerina), I dedicated this small article in glory of his memory. The article is also in memoriam of my grand-grand-grand Father who was also named Angel himself, perhaps in glory of Saint Angel of Lerina.

The Life of Saint Angel of Lerina


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Saint New Martyr Angel of Lerina (Bitolski) – picture source Wikipedia

All the sources about the holy martyr Angel of Lerinsky that we have reached cite the story of Saint Paisius of Hilendar as the main source for the life of the new martyr, called Angel or Agathangel. This is what St. Paisius writes about him in the History of Slavonic Bulgaria":
           "In 1750, in Bitol, where the Turkish and Macedonian Pasha sits, the Turks tortured and beheaded a young man, handsome in face and stature, for the Christian faith. Many forced and tormented him to renounce Christ, but he wisely and courageously denounced their godless faith. The Bishop of Bitola recorded many of his answers, described his sufferings in Greek. And God showed a great sign over his powers. His name was Angel from the village of Lerin. This holy martyr Angel shone in our time in the Bulgarian land."
          The Bulgarian Orthodox Church honors the holy new martyr on November 8, the feast of the holy Archangels. Probably the veneration of the saint in our church dates from the time when he was martyred, because his martyrdom was described by Saint Paisius of Hilendar immediately after it happened, since Saint Paisius was his contemporary.

          Greek information about the new martyr Angel Lerinski appeared only in recent years.

In the electronic version of "Οι Νεομάρτυρες της Булгариас" (New Martyrs Bulgarian) Αρχιμανδρίτου του Οικουμενικού Θρόνου Θωμά Ανδρέου Ιεροκήρυκος Ιεράς Μητροπόλεως Ελευθερουπόλεως (Archimandrite of the Ecumenical See Thomas Andreu, Preacher of the Eleftheroupolis Holy Metropolis), Kavala, 2011, p.88, we read :

         "Another case of a new martyr of Greek origin is that of Angel (or Agatangel) from today's Florina (in Bulgarian Lerin). The 2009 calendar of the Holy Metropolis of Florin, Prespa and Eordei honors this new martyr, who was martyred in the monastery of Pelagonia (now Bitola, Macedonia) on February 17, 1727*. The book "History of Slavonic Bulgaria" by Paisiy Hilendarski talks about the martyrdom of the new martyr ("his name was Angel or Agatangel and he was from the village of Florina")

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…..
          Little is known about the new martyr. We know that he was born in 1732 in Florina, in the sanjak (prefecture) of Bitola (Monastery). When he grew up, he became a tall and handsome young man. At the age of 18, the Turks tried to convert him to Islam, but Angel – although very young – did not succumb to the temptations and then bravely accepted martyrdom. In his book Paisius Hilendarski mentions that: "In 1750 in the monastery… the Turks tortured and slaughtered a handsome young man because of his Christian faith… His name was Angel and he was from the village of Florina" His testimony in the monastery was attended by the local Greek metropolitan, who described his courage and the intelligent and logical answers he gave in court. Due to the fact that he condemned the Muslim faith with particular wisdom and courage, he was beheaded when he was only 18 years old in 1750. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church honors his memory on November 8, during the Feast of the Archangels…."

          Additional information about the holy new martyr Angel Lerinsky can be found on one of Florina's sites (http://agiospanteleimonas-florina.blogspot.com/2010/06/blog-post_8186.html.)


          The Metropolitan of Florini, Prespa and Eordaia, Theoclitus, addresses the citizens on the occasion of the decision to start the veneration of the holy martyr Agathangel of Florina (June, 2010):

          "With special feelings of joy, emotion, holy contentment and reverence, I turn to you, the blessed children of the Greek Macedonian land, to become participants in the great spiritual joy experienced by our local Church for the first official celebration of the memory of the holy new martyr Agathangel in the seat of our metropolis Florina. It is already known to all of you. that the holy new martyr Agathangel, martyred in the Pelagonian monastery, originated from Florina, is our fellow citizen. At an early age he left Florina and went to Vutelion of Byzantium, to the monastery, seeking better living conditions. There, exercising the profession of shoemaker, he soon distinguished himself by his honesty and his diligence. …. But what distinguished him from the young people of his time was the pure and firm faith he had in Christ and in His "orthodox church". He loved Christ more than anything else in his life. No other love could "steal" the love that Agathangel had in his heart for Christ, he loved Him simply, purely, with all his heart, with all his strength, he loved Him as his poor parents and his blessed ancestors loved Him.
         

Along with the love for Christ, the saint had love for his homeland, conquered Macedonia. Almost four hundred years of slavery count the long-suffering "Greek Macedonians".
The Turkish conquerors treated them with cruelty. Sometimes with flattery, sometimes with threats, sometimes with violence, they try to make them change their faith. To deny Christ. To renounce the Orthodox faith and become Muslims.
And whoever renounces his faith renounces his homeland.

          Agathangel's heart was troubled by the fact that several of his fellow Roman Christians did not withstand the temptations or the violence, denying Christ and the country. His brave heart rebelled. He could not bear the Orthodox faith to be dishonored. For this, when during the three-day Bairam, which is celebrated after Ramadan, the forced conversion of the Orthodox increased, this young boy, not yet twenty years old, went to Constantinople, where he received a Sultan's firman, which forbade the forced conversion in the area of ​​Pelagonia.

On his return to the Monastery, the saint was arrested by those outraged by the Turkish Sultan's decision, and after cruel torture, he was beheaded on February 17, 1727.

           In a meeting we held in the Holy Metropolis, in which, in addition to the Metropolitan, the Honorable Prefect of Florini Mr. Ioannis Voskopoulas, the Mayor of Florini Mr. Stefanos Papanastasiou, the President of TEDC of N. Florinis, Mr. Dimitrios Iliadis, and the President of the monasteries of N. Florinis, Mr. Theodoros Vosdou, decided to jointly hold events in honor of the holy new martyr Agathangel…”

* 1727 is mentioned as the year of the martyrdom of St. Angel Lerinski in some sources, and sometimes it is mentioned together with 1750, in the same source. This discrepancy in the years of the martyrdom leaves the doubt that different martyrs are being talked about.


For this reason, we cannot say exactly whether the reliquary with the relics – the holy head of the new martyr Agathangel in the Kykkos monastery in Cyprus, which contains the same description of his life, but the date February 17, 1727 is indicated, refers to the same martyr, for which speaks Saint Paisius of Hilendar.

Saint Reverend Martyr Jacob Kosturski and his two disciples Deacon Jacob and Monk Dionysius † November 1, 1520

Tuesday, November 1st, 2022

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Holy Reverend Martyr Yakov ( Jacob) was born in one of the Bulgarian village of the Kostur region in ex-Bulgarian Macedonia in the distance year 1520.
His parents names were Martin and Parascheva.

He was an experienced cattle breeder and through hard work became quite rich, but his own brother, out of envy, slandered him to the Turkish authorities for hearing the false rumor he allegedly found a hidden fortune. Saint Yakov is a saint of the pleiad of great Bulgarian saint martyrs, sadly little known today in Bulgaria today.

Therefore, Jacob sold his sheep, left his native land and went to Constantinople, where he became even richer.
Once he heard a Turk praising Christianity and telling how his wife was cured of madness through the prayers of Saint Patriarch Niphont.
Yakov was very interested in this and went to the patriarch.

The conversation they had so touched his soul that he gave away all his wealth and retired to the Agios Oros Holy Mount Athos monk republic.

There he revived the deserted Iverion old skete "Saint John the Forerunner" and lived under the guidance of a certain elder Ignatius.

Jacob labored so diligently and reached such a high spiritual perfection that he was honored with heavenly revelations: he was shown the abodes of heaven and the dungeons of hell, he began to penetrate the secret feelings and thoughts of his visitors, e.g. received by God the gift of clairvoyance.

The Lord also honored him with the gift of miracles: at his prayer, spring water flowed into the renewed hermitage, which has been called "the agiasma of Saint Jacob" ever since; twice the jar of oil filled itself when run empty by his prayers;
With his prayer he healed a Vatopedian novice monk who was seized with rabies; once rain fell from heaven in a time of drought; another time watered thirsty travelers with the stream that came out of earth but his prayers springed waters.

Desiring to give himself up to complete solitude, he and six of his disciples retired to the inner part of Mount Athos, where he spent days and nights in complete silence except on Saturdays and Sundays.

Finally he wished to go into the world to preach piety. His disciples followed him.
Everywhere the people flocked to receive his blessing and listen to his sermon.
He also performed many miracles with his prayers: he healed the insane, handed over to Satan an unrepentant Christian sorcerer to weaken the flesh (1 Cor. 5:5).

But the local Bishop Akakios, out of envy, reported to the Turkish authorities that this old foreigner was gathering a lot of people around him and could cause some rebellion.
The monk foresaw the rising danger and spent the whole night in prayer and calmly waited for the divine liturgy to end.

Early in the morning, 18 Turkish soldiers surrounded the church and captured the elder Jacob with two of his disciples – deacon Jacob and monk Dionysius (some other Biographers speak about 6 desciples).

The Turkish bey (local place governor) investigated the reverend for a long time, sometimes with exhortations, sometimes with threats, sometimes with torture, but finding no guilt in him, threw him into prison for 40 days, until he reported him to the High Gate (highest authority in the Ottoman Turkish Empire) and received an order from there.

After some time, an order came from Sultan Selim to bring the saint and his disciples to Edirne (Odrin), so that he himself could judge them.

The Sultan strictly investigated them. Venerable Jacob calmly spoke only the truth.

The Sultan ordered that he and his disciples be beaten with whips.
Not a word, not a groan was heard from the reverend.
Then they tightened Yakov and desciples deacon Jacob and Dyonisios heads with screws.

The saint did not suffer from this torture, but one of Deacon Jacob's eyes popped out of orbit.
In the meantime, the Sultan learned that the old martyr was prophetically predicting the future and jokingly asked St. James: "How many more years will I live?"
The reverend replied, "Nine months!"

holy-martyrs-Iakovos_Kastorias_Kosturski-and-his-desciples-Jacob-and-Dyonisios

His prophecy came true.
In order to find a sufficient reason to kill the innocent, the embittered sultan sent one of his pashas (bashaw – higher rank in the Ottoman political and military system, typically granted to governors, generals, dignitaries, and others ) to them in prison to ask them questions about Christ and Muhammad.

Venerable Jacob boldly confessed that only Jesus Christ is the true God, which enraged the sultan and served as an occasion for new cruel tortures:

they tore apart the bodies of the martyrs, broke their jaws, cut thongs from their skins and then watered their wounds with vinegar and salt, they beat them cruelly with whips, burned their thighs with fire.

They were tortured in this way for 17 days. At last the Sultan sentenced them to be hanged (perhaps because he knew about Jude the Escariot and wanted to mock the saints).

Before the sentence was carried out, Venerable Jacob stood among his disciples and invited them to pray for the world and for the Church, thanking the Lord for honoring them to inherit the kingdom of heaven.

All three fell on the ground and worshiped God.

Then Venerable Jacob took out three hidden particles from the life-giving Mysteries of Christ and with them he gave communion to himself and his disciples.

Then he raised his hands and eyes to heaven and cried out with a loud voice:

"Lord, into Your hands I commit my spirit!" And immediately, to everyone's surprise, quietly died.

This happened on November 1st, year 1520 A.D.
Some Christians bought their honest holy relics and buried them with honors.
Over their tombs on Sundays and holidays light appeared and miracles took place.

Later, their holy relics were transferred to Mount Athos by christians, and took them three kilomers away from their in the village of Albani and laid them in three separate graves.

Over their graves on Sundays and holidays, light appeared and miracles took place!

Later from there to the area of ​​Galatista near Thessaloniki, where the rest of the monk's students settled in the monastery "St. Anastasia (Deliverer from Potions) Uzorushitelnica".

Some Christians bought their holy relics and took them three kilometers away from their homeland, in the village of Albani, and laid them in three separate graves. Over their graves on Sundays and holidays, light appeared and miracles took place. Later, their relics were transferred to Mount Athos, and from there to the village of Galatista, Thessaloniki. There was a small monastery "St. Athanasius Uzorushitelnica", which the rest of the disciples of the martyr Jacob revived. The memory of the martyrs is celebrated on November 1.

There is a special service for the Reverend Martyr Jacob and his disciples, which is served on the day of their memory in the Iverion skete "Saint John the Forerunner" on Mount Athos and in the monastery "Saint Anastasia".

The Biography compiled out of:

1. © Lives of the Saints. Synodal Publishing House, Sofia, 1991, edited by Parthenius, Bishop of Levkia and Archimandrite Dr. Athanasius (Bonchev).
2.
Hristo Temelski From the collection Saints and spiritual leaders from Macedonia

Saint Reverend Dimitar Basarbovski, humble and great Bulgarian saint with incorruptable miracle making holy relics now kept in Bucharest

Thursday, October 27th, 2022

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Brief biography of Saint Dimitar (Dimitrii) of Basarbov

Reverend Dimitrii Basarbovski lived near the village of Basarbovo, Rusensko (nearby today's Bulgarian city of Ruse).
He performed spiritual feats regularly.
According to instructions from Reverend Paisiy Hilendarski's "Bulgarian Slavonic History" / Istoriya Slavyanobolgarskaya , he must have lived in the 17th century.
His holy relics rest  in Bucharest.

† Bishop Hilarion of Trajanopol, Extensive Orthodox Monthly, ed. Tabor.

 

Life of Saint Dimitrii (Demetrius) Basarbovsky (extract from the Book Livings of the Saints of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church)

Venerable Dimitrii Basarbovski was born in the village of Basarbovo, which is located 8-9 kilometers from the city of Ruse. Venerable Paisiy Hilendarski in his "Slavonic-Bulgarian History" which was a key book to bring back the memory of the 5 century enslaved Bulgarians under the Ottoman Turks about their long and glorious history and holiness the Bulgarian Empire and the Bulgarian Church possesed. Slavonic-Bulgarian History points to 1685 as the most probabe year of his death.

According to St. Paisius, he was an ordinary civilian.
He lived simply. He had several sheeps.
He planted a small vineyard by a river. Saint Dimitrij made a little hut there.
Spent his whole life alone. He pleased God with his holy life.
When time came for God to take out his rightous soul, died in the same place, where he spent his whole life and was buried there.

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Saint Demetrios of Basarabia Raque in Bucharest in Saint Constantine and Helena Church

Later God revealed his incorruptable holy relics to some men. The latter were transferred to the village of Basarbovo, Rusensko. Healings took place near them.

Thus, with his simple life, Saint Demetrius shone among the Bulgarian people.
God glorified him posthumously with many miracles and glory as great intercessor of man in heaven.

According to the Romanian synaxar (The Church service book), he was a village herdsman. He had a sensitive conscience.Possessed a great fear of God.

Once, while driving the animals to the field, he inadvertently stepped on a bird's nest with the baby birds in.
This incident affected him so much and, he did not put on a shoe on the guilty foot for three years, during winter and summer, as a punishment.

Another tradition says that he was married but childless. After the death of his wife, he entered the cave monastery near his native village.

There he was ordained as a monk. He worked diligently.
Cultivated in himself all the sublime virtues of a true monk in the same fashion as the desert fathers. Foresawing his death, left the monastery, lay down between two stones on the bank of the nearby Lom river, and there he surrendered his soul to the Lord.

After a while a torrential rain fell. The water swept these two stones along with the holy relics of the reverend into the river.

Saint-Dimitriy-Bassarbovsky-Bulgarian-saint-holy-relics-feast-27-october

Saint Demitrij of Basarbovo holy relics currently preseved in Bucharest, Romania

The relics lay in the water for some time. Venerable Dimitriy appeared to a raving (possessed) virgin from the village of Basarbovo and told her that he would cure her of her illness as soon as he took his relics out of the river.

The relics were taken out and placed in the village church. The frenzied virgin was cured.
Many other patients from various diseases also received such a gracious healing.

Two God-loving sisters from the nearby village of Chervena Voda reverently worshiped the reverend.

They secretly asked to steal a piece from his relics for their newly built temple.
But their car could not start until they repented and returned the stolen particle.

Nicephorus, Metropolitan of Tarnovo, came to worship the relics with a group of clergy.
Monk Lavrentiy was also in this group.
He tried to bite off a piece by kissing the relics, but his mouth remained open until he repented with tears in his eyes.

Another of the many miracles happened like that:

Preslav bishop Ioanikiy (Joachim) fell seriously ill. He asked to be taken to Venerable Demetrius of Basarabia.
They laid him by his coffin. After the Divine Liturgy was celebrated, he recovered completely.

A Turk decided one night to rob the reverend's church.
He touched the silver lamps.
His legs stiffened immediately.
In the morning worshipers carried him around the church in their arms.
This man until the end of his life crawled through the streets of the city of Ruse and begged for alms.

The Ugro-Wallachian voivode wished to have the relics of Venerable Demetrius in his home church. With such a mission he sent boyars and priests to Basarbovo.

Saint-Dimitrij-of-Basarbovo-Monastery-his-monastery-near-Ruse-wall-painting

Saint Dimitri Basarbovski wall painting in his monastery "Basarbovski Monastery", currently situated near Ruse Bulgaria

But the saint did not allow his relics to be transported across the Danube.
Amazed, the messengers decided to find out the will of the God-pleaser. They placed the relics in a cart with previously unharnessed bullocks.
They let the animals loose.
The youths drove the car straight to Basarbovo and stopped in front of the church.

In 1774, when one of the Russo-Turkish wars was raging, the Russian general Peter Saltykov ordered the relics of Venerable Dimitriy to be taken to Russia. Dimitar Poklonnik, a Bulgarian from Bucharest, who served as a translator for the general, asked him to leave them in Bucharest as compensation for the losses of the Romanian people in the war. The general agreed. Since then, these holy relics rest in Bucharest, in the Church of the Three Saints.

© Lives of the Saints. Synodal Publishing House, Sofia, 1991, edited by Parthenius, Bishop of Levkia and Archimandrite Dr. Athanasius (Bonchev).

The Rock Monastery of Saint Dimitrii of Basarbovo in Bulgaria near Lom River Ruse
 

The monastery dates back to the period of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (XII-XIV centuries), but the earliest data date from the Ottoman tax registers of 1431.

There it is marked as "Besaraba" – a property with 14 households.

At the same time, the monastery was marked as "the timar of the great voivode" – meaning Ivanko Besarab – father-in-law of Tsar (King) Ivan Alexander.

According to another legend, the Basarbov monastery was dedicated to St. Theodore Tiron and St. Theodore Stratilates.
The founder of the monastery was Queen Teodora Basarab – the first wife of Tsar Ivan Alexander and daughter of the Wallachian Duke Ivanko Basarab.

The nearby village of Basarbovo is also named after the voivode.

The most famous inhabitant and eternal abbot is Saint Dimitar Basarbovski, who spent a large part of his life in the monastery.

Paisius Hilendarski also mentions this holy abode in his "Slavic Bulgarian History".

During the Russian-Turkish war (1768 – 1774), the relics of the saint were transferred by the Russian General Ivan P. Saltikov in Bucharest and placed in the Metropolitan and now Patriarchal Church "Saints Saints Constantine and Helena" on July 13, 1774, with the idea to later move them to Russia, saint Demitrios of Basarabia's desire was to remain in Bucharest where they are still laying today.

In 1937, monk Chrysant lived in the monastery and began to renovate it.
The  feast day of the monastery is on October 26, the day of St. Dimitar The Myrrh-bearer.

Basarbovski-monastery-near-Ruse-Bulgaria-dedicated-to-Saint-Dimitrij-of-Basarbov

As Saint Dimitri Holy relics are currently away from the Bulgarian home land, obviosuly as the saint's memory was more more remembered and venerated in Romania. Today the monastery who was started by his prayers and veneration of his Holy relics "Basarbovski Monastery" near the Danube river Ruse, did not possess any more his holy relics.

Basarbovski-monastery-near-Ruse-Bulgaria-dedicated-to-Saint-Dimitrij-of-Basarbov1

In 2005, at the request of the Bulgarian Patriarch Maxim, an icon with the image of St. Dimitar of Basarbov, in which a part of his holy relics is embedded was presented by the Romanian Patriarch Teoktist to the Basarbov Monastery.

Sveti_Dimitrii-Basarbovski-rock-monastery-Bulgaria-church

It is notable, to mention that according to the monk and one of most notable Ascetics and Saints of our times Saint Porphyrios of Kafsokalyvia († 1991), the prayer of the hermit monk works miracles and his contribution is greater than that of the most worthy preacher.

Sveti-Dimitrij-Basarbovski-rock-monastery-skalen-manastir-church-entry
 

Dendritism in early ascetism, Saint John of Rila – a Great ascetic saint who practiced Tree living form of monasticism

Friday, October 21st, 2022

saint-John-of-Rila-with-Rila-monastery

“Dendrites hanging on a tree of life blooming in virtues, like a good fruits of the Spirit”

The monasticism is born in the late antiquity in the desert to Egypt, Syria, Palestine and Asia Minor, in a peculiar dialogue with the development of urban Christianity.
As we know, Christianity is a city religion, the structure of it is following example of administrative organization common for the age in the Roman Empire.

With the end of the anti-Christian persecution, church the christian communities in the city of the empire to strengthen, grow, and move on to onether new way of development – with all pluses and minuses for a new state. Freedom to confess (worship) gradually retreating locally to patronage of the empire, which with its whole repressive power stands on the side of the new religion, who has conquered for its four centuries  of existence with it’s evangelic radicalism, won the hearts of many thousands of Roman citizens. This puts the Christian communities in front of the unknown for them challenge, being a Christian now provides additional citizen advantages for better arrangement of lifely affairs. The wine of the apostoles preach to  unreservedly following of Christ is now inter-mixe with the common for a man conformity.

This comes to be a problem for many Christians and most importantly for those who do not want (or cannot) live with their Christian identity in conditions of the Imperial Church.
Hence, the end of the persecutions coincides with the stormy flourishing of monasticism and ascetism, in all regions of the empire from the end of the east to the external borders of the western parts. In the church life is born a single center, which is trying to remind the believers that the Kingdom of God is not from this world, but instead every christian is called to secretly raise his own seed of faith in his field (the good and clean heart) – in secret and independently from the worldly rulers.


Among the diversified forms of cenobitic monasticism and asceticism, present during the early Byzantine period, a typical one known for its radicalism of faith and asceticism of Syrian Christians. It is in the midst Syria where the phenomenon of monastic stylites “pillars” e (στυλίτες) they have a specific hermit type of life, in whose the monk lives on the top of open or closed “tower” or high stone, without coming to earth, in constant prayer, regardless of climatic conditions. Stylitism has received a wide spread between the Orthodox and Monophysitites to theEast, but not among the Nestorians (early christian heretics). Among the well known Stylites are Saint Simeon Stalpnik (Stylites) (lived in 5th century), Daniil the Stylites (5th century), Simeon The-Newest (Novi) and Alipiy the Stylites (6th century).

Having formalized the whole course in monasticism, so-called open monasticism. monasticism is openly (του ανοικτού μέσου), to whose branch a part are the Stylites and the Dendrites  δενδρίτες  (the monks who lives on a tree or inside a tree), monks who live without a shelter. „βοσκοί”. Other extreme forms of ascetism are the “recluse” (οι έγκλειστοι, κλωβίτες), they are part of the  the so-called. "closed type" monasticism (του κλειστού μέσου), the most notable saints representatives from this type are the elders Barsanuphious and elder Ioan (Elder).

Among the most unusual and rarely practiced forms of asceticism was dendriticism. These ascetics remain in the Romance languages ​​with their Greek name – dendrites – inhabiting trees. They lived inside, in the hollow, or in the branches of the tree, standing or sitting. Their feat is compared to that of the columnists, who also live in a small space on tree posts or pillars. The small space they occupied for varying periods of time—usually from one to several years—developed in them the virtue of manly patience. Dendrites "serve God in the trees", these wonderful creations of God, among whom a chosen one become the Holy Christ cross tree that served for the salvation and sanctification of man. With their "blessed solitude" they become the new "witnesses of conscience" after the end of the "witnesses of blood" who deserved and won eternal life in the persecutions of the Roman Empire.

Saint_David_Solunski-Dendronite
 

St. David of Thessalonica But as we said, the creation of a common monastic culture in the spacious borders of the Christian Empire brought this exotic way of life to the West as well. Pillars appear even next to the walls of the capital city – in the person of St. Daniel the Pillar, and Rev. David of Thessalonica (6th century) is among the most famous hermits-dendrites not only in the Balkans, but also in the entire Christian world. And although he spent three years on the almond tree in prayer and fasting, after which he continued his feat on a pillar, in Orthodox iconography he remains immortalized precisely on a tree. And the second hermit who went through this ascetic test was St. John of Rila, the founder of monasticism in the Bulgarian lands.

saint-John-of-Rila-heals-the-demonic-posessed-icon

But as mentioned, the creation of a common monastic culture within the spacious borders of the Christian Empire brought this exotic way of life to the West.

Pillars saints appear even next to the walls of the capital city – in the person of St. Daniel the Pillar, and Rev. David of Thessalonica (6th century) is among the most famous hermits-dendrites not only in the Balkans, but also in the entire Christian world. And although he spent three years on the almond tree in prayer and fasting, after which he continued his feat on a pillar, in Orthodox iconography he remains immortalized depicted precisely on a tree. And the second hermit who went through this ascetic test was St. John of Rila, the founder of monasticism in the Bulgarian lands.

The way of thinking of people in ancient times was very different from the modern way.
All ascetic Byzantine literature testifies to the desire to see in every detail of everyday life a lesson, a symbol, a sign of divine providence in the life of every person.
In this sense, the feat of the ascetics-dendrites is rich in Christian symbols and metaphors. The hymnography of the Church in their glorification highlights two main elements – of the tree of life, to which they become partakers with their feat, and of the freedom of complete surrender in God's hands, inherent in the "birds of the sky", who do not care for their sustenance, but rely on God's mercy.

This is what the first symbol looks like – on the tree not as an ordinary residence, but as an image of the Cross of Christ.

"The dendrites hanging on the tree of life flourish in virtues as good fruits of the Spirit", and in the service of St. David of Thessalonica – the most famous monk in the Balkans who experienced this way of asceticism, we also read:

"Like a light bird he climbed on the tree and made a hut, freezing in winter and burning in summer. Thus he obtained the golden wings of dispassion and perfection, which lifted them to the heavens."

The-Mother-of-God-Theotokos-the-Tree-of-saints

The tree is undoubtedly one of the most common symbols in Christian literature, dating back to the early church. Tertullian compared Christians to evergreen trees.
Origen compares Christ to the tree of life. For Didymus the Blind (4th century), the tree is the vine Christ, whose branches are the righteous men who bear true fruit. This imagery enters the language of church writers through the Gospel texts. The tree is a symbol that Christ himself used many times in his parables – I am the Vine of life… The fig tree that does not bear fruit withers and becomes useless. According to church teaching, "everything that died through the tree of the knowledge of good and evil will live again through the tree of the Cross and the water of baptism that springs from the Tree of the Cross of Christ." Pseudo-Ambrosius.

Clement of Alexandria says that the tree of the living Christ grows in the paradise of the Church, in the waters of renewal and gives as its fruit the teaching and the evangelical way of life.

All these symbols and metaphors of the tree as a symbol of the fall, death and salvation of man pass through the Gospel and patristic texts in the life of the ascetics and more specifically of those of them who choose the solitude of the tree as a place of their witness and feat.

During the period before the Christianization of the Bulgarian people, the Orthodox Church accumulated serious ascetic experience, represented in the monastic movement in its various forms. Different ascetics preferred different forms of asceticism, and each of them developed new virtues and spiritual gifts in the ascetics.

This priceless centuries-old experience grafted into the young Bulgarian Church and its first hermit, St. John of Rila.

The Church of Christ in Bulgaria found in him an ascetic who, within the framework of his life, managed to go through all the forms of asceticism that Christian monasticism had known up to that point – he created a new monastery, where he studied, then became a hermit, lived in a cave, in the open rock, in the hollow of a tree, and finally receives the charisma of spiritual fatherhood and gathers disciple monastic brotherhood.

Already at the very beginning of the Long Life of St. John of Rila, we see the comparison of St. John with the popular Christian symbol of the fruit-bearing tree: "and it bore fruit, indeed a hundredfold, as a tree planted by springs of water."

As in the lives of the other dendrite monks, St. John did not immediately proceed to this difficult feat – he began his monastic journey "in a monastery for the sake of learning" and only then withdrew to the wilderness of the mountain, where he lived in a hut of branches.

Saint John then spent 12 years in a narrow and dark cave! (the cave is nowadays located about 50 minutes walk from the Rila monastery in the mountain of Rila)

 The biographer of Saint John St. Euthymius informs us that only after that he moved "at a considerable distance" from the cave and settled in the hollow of a huge oak, like the oak of Abraham. It is obvious the desire of Patriarch Euthymius to make a connection between this unusual feat for this region of the Christian world and the hospitality of Abraham, who met the Holy Trinity under the Oak.

In the hollow of the tree St. John ate chickpeas. This is, by the way, the first mention of growing chickpeas on the Bulgarian lands – the chickpea is an unpretentious, but still heat-loving plant, which is grown mainly in the southern Bulgarian lands and Dobrudja today.
In the life, the sprouting of chickpeas around the oak of St. John of Rila is compared to the miracle of manna from heaven. The behavior of the shepherds who secretly collect pods of chickpeas from the saint and their unusual joy shows (they loot it) that this food was indeed atypical of the region where St. John traveled and it successfully growing on this mountain coldly place is one of the innumerable miracles of the saints which started even in his lifetime.

After that, exactly what is the logic of the ascetics-dendrites in the other popular stories about them – the sick begin to flock around the saint, his living invariably mention "possessed by demons" who come to heal to him.

The life of prayerful patience and extreme asceticism of these strange hermits living in trees reminded them of Christ's words that "this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting."
Life conveys to us the prayer of the saint, with which he frees the possessed – from the text we see that it does not have an exorcistic character as in most of the other saint livings, that is, St. John does not directly forbid the demons, but calls on God's omnipotence and thus reveals his deep, extreme humility, with which he receives daring before God.
It is noteworthy to mention that Reverend David of Thessalonica also received the charisma to cast out demons after spending three years in the branches of an almond tree.

saint-David-the-Tree-liver-hermit-saint-icon

The duration of life on the tree for different ascetics is different – for Saint David it is three years, in the life of Saint John of Rila the time is not specified (most likely because the saint asked God to hide this part of his life again for humility).

Three is a symbolic number, corresponding to the request of the prophet David to receive from God goodness, knowledge and prudence. According to Susan Ashbrook Harvey, tree life "seems to have had the character of a temporary discipline in the ascetic practice, in which different places and modes of asceticism were changed." Unlike dendrites, those who live on a pillar spend many more years there, this way of asceticism also becomes a social service.

While life in a tree is usually a transition to some other asceticism, which means that as living conditions it was much more difficult. This is how Reverend David's life is described by his biographer: Further on, the author describes the sufferings of David in the (ἔν) tree – he was tormented by cold, by heat, by winds, but his angel-like face did not change, but looked like blooming rose. Some of his disciples went to the tree and begged him to come down and help them—lest the spiritual wolf prey on the flock while the shepherd was gone. David, however, was steadfast in his decision to remain on the tree. "I will not come down from the tree for three years, then our Lord Jesus Christ will show me that he has accepted my prayer."

Three years later, an angel appeared to him and told him that God had heard his prayer and ordered him to come down from the tree and build himself a cell, because another mission (οἰκονομία) awaited him.
It is interesting that at this point David turns to the official church authority for a kind of sanction of the vision ‒ he sends his disciples to tell what happened to the bishop of Thessalonica, Dorotheus and ask him whether this vision is really from God.

Researchers of monastic culture in the Byzantine era note the greater remoteness, isolation of the ascetics-dendrites from those who live on pillars. Entire temporary settlements of pilgrims, sick people, people from different tribes and countries arise around the latter, which often make noise and disturb the ascetic life of the saint. The most famous example is Rev. Simeon The Stylite ( Stulpnik ) the founder of hermit Stylitism. Around his pillar there was always a crowd that was not always meek, obedient and pious. There are often half-wild Arabs among her, sometimes 200, 300, 1000 people to come.
They often made a noise and continued their tribal quarrels at the foot of the pillar.

However, the dendrites immediately leave the place of their feat if people begin to gather around them – be they pilgrims or disciples. We see this in the life of Revend John as well:
"And the valiant Ivan, as soon as he learned what was happening, got up and went away from there, because he was afraid, and even more, he hated human glory."

We see this clearly expressed in the lives of two brothers in Syria – Rev. Maro (Saint Maron passed on to Christ 410 AD) and Rev. Abraham.
The first was a dendrite, and the second a stylite.
John of Ephesus in the Lives of the Eastern Saints tells of the Reverend Maro(n) Dendrite that he lived in a hollow tree near his brother Abraham, a stylite in his monastery.
Unlike the monks, St. Maro did not communicate with visitors, the door of his tree was closed, and he lived in silence until someone sought healing.
When his brother died, Maro left his imprisonment in the tree and moved to his brother's place and then began to communicate more with people.
But while living in the tree, Maro received no visitors.

saint_Maron-the-Syriac-hermit
Like Reverend Maron in Syria, Saint John of Rila leaves the tree of his asceticism as soon as people begin to gather around him, and switches to another form of asceticism – very close to stair climbing, namely on a high and difficult-to-access rock (today known as the Rock of Saint John a common place for pilgrimage).

But even here, tempted and physically injured by the demons, the ascetic does not remain hidden from the people. It was during this period that he attracted the attention of St. King Peter, who tried to establish contact with him. Of course, the high rock on which St. John of Rila lived for seven and a half years provided much harsher living conditions than the steeple, which is usually near a populated place. But as a philosophy of the ascetic feat, in both cases it is about something in common – maximally narrowing the free space for movement and directing all energy upwards, in the power of prayer and constant unity with God.

The common moments in the lives of the two most famous Dendrite monks in the Balkans – Revend David of Thessaloniki and St. John of Rila, who labored three centuries are similar.

Both begin their monastic journey with "discipleship in a monastery" before heading for the desert, that is, moving away from human society.
For both of them, the life in the oak, respectively in the almond branches is a period of extreme asceticism, which greatly impresses the surrounding population, who begin to flock to them. Their unusual feat inspires in people a desire to live near them and even to imitate them – in their lives we see a number of people who seek their help – starting with students (one of Reverend David's students also became a "dendrite" as his mentor and settled in the hollow of a large tree). There glory quickly reaches the local bishop and all the clergy, as well as the rulers of the city – as mentioned in the life of the Thessalonian ascetic, and to Saint King (Tsar) Peter and the Bulgarian boyars as mentioned in the biographical life of Saint John of Rila .

The biographers of both monks include the stories of the healing of demoniacs precisely while they were living in their unprotected "homes" from the natural elements – i.e. the trees. Finally, for all their desire to remain hidden in the wilderness of their solitude, they attract not only the sick, the afflicted, and the disciples, but the attention of the powerful of the day.
But while St. David came from the East, from Mesopotamia, St. John was local and did not have a great Eastern ascetic teacher as he was local citizen born in Bulgaria, in our lands.
His way of asceticism is undoubtedly influenced by the general ascetic patterns of the age, but it is also unique – it is a testimony to the general internal logic of Christian asceticism, regardless of which parts of the Christian world it is practiced.

Paradoxically, the brightest monastic examples in the Balkans became precisely these two monks, struggling in these harsh, atypical for the western parts of the empire, conditions – dendriticism, stylitism, living in a narrow cave and a high cliff.

Until the 9th century, that is, throughout the early Byzantine period, in today's Greek lands, the cult, the respect for Rev. David of Thessalonica (born c. 450 – 540) was comparable only to that of Saint Great-Martyr (Demetrius) Dimitar of Thessalonica and St. Achilles, bishop of Larissa.

Great Respect and recognition as a saint for him was already alive in the first half of the 9th  century at the same time when saint John’s greatnes shined upon the world, as we can see from the life of St. Gregory the Decapolitan, who sent one of his monks to worship at the saint's grave in a monastery founded by him near Thessaloniki. St. David the Dendrite monastery was an attractive pilgrimage center in the Balkan lands of the empire until the 11th century, when the relics of the saint were brought by the Crusaders to Italy.

Without the spiritual presence of its founder, its monastery declined and disappeared, and its relics returned to Thessaloniki only in the 20th century and were laid in the church of "St. Theodora".

The abode of the Rila desert dweller has a different destiny – it remains as a living spiritual center throughout the centuries, in the heart of the Rila desert, and its founder, already a resident of the Heavenly Jerusalem, invariably remains a faithful and reliable breviary for his kindred in the flesh the Bulgarians.

Report presented at the international conference dedicated to the 500th anniversary of the transfer of the relics of St. John of Rila from Tarnovo to the monastery he founded, organized in 2019 at the Rila Monastery. It was published in the eponymous collection of conference reports under the title: "Dendrite Monks in the Balkans".

Article originally posted in Bulgarian by Zlatina Ivanova on 19.10.2022 – Translated with minor modifications by me (Georgi D. Georgiev a.k.a. hip0)

Saint martyr Trendafil of Starazagora (Starozagorski), little known Bulgarian saint martyred in XVI century

Monday, August 8th, 2022

In memory of the holy martyr Triandafil of Stara Zagora ( Starozagorski )

saint-Nikodimos-agiogarithes-sveti-Nikodim-Svetogorec

According to Venerable Nicodemus Agiorite, "Synaxaristis", Constantinople, 1845, and "Neon Martyrologion", Athens, 1961.

Holy Martyr Triandafil was very young Bulgarian, about 18 years old, a native of Stara Zagora, and he was a sailor.

svetogorskata-ikona-na-sv.Triandafil-ot-hrama-sv.Georgi-v-Zagora-saint-Trendafil

Suffered as a martyr for his Christian faith in Constantinople on August 8.

For the year of his death, Venerable Nicodemus Hagioritis in his work "Synaxarium" published in (Tsarigrad / Constantinople 1845) indicates year 1570 as a year of his martyrdom, and in his other work "Neon Martyrologion" (newly published in Athens in 1961) as a year of martyrdom 1680.

His memory was celebrated on his day (August 8) every year and the tradition continues today in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church as saint Trendafil is one of the constellation of Bulgarian saints.

Nicodemus Hagiorite reports that his life was written by the biographer Ioannis Cariophilis, but it seems that he did not have the original of the living at hand to include in his works.

Ikona-Sveti-Trendafil-ot-hrama-na-sveteca-v-Zagora.

As Bulgaria has been under a Spiritual and Physical slavery both the country and the Church has been under yoke, the country under the yoke of ottoman turks and the Church under the yoke of Greek slavery, only two verses are preserved in honor of the martyr (as the Greeks custom do), those two verses are given by Venerable Nicodemus in his "Synaxarion":

The name Trendafil literally translated is the flower Rosa multiflora.

Thus the glorification verses in the sinaxarion says:

Triandafil  appeared as the new trendafil (Rosa multiflora),
reddened by the flow of his blood.

So far, nothing else is known about this martyr of ours.

© Living of of the saints, translated into Bulgarian from the Church Slavonic text of Cheti-minei ("Chety-Minei") of St. Demetrius of Rostov.

Saint Sergius of Radonezh The WonderWorker (Sergij Radonezhki) a quick helper saint in life problems, pupils, students in educational hardships, exams and Orphans. A short living of father of Russian monasticism

Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

Saint-Sergius-of-Radonezh-icon-Russian-saint-hermit

Saint Sergius of Radonezh the Wonderworker (born in 1314, passed to Christ in 1392) is an ancient saint with enormous importance for the whole Christiandome and the Eastern Orthodox World.
He is perhaps the greatest ascet of the Russian land and a spiritual star who shone over the whole world sharing the and increasing the faith of Christ to shine upon many by his holy prayers. Saint Sergij Radonezhki is sometimes called in Russia the Abbot of the Russian land, for the reason he become the initiator (creator) and first abbot of the most notable and biggest monastery of Russia the Monastery of Saint Sergij of Radonezh in the XIV century.

In the Church service sung books, he is for that reason glorified calling him "a bright beacon of the Russian land, shining through its miracles like a second sun".  Saint Sergius Radonezhki's monastery was established in Glory of the Most Holy Trinity and the great ascet following the earlier example and spiritual tradition bequeted of the Great ascet Saint John of Rila (Ioan Rilski)  who lived in IX century in (876 – c. 946)  who established in the Rila mountain, the most famous Rila Monastey in Bulgaria, saint Sergius started his spiritual endurance in Russia as an ascet and did not initially planned to create a monastery, but God who sees everything seing his great ascetism sent him monks, willing to learn true spiritual life and that is how the Radonezh Monastery was born. Monastery quickly become aprototype of a new, amazingly pure and strict monastic life in Holy Russia, centered near in Moscow and the monastery which become a Laurel (the slavonic word translated as Lavra), (meaning the inhibitants of the monastery were exceeding 1000 monks) since y. 1744, become known in worldwide as Holy Trinity-Sergius Lavra.

Saint-Sergius-of-Radonezh-Lavra-Sveti-Sergieva-Lara-Holy-Trinity-monastery

Just as the spiritual heart of Bulgaria is located in the Rila Holy Monastery (Rilski Manastir), where are the the holy incorruptable relics of most glorified saint Reverend John of Rila the Wonderworker, the Sergius Trinity lavra has emerged as most important spiritual center of Russia Kingdom and later Russian Empire. What was the spiritual significance for preventing the Orthodox Christian faith and shedding hope via the dark ages of Ottoman Turks slavery of Bulgaria,  Reverend  Sergiy Radonezhki was for Russia especially in the hard times when Russia was a small country and fought for their freedom and independence from the Tatars and other surrounding nations, who were constantly destroying parts of the then small kingdom of Rus. Thousands of pilgrims with reverence and gratitude have come and continue to come to the Trinity-Sergius Lavra for worship, near the monastery now is established the city of Sergiyev Posad (inhabited today with about 103 000 people).

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The shroud of the holy relics of Saint Sergius of Radonezh XV century

Prayers to St. Sergius of Radonezh are famous to protect you from any life problems.  People pray to the saint to protect children from bad influences and from failures at school. The prayer to the saint who was a model of humility helps in achieving humility and subduing the pride of ourselves and others.

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The very famous Holy Trinity unique icon held in main Church of Radonezh monastery painted by most famous Russian iconographer Saint Andrey Rublev

The icons and frescoes in the Trinity Cathedral in St Radonezh Lavra are unique piece of medieval art and were the work of Reverend Andrei Rublev and Daniil Chernyov in 1425. The main church icon that was painted in "praise of Rev. Sergius" is the old testamental visit the Holy Trinity to Abraham and Sarra icon – which is among the most famous and unique work of Russian icon painting. 

The Church feast of the Saint Sergij

The memory of St. Sergius of Radonezh is honored 4 times a year:

1. October 8 – on the day of his presentation to God
2. June 5 – together with the feast of the Rostov-Yaroslavl saints
3. October 18 – on the day of the discovery of the relics of St. Sergius of Radonezh
(interestingly just 1 day after in the Church calendar is 19 of October is the main feast of Saint John of Rila)
4. and on July 19 – together with the Radonezh Saints Church.

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Reliquary with the incorruptable Holy Relics of Saint Sergij of Radonezh, kept in the Saint-Sergieva-Lavra monastery

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Opened reliquarium coffin with the incorruptable relics of saint Serigius of Radonezh (the feasts are opened for veneration by pilgrims 4 times a year during the saint feast veneration)

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The Apparition of the Mother of God to St. Sergius 16th century icon

 

Short Living (Biography) of Saint Sergius Radonezhki

Sergius of Radonezh was one of the most famous political and historical figures of the 14th century.
He is the founder of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra, teacher and mentor of many Russian saints canonized by the Church.
According to ancient tradition, mainly from his student Epiphanes, Rev. Sergius was born in 1314 in the village of Varnitsa, Rostov in the family of the famous Rostov boyars Kiril and Maria (who are also canonized as saints) and in whose memory there are Churches consecrated in Russia and Belarus.

His parents named him Bartholomew at birth.
Although the family was noble, they lived very modestly and were very religious.
At the age of 7, Sergius and his brothers started going to school, and while his two brothers' education came relatiely easily, it did not for Bartholomew as for bartholomew learning was hard.
Suffering for his hardships to study even though he put great efforts to do so, as he did not have any other means to become proficient pupil like his brothers, wishing to change this, the boy fervently prayed to God to give him reason and strength to advance in learning.

According to the chronicles, the boy once he was looking for the lost horses of his father met an old schimonk elder who was praying to God. The boy asked the old man to pray for his success in school. The the unusual bright monk prayed and blessed him. Since then, the boy began to progress in his studies quickly.

In 1330, Bartholomew's parents moved to the village of Radonezh, near Moscow. Soon his parents died, and he, together with his older brother Stefan, left the inheritance to the youngest brother and took up a hermit life in the nearby forest, where they built a cell, and then built a small church, which was consecrated with the name of the Holy Trinity.

Soon Stefan decided to abandon the hermit life and went to the Moscow Epiphany Monastery, where he became abbot.
Bartholomew stayed and in 1337, at the age of 23, he was ordained a monk with the name Sergius.

The young ascetic spent more than a year in complete solitude. His life consisted of prayers, fasting and hard work.
Sergius became famous in the surrounding area and soon other monks began to come to him for advice and soon the brotherhood numbered 12 people. Each monk lived in a separate cell, and together they gathered for worship.
This is how the famous Sergius-Troitskaya Lavra was founded. In 1354, Sergius was ordained abbot.

As the biography testifies, Reverend Sergius of Radonezh performed miracles even in his earthly life:

"…
Pilgrims came, they saw the poverty of the desert, but they also saw the peace and grace among the brothers, and they brought this leaven into their native families like light, like salt. And the name of the God-pleaser became glorious throughout Russia and many came to him with faith. Once, by praying, the old man healed a seriously ill person, and another time he healed a mad nobleman who was not in his right mind, ranting and fighting, so that ten they couldn't hold the man back."

St. Sergius of Radonezh was honored with a vision of the Most Holy Mother of God, who appeared to him during a night service and said:
"Do not be afraid, My chosen one. I have come to visit you. Do not grieve, because your prayer for the students and the monastery has been heard; and your abode shall abound in all things; not only in your life, but also in your presentation before God. I will not leave this place, and will irrevocably supply all that is necessary, preserve and protect it with my covering."


Saint Sergius of Radonezh knew how to act with "quiet and meek words" even on the most hardened and cruel hearts and in this way reconciled even ruling country region principles and kings at war.
Thanks to him, all the princes united before the Kulikovo battle, thanks to whom Russia managed to establish itself as a leading world country in the mid-centuries recognizing the main role of the Moscow prince Dimitriy.
The Russian army received a blessing from the venerable Sergius of Radonezh before the upcoming battle with the Tatars.

He predicted (prophecised) the victory over the Tatars, and on September 8, 1380, on the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin, the Russian troops defeated the Tatars at Kulikovo field, marking the beginning of liberation from the Tatar yoke. In other words at the time when Bulgarian Empire had crashed and has been enslaved, the Trnov kingdom fall down in 1393 and Vidin's kingdom of Bulgaria in 1396, just few years before the opposite hapened in Russia. Already baptized by many Bulgarian clergymen and given the Old Bulgarian Church language so called in newer times the Church Slavonic Books, Russia together with its spiritual flourishment managed to liberate from the Tatars and increasing gruadally in influence, countryland and power.
Prince Dimitrii deeply respected his spiritual father – the Reverend Sergius of Radonezh, who was also the godfather of his children.

Sergius of Radonezh died on September 25, 1392, reaching a very old age.
He predicted his death 2 years before and appointed his successor – his student Reverend Nikon.
St. Sergius of Radonezh was buried in a monastery founded by him, and 30 years later his body and clothes were found incorruptible and odoring with heavenly odor.

This happened in 1422 during the construction of the new and enlargened "Life-giving Trinity" church.

Shortly before the construction began, Sergius of Radonezh appeared in a dream to a pious man, telling him to convey the following words to the brothers:
"Why do you leave me so long in the grave, buried in the ground with all this water, it is narrow here for my body. "

When they dug for the foundations, the imperishable relics and clothes of St. Sergius of Radonezh were found unharmed, and the grave was full of water.

During the consecration of the Trinity Church, the relics of the saint were transferred to it, where they lay even to this day.

Let by the Holy Prayers of Saint Sergius of Radonezh the world, find more peace, love, faith and brotherhood, which we desperately need in these day of the absurd brother shedful war in Ukraine. 

Holy Reverend Father Sergij of Radonezh, pray the Lord Jesus Christ to save our souls and grant repentance to us sinners and peace to rule again in our hearts !

 

Living of New Martyr Saint Onuphrius of Gabrovo, a Bulgarian saint martyred in year 1818

Friday, June 17th, 2022

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The New Martyr saint Onufrij ( Onuphrius ) (1786 – 1818) was born in Gabrovo, Veliko Tarnovo Diocese, to pious and noble parents.
(His father Decho later became a monk under the name of Daniel in the same Hilendar monastery on Mount Athos, where his son was then active).
The child Onuphrius was given the name Matthew in Holy Baptism.
When he grew up, he was sent to a one of scarce Bulgarian schools, where he studied well.
When he was 17 years old, his parents once punished him for some childish thing unrest, and out of frivolous childishness, he declared in the presence of Turks that he would accept the Muslim faith.

In such cases, the Turks immediately seized the person who gave the promise to convert to islam and performed the rite of Mohammedan circumcision on him.

To prevent this, his parents hid him and perhaps sent him to the "fotress" of Christian Orthodox FaIth and keeper of Bulgarian spirit, the Troyan Monastery "Holy Mother of God".
In Troyan Monastery, to this day there is a the mouth to mouth legend that the Venerable Martyr Onuphrius began his monastic feat and received his first monastic haircut here with the name Manasseah (Manasij).

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He ascended diligently in spiritual life, but the voice of his conscience began to rebuke him more and more for his public denial of Christianity, even if only in words.
Probably because of this he went to Holy Mount Athos, hoping that there, under the guidance of more experienced elders, he would repent enough and calm his conscience.
Manasseah spent some time in the Hilendar Monastery (a monastery that at this time has been inhibited with many Bulgarian monks), where he was ordained a deacon.

But, as the holy fathers of the Church say, the more a Christian grows in virtue, the deeper he humbles himself and his small sins seem great., same happened with Hierodeacon Manasseah.

He was always impressed by the words of the Savior Christ:

"Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven; but whosoever denieth me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 10: 32-33).

And from the lives of the saints he was especially deeply moved by the example of the holy martyr Barlaam, who held his hand without trembling over the burning pagan altar until his hand burned completely, but did not drop incense on the altar, to protect the occusation that he has offered incense to the idols.
His heart was inflamed with jealousy when the Venerable Euthymius, Ignatius and Acacius (Agathius), performed their martyrdom.
Then Manasseah secretly left Hilendar and went to the Forerunner's Hermitage to the local clergyman (elder) Nicephorus with a request to prepare him for such a martyrdom.

For four months he worked hard on enormous spiritual and bodly feats under the guidance of this elder.
Every day Manasseh made four thousand bows; his prayer was unceasing; his remorseful mood brought tears to his eyes.

During these four months of preparation he ate two and a half kilograms of dried grapes, and in the strictest forty-day fast he ate 30 grams of bread every two or three days and drank water in moderation.
After Elder Nicephorus thus prepared him for the impending martyrdom, he cut his hair in a great scheme receiving the great-schema name of Onufrij ( Onuphrius ) and sent him to the island of Chios with the same companion, Elder Gregory, whom he sent with the other martyrs анд вхере тхеир feat would take place there.

On Island Chios Saint Onuphrius lived one Sunday in fasting and prayer, while on Friday, the day of Christ's suffering, he appeared in Turkish robes before the local turkish judge, openly blasphemed Muhammad and threw the green turban on his head.

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He was exhorted, thrown into prison, tortured, and sentenced to death the same day.
On January 4, 1818, his head was cut off on the seashore and along with his blood his body was thrown into the sea, so that Christians could not take for granted his holiness any particle veneration of the Venerable Martyr.

Before his death, some asked him about his name and homeland.
The Venerable Martyr replied that his name was Matthew and that he was from Veliko Tarnovo.
In this way he wanted to save the Holy Mount Athos and his monastery from troubles by the Turks.
Soon after his martyrdom, the Greeks from Mount Athos, soon canonized him and compiled a (living) biography and a service in his honor.

Text Translated from:

© Lives of the Saints. Synodal Publishing House of Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Sofia, 1991, edited by Parthenius, Bishop of Lefkada and Archimandrite Dr. Athanasius (Bonchev).

Living of unknown saint Saint Sophronius of Sofia, known also as Saint Soprhonius of the Bulgaria / Sofronij of the Balkans

Saturday, May 28th, 2022

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Biography of Staint Sofronij / Sophronius of Bulgaria Sofia, Known also as Saint Soprhonius of the Balkans

The parish priest of the village of Penkyovtsi (Sofia, Bulgaria region) Stefan (Te fled to Sofia with his wife due to Turkish violence, from hence he later fled to Wallachia region to the great Wallachian voivode (Duke) Radul. His wife died there and he became a monk named Sophronius (not to be mistaken with the very famous Bulgarian saint Saint Sofronius of Vratza / Sofronij Vrachanski).

After the death of Duke Radul, he returned from the Danube river to his homeland and settled in a monastery near city of Ruse (probably he lived in the cave monastery of Saint Joachim I Patriarch of Tarnovo and the Venerable Demetrius Besarabovsky, that even today is the biggest monastery nearby the city of Ruse).

There he struggled with common sanctification practices as fasting, prayer, work and alms for the poor. The devil did not tolerate his monastic great achievements and set a monastic servant against him, who struck him on the head with an ax and killed him.

Three years later, Sophronius appeared to the people living in the monastery, who obeyed his suggestion (obviously they got inspired to  dug up his grave which is a common ancient Christian practice for notable christians who might have been saints) and look up if his relics are incorruptable and found his relics incorruptible and fragrant (emitting a heavenly odor), as they have been inspired by God's Spirit to do.
People with great joy placed the holy relics in a coffin for common (universal) worship of all the Christians.

We do not know the exact dates he was  born or has been killed, because of the devilish envy, as at that time Bulgaria has been under the Ottoman turks and the founding of his holy relics has happened years after his martyrdom. But most probably the Venerable Sofronij  lived in the second half of the fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth century, by the second decade of which he must have suffered. This information about him is told to us by the Bulgarian writer and priest Father (the bulgarian word for which is Pop – stems from the greek word Papas (Father) Peyu. The same Pop Peyu has been also the author of the life of Saint George of Sofia the New not to be mistaken with Saint George the Newest from Sofia  who maryrdom suffered in year 1515 because of his unwillingless to accept the false Islamic faith.

© Lives of the Saints. Synodal Publishing House, Sofia, 1991, edited by Parthenius, Bishop of Lefkada and Archimandrite Dr. Athanasius (Bonchev) with minor inclusions of the article author Georgi Georgiev

Let by his holy prayers the Bulgarian homeland and especially the suffering in Ukraine and all people everywhere, finds more Peace, Love, Hope, Faith and Goodness