Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

26 October the Feast of Holy Great-Martyr Demetrius the Myroblyte known also as Demetrius of Thessaloniki

Tuesday, October 26th, 2021

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Bulgarian icon of Saint Demetrius

Every 26 of October in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and whole Bulgarian nation we honor deeply the memory of martyrdom of Saint Demetrius the Myroblyte (meaning 'the Myrrh-Gusher' or 'Myrrh-Streamer'; a term that stemmed from 3rd century – 306 y. the year of Maryrdom of this great saint. Saint Demetrius over the century has been one of the most venerated saints in the Eastern Orthodox Church and since the Christianization of Bulgaria his glory also spread quickly throughout the Bulgarian Empire lands.

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During the Middle Ages, he came to be revered as one of the most important Orthodox military saints, often paired with Saint George of Lydda and for that in many of the Orthodox Churches worldwide there are icons of the two saints painted together holding their warrior equipment spear, shield and sward .

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St. Demetrius (Dimitar in Bulgarian) feast day is 26 October for Eastern Orthodox Christians, which falls on 8 November for those following the old calendar. In the Roman Catholic church he is most commonly called "Demetrius of Sermium" and his memorial falls on 8 October, which seem to coincide with my Birthday 🙂

Demetrius was born to pious Christian parents in Thessaloniki, the Eastern Roman Empire region Macedonia in 270 (Macedonia has been part of the Bulgarian kingdom and Empire for many centuries).

According to the hagiographies, Demetrius was a young man of senatorial family who became proconsul of the Thessalonica district. He was run through with spears in around 306 AD in Thessaloniki, during the Christian persecutions of Galerian, which matches his depiction in the 7th century mosaics.

Most historical scholars follow the hypothesis put forward by Bollandist Hippolyte Delehaye (1859–1941), that his veneration was transferred from Sirmium when Thessaloniki replaced it as the main military base in the area in 441/442 AD. His very large church in Thessaloniki, the Hagios Demetrios, dates from the mid-5th century. Thessaloniki remained a centre of his veneration, and he is the patron saint of the city.

After the growth of his veneration as saint, the city of Thessaloniki suffered repeated attacks and sieges from the Slavic peoples who moved into the Balkans, and Demetrius was credited with many miraculous interventions to defend the city. Hence later traditions about Demetrius regard him as a soldier in the Roman army, and he came to be regarded as an important military martyr. Unsurprisingly, he was extremely popular in the Middle Ages. Disputes between Bohemond I of Antioch and Alexios I Komnenos appear to have resulted in Demetrius being appropriated as patron saint of crusading.

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Saint Demetrius Russian Icon

Demetrius was also venerated as patron of agriculture, peasants and shepherds in the Greek countryside during the Middle Ages. 

Most scholars still believe that for four centuries after his death, Demetrius had no physical relics, and in their place an unusual empty shrine called the "ciborium" was built inside Hagios Demetrios. What were purported to be his remains subsequently appeared in Thessaloniki, but the local archbishop John, who compiled the first book of the Miracles ca. 610, was publicly dismissive of their authenticity. The relics were assumed to be genuine after they started emitting a liquid and strong-scented myrrh. This gave Demeterius the epithet Myroblyte.

Saint Demetrius used to be a mayor of Thessaloniki and had been very educated for his time, the Roman empire ordered him to find and imprison, torture and eventually kill all Christians in the city who refuse to follow the paganic Roman religion. Being a brave in heart and a being a Christian himself, he refused to follow the unrighteous emperor decree and even on the contrary started to put special efforts for the raising of the Christian faith in the city. 

Despite this position in the still-pagan empire, he remained fervent in faith and works for Christ, encouraging many Christians to endure persecution and even bringing many pagans to the faith.

When Maximian returned from one of his campaigns to Thessaloniki, which he had made his capital, he had pagan games and sacrifices celebrated for his triumph. Demetrios was denounced by pagans who were envious of his success, and he was thrown into prison. While in prison he was visited by a young Christian named Nestor, who asked him for a blessing to engage in single combat with the giant Lyaios (or Lyaeus), who was posing as the champion of paganism. Demetrios gave his blessing and Nestor, against all odds. Nestor succeded to slew his opponent in the arena contrary to any expectations as Lyaios used to kill many, many christians on the circus arena, as David had once defeated Goliath. Saint Demetrius blesses Nestor but warned him he will have to endure a martyrdom after his defeat of Nestor which occured shortly after the defeath of Lyaios, Nestor was captured and martyred for Christ. Being raged out by the killing of Lyaios, the Romans send trooops and killed with spears saint Demetrius while he was praying in the prison.

According to some (Greek) hagiographic legend, as retold by Dimitry of Rostov in particular, Demetrius appeared in 1207 in the camp of tsar Kaloyan of with a lance and so killing him. This scene, known as Чудо о погибели царя Калояна ("the miracle of the destruction of tsar Kaloyan") became a popular element in the iconography of Demetrius. He is shown on horseback piercing the king with his spear, paralleling the iconography (and often shown alongside) of Saint George and the Dragon.


The reason of High veneration of Saint Demetrius in Bulgaria today ?
 

The godly life he led, together with his military virtues and martyrdom, led the people of Thessaloniki to declare him their saint-warrior and patron. According to the beliefs of the local centuries, the saint defended Thessaloniki, performing miracle after miracle, but in August 1185 something unheard of happened. The second richest and most important city in the empire after Constantinople was captured by the Normans and subjected to unprecedented looting. The Church of St. Dimitar was burned and the relics of the saint were scattered. The medieval Greek, who was inclined to seek God's intervention everywhere, was spiritually broken. The Romans saw the fall of Dimitrov as a punishment for their sinfulness. It is clear to them that St. Dimitar left them.

Meanwhile, in the north, the memories of the old Bulgarian kingdom were more than alive, and it became increasingly difficult for the Bulgarians to tolerate the Roman rule. The moment for a mass uprising was ripe. According to Nikita Honiat, there were three key events at the beginning of the uprising. The first concerned the desire of the brothers Peter and Assen (prominent Bulgarian boyars) to be included in the proniat lists of the empire and to receive a small landed estate at the foot of the Balkan Mountains. To this end, most likely in the autumn of 1185, they appeared in person before Emperor Isaac II Angel in Kipsela, just as he was preparing to march against the Normans who had conquered Thessaloniki. The refusal to comply with their demands provoked sharp resentment in the younger brother Assen, who personally threatened the emperor with rebellion. This unheard of behavior of the young boyar was punished with a slap.

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King Ivan Assen I (Tsar of Bulgaria 1187/1188–1196)

The second important event was the imposition of additional taxes on the livestock of the population on the occasion of the emperor's wedding to the Hungarian Princess Margaret. This led to the outbreak of strong and mass discontent among the population of Moesia. The two brothers knew very well what they were doing and used the mass discontent to make their threat a reality. However, the insults, material hardship and the presence of two brilliant leaders in the face of Assenevtsi were not enough for a revolt.

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Bulgarian Medieval Icon of Saint Demetrius the Myrrh-Bringer

The Bulgarians also had to receive a "divine" guarantee for their work. They believed that the Lord should show them that they were chosen and worthy of their freedom, that they not only could, but should take up arms against the Byzantine Vasilevs. And the sign was not late. On October 26, 1185, Assenevtsi, together with a large crowd, gathered in Tarnovo to consecrate the newly built church "St. Dimitar. Meanwhile, a miraculous icon of the saint appeared in the city. It was alleged that she had left Thessaloniki, conquered by the Normans, and found her home in the new temple of the Bulgarians.

The religious consciousness of the medieval Bulgarian interpreted this as a refusal of St. Dimitar to defend the Romans and a sacred guarantee that the saint will protect the Bulgarians in their cause for freedom. And indeed the old church in Thessaloniki had collapsed and plundered, the Romans were punished, the Empire was humiliated.

 

Those gathered in the church began to shout and call for the rejection of the yoke and for the restoration of the glory of the old kings. In this atmosphere of patriotic enthusiasm, the older brother, Todor (named Peter), placed a golden tiara on his head, put on a red cloak, and put on the purple shoes that only the Byzantine Vasilevs could wear. Thus, after 167 years of interruption of the throne of the Bulgarian kings, a Bulgarian ascended again. The coronation of Peter as king and the beginning of the great uprising of the Bulgarians was one of those moments in history when all accounts end and only faith gives the people the courage to take the hand outstretched by the uncertainty of the future and follow the path indicated by her, not knowing where he was taking her.

Niketa Choniates writes: “With such (divine) prophecies the whole nation was won for the cause and all raised their swords. And because their rebellion was successful from the very beginning, the Bulgarians believed even more that God had approved their freedom. "

At first, Isaac II Angel was unable to respond to the uprising, as he had to deal with the Normans and the usurper of Cyprus, Isaac I Komnenos. It was not until December 1185 that Vasilevs sent his uncle Sevastocrator John against the rebels. However, no battle took place because the Sevastocrator was recalled on suspicion of rebellion. At the head of the second army was Caesar John VI Kantakouzenos, who went to Hemus, but was defeated in a night attack by Assen-evtsi. The Bulgarians took the lives of most of the Roman army, and its commander managed to escape by abandoning the entire convoy. A third army of the great Byzantine general Alexy Branas was also sent, but it turned against the emperor and marched to Constantinople instead of Tarnovo.

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The Byzantine themes (or districts) of Bulgaria and Paristrion 

Paristrion – (Greek: Παρίστριον, lit. 'beside the Ister'), or Paradounabon/Paradounabis (αραδούναβον / Παραδούναβις), which is preferred in official documents, was a Byzantine province covering the southern bank of the Lower Danube (Moesia Inferior) in the 11th and 12th centuries.

It was not until 1186 that the emperor personally led a large army and decided to deal with the Bulgarians once and for all. His campaign forced the brothers to retreat across the Danube to their Kuman allies, and Isaac II Angel plundered Moesia and returned to Constantinople. According to the story of Nikita Honiat, the emperor was so arrogant of his success that he met with ridicule the reminder of Vasily II the Bulgarian assassin that the Bulgarians would revolt and that one day they would be liberated.

At that time, Assen's personality became more and more prominent, and he became the real leader of the rebellion. In the summer of 1186, the Assenevs crossed the Danube again, conquered the plain and set their goal to bring the endeavor to a successful conclusion. Niketa Choniates says:

"And then they returned to their homeland Moesia; finding the land abandoned by the Roman armies, they took on even greater confidence, leading their Cuman auxiliary detachments as if they were legions of demons. They did not simply want to secure their possessions and establish control over Moesia; They wanted to devastate the Roman territories and unite the political power of Moesia and Bulgaria in one empire as before. "

Isaac Angel's second campaign was not long in coming. In the autumn of 1186 he set out again against the two brothers, passing through the fortress of Beroe and heading for Serdica (today's Sofia), from where he intended to cross Hemus and attack Tarnovo. The winter of 1186, however, blocked the passages and forced the emperor to abandon his endeavor for another year. With the arrival of the spring of 1187, the Romans crossed the mountain and besieged the Lovech fortress. However, the Bulgarian troops offered unprecedented resistance and after a three-month siege Isaac II Angel had to ask for peace.

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The Church Saint Demetrius built by King Asen I in memoriam of great Miracles of Bulgarians victories over Byzantines
Church is located near the Tarnovo Fortress of Trapezica

The Church slavonic written sources tells how the brothers spread the word a patron saint of Thessaloniki – St. Demetrius, came to Tarnovo to help the Bulgarian people to be liberated…
 

Thus, most probably, the Lovech armistice was signed in front of the city walls, which de jure recognized the Bulgarian power north of the Balkans. The long road to freedom began on that distant St. Dimitrov's Day in 1185. he was finally walked away. St. Dimitar became the patron of the Asenevtsi dynasty and one of the most beloved Bulgarian saints, and the Bulgarians proved to the world that their pursuit of freedom is nothing but a great national feat, in which with a true understanding of the necessary and possible, with steady faith and unwavering energy in the design and implementation, the political and spiritual resurrection of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom was reached.


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Saint Demetrius Bulgarian icon year 1824

St. Demetrius is depicted on horseback spearing a man, not because he ever a killed a man but because he blessed Nestor to win over the Gladiator Lyaeus. The Church decided to commemory the memory and bravery of Saint Nestor who also confessed Christ in his martyrdom every on the next day after the memory of st. Demetrius is celebrated. Saint Nestor even today is celebrated in the Church calendar on 27-th of October.

In Bulgaria the veneration of saint Demetrius was of high esteem especially in the Second Bulgarian Empire and many churches and monasteries has been built around the country (counting at few hundred temples and monasteries) with him being their patron.

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Saint Demetrius Holy Relics in the St. Demetrius Church in Thessaloniki Greece (the white papers are names of people who ask for help from the saint)

Saint Demetrius is famous in Thessaloniki and highly venerated every year during his feast as he has been summoned by the Church to protect the city on multiple occasions which he did so far during pandemics such as the Black Death and during invasion of alien (non-Christian) nations.

It is mostly remarkable that every year during his feast day, a great miracle happens from the exact place where he was martyred (situated in the Church named after him), a myrrh with heavenly odor is streaming which is taken by believers for oilment and as a blessing carefully kept until the next year feast of the saint.
Because of the high amount of myrrh outflow a special pool was kept to keep the oilment sparring out of his holy relics.

As Saint Demetrius has helped multiple times to many of their saints as we know from history, especially in times of epidemies and pandemies like it is now let by his holy prayers those who venerate him and the people worldwide finds Healing and relief and an Enlightment and blessing from the light of Christ, just like Nestor found in his blessing !

Holy Martyr Demetrius of Thessaloniki pray the Lord for us the sinners !!!

19 October Saint John of Rila Тhe Wonderworker – A little known Hermit saint of Great importance and fervent prayer intercessor for humanity

Wednesday, October 20th, 2021

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I've already blogged a number of times articles of Saint John of Rila as he is The Greatest venerated Bulgarian Saint as of today his birthplace nearby today's Ruen Monastery as well as my inspiration from the Night Vigil prayer gatherings in the Monastery in his Memoriam in German. But I'm pretty sure this spiritual giant  is under estimated and little known to the public not only the non-bulgarian English speakers but even to Bulgarian and the saint deserves much greater veneration and honour than it has received through the ages for the fact he has been among the greatest prayer intercessors for the world until the beginning of ages.

For his immerse hermit achievements in a similar way as Saint Anthony the Great he has been granted All the innumerous Gifts of The Holy Spirit.
The humble hermit even in his life time he has been defined as "Angel in flesh" and a "Citizen of heaven".
The life of Saint John has been a X-th century continuation of the life of Saint Simeon the Stylites and Saint Simeon Stylites the Younger attempted to be repeated as far as possible by more contemporary saints such as Saint Siluan the Athonite.
 

He has been a teacher (even though he ran away from people) all his life. He has been the major establisher of Monasticism in Bulgaria, 

In 18 of August year 946 Anno Dommini saint John has departed this world. Dying with a painless way called in Church language with the term Dormition or Assumption – (meeling he did not felt any kind of fleshly pain as normally one goes through when he ends his life unsanctified). His Dormition  in a similar way as The Mother of God (Theotokos), an end of life who has been granted throughout human history only to few other saints.

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Saint John who spend his hermit lifetime in Mountain of Rila was born circa y. 876 AD and passed away to Christ on August 18, 946 A.D.
Thirthy four years after his dormition, he appeared in a dream to his pupils and has commanded them to dig out his incorruptable body and move it to in Sredetz (today the city of Sofia capital of Bulgaria). In Sredetz the holy relics of the saint has been kept in honour for 200 years.

Saint John has been a contemporary to Saint King Boris I the Baptizer of Bulgaria, King Simeon the Great (Son of King Boris, who raised Bulgaria to Empire reaching to 3 Oceans, who has been one of the largest empires of All times) and King Petar (Peter) the First. His glory as a Wonderworker who has been desired to been seen by many to receive physical healing or spiritual advice has been mostly through the rule of King Petar I (927 – 969). In Medieval times the Glory of Saint John of Rila has been widely known throughout all the Christianized Lands (including Byzantine Empire) and the West in the Catholic Church. The implication of his importance as a medieval healer saint and a model for hermit life and saintship and image for truthful spiritual life is well seen as his Biography (Living) is seen as he has about 15 Known different livings saying varyious details about his lifetime written in different centuries in Old Bulgarian Language and in Middle centuries in the new transformed form of Old Bulgarian writting called Church Slavonic, where saint has been simply adressed by monk name Ioan (John).

According to his biography we found until the age of 25 Saint John has been a simple shepherd. Until the yough age in his heart John had the burning love in his heart and a desire to dedicate himself completely to God. When his parents has passed away, he gave away all his received inheritance to the poor and sick people and entered as a aprentice in the monastery of today Boboshevski Saint Dimitar under the Ruen Monastery in the Mountain of Vlahina.

There in he received a Theological education, studied the liturgical books, received a spiritual dignity and prepared himself for the great spiritual mission of hermitage and life long prayer for the world. Receiving the monks schima, he gave away completely to fasting and prayer, initially establishing himself in Vitosha Mountain (most likely in today Monastery of German Monastery St. John of Rila (convent of Mount Athos Monastery of Zograph) nearby Sofia

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St. John of Rila Wall Painting XIV century from the Church Zemen Monastery Saint John the Theologian

In German Monastery often times the ancient Christian tradition of Night Vigil is followed on hist feast Major Christian feasts even today.
Later he has been for a while in the small Village  "Dobarsko" near The Europe Famous Resort of Bansko.
A short after 20 km of Dobarsko he has established The Most Famous Monastery for the Balkans, the Rila Monastery, a pivotal place whose light has shined upon practically all parts of the land as it become a school for tens of thousands hundred monks throughout the last 20 centuries. Many manuscript works prepared in Rila Monastery has been later on transferred in Today Ukraine, Russia, Serbia, Greece and even the Western Catholic lands.
There is no exact place in history when Saint John was officially canonized as in Medival Times, saints did not go through an official canonization but has been testified by the multitudes of peoples who has been cured by their wonder-working prayers. By the prayers of Saint John many has been able to conceive childs, leppers get cured and could walk, eye diseases were healed, full health has been restored or the gift of faith has been giving, not to mention the multitudes of people who came to Christian faith thanks to the prayers of St. John.

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King Petar I-st meets the Hermit Holy Father John of Rila (Wall Painting)

The story of the powerful medieval Bulgarian ruler Peter the First who travelled 450 Kilometers only to see the saint is well known. Travelling about 450 kilometers from the capital of Bulgaria Veliki Preslav to the Cave of Saint John of Rila only to meet him.

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The Cave of Saint John of Rila Cave exit

The monk however refused to meet him due to his immerse humility, where King Peter I-st was able to talk in a long distance via a valley with the saint, offering him gold and fruits. St. John refused to receive the king's gold, as he said he did not left the world and everyhing to it to attain gold or anything but to save his soul. He received the fruits not wanting to insult the king. Many people who deserved to learn a true monasticism and ascetism has quickly reached the saint and asked them to create a monastic brotherhood and wanting to be useful his poor brothers and having revelation of God that it is the will of God to establish the monsatery he accepted and become the first Abbot of Rila Monastery.

He passed to the Savior Christ about in year on 18 of August 946 AD being aged about 70 years old he has been buried in the Church porch in a stone tomb, preserved even today.

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Saint John Giving his Written Testament to his Monks (The Testament is Famous for the quote "I beg you children to mostly fear from the snake of avarice which is the root of all evils".


Until his death he has departed from the brotherhood in complete solitude and wrote his famous "Testament".  The Testament of Saint John of Rila he left for his pupils on 25 of March on the feast of the Annunciation in year 941. The text of the Saint John Testament is preserved in a copy manuscripts dated from the XVIII and XIX century and contains a multitude of quotes from The Scriptures of Old and New Testament

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The Living of Saint John of Rila


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A little known fact is that the Russian All Famous Saint Father John of Kronstadt (also a wonderworker) (Ivan Ilyich Sergiyev, born: 31 October [O.S. 19 October] 1829 + Passed to Christ: 2 January 1909 [O.S. 20 December 1908]) has received his Baptizmal name after Saint John of Rila as he has been born on his feast day and his parents following the Russian tradition to name the baby after the Saint honour in the Church Calendar gave the name John of St. John of Kronstadt. St. John of Kronstadt deeply venerated Saint John of Rila and asked his prayer intercession alway until his life time.
​In 1900, Father John established the women's monastery of Ioannovsky Convent, named for his name patron John of Rila, as a branch of the Sura Monastery of St. John the Theologian, where he was later also buried.

Recognition of Saint John of Rila Holiness shortly after his death


After his death in y. 946, st John has been buried nearby the established by him Holy Rila Convent, shortly after King Peter I-st ordered to be transferred to Sredetz (Sofia). Most likely this can be considered for original date of canonization of the saint. About y. 989 – 992 y. his holy relics has been transferred by King Samul and then Patriarch German-Gabvril (German-Gabriel) in Sredetz. This happened on 19 of October and since then on this date is venerated his bright memory.
Initially his holy relics has been kept for venerateion in the Church of "Saint Great Martyr Georgi the Glorybringer" and later on moved to Church of "Saint Apostle and Evangelist Luke". In the XII century in his honour the Church of "Saint Luka (Saint Luke)" was built near which a monastery has been established. The Byzantine writter Ioannis Skylitzes / John Skylitzes testifies that in Sredetz the Holy Relics of Saint John has miraculously cured emperor Manuel I Komnenos.

In 1183 during the consequential Hungarian-Byzantine war, the Hungarian King Bela III of Hungar conquered Sredetz and moved the holy relics of Saint John in his capitzal Estergom today the Komárom-Esztergom County. According to tradition the local Roman Catholic archibishop declared he has not been aware for the existence of a saint John of Rila and because of his words the saint has punished him with immediate numbness. Once he venerated the holy relics of the reliquary and begged for forgiveness, his speech was recovered. Amazed and worried about this miracle, in year 1187 hungarians transferred back the holy relics of the saint to Tarnovo? Bulgaria.

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The Return of the Holy Relics of St. John to Trnovo Bulgaria

On 1st of June the Church celebrates the return of the holy relics of saint John of Rila from Tarnovo to Rila monastery. In 1195 Bulgarian king Ivan Asen the First solemnly transferred the Holy relics once again to Tarnovo in the church still being built St. 40 Martyrs (dedicated to 40 Martyrs of Nikomidia). Until the church was completed the holy relics has been kept on Krastec Peak, now the place has a small chapel in honour of St. John of Rila The Wonderworker".

In 1469 year Bulgaria is already invaded by the Ottoman Turks, thus  after a permission from the Sultan, the monks of Rila convent brought the holy relics of the saint from Veliko Tarnovo to his established Rila Monastery, where holy relics are kept to this date and where anyone who needs a spiritual fortification, restorement of health, or suffering from unclean spirits (devils) could ask with faith and hope for healing for the saint and wait for the miracle.
I myself have had the chance to meet a man who has being to a Night Vigil to Rila monastery and testified that he and his life both being in his old age of fifties after not being able to have kids and trying out everything has asked the saint during a night vigil to pray for them to able to conceive a child and the saint heard their prayers and granted them a kid and she conceived right after that and brought to the earth after 9 months a very healthy and lively baby 🙂

Another modern miracle I'm personally aware of made by Saint John is the Gift of Faith in God which was granted to a Greek architect, I've personally met while being on a pilgrimage visit to Holy Mount Athos. The Greek shared that he had never been a believed in God and was a grown atheist, until he had a work duty to do some reconstruction restoration works in Bulgarian Rila monastery. Spending a few months as part of his business-trip duties, he has received the gift of faith. I've met the Greek (unfortunately no longer remember his name), nearby the monastery of Xenophontos.

 

The troparion of our rev. father John of Rila, tone 1

A foundation of the repentance, an example of the tenderness,
a model of the consolation and of the spiritual perfection,
oh Reverend Father, was your equal to the Angels life therefore
staying in prayers and fasts and in tears
pray to the Christ God for our souls.


Today the holy relics are miraculously still incorruptable and emit a specific nice odor  which is typical for many of other saints, a testify to the unbelievers for their saintship. The saints relics in a special reliquarium in the right corner behind the iconostasis icons. The right hand of the saint is kept in nun convent in Island of Tinos Greece and the story how it ended there is a worthy for a small pamphlet and I'll try to say few words on that in some of the next posts.

Let by the Holy Prayers of Saint John of Rila our Home Land Bulgaria and all Countries are granted more Peace, Love, Faith and Kindness and relief from the terrible diseases that are plaguing the world today !

Holy Father John of Rila Pray the mercyful Lord Jesus with All the Saints and The Most Holy Theotokos to save our Souls and grant mercies to us the sinners !

Saint protector of the Family and The receipt of Saint Petka Tarnovska by King Asen II story

Thursday, October 14th, 2021

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In these hazy and confused times where the family as institution is failing and it is becoming more and more modern for people to live together without official Civil marriages count are steadily declining not to mention that the Church marriages no matter whether it is a Protestant, Roman Catholic is very rare thing. The attack against families is multi-vector one, it is descredited and being pranked on the TV in movies and serials, in the press. Many of the bad sides of marriage are exposed as well as the incapabilities of any traditional marriage to respond to the modern challenges of the world and hence many choose to not marry. But originally God created man to live in a family Adam and Eve were the first marital couple (even though they did not officially binded it on paper) in the municipality or the Church. Of course there situation was slightly different than today as they were the only couple in the beginning when God created man one would say. But even after that through the Ages Marriage and fidelity that stems out of it has been considered normal. However today normality is being pranked and abnormality is being enforced from all sides. 
As the topic of family does directly concern me as I have a family I thought therefore it is useful to mention again today about the feast of Saint Petka Epivatska (Epivates) famous as Saint Petka of Tarnovo who is considered in our Eastern Orthodox Christian countries as a protectress of family.

The reason why we venerate saint Petka here in Bulgaria is because here holy relics has stayed in Tarnovo for almost 2 Centuries and being in Bulgaria, they have worked many miracles, many of which were done over a family husbands and wifes who had their usual trials, like infertility, problems in family, quarrels etc.
For being famous for that miracles she has been invoked for centuries worldwide by believing Christians for help on their family trials.

Below is shortly the history of how St. Petka Epivatska, holy relics were transferred to Tarnovo and the multiple transfers of her relics until she finally choose to reside in Iash Romania.
 

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The reception of Holy Relics of Saint Petka Paraskeva in medieval Capital of Bulgaia Tarnovo

In 1230 King Ivan Asen II the most powerful South-eastern European ruler demanded from the the Knights of the Crusaders to submit him her holy relics who are found still in Tracian city Kaliakratea ruled at that time by the Holy Latin Empire. King Ivan Asen II together with the patriach Joachim the first receives her holy relics with honor and settles her incorruptabilities into the newly creates Church in honour of herself St. Petka behind Tsarevets FortressSaint Petka became from that point considered as a protectress of the city, the throne and the country.
Her holy relics arrived from Kallikrateia in Tarnovo, the Capital of Second Bulgarian Empire in year 1230 AD, she has been thus called Paraskeva of Tarnovo and has been venerated as a protectress of the Tarnovo city the Bulgarian nation and the country. The attitude towards Saint Petka Tarnovska as a protectress of Bulgarian nation and contry is been clearly seen by the mention in the Bulgarian and International acts (documents) and manuscripts of that XII – XII century.

To learn more about Saint Petka  Parskeva Epivates of Thrakia feast day today 14 of October check my previous article here.

Let by the Holy Prayers of Saint Petka the Families be granted grace to endure the hardships of life! Saint Petka pray Christ for us!

The Dormition of Virgin Mary the Mother of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Eastern Orthodox Church view and few words on feast origin

Tuesday, August 17th, 2021

Dormition-of-Mother-of-God-Koimesis_Greek_Mosaic_at_Chora_Church_Constantinople

Dormition of the Mother of God is a feast highly venerated in both Eastern Orthodox Churches as well as Oriental Orthodox Churches (The Coptic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church which venerated the feast not on a fixed date), whether the rest of Orthodox world do celebrate on 15 of August the Dormition of the Mother of God. The so called old calendar Churches do celebrate the feast on 28 of August as the old church calendar coincides with this date on the public national calendar the countries use nowadays, whether some of the Churches such as our Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the Romanian Orthodox Church as well the Greek orthodox Church do celebarete on 15 of August.

Dormition_de_la_Vierge-stone-icon

 

The feast is one of the major Church feasts also in Western Roman Cathic church world known as the Assumption of Mary. The way the feast is venerated varyies, but it is important to say this feast is "The Summer Easter of the Church". In the ancient times the feast has been preceded in the Church by two fastings one for the Transfiguration of God Lord Jesus Christ that was venerated on 6th of August and one week fast preceding the Dormition or the Sleeping like death called in Church Slavonic Uspenie (falling asleep) that the Mother of God experineced before her righteous Soul passed to the Lord Jesus Christ. The painless death of the Mother of God has occured according to the Byzantine author Hypollitos of Thebes who lived in VIII centuryin 41 A.D., 11 years after Jesus's Crucifix and Glorious Resurrection.

Dormition_of_the_Mother_of_God_Bulgarian-icon-from_year-1893

Bulgarian icon from year 1893

The Dormition term expresses the Church belief that Virgin Mary on her death bed has been in a completely peaceful state of the Soul that and did not suffered the terrible pains of death and division of soul and body that each of us the sinners faces because of her extraordinary righteousness and as a blessing of Christ for the ever Virgin, because of her humility and life lived in service of God, and poor and every of her near sides and for her unceasing prayer for the world that she attained even during her earthly life time. The belief of Dormition is not a Bible found doctrine but a Church tradiiton and due to that protestant do not consider it as of a high value but we orthodox firmly believe this was not mention in the bible, because the Mother of God herself unwillingness for glory because she found unworthy compared to the great miracles life, suffering and salvationory plan Jesus completed. The dormition of Mother of God is found in many of Apocryphal writtings which never become official part of the Church canon.

In the language of the scripture, death is often called a "sleeping" or "falling asleep" (Greek κοίμησις; whence κοιμητήριον > coemetērium > cemetery, "a place of sleeping"). A prominent example of this is the name of this feast; another is the Dormition of Anna, Mary's mother.

The first Christian centuries may be silent, but "The Dormition/Assumption of Mary" appears in a Greek document (attributed to John the Theologian) edited by Tischendorf published in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, dated by Tischendorf as no later than the 4th century. Then there is the apocryphal literature such as the Protoevangelium of James, regarding the end of the Virgin Mary's life, though it is asserted, without surviving documentation, that the feast of the Dormition was being observed in Jerusalem shortly after the Council of Ephesus.

Gracanica_Monastery_Serbia-Dormition-of-The-Mother-of-God-Virgin_Mary

Dormition of the Mother of God, fresco from Gračanica, c. 1321. (See also:Palaiologian Renaissance)

Before the 4th-5th century Dormition was not celebrated among the Christians as a holy day and earlier it was perhaps not celebrated because the Church did not have time to celebrate too much of special feasts, as there was the era of heretics and gnostics from 1st –  2nd centuries which give birth to multiple heresies and the era of persecution that ended just about the 4th century. Only then the Church posessing freedom in the world could review its belief and clearly define the faith as earlier both Bishops (the apostle successors as the layman) was mostly busy with each one keeping their own faith instead of clearly documenting or giving separate feasts, until the 4th century many of the Church feasts of the martyr saints were still not recognized and known in the "Universal" Church around the world, because travelling was not so common as nowadays and each local established church by apostles strives to keep their faith in Christ and not clear up Church dogmas (this gave raise of course to the VII ecumenical councels who followed from 3rd to 8 centuries.).
 

Epiphanius of Salamis who become bishop of Salamis toda's Cypros (circa 310/20 – 403), a Jew by birth, born in Phoenicia, converted to Christianity in adulthood and lived as a monk for over 20 years in Palestine from 335–340 to 362, writes in "Panarion" (his book on Herisology) in "Contra antidicomarianitas" about the death of the Virgin Mary the following:

 

"If any think am mistaken, moreover, let them search through the scriptures any neither find Mary's death, nor whether or not she died, nor whether or not she was buried—even though John surely travelled throughout Asia. And yet, nowhere does he say that he took the holy Virgin with him. Scripture simply kept silence because of the overwhelming wonder, not to throw men's minds into consternation. For I dare not say—though I have my suspicions, I keep silent. Perhaps, just as her death is not to be found, so I may have found some traces of the holy and blessed Virgin. …The holy virgin may have died and been buried—her falling asleep was with honour, her death in purity, her crown in virginity. Or she may have been put to death—as the scripture says, 'And a sword shall pierce through her soul'—her fame is among the martyrs and her holy body, by which light rose on the world, [rests] amid blessings. Or she may have remained alive, for God is not incapable of doing whatever he wills. No one knows her end. But we must not honour the saints to excess; we must honour their Master. It is time for the error of those who have gone astray to cease."


Saint Ambrosius of Milan ( Mediolan ) in 4th century says:

"Neither the letter of Scripture nor Tradition does not teach us that Mary had left this life as a consequence of suffering from bodily ulcers." pointing to her sufferless sleep like death.

Holy_Mother-of-God-Arbanasi-Monastery-three-handed-Troeruchica-Miracle-Making-icon-Bulgaria-Great_Tarnovo

The famous icon Holy Mother of God Three-handed (Troeruchica) Arbanasi Monastery of the Dormition of Mother of God near medieval capital of Bulgaria Veliko Tarnovo

Our Orthodox Church specifically holds,teaching that Mary died a natural death, like any human being; that her soul was received by Christ upon death; and that her body was resurrect on the third day after her repose, at which time she was taken up, bodily only, into heaven when the apostles, miraculously transported from the ends of the earth, found her tomb to be empty. The specific belief of us Orthodox is expressed in their liturgical texts used at the feast of the Dormition.

Mount-Olives-Marys-burial-tomb-entrane-to-tombThe rock-cut Tomb of Virgin Mary and its entrance, its front side covered in icons; eastern apse of the crypt


The holy body that was taken in Heaven after the Virgin's resurrection 3 days after her Dormition has been originally placed after the burial procession in 41 A.D. in the Church of the Sepulchre of Saint Mary, also known as the Tomb of the Virgin Mary (Hebrew: קבר מרים‎; Greek: Τάφος της Παναγίας) it is located (identified) by historians in the Kidron Valley – at the foot of Mount of Olives, in Jerusalem.

The-stone-bench-on-which-Virgin-Marys-most-pure-body-was-laid-out-Jerusalem-mary-sarcophagusThe stone bench on which the most pure body of the Virgin Mary (Theotokos) has been laid out

 

Let by the Holy Prayers of The Virgin Mary Theotokos, we find grace and God grants mercy upon anyone in torture, in fear in bitterness and sorrows, in weakness and sickness, to all broken-hearted, to all the leppers and mind sick and who lay on the death beds be granted with a painless death similar to hers.

Let the Mother of God keep and protect the Holy Land of Bulgaria and All The Orthodox Lands and the rest of lands, villages, cities and all inhabitants on earth !!! AMEN

 

Last day after the great Christian Orthodox feast The Dormition of the Thetokos (sending the feast away the feast)

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Uspenie Bogorodichno, The Dormtion of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary

On 15th of August we celebrated in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, as well as the other Orthodox Churches around the world, the celebration of the Great Feast commemorating the "falling asleep" e.g. physical death of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary)

We believe in the Orthodox Church that on this date the Mother of God Virgin Mary has passed away. The church tradition says that on that date it's our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ himself that come from heaven to gather her soul.
We use to say that Virgin Mary has fall asleep because her physical death happened without any pain or suffering.
God bestowed Our Lady with such a death because of her humility and sinless life she choose to left while being on Earth.

The Church tradition also teaches that her bodily resurrection occured in a close similarity to Christs by Christ himself and she resurrected in the body was taken up to heaven after her death. The two weeks before dormition of the Theotokos occurs are being preceded by a two weeks fasting period. The dormition fast is one of the strictest fasts in the Church life, it's one of the 4 major fasts periods that occur within the Church life every the year. It's an interesting fast that a little while before Virgin's Mary "fall asleep", she has prayed to her son and our God Jesus Christ to let her see the Holy Apostles once again.
The Lord heard her prayer as she is the most venerable among the ones who lived in this earth and in a miraculous way transported the St. Apostles in the house of St. apostol John where the Theotokos was living. All the apostles were transported to see Virgin Mary except st. Apostol Thomas whose transport has been delayed a bit. He is been said to have arrived three days after her death, when he asked the other apostoles to see her grave so that he could bid her good bye, when all the 12 apostles went to Mother of God's grave they found no body and a sweet fragrance was filling the tomb air. As I said earlier Christ has taken her body to reunite it with the soul he had accepted 3 days earlier. Therefore theology teaches that Virgin Mary has undergone the second resurrection already, a resurrection that is about to come for all who currently abide at this earth with the Second Coming of Christ

An spiritual elder and a brother and Christ has mentioned to me that it is the sending away of the feast which apparently which's commemoration lasts for 8 days, quite an interesting fact I decided to share herein

A good account about the Dormition of the Holy Theotokos is found here and I suggest you read it up if you have some time.

There is another reason that the feast is so venerated it's being said by many people that Virgin Mary the mother of God blesses abundantly and protects everybody who keeps the fast before the feast of her Dormition.

Another practice within the Church is that flowers are being blessed on the date of the Dormition of Virgin Mary. In some Churches even there is a special shroud depicting the Theotokos's sleeping body after her death.
I've been to an interesting Liturgy where the Shroud or (Plashtenica) as better known in the Slavonic Eastern Orthodox world is being placed and is exhibited for a veneration of the layman and Church clergy. On the third day similarly to the resurrection of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ this Plashtenica is being put away by the priest in order to show off that the body of the Mother of God was taken to heaven and has miraculously been resurrected and taken to heaven by God.

In Bulgaria the feast is known under the name Uspenie Bogorodichno – "The Dormition of the Theotokos". Uspenie derives from old slavonic and literally translated means "falling asleep".

Let the Holy Mother of God pray her son and our God Jesus Christ to have mercy on us the sinners.

7th of July The Feast of Saint Nedelya Kyriakia one of the most honored woman saints in Bulgarian Orthodox Church and few words of the history of Sofia Second biggest Cathedral Church St. Nedelya

Thursday, July 8th, 2021

Saint_nedelja_(kyriaki)_bulgarian_icon_19th-century

Saint Nedelya is a major Cathedral in Sofia Bulgaria dedicated to an early Christian saint Kyriaki (martyred year 289 AD). It is is a second biggest Cathedral Church in Bulgaria and a place where they serve the Holy Liturgy daily. The Patriarch and most notable spiritual leaders of the Bulgarian orthodox church do hold services there regularly.

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Coffin with Holy Relics of Saint Stephan Urosh II Milutin in the St Nedelya Sofia Church right corner near alter wall

Saint Nedelya Church  is a beautiful peace of Christian art the Church is also known in XX-th century as Holy King (because the incorruptable Holy Relics of Sebian King Saint Stephan Urosh II ( Milutin ) are found in the Church).

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Saint Nedelya Icon Arapovski Monastery Bulgaria

The fact that Saint Nedelya is the second Church by spiritual importance for Bulgaria is not a coincidence and this is related to the high veneration of saint martyr Nedelya (Kyriakia) Bulgarians had for the saint through the years especially in the Second Bulgarian kingdom during the reigh of King Asen's Dynasty (12-th 13-th century). The incorruptable Holy relics of the saint Kyriakia has been transferred to Trnovo (Tarnovo) the capital of Bulgaria at that time by saint Patriarch Euthymius (Evtimij) of Tarnovo (who was the last patriarch head of Bulgarian Orthodox Church during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, right  before the fall of Bulgaria under the Turkish slavery (Yoke).
 

Saint Martyr Nedelya ( Kyriakia) died in July 7th 289 A.D.

Saint_Nedela_Kyriaki_Icon_by_Dicho_Zograf_in_Saint_Kyriaki_Church_in_Debrene_1844

Saint Nedelya Debrene Church iconographer Dicho Zograph from year 1844

Inspired by the great deed and the great grace received by receiving the incorruptable relics of the saint, saint Euthymius wrote a glorofication called "Praise to the Holy Great Martyr (Nedelya)". The Nedelya word meaning in Bulgarian Language is Sunday and is a literal translation from Greek's Kyriaky.

St_Kyriaki_Church_-Constantinople-crop

Saint Kyriaky dedicated Church, Istanbul Turkey

The veneration for saint Kyriaky has been quite common in medieval times one of the major Churches in Constantinople (today Istanbul) is dedicated also to saint Kyriaki.

According to Church tradition described by patriarch Evtimij, we know saint Nedelya has been born in Asia Minor and has been a child who has been long awaited kid that was gifted by God. Saint Kyriaki's was born in responce to her parents Dorotheus and Eusebia many fervent beseach prayers begging for a kid that will help Christ's salvation plan for the mankind.

 She was brought up in the truths of Christ from an early age.

At a very young age, she decided to dedicate her life to God. She happened to live at the time before Saint Constantine The Great when still the ligth of Christianity did not yet overcome the false believes of paganism in the time of the peresuction by emperor Diocletian. This was the time of persecution against Christian confessors and brutal violence against Christians – they were persecuted, imprisoned, exiled or forced to renounce their faith. Nedelya was thrown into prison and tortured, and her parents were exiled to the town of Miletin. The miraculous healing of her wounds, as well as her refusal to worship pagan idols, led the authorities to sentence her to death as they believed she is doing her wonderful healing by some strange whichcraft.

Kyriaki was tortured again by Apollonius, the successor of Hilarion. She was thrown into a fire, but the flames were extinguished, and then to wild beasts, but they became tame and gentle. Apollonius then sentenced her to death by the sword. As she was given a little time to pray, she asked God to receive her soul and to remember those who honoured her martyrdom. Upon completing her prayer, she rendered her soul to God before the sword was lowered on her head. Pious Christians took her relics and buried them. At the time of her death, she was 21 years old.[

At her place of death, after prayer, Sunday surrendered her spirit to God before the sentence is carried out exactly on her feast date (July 7, 289). For early Christians the day of death or martyrdom was considered the date of the real birthday for eternal life in heve. Nedelya died at the age of 22, as saint Patriarch Euthymius of Trnovo writes, "Dying in a short time, she fulfilled long years, because her Lord's soul was satisfied, purity – great enough, feats enough …"

The Second Biggest Bulgarian Cathedral is dedicated to saint Nedelya

Sveta-Nedelia-Monolithic-second-biggest-Cathedral-in-Bulgaria

Saint Nedelya Church, Sofia – Capital of Bulgaria

As many of the Churches in Bulgaria the history of Saint Nedelya's Church in Capital of Bulgaria, Sofia  goes back to distant X-th century and as many of the Churches of the time was most lilely laying on a stones and built of wood as Churches used to be built of that time. Today's architecture of the Church is of the XIX century.

St_Nedela_Cathedral_Old_Church_in_Sofia_Bulgaria_September_2005-pic

The church became famous during the assassination attempt by Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP / BKP) on April 16, 1925 during the funeral of General Konstantin Georgiev, when it was destroyed. Then on this sad date for the Bulgarian history, 193 people mainly from the country's political and military elite were killed and about 500  bystander believers, who attended the liturgy were injured. The assault was perhaps the worst terrorist act in the history of Bulgaria, and at that time in the world. The aim of the temple blowing assault was to kill King Boris III, who was not in the Church at the time because he was slightly late for the service by the providence.

After this bloody terrorist act of the Bulgarian Communist Party, the church board of trustees assigned the architectural bureau "Vasilyov – Tsolov" (architect Ivan Vasilyov and architect Dimitar Tsolov) the restoration of the church. Renovation began in June 1927. By the spring of 1933, an almost new, huge central-domed temple was built with a length of 30 meters, a width of 15.50 meters and a height of the dome of 31 meters. The surviving two-row gilded iconostasis has been returned to the temple.

The church was solemnly consecrated again on April 7, 1933. The fresco decoration was made from 1971 to 1973 by an artistic team led by Nikolai Rostovtsev. Around 2015, the Church iconography has been fully restored and is amazingly beautiful worthy to see, if you happen to visit Bulgaria.

The names of the Twelve apostles of Christ – Feast of the Twelve Glorious and Primal Apostles in Eastern Orthodox Church (30th of June)

Wednesday, June 30th, 2021

Roman_Domitilla-Katakomben_Fresko__Christus_und_die_12_Apostel__und_Christussymbol__Chi_Rho__1
Jesus and his Twelve Apostles, fresco with the Chi-Rho symbol ☧, Catacombs of Domitilla, Rome

One day after the June 29 the Feast of The Glorious and First among Apostles Peter and Paul  on 30th of June according to so called new calendar in the Eastern Orthodox Church comes, the remembrace of Feast of the gathering of 12 Glorious apostles (Σύναξη των Αγίων Δώδεκα Αποστόλων).

Simon_ushakov_last_supper_1685

The Secret Supper (Christ and the 12 Apostles iconographer Simon Ushakov y. 1685 (Jude the Iscariot the traitor without a halo)

"The names of the 12 Holy Apostles are: Simon (called Peter), Andrew his brother, Jacob the Zabedee and John his brother, Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Mathew (tax collectors), James, son of Alphaeus and Levi called (Thadeus), Simon The Canonite and Jude the Iscariot who has betrayed Christ"

(Gospel of Mathew 10:2-4)

 

13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14 Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

(Luke 6:13-16)

15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)

16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.

17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.

18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.

19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.

20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.

21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, (Acts 1:15-26)

Synaxis_of_the_Twelve_Apostles_by_Constantinople_master_early_14th_circa_Pushkin_museum

The Synaxis of the Twelve Apostles. Russian, 14th century, Moscow Museum.

"Jesus had other desciples as well that were seventeen and other circles of desciples around each of the pupils, however they have alwasys been considered less venerable as they did not been so close to Christ and did not understand so well the mysterios of Christ's teaching and did not persevere as mcuh as the twelve and the seventeen of desciples. Those had been been distinguished among the King, those who have been the closest people to the Teacher" (Saint John Chrysostomos)

In Constantinople Saint King Constantine ( y. 274 – 337 ), has built a famous Church dedicated to the 12 Apostles. In historian documents there is data for a first time the feast is celebrated in the V-th century.

While the memory of each apostle has a separate day in the Church calendar yearly circle, they 12 apostles are sharing the same honor, because the Holy Scriptures and the Tradition glorifious their high efforts for building the Church on top of the corner stone that is Jesus Christ himsef and for their perseverance to accept martyrdom for Christ, thus to accent this they're is this special feast the Gathering of the 12 Glorious Apostles on 30th of June. As the Holy Scriptures says they're a friends of God (John 15:14), and when the Son of Man (Jesus) sits on the glory of his power, they all are to sit on 12 thrones, to judge the 12 Hebrew tribes (Mathew 19:28). 

In first centuries the Church has been feasting all the apostles together, Later she has included saint Apostle Paul, again the full list of names of the apostles are as follows:

1. Saint Apostle Peter the First Called (commemorated 29 June and 16 of January)

2. Saint apostle Andrew the First Called – as has been called by Christ together with Peter (30 November)

3.  Saint Jacob the Zebedee (30 April)

4. Saint Apostle John the Zebedee – the evangelist (26 September and 8 May)

5. Saint Apostle Philip (14 November)

6. Saint apostle Bartholomew or Nathanael (11 June and 25 August)

7. Saint apostle Thomas (6 October)

8. Saint apostle Mathew – evangelist (16 November)

9. Saint Apostle Jacob – son of Alpheus 9 October)

10. Saint Apostle Jude – fleshly brother of Christ (son of Joseph), called also Thadeus and Levi (19 June)

11. Saint Apostle Mathew (Mathias) (9 August)

12. Saint Apostle Paul  (Paul of Tarsus) (29 June)

The Church books define the feast day as the "Gathering of the Twelve", because this number of 12 apostles is initial and depics Christ essence of Completeness (as he is All in everything) Mathew (10:1-5)

 

Pentecost the Birthday of the Church and the receival of the Gifts of Holy Spirit of Faith, Hope, Love for the Mankind

Saturday, June 19th, 2021

For one more year it is Pentecost 50 days after the celebrated Easter (Resurrection of Christ), we celebrate the feast that marked the birth of the Church as a Body of Christ that is binding all its members us the ordinary people who are baptized in the Name of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.

Pentecost is a day of mystery that turned human history, as the same Spirit who was in Christ and has been in the Father in the Holy Trinity has descended from Heaven sent as a helper to each and every believer in Christ to strenghten and guide him in his narrow path to the Kingdom of Heaven and the Eternal salvation promised by the Savior Christ.

There is many books written about Pentecost but no book or intellectual thought is capable to transpond one's experience of receiving the Holy Spirit in the Soul and Heat of man. This glorious event is experienced by every Christian during baptism and the following Mystery of Chrismation when the Priest baptizes a new member in the name of God and is experienced, by us in the mystery of repentence when crying for our bad deeds and transgressions of the law of God, we cry in sorrow to God asking for forgiveness and renewal. The descent of the Holy Spirit over us is supernatural event that put the beginning of the contemporary understanding in our contemporary civillization of supernaturality and the realm of spirits as we understand them today where the Spirit of God is over all things.

On Pentecost it is the Holy Spirit who descended towards the Holy Apostles giving them the Super natural powers to Heal The Sick, Prophecise, speak in all human tongues, chase away evil spirits and do multitude of unseen wonderworks in human history that are continuing even to this day in the Church. The Holy Spirit has gifted all Church members with the gifts of the Spirit of Faith, Hope and Love, Endurance, Manhood, and all the virtues of man that were in Christ not because of a human effort but for the Love of God for man.
The abiding of the Holy Spirit in man is a never ending Heaven and a bliss granted for man for free. Saint Seraphim of Sarov has well described in his Conversation with Motovilov what is the experience to have the God the Holy Spirit in One's self.

The_Descent-of-the_Holy_Spirit-Soshestvie-Svetago-Duha

A bit more on the facts around the Descent of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles is in my prior article here , though this is just a very basic attempt to transfer the meaning of the feast as definitely all the books on the earth and all the human knowledge put together is like a drop in the universe compared to Holy Spirit itself.

The Spirit of Truth which the world could not comprehend was sent by Jesus Christ first to the apostles and the desciples and then to each and every Christian member of the One Holy Eastern Orthodox Church throughout human history until the end of ages.

Pentecost_Rabula_Gospels-6th-century
One of the most ancient icons of the Pentecost Syriac Rabbula Gospels 6th century

Happy Feast to All Christians ! Happy Birthday Church !

Saint Georgi of Sofia “the Newest” Bulgarian Confessor Christian saint martyred 1534 AD during reign of Turkish Sultan Selim in Medieval Serdika (Sofia)

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021

Saint-Martyr-George-of-Sofia-Georgi-Sofijski-in-traditional-wear-kalpak

Troparion, voice 4
With a soul wounded by the love of your God, the wise George the Glorious, he preached to the ungodly, Christ God, trampled with his feeth, the Turkish heresy; and when he adorned himself with the crown of martyrdom, you ascended to the heavenly multitudes: ask Christ God to preserve your homeland, this city (Sofia) and the people who always worship your deeds.

On 26-th of May the Bulgarian Orthodox Church celebrates the memory of one of the great Bulgarian Martyr saints Saint Georgi the Newest.
С~тый Геԝ̀ргїй Софїѝскїй Новѣ̀йшїй) St. Georgi (The Bulgarian equivalent name of George) is one of the 3 saints holding the name Georgi which has confessed Christianity refused to accept islam and accepted Martyrdom for Christ in period of 1396 till year 1530 and one of the 9 famous Sofia city saints. Saint Georgi of Sofia the Newest was named after the highly venerated in Bulgarian just like in whole Christian world saint George.

saint-Georgi-Sofijski-saint-great-martyr-George-and-The-Mother-of-God-iconostasis

St. Georgi was born in the city of Medieval Sofia (Sredetz), fortress of Serdika today’s Sofia in a family of Ivan and Maria – a wealthy and society recognized family of that time. He has born after a fervent and lengthly prayers of his parents who couldn’t have children for a long time and has been given a kid by the prayers of Saint Great Martyr George
It is important to say Georgi (the newest) celebrated on 26-th of May is a different saint from St. Georgi called “the new” whose memory in the Church is commemorated on 11-th of February.

saint-Georgi-Sofijski-noveishij-icon

Miracle making icon of saint Georgi Sofiyski (currently in the Church in yard of Alexandrovska Hospital Sofia)

The young Georgi quickly learned to write and read, a skills that only the most educated people usually coming from noble families could do. His favourite activity
in his free time when he was not in help of his parents was reading the Holy Scriptures.
He was grown by his parents in Christian goodness and fervency for the Christian faith.

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Aged 25 he orphaned as his beloved father passed away to Christ. Georgi posessesed an extraordinary beauty, sharp mind and virtues, seeing the young man in his grief the local Turkish authorities tried as they usually do to attract the youngster to the islamic faith to make their way to interact with Georgi and do their business easier and most importantly have Georgi in their auhotirities congregation consisting only of people belonging to the islam as it was up to the Ottoman Turkish consistution law of the day.

To attract Georgi, turks first tried with hypocritical kindness and a care for the young to help him raise in the power of authorities of the city, not succeeding with that they have, they have forcefully wrapper the Muslim turban on his head and proclaimed him officially Muslim. Feeling offended by the ungodly deed of this enemies of Christ, immediately the saint throw the imposed turban on the ground and trampled on it.
The enraged muslim crowd seing his public offence for the prophet Muhammed handed him over to the Qadi in the court.

Neither the seductive promises of high office nor the cruel tortures could break the unshakable firmness of his Christian faith. The judge ordered that his body be cut into strips from head to toe and that the wounds received be scorched with dirty candles, which made the martyr’s body so hot that his face could not be seen. But all efforts were in vain.

The final verdict of the judge followed – Georgi to be hanged on the main barn in the city of Sofia, where there was a furnace for melting iron and copper ore. The execution command also stated that his body should remain on the gallows for three days in order to begin to decay, so that the faith of the Christians in the incorruptible relics of the saints and in the resurrection of the dead to be refuted and hence disgrace christianity. However, exhausted from his suffering mrtr. Georgi died at the hands of the executioners before they managed to hang him. To fulfill the command turks, anyhow hung him on a rope to show the sentence has been successfully carried out.

For three days the body hung on the gallows without any sign of decomposition, and on the contrary, an unusual fragrance of the holy relics of the martyr wafted through the barn. His mother sat under the gallows and grieving his beloved son hugged her son’s legs, staying next three three days to her son. The hanging took place on May 26, 1530 (according to other document sources in 1534). Thus on 26th of may the Church set a service in memoriam.

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5-th Century Church of Rotonda St. George Centre of Sofia

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Saint Georgi Sofiyski / Saint George of Sofia the Newest grave near Rotonda Church Saint George in City Center of Sofia, Bulgari

After the expiration of the sentence, the kadi handed over the body of the martyr to be buried in a Christian way, and the burial was solemnly performed by the then Metropolitan of Sofia Jeremiah in the church “St. the great martyr George the Victorious ”. Now these relics are in obscurity. The mother of the martyr died on the 40th day of George’s death and was buried at her son’s feet.

These events took place during the reign of Sultan Suleiman I Kanuni (the Legislator) also known as Suleiman the Magnificent. This “Golden Age” for the Ottoman Empire was a time of unheard of atrocities against Christians in the territory of the empire and very difficult times for the Bulgarian people. The reign of Suleiman I and his father Selim I was a time of obscurantism and severe persecution of the Christian population, a time during which many Christian new martyrs on Balkans had the courage to defend their faith.

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The capture, trial and torture of St. George of Sofia The latest took place near the then Sofia. Today the place is located in the yard of the famous Alexandrovska Hospital which was a King’s hospital during the times of Kingdom of Bulgaria after liberation took place from the Turks in 1878 y.. The exact location where martyrdom occured is between street St. Georgi Sofiyski ”and“ Pencho Slaveykov ”Blvd.

There was a large stone cross with an inscription on the site, which a few years after 1944, due to the risk of being destroyed, was collected by Sofia priests and is still preserved in the altar of the church “St. Georgi Pobedonosets ”on Blvd. Partriarch Euthymius”. Until the 1940s, a liturgical procession was held from the place of death of the saint to the Rotunda on May 26.
Nowadays happily, the old Lithia tradition is being renewed and a small Lithia is conducted by Bulgarian Orthodox Christian clergy and layman.

In the garden next to the building of the Second Surgical Clinic there was a stone cross, which indicated the place and history of the martyrdom of the saint, and today a temple was built in honor of the saint.

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

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HOLY MARTYR GEORGE OF SOFIA THE NEWEST, PRAY GOD FOR US!