Archive for the ‘Everyday Life’ Category

The short historical path of the Holy Relics of Saint Andrew the First-called of the Apostles of Christ

Friday, December 2nd, 2022

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Why saint Andrew the Apostle is special for the Bulgarian Orthodox Church
and the Eastern Churches?

 

According to Church tradition saint Andrew the Apostle the First-called was the apostle from which wide areas of the Eastern lands was christianized, by his fervent preach of the Gospel and the good news of the Resurrection of Christ who suffered on the Cross for the salvation of mankind.
The Ecumenical Patriarchy of Constantinople and the Ancient Eastern Byzantium Church has received its apostleship in practice, exactly from st. Apostle Andrew.
During his apostleship mission saint Andrew has preached the Gospel and gave the faith for a first time in the Ist century according to Church tradition, as he passed by the Black sea borders, today part of which are in Bulgaria, he went through Romania, where he has spent some time living as a hermit in a cave and then up to Kiev and Scythia, where he made a prophecy that the Christian faith will put its Roots and that soon the pagan tribes of Kiev lands will accept the faith and put the Cross high over their lands.

When Bulgaria was later Christianized by saint Boris-Michael, and the Holy Bulgarian church was established on this lands thanks to the missionary works of Saint Kiril and Methodius, Saint Kliment of Ohrid, saint Gorazd, Naum, Sava, Angelarius and  whole pleade of saints and teachers, Bulgaria has received, also the gift of priesthood and apostleship (has received its own hierarchy of bishops governing the Bulgarian Orthodox Church), thus by spiritual line the Holy Spirit here in Bulgaria was received from Saint Andrew, later this enlightnements achievement, the Books in Church Slavonic, the services and most importantly the Cyrllic alphabet was transffered from Bulgaria and later Serbia to the endless steppes territories of capital Kiev that was a capital of the Rus at that time and in all Scythia today the territories of Russia. Thus all the Byzantine Eastern Churches and  Bulgaria

After the end of the persecution of Christians, in the 4th century AD, Saint Equal-to-the-Apostles Emperor Constantine the Great began to erect numerous Christian temples.

Among them was the temple of the Holy Apostles in the new capital of the empire – Constantinople. After the death of St. Constantine in 337, his son, Constantius, ascended the throne.
The new ruler, fulfilling the will of his father, decided to bring to the capital of the empire the holy relics of the Apostles Andrew, Luke, Timothy and lay them in the church of the Holy Apostles, where the Equal-to-the-Apostles Emperor himself was buried.

Originally, the holy relics of Saint Andrew the First-Called rested at the place of his martyrdom, in Patras, in the Peloponnese, Greece. According to Western tradition, a few days before the relics were transferred to Constantinople, Regulus, who was guarding them, removed the lid of the sarcophagus in which the relics of the Apostle rested, separated from them one shoulder, three fingers of the right hand, part of the knee and a tooth.

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Holy right hand of saint Andrew the First-Called

With these relics Regulus left Patras and set out to preach the Gospel among the pagans inhabiting Scotland.
The inhabitants of the country welcomed the enlightener with great honor and together with their King accepted Holy Baptism.
In Scotland, the first Christian church was built in the name of Saint Andrew, in which parts of his holy relics were laid. Which played the role for Scotlands patron saint protector to become Saint Andrew the Apostle.

The deposition of the holy relics of Saint Apostle Andrew the First-Called in Constantinople took place on May 3, 357 in the presence of the Patriarch of Constantinople Macedonius I and Emperor Constantius.
In the 9th – 10th centuries, the Byzantine autocrats usually sent as a donation for the built monasteries and temples parts of the holy relics that rested in Constantinople, including the relics of the holy Apostles.

In the second half of the 9th century, following an urgent request and special intercession before the emperor, the honorable head of St. Apostle Andrew the First-Called was delivered to the St. Andrew's Church in the city of Patras, where it rested until the middle of the 15th century.

In 1460, to the walls of The army of the Ottoman Sultan Mohammed II was approaching the town of Patras. The Governor /Archon/ of the city of Patras, Thomas Paleologus (brother of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI, who died during the capture of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, father of Princess Sofia, the future wife of the Grand Duke John III of Moscow), losing all hope of preserving independence of the city, took the precious and holy treasure of the city from St. Andrew's Church and arrived in Rome with it to collect funds and forces for the liberation of the Orthodox Christian East from the yoke of the infidels.

The holy head of St. Andrew the First-Called Apostle was in Rome until 1964, when, by the decision of Pope Paul VI, this shrine together with parts of the cross of St. Andrew was returned to the Greek Orthodox Church.

Now these relics are located in one of the largest cathedrals in the Balkans, Saint Andrew the First-Called in Patras, Greece, i.e. in this place where the first disciple of Christ preached and ended his martyr's earthly life.

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X shaped cross of Saint Andrew according to medieval tradition

The honorable head of the Apostle rests on the throne in a silver coffin, and behind the throne – saint Andrew's cross-relic (according to middle-ages tradition to be X shaped cross in which are embedded parts of the real cross of Saint Andrew, on which he was crucified.

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Mount Athos received the hand of St. Andrew as a gift in the Great Lavra of Athos, founded by Saint Athanasius (the Great) at the request of his friend and companion and patron of the Byzantine emperor Nikephoros Phocas (963-969).
Parts of the holy relics of holy Apostle are also kept in other monasteries on Mount Athos.

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Foot Relic of Saint Andrew the Apostle

Likewise, part of the forehead bone is kept in the Saint Andrew's hermitage (scythe), in the scythe of saint Prohet Elijah is preserved the foot of the Apostle.
This walking stick was given in 1806 by Hieromonk Dionysius /in Kyzikon (Kyzicheska) Diocese/, who left the eparchy with these relics from the monastery of Saint Marina, cause the monastery was
looted and sacked by the Turks.

In the Russian monastery of Saint Panteleimon on Holy Mount Athos, the second foot of the First Called Disciple of Christ is preserved.

Part of the relics of Saint Andrew also rest in the nun's monastery dedicated to his name, which is located on the island of Catalonia in the village of Peratata.

Fragments of the honest relics of the Apostle are also found in the monastery of Saint Nicholas on the island of Euboea.

Material written from sources according to information from the Holy Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, on the occasion of the stay from June 27 to 29, 2003 during which the the foot of St. Andrew the First-Called, was given for veneration from the monastery of saint Panteleimon, Mount Athos.

 

Transferring a part of the relics of Saint Andrew to the church dedicated to Saint Andrew in Sofia, Bulgaria

 
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In 2001, the Metropolitan of Patras, Greece at that time Nicodemus, presented a piece of holy relics from the knee of Saint Andrew and a cross in which pieces of the cross on which St. Andrew the Apostle was crucified were placed.
On November 29, 2001, on the occasion of the feast of St. Andrew the First-Called, the Reliquary was carried in a litany procession from the Bulgarian Church Synodal Palace to the capital church "Свети Андрей Първозвани / (Saint Andrew the First-called)".

A Holy Liturgy was served which was  attended by Their Eminences the Metropolitans: Metropolitan Kiril of Varna and Great Preslav, metropolitan Joseph of America and Australia, metr. Gelasius of New York, metr. Grigoriy of Velikoturno, metr. Neophyte of Dorostol and Cherven (currently Patriarch of Bulgaria) , metr. Gavriil (Gabriel) of Lovchan eparchy, His Eminence Bishop Nikolai of Znepol (then) and now metropolitan of Plovdiv, Patriarchal Vicar, Archimandrite Boris,  the secretary of Holy Synod, numerous priests, the graduates of the Sofia Theological Seminary "Saint Ivan Rilski" and many laymen.

When the litany reached its destination, the church "Stsaint Andrew the First-Called", the relics were welcomed, received and placed in the church for worship by Patriarch Maxim (Rest In Peace). Immediately after that, Great Vespers with five loaves of bread as the orthodox tradition is, was served by the Most Reverend (then) Bishop of Znepol, Nikolay, together with Archimandrite Boris and the temple clergy. The Most Holy Patriarch Maxim (already in his 90s) and some of the bishops attended the service in prayer. After the service, the relics remained exposed for worship in the House of God, which was also open at night. It should be noted that this was the only Orthodox church in Bulgaria dedicated to saint Ap. Andrei.

Also, the fact that for the first time the relics of St. Apostle Andrew are coming to our country is important. Part of the relics were transferred to the church on the island of Saint Anastasia near Burgas in the diocese of Sliven.
The reason for the transferral of relics to st. Anastasia is that according to tradition, the Apostle Andrew himself passed through this island in his apostleship mission.

Every year on November 30 – Saint. Andrew's Day, in the church the holiday is celebrated with a solemn Holy Liturgy, celebrated by His Holiness the Bulgarian Patriarch and Metropolitan of Sofia (today Neofitos), and in his absence, by a bishop, visiting clergy and the church clergy.

From materials from Church newspaper (official newspaper of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church)

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 !

 

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).

Saint Hieromartyr Therapont of Serdika ( Sofia ) martyred year † 1555 for Christ

Thursday, May 26th, 2022

Saint Therapontius of Serdika is celebrated every year on on May 27 in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, together with St. Holy Martyrs Therapont of Sardis († 259). He is born and lived in the ancient city of Serdika (today Sofia).

He is part of the nine saints of Sofia, that are celebrated in the Church throughout the Liturgical year.

A little is known of him and just like the martyrologies of much of the ancient saints, we have only few sentences left mentioning his great martyrdom for Christ, along with other local Bulgarian saints. He has a written  celebration service in the Minelogion Church book for  27-th of May.
Minelogion for those unaware is one of the service books used in the Night and Morning services songs and containing services details about the glorified saints for each day of the year.

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Troparion of the Holy Martyr, voice 4
He became a partaker of morals and viceroy of the apostles
in the way of your contemplation, inspired by God, you have done deeds,
therefore you have faithfully taught the word of truth,
for his faith he suffered even to the point of blood,
Holy Martyr Therapont, beg the Christ God to save our souls.

 

Saint Hieromartyr Therapont of Roman Fortress Serdika ( Sofia )
The famous Bulgarian medieval historian Matei Gramatik, who was a contemporary of Saint Nicholas of Sofia (a 15h century famous Bulgarian martyr saint) and a witness to his martyrdom in 1555, who wrote his biography with great skill, writes about this holy martyr. There he describes the situation in which St. Nicholas of Sofia lived – both geographically and spiritually.
In his description of the spiritual situation, he gives brief information about the saints of Sofia, including St. Terapont of Serdica (Sofia). He writes:

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"When you listen for the inhabitants of Sofia, don't think about the current contemporary ones,
but for the heavenly ones, who were once co-inhabitants of us and now live with the angels.
So forth it is beneficial, to tell about 2 , 3 of them. The holy hieromartyr Therapontius, who
being a citizen of this place and a presbyter of the holy God's Church in Serdika (Sofia), lived filled
with lot of virtues and at the end, during the persecutions of Christians, has been detained by guards
by the lawless for his Christ confession. After a lot of martyrs and being enchained with a heavy
iron chains, he has been put out of the city and on a distance of one day walking, on
this place he was beheaded and henceforth he received a martyrs death for Christ.
They say on the place where his blood was shed, in that time a large oak tree has grown  and it is seen until today and there a lot of miraculous healings occur,
whenever one comes with faith."

Today a part of this trunk of the oak is kept as a sacred relic in the ancient Sofia's capital ancient church "St. Petka", where the memory of the holy martyr is celebrated every year on May 27.

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


Another Bulgarian saint Paisios of Hilendar / Paisij Hilendarski (1722 – 1773) also mentions in his history book History of the Slavo-Bulgarians states: "There are three holy martyrs in the city of Sofia:
1) St. George;
2) St. Nicholas;
3) St. Terapontius.

This saint was a priest in town of Tran, where many people now go for healing. Where in the Turks has slayered the saint a an oak greaw and with his prayers a lot of healing is given on the place of this oak. Same manner Saints George and Nicholas suffered from the godless Turks during Selim's reign; and their holy relics give healing in this city of Sofia. "

Icon Images of St. Therapontius are known to exist today from the XIX century. There are icons icons in the Sofia church "St. Paraskeva ”, in Pernik, in the church of " St. Petka ” in Sofia, fresco in the church“ St. Dimitar ” in the village of Yarlovtsi, Transko, wherein used to an icon also whose location now is unknown.

In Tran and Godech respectively there were folk customs associated with the saint and therein and in the region he is revered as a healer and protector of the harvests.
There is also a cave in Trun, which is indicated as a refuge for the saint.
A chapel in his name was in the city, burned by the Turks in the 30s of the XIX century.

In Glory of St. Terapontius of Sofia during the Second World War and until 1957 was dedicated the Revival church "Holy Trinity ", today – Saint Great-martyr (Mina)  Menas, in the Slatina district of Sofia. The church was built on the remains of the monastery “Holy  Trinity", according to mouth to mouth tradition kept for ages. 

According to the legend, the saint was slaughtered here and this gives some reason to presume that St. Terapontius might have been one of the spiritual fathers who were serving in the monastery at that time.

Let by the holy prayers of Saint Terapont God gives forgives to our multitude of transgressions and grants more Peace, Love, Hope, Faith and goodness to everyone !

The Holy and Great Week of Passions of Christ in the Church – Day by day explained

Tuesday, April 19th, 2022

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The Holy Great Week of Christ Passions

The last week of the earthly life of the Lord Jesus Christ is called the "Great" or "Passion Week", i.e. A week of suffering, a prelude to eternal life. The Lord's life was coming to an end. Having resurrected Lazarus on the Sabbath as a proof of the Mass coming Resurrection known in the Church as Lazarus Saturday as it is always celebrated Saturday in the Orthodox Church on which people gathered to solemnly welcome the Messiah Christ, and triumphantly entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Following that the Savior Jesus Christ who prophecised his betrayel to the Cross for human sin, the Lord voluntarily walked step by step to His predestined inevitability.

Every day of the Passion Week is called Great and Holy for the reason this week is the most Holy and Sanctified week of the whole Calendar Church year. Each of the Seven days of it, the Church commemorates events of last week of Christ's life and suffering on earth before Resurrection and Ascension to Heaven through special services the way of Christ to Golgotha, the sufferings and His redemptive work on the Cross.

Worship during Holy Week

Lent services on the weekdays of Lent are characterized by their penitential singing. The royal doors (of the alter known as Dveri) remain closed as a symbol of man's separation from the Kingdom of God. Church vestments are dark, usually purple in the color of repentance.

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No Divine Liturgy is performed on weekdays, but so that the (ordinary chrsitians who go often and pray God) – so called faithful can support themselves in their ascetic effort of fasting by accepting Holy Communion, a Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is performed (a specific Liturgy prepared for the Purpose that is only served during great Lent). This service is very ancient, it is mentioned in the canons of the VII century, but it was established earlier for sure. Most likely the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, practice to sanctify bread and wine in prior has later evolved in the Roman-Catholic Churchs errenous from Eastern Orthodox point of view – Eucharistic Adoration
– (a consacration host kept usually in the so called (monstrace). Traditionally, Presanctified Liturgy creator is considered to be Pope St. Gregory I the (Dialogus), Pope who governed the Western Church in (VI century) – some  theologians today claims it was developed at least partially or coauthored also by Saint Ambrose of Mediolan (Milan).

The pre-consecrated liturgy consists of a solemn Lenten Vespers (prelonged repentance songs) with elements from Psalms and readings from Holy Scripts regarding life and suffering of Christ, to which is added the part of "transfer" of the Holy Gifts from the Alter to the Upper place (the place where the proskomidia occurs) and walked in on the "Great Entrance" Liturgy part with the Sacraments placed in the Holy Chalice held by the priest in front of iconstansisa and back to the Alter of Sacrifice, however the consecration of the Gifts itself is not performed, the Eucharistic gifts are already sanctified and prepared on previous Sunday Saint Basil or Saint John Chrysostomos liturgy.  That is why the service is called the Presanctified Liturgy, i.e. of the pre-consecrated Gifts.

Usually This service takes place on Wednesdays and Fridays or at least on one of these days and on the 6th week of Maria of Egypt is served 3 times instead of 2 throughout the week to venerate the Most Holy Mother Mary of Egypt which from a Harlot turned a saint by immerse repentance, and cause of that become the patron saint for repentance and example for true repentance, that each and every Christian aims follow, every day of his life.

Following the 6th weeks of Fasting a period that the ancient Church placed for try out of ones self soul state and cleanance of passions comes saint Lazarus Saturday.

Lazarus Saturday is the only day of the year when Sunday service worship is integrated in Saturday.  Usually Sunday service is a service of higher importance than the other ones, a faithful gathering to share the unspeakable joy for the Resurrection of Christ and his triumph of Life over Death. 

Lazarus Saturday is the beginning of the Easter celebration. During the Liturgy of Lazarus, the Church glorifies Christ as "Resurrection and Life", who even before His sufferings and death, with the resurrection of Lazarus, confirmed the foreshadowing of the universal resurrection of mankind coming. It was because of the resurrection of Lazarus that Christ was glorified by the people as the long-awaited Messiah (no man ever was able to rise up a death rotting person from the Death after four days in grave) truly identifying him as the promised King of Israel and the fulfillment of long ages awaited Old Testament prophecies.

The very feast of the triumphal entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) belongs to the twelve most importance Church feasts, known in the Church as "Feasts of the Lord". Christ immediate worship by all Jews on his entrance in Jerusalem  is directly connected with that of Lazarus Day on which he did the miracle of commanding Lazarus to wake up from Death,  returning life of a long dead Lazarus.

On the eve of the feast, the prophecies about the Messianic King from the Old Testament are read, along with the Gospel accounts of Christ's entry into Jerusalem, as another confirmation that Christ is the True Messiah.

In the morning, the willow twigs we hold in our hands throughout the Liturgy are blessed, thus showing that we welcome Jesus Christ as King and Savior, just like the Jews has received him in Jerusalem 21 centuries again in  year 0 A.D.

Extract Prot. Thomas HOPCO "Fundamentals of Orthodoxy" with short modifications from:
Church NewsPaper of Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Issue 7 of April 17, 1998

Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday and Holy Wednesday

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Church Slavonic (Old Bulgarian) notable singing during the first 3 days of the Holy Week sung in the Orthodox Church

Text translates as:

Behold, the Bridegroom comes at midnight,

And blessed is that servant whom He shall find watching,

And again, unworthy is the servant whom He shall find heedless.

Beware, therefore, O my soul, do not be weighed down with sleep,

Lest you be given up to death, and lest you be shut out of the Kingdom.

But rouse yourself crying: Holy, Holy, Holy, art Thou, O our God,

Through the Theotokos have mercy on us.

Troparion of Bridegroom Matins

During the first three days of Holy Week, the Church commemorates the Lord's last stay in Jerusalem. In these days the worship is very intense: there is a Midnight Office (Μεσονύκτικον, Mesonýktikon; Slavonic: Полунощница), The Hours matins, Psalms Book chapters, reading of the Gospel and Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. During the "lessons" given by, the four Gospels to the Gospel of John are read. 13, verses 30
 

Great and Holy Monday

On Holy Monday, the evangelists tell us how the Son of God entered the Jerusalem temple and found it full of merchants. Overwhelmed with holy wrath, He overthrew their tables and drove them out, because the temple is a house of prayer, not a marketplace. (Matt. 21: 12-13, Mark 11: 15-19; Luke 19: 45-46).

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On Holy Monday, the Church celebrates St. Patriarch Joseph, the son of St. James the Patriarch and a type of Jesus Christ.

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Joseph The Magnificient

Joseph was sold by his brothers to merchants traveling to Egypt.

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There, in a foreign land, he went through many sufferings, but Pharaoh made him second in power and position in the whole kingdom (Gen. 41: 38-46). Like Joseph, the Lord Jesus Christ was betrayed by the Jews to the Gentiles, tortured, and suffered for human sins.

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The Icon of Christ the Bridegroom (Ο Νυμφίος)

The Church also invites us to reflect on the image of the barren fig tree, which withered after being cursed by the Lord (Mark 11: 12-14, 20-26, Matt. 21: 18-22). "Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire" (Matt. 3:10).

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In the same way, we will be condemned if we do not live in prayerful communion with God, do not strive to improve our faith, do not fill ourselves with virtues, and do not bear spiritual fruit.

Great and Holy Tuesday

"Watch therefore: for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh" (Matt. 25:13).

(Gospel reading: Matins 22: 15-23: 39; Liturgy Mat. 24: 36-26: 2).

Holy Tuesday is a day for teachings and final moral instructions:

The Lord Jesus Christ gives us an example of how to do good – not to give from our surplus for this purpose, but as a poor widow to set aside from our last material means.

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Speaking of the approaching days of struggle and trial, Christ tells of the ten wise virgins who were always ready to meet the Savior (Matt. 25: 1-13). It reminds us that we must "be vigilant and not be discouraged" and keep our lamps lit in anticipation of the Divine Bridegroom.

That is why on Holy Tuesday the Church sings:

Here comes the bridegroom at midnight,
and blessed is that servant whom he hath found awake,
and unworthy is he whom he finds careless.

Therefore beware, my soul, lest you sleep,
to be delivered to death and to remain outside the closed doors of the Kingdom,
but come to your senses and exclaim: Holy, holy, holy, O God,
have mercy on us for the sake of the Mother of God!

"The light of the body is the eye" (Matt. 6:22), says the Lord. the unsullied human heart and soul, and "the oil is alms or all our good deeds" (St. John Chrysostom).

Living virtuously, with the fear of God and trust in the Lord, we will be ready to meet the Savior and enter the marriage hall – the Kingdom of Heaven.

The church also reminds us of the parable of the talents (Matt. 25: 14-30) and invites us to work hard and improve the abilities God has given us.

Then follow prophecies about the fate of the city of Jerusalem for the last days of the Second Coming of the Lord
(Matt. 25: 31-46, Mark 13: 1-31, Luke 21: 5-38).

Great Holy Wednesday

On the day of Holy and Holy Wednesday we remember one of the last events before the Lord's saving sufferings for us: the precious ointment, which in his sincere repentance a sinner woman poured on the Savior's head (Matt. 26: 6-13, Mark 14: 3-9).

She managed to enter the house where Christ was, the woman carrying an alabaster vessel with precious very expensive ointment, she wanted to pay her enormous respects to Him. In a hurry (scared that someone from the people in surrounding Christ might stop here) in order for not to interfere with her good intentions, she broke the vessel that was helding a high amount of oilment, making it easier to spill the ointment on Christ.

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The precious ointment cost three hundred dinars ! (Mark 14: 5), so some being sick of the passion of Judah the Iscariot (The Love for Money the works of the Flesh) resented it: "Why is this waste?", "The ointment could be sold and the money given to the poor."
And Christ answered them, "You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me," "she has done a good work for Me [by] deceiving to anoint My body for burial." Her zeal will be heard all over the world.
Like the prodigal son, the sinner realized her sins and "came to her senses."

Let us also come to our senses about our real spiritual condition and repent of our sins, so that with our repentant tears we may "anoint" the Lord like that repentant woman !

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On the same day, we recall the decision of the Sanhedrin to condemn Jesus Christ. Then Judas Iscariot went to the Jewish leaders and agreed to hand him over for thirty pieces of silver (Matt. 26: 14-16, Mark 14: 10-11, Luke 22: 1-6).

We should well think:

Do we, who bear the name of Christ, not betray Christ through our ungodly deeds?

From that day on, the kneeling prayers do not cease, as one should understand we have done plenty of badness and has inflicted additional pains to Christ, who suffered for all great sins on the Cross.
 

Great Wednesday

Great and Holy Thursday – Remembrance of the Last Supper

On that day, the Lord Jesus Christ celebrated the Passover in the home of a resident of Jerusalem
(Matt. 26: 17-35, Mark 14: 12-31, Luke 22: 7-38, John 13: 1-17, 26).

Before supper He washed the feet of the apostles and said, "I did not come to serve, but to serve."
The Savior then instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist (Communion) by Himself partaking of the holy apostles.

By His great mercy, the Lord also gives us the opportunity to receive His true body and blood during the Holy Liturgy, so that by accepting Christ within us, we may strive to keep Him through the purity of our hearts.

The-Secret-Supper-Tajna-vecherya-Aton-Manuil-Panselinos-Protata

After bequeathing the new commandment to love all, Christ revealed to His disciples that He would be betrayed.
Bewildered, the students asked who would do this.

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Judas asked is it him that will betray ? 
Christ answered him so meekly that the others did not understand.
Judas got up, went out leaving the holy eucharistic supper.
And pupils, thought he was going shopping for required goods for the brothers because he was a treasurer (an accent how we should keep a good mind and try to think well about others all the time).

Next  great accent is Lord's Prayer.

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Christ Prayer in Gethsemane Garden – Bulgarian Icon museum Great Tarnovo

In the Garden of Gethsemane After supper Christ and the apostles went to the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26: 36-46, Luke 22: 39-46, John 18: 1), where he prayed until the coming of the traitor.

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Usually on Thursday evening the morning of Good Friday service is served, when the so-called Twelve Gospels are read, ie. the twelve passages of the Gospel that tell of Christ's sufferings.


Through them we witness the mockery, suffering, and crucifixion of Christ, through which He redeemed us.
"Here is the Lamb of God who took away our sins."

And again we wonder if we do not crucify Christ through our passions and sins.

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Jesus in Golgotha – Theophanes the Cretan

On this day, the priests take the Cross out of the altar, which symbolizes its carrying from Christ to Golgotha.

The Great annointing of the sick service is served so called "Велик Маслосвет" – during whose many prayers to saints healers are red to intercede for us following by 7 Act of Apostle readings and 7 Gospel Chapter Readings, wherever possible in large Cathedral Churches, this is served by 7 priests  every willing layman is anointed with oil 7 times after reading each of the 7 Gospels for restorating of Health of the sick as well as a special blessing in the manner of the ancient Church tradition.

Great and Holy Friday

The Way of the Cross and Golgotha ​​We remember the great sufferings of Jesus Christ, who freely agreed to be judged, flogged, spat upon, beaten with slaps, and shown before the people in a purple robe, with a cross in his hand and a crown of thorns on his head. 

Armed with a heavy cross from Pilate's praetorium (judgement place), Christ was led to Golgotha ​​on the crucifixion.

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Crucified between two robbers for desecration in terrible natural disturbances – an earthquake and an eclipse of the sun, he died, accepted death to save all mankind from death.

On this day, every Christian should follow complete fasting (eat nothing and drink nothing) and pray and sorrow deeply for the Lord.
According to church rules, even the sick should only eat bread (at best a very dry one) and drink a little bit of water. Joys of any kind of type should be abstained and all passions avoived and one should ask God for mercy for himself, his family and ask is merceful to everyone.

Great and Holy Saturday

The burial of Christ the Savior and His descent into hell are commemorated.
He died on the cross, blood and water flowed from His pierced ribs.
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, asking Pilate for permission, removed Him from the cross, anointed Him with perfume, wrapped Him in a new shroud, and laid Him in a new tomb carved into a rock in the Garden of Gethsemane.

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Epitaphios (Lamentation of Christ) from Stavronikita monastery, Mount Athos – Theophanes the Cretan

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Myrrh-bearing women were present at His burial in the tomb, among whom, in tears with her grief-stricken heart, was His Mother the Holy Mother of God.

The church sings regarding this great events:

"In the grave with his body and in hell with his soul as God,
in heaven with the thief and on the throne with the Father and the Spirit You were, Christ,
Who fills everything. "

The Jews sealed the tomb and set up a guard.

Great secret! "Let the human creature silence !" – sings the Church instead of the Cherubim song on Holy Saturday.
The lord of life is in the grave, but he will soon be famous for the miracle of the resurrection.

On the Saturday morning after the liturgy, in some places it is customary for the priest to give flowers to the faithful as an expression of joyful anticipation of the Resurrection.

Holy Week in the statutes of the ancient churches

Initially, Easter was preceded by a two-three-day fast, which took place one week – the so-called.
Passion Week, or the Week of Christ's Suffering.

Subsequently, the 40-day fast was added to Lent, similar to the forty days during which Christ fasted in the wilderness. It was intended for the "announced", that is, for those who would be baptized on Easter.

For a long time during the practice of mass baptisms of the elderly, the sacrament was performed on Easter, when baptism was especially experienced as a participation in the voluntary death and resurrection of the Lord.
That is why the Easter Liturgy is extremely baptismal in nature.

After the sixth century, the baptism of children began to predominate, so the mass baptism of adults on Easter was gradually abandoned.
It was then that the meaning of Pentecost was changed – from a catechetical period, fasting became a period of repentance for members of the Church.

In the ninth century, Pentecost the word stems from the Greek Πεντηκοστή (Pentēkostē) meaning "fiftieth" was finally united with Holy Week, and so the duration of Lent increased.

The length of Lent varied, depending on how local churches viewed the inclusion of Holy Week at Pentecost and whether they considered Saturdays and Sundays, when canons forbid fasting, to be part of it.

In the Constantinople Statutes (followed by our Bulgarian Orthodox Church), Holy Week is not considered part of Pentecost, and Saturdays and Sundays are included in the Lent period, although they are not Lent days in the full sense of the word.

Thus, according to the Constantinople Statute, The Pentecost Lent had 6 weeks of 7 days, ie 42 days.
If Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday are excluded from it, the duration of Lent is exactly 40 days.

According to this statute, Lent begins on Maundy Monday from the first week of Lent and ends on Friday of the sixth week, that is, on the eve of Palm Sunday.

The troparions included in the Triodion (Постен Триод – The Church Service book with sung text used during the Lent, for this day speak of the "fulfillment of the soul-beneficial fortieth Pentecost" and the anticipation of the "holy week of the Passion."

The interpretation of the rule in the Apostolic Decrees (Church rules guidance book text from the end of the IV century) is similar, where it says:

"Perform this fast before Easter, beginning on the second day (that is, Monday) and ending on Friday. After these days, as completing the fasting, begin the holy week of Easter by fasting through it with fear and trembling."

It is no coincidence that the liturgies of Lazarus Sabbath and the Lord's Entrance into Jerusalem have baptismal elements.

According to another tradition, reflected in the 29th canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council (681) – that is the year of Creation of Today's country of Bulgaria (which is the only country in Europe that did not change his name as of year 681), Holy Week was part of Pentecost, where it is called "the last week of Pentecost".

This other practice is preserved by the ancient churches, which separated from Orthodoxy after the Fourth Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon (451) – The Armenian, Coptic, Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, Ethiopian Church of Toledo, (perhaps the Jacobite Syrian Church) etc.

Even though this historic tradition was well preserved in those Churches and many of their church order or customs such as veneration for the icons, holy relics, the problem with them preventing them to be in  ull communion with Eastern Orthodox Church stems in their rejection to accept the V-th XI-th and XII Ecumenical Ecumenical Councils and their perseverance on monophysitism (literally translated as, one nature – a teaching that says Christ has only one Nature and one Will a Godly, they say they do not reject that Christ was also real man in flesh but they consider the Godly nature of Christ has consumed the manly, which makes up their wrong understanding that Christ on the Cross did not fully suffer with his manly nature, but both God and man has suffered on the Cross – a doctrine which according to the Church councils is a pure hearesy, we can also conclude by the one nature of Christ that the so called today Oriental Orthodox Churches teach, that Christ on the Cross did not bear all the sins of the world as a man but he received all the sins and turmoils and evils as God.

In contrast in Eastern Orthodox Churches we do consider the truth that Christ has two Natures manly and Godly as well as Two Wills.
Some of the upmentioned ancient Oriental Orthodox Churches keep up to the heresy of monothelitism and that is why they're not communion with us the Eastern Orthodox.

The two wills in Orthodoxy is known under the term dyothelitism or dythelitism (stems from Greek δυοθελητισμός "doctrine of two wills") is a particular Christological doctrine that teaches the existence of two wills (divine and human) in the person of Jesus Christ.
Specifically, dyothelitism correlates the distinctiveness of two wills with the existence of two specific natures (divine and human) in the person of Jesus Christ (dyophysitism).

The Catechism of the One Holy Orthodox Church is stated: "Similarly, at the Sixth ecumenical council, Constantinople III in 681, the Church confessed that Christ possesses two wills and two natural operations, divine and human. They are not opposed to each other, but co-operate in such a way that the Word made flesh willed humanly in obedience to his Father all that he had decided divinely with the Father and the Holy Spirit for our salvation. Christ's human will 'does not resist or oppose but rather submits to his divine and almighty will.'"

This position is in opposition to the Monothelitism position in the Christological debates. The debate concerning the Monothelite churches and the Catholic Church came to a conclusion at the Third Council of Constantinople in 681. The Council declared that in line with the declarations of the Council of Chalcedon in 451, which declared two natures in the one person of Jesus Christ, there are equally two "wills" or "modes of operation" in the one person of Jesus Christ as well.

Dyothelitism was championed by Maximus the Confessor against monothelitism, the doctrine of one will. 

According to their tradition, Saturdays and Sundays as "non-fasting days" are not included in the calculation of Pentecost, so these churches fast 8 weeks for 5 days, ie 40, but fasting for pre-Chalcedonians begins one week earlier (when we have The week where orthodox stop eating Milk and Diary – Сиропустна Неделя (Milk-quit Sunday).

According to some liturgists, the appearance of the preparatory "Milk-quit" week before the beginning of Lent is the result of the desire to combine the two traditions in the Church.

Important clarification to make here is we have different view from  upmention Ancient considered schismatic Churches. Cause these ones only accept Church father decision in ecumenical councils until the 4th and cause they reject authencity of the IV th, XI th and  XII th ecumenical councils and consider Christ has only one nature a Godly one, they don't reject the existence of Human nature completely, however they stand for that Godly nature of Christ completely succumbs the human one and therefore it turns out Christ suffered on the Cross only as God (that Eastern Orthodox Churches consider as heresy).

Our believe of the Eastern Orthodox Church  Jesus Christ has two natures and two wills a Manly and Godly and his desire to humilate the Will of the Father and the Holy Spiritut to fulfill the salvational plan was voluntery.

The Roman Catholic Church since ancient times, has included Holy Week of Pentecost. However, through several councils, she lifted the ban on fasting on the Sabbath (64 Apostolic Rule). Unfortunately fasting today in Western Roman Catholic Churches is trongly reduced and all in all officially the layman in that Church has to fast about 4 days in the whole year, where in practice most people usually fast only one day on the Good Friday.

This practice is sharply condemned in the 55th canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council. That is why the Roman Catholic Church calculates Lent as follows: 6 weeks of 6 days of fasting makes 36 days. To them are added 4.
Therefore for Catholics, the Great Lent begins on Wednesday, the so-called. Clean Wednesday (which according to Church tradition is the day on which Judah decided to betray Christ promising the Sanhedrin to sell them Christ for 30 silver coins … )

What is the reason for Holy Week Fasting

In our Eastern Orthodox Church on Holy and Great Friday, is a very holy and sad day – considered the saddest day in the year, because we sorrow for the great unrighhtousness done to King and The master of Light and Universe and Son of God Christ, being betrayed, joked and beaten in a substitute for us (as we in reality deserve this disgraceful faith for our multitude of transgressions).

Therefore the Goal of following the whole 7 days of Passion week in a Steady fasting is to cleanse up the soul and body, increase our talents (the virtues), prepare to receive Christ in His Glorious Resurrection in our Souls through the Mystery of the Mysterious – the Holy Communion and most importantly win over our sinful passion's rooted in hatred,lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride and all evil and most importantly commune with God with constant prayer and spiritual labors.

The constant prayer is attained in church laymans differently by reading of morning, evening private rules, canons, attendance of the many, many morning and evening services.
What is unique is the church services are constructed in a way that the morning services are served in the evenings where possible after Sunrise about 19:00 o'clock, and evening services are
served in the mornings together with the Hours and on Fridays united with a Liturgy of the Presanctified gifts.

In monasteries especially in Holy Mount Athos and some of the more ascetic ones, the frequent custom is often to use with a blessing of their elder the constant repetition in one self of the so called "Jesus Prayer";

Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me the sinner!  Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me the sinner! Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me the sinner! 

The weapons of the spiritual war used are abstinence of food or at least reducing the food intake and more importantly, reduce the passions. The most important fasting of course is the spiritual.

But for the spiritual advancement a good leverage shown by the Holy Fathers is the Fleshly fasting given to be followed during this week.
Fasting according to church canons for this week, includes only eating if heath allows it of raw foods, vegetables and fruits, bread and plant foods without oil, the local custom not mandatory tradition in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is to also not eat fat containing nuts, throughout the week with exceptions on Great Thursday the day of The Last Support, where oil is allowed because of the Greatness of the Feast.

The fast during Holy Week is especially strict – "without wine and oil", ie dry foods, as only on Holy Thursday, after Holy Communion, believers used for the spiritual holiday "oil", ie vegetable oil.
Holy Sabbath was treated with special care, as it was the only Sabbath that the canons decreed as a fast day.

Fasting on Holy Saturday lasts until midnight, until the Lord's Day, when the Lord's Resurrection is announced.
The Apostolic Decrees stipulate: "The Sabbath lasts until the roosters sing, the fast ends with the coming of the first day after the Sabbath, which is the Resurrection."

Saint Prophor Pchinski Saint Jochichim of Osogovo and Saint Gabriel of Lesnovo the three little known Bulgarian spritual followers of Saint John of Rila

Saturday, January 15th, 2022

Biography of St. Prohor Pshinski

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St. Prohor Pshinski. Mural from the 15th century in the church "St. Archangel Michael" in Saparevo near Kyustendil. Source: bartol, bartol.blog.bg

 St. Prohor Pshinski. Mural from the 15th century in the church "St. Archangel Michael" in Saparevo near Kyustendil. Source: bartol, bartol.blog.bg The Rev.

Prohor Pshinski was a Bulgarian by birth from pious parents in the Ovce Pole region of northern Macedonia. It was given by God to childless parents for their prayers and sucked in along with his mother's milk and her high piety. When he grew up, his parents insisted on marrying him. But he once heard in the temple the words of the Savior: "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me," (Matt. 10:37). the town of Vranje in Yugoslavia. He lived in a cave where water springs for 32 years. Once a frightened deer ran to him, chased by a hunter who soon appeared.

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Prophor Pchinski (Pshinksi) Byzantine Empire Icon

At his first meeting, the monk called the hunter by name and predicted that he would soon become a Byzantine emperor. At that time Bulgaria was under Byzantine slavery (1018 – 1186). And indeed, after some time this man reigned under the name of Roman Diogenes (1067-1071). Astonished by the fulfillment of this prophecy, he discovered the incorruptible relics of the late Prohor Pshinski and built a large temple in the name of the saint on the site of his asceticism. His holy relics were laid there and a monastic fraternity gathered.

This monastery still exists. The Venerable Prohor Pshinski died on September 14, but due to the great feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the celebration of his memory was postponed to January 15. His monastery celebrates his memory on September 19.

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

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Saint Prohor Pchinski (Pshinski) Wall Painting icon XV century Kyustendil Bulgaria

The prologue biography of St. Prohor Pshinski is an original ancient Bulgarian writting, known in a single transcript in the New Prologue from the beginning of the 14th century (GIM, Uvar. 70). Under the date of October 19, the Venerable Hermit Saint is mentioned next to St. Ivan Rilski. Both texts are published by Kl. Ivanova (1977). D. Chesmedjiev (2009) points out that the cult of St. Prohor Pshinski is poorly fixed in the written tradition. All the details about the saint are known from his prologue. St. Prohor lived in the 11th century, working in the Kozyak mountain (near the village of Staro Nagorichino). After his death, his relics were transferred to the church he founded, called Pshinya, where he was healed.

Saint Prophor Pchinski in Modern Theology

His cult probably originated during the Byzantine rule. His memory is celebrated on September 13 and October 19. In the New Prologue, in addition to biographies of St. Ivan Rilski and St. Prohor Pshinski, there are also biographies of St. Achilles of Larissa, St. Simeon of Serbia and others. 30 years ago Kl. Ivanova (Ivanova 1977: 59) has suggested that the manuscript was compiled in the Pshin Monastery itself, but the spelling and language features of the collection are Serbian. According to the latest research by the same researcher, Nora's prologue originates from Jerusalem and was created in the Serbian monastery "St. Archangel Michael ”(Ivanova 2008: 68–70).

 

Biography of Saint Joachim of Osogovo

Images of St. Ivan Rilski and St. Joachim of Sarandapor from the Poganovo Monastery, end of the 15th century. It is not known where he came from, from his life it is known that he came from the west, according to Ivan Snegarov, perhaps from Zeta, in the Osogovo Mountains, where he sought monastic asylum.

An unknown boyar from the village of Gradets, not far from Kriva Palanka, today in northern Macedonia, shows him the place he was looking for monastic solitude – a cave by the Sarandapor River, today's Kriva River. Here St. Joachim spends his life as a hermit, in fasting and prayer, and the local Bulgarians revere him as a holy man. 

Osogovo Monastery.

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Osogovo Monastery Saint Joachim Icon

Joachim Osogowski died on August 16, 1105.On this date the Bulgarian Orthodox Church commemorates him.

Years later, the widowed priest Theodore of the Sheep Field settled in the place of Joachim's hermitage, adopting the monastic name Theophanes. After his saint appears, he discovers his miraculous relics, which are laid in the church built in his memory. In the 12th century, the cult of St. Joachim became so popular in northwestern Macedonia that a monastery of the same name was built around the temple. 

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Images of St. Ivan Rilski and St. Joachim of Sarandapor from the Poganovo Monastery, end of the XV-th century ( the three most famous spiritual pupils of Saint John of Rila )

In the monastery, similar to the life of St. Ivan Rilski, a life of St. Joachim was created, known from later transcripts, as well as a service of the saint. Around the middle of the 14th century the cult of St. Joachim spread to the eastern Bulgarian lands, and at the end of the 14th century it was transferred to Russia.

Biography of Saint Gavriil (Gabriel) Lesnovski

Saint-Gabriel-of-Lesnovo-320px-Archangels_Chapel_in_Rila_Monastery_Gabriel_of_Lesnovo_-_year-1845

Saint Gabriel of Lesnovo fresco from Archangels Chapel Rila Monastery, Bulgaria

Saint_Gabriel-of-Lesnovo-icon-St-Alexander-Nevski
St. Gavriil Lesnowski.
Detail of a mosaic on one of the doors of the Patriarchal Cathedral "St. Alexander Nevsky" in Sofia St. Gavriil Lesnowski. Detail of a mosaic on one of the doors of the Patriarchal Cathedral "St. Alexander Nevsky" in Sofia

Reverend Gavriil Lesnovski is one of the three great followers of the Rila desert dweller St. Ivan Rilski. He lived in the XI – XII century. He was born in the village of Osiche, Palaneshko (Macedonia). He came from rich Bulgarian parents and received a good education. When he was old, his parents betrothed him to a good-looking bride. Soon, however, his fiancée died. Then he entered a monastery and became a monk. With the inheritance he received from his parents, Gabriel built a monastery with a church named after St. Archangel Michael in the Lesnovo Mountains, northern Macedonia, near the present town of Kratovo.

The Venerable Father gathered monks, appointed an abbot, and he himself secluded himself in the mountains of desert life and silence, doing so for 30 years. He then returned to his monastery and died on January 15. Thirty years after the death of the Venerable Gabriel, a Russian monk named Joseph in the town of Sredets (Sofia) – at the suggestion of the saint – went to the place where the Venerable struggled, found his grave, found his incorruptible relics, laid them in a coffin and provided for prayer worship to believers.

For many years the holy relics of the Reverend Gabriel rested in the Lesnovo Monastery and performed many miracles. Probably in the thirteenth century one of the Bulgarian kings of the Assen dynasty brought them to his capital Tarnovo and laid them in the church "Holy Apostles" in Trapezitsa. According to the Reverend's prologue of 1330, "they have lain there until now and give healing." After the Ottoman invasion of Bulgaria, traces of the holy relics of the Venerable Gavriil Lesnovski are lost. The monastery he founded was later named after him and became an important literary center. © Lives of the Saints. Synodal Publishing House, Sofia, 1991, edited by Parthenius, Bishop of Lefkada (Levkijski) and Archimandrite Dr. Athanasius (Bonchev).

Saint-Gabriel_Lesnovski-Saint-_Joachom_Osogovski_and-saint_Prohor-Pchinski-Saint_Alexander_Cathedral_SofiaSaint Gabriel of Lesnovo, Saint Joachim of Osogovo and Saint Prohor Pchinski mosaic saint Alexander Nevski Cathedral Church, Sofia, Bulgaria

The Saints Prohor Pchinski, Joachim of Osogovo together with Saint Gabriel of Lesnovo according to Bulgarian Orthodox Church tradition are considered to be 3 of the many pupil monks of Saint John of Rila who spread the light of Holy Eastern Orthodox Christian faith in whole Bulgarian lands and from there towards Russia and far west Serbia, Croatia, Hungary who historically has been orthodox and later converted to Roman Catholicism.

Happy Nativity Christ is Born ! Happy New Year 2022 and thanks for reading me

Wednesday, January 5th, 2022

Happy-Nativity-Christmas-christ-is-born-card

Christ is Born ! – Image Source: Holy Cross Monastery

Happy Nativity Christ was born 2022 years ago ! I wish a happy Nativity (Christmas).
ILet with the birth of Christ, his light and eternal dominion is born in us and lights us, as the star lighted the Magis who followed the Christmas star.

I wish my dear readers Peace, Love, Hope, Faith Good spiritual and bodily health and God's mercy by the prayers of the Holy Mother of God.

Saint_Alexander-Nevsky-Sofia-Bulgaria-Main-Cathedral-Church-fireworks
Saint Alexander Nevsky Largest Cathedral, Sofia Bulgaria. Tallest (53 m) and largest (by area and volume) cathedral in the Balkans and one of the 3 largest Eastern Orthodox Churches in Europe.

I wish you also a Happy New 2022 year ! Let the new year bring you new power to fight evil and do more good. Let the new year be peaceful, full of Grace and kindness to each of my dear readers ! Let the new year bring you more wisdom and understanding on everyone's life destination and bring you understanding on what is the proper things to do that would bring more joy and for our family, colleagues at work and people who surround is over the coming 12 months time.

Let each those who were sorrowful become joyful, those who hurted, get healed and those who worked hard find fruits out of their hard labor. Let those who hunger find food and those who are in pain find relief ! 
Use your obtained knowledge wisely and not only work on the mind  but work on the soul so they both become better !

Cheers and Happy New  Successful Year 2022 !!!

Feast of Saint Naum of Ohrid, One of the Holy Seven Apostoles and Enlighteners of Bulgaria and Slavonic Eastern Orthodox Churches venerated 23 December

Tuesday, December 28th, 2021

In Bulgarian Orthodox Church the feast of Saint Naum of Ohrid is marked right at the end of the Christmas Fasting Period only days before Nativity (nasci, which means "to be born.",  source, Latin nātīvitās (“birth”). See also naïveté, γέννηση (Greek)as known in the East or Christmas (Christ-Mass) or XMas, the "X" comes from the Greek letter Chi,as known in the West. 
The reason to celebrate saint Naum are twofold second, first is the fact he passed away on 23 of December year 910, and second with the aim is to underline the importance of his many translation works for the Cyrillic Medieval Enlightenment Renessance for Europe and Asian Lands thorough the many Bulgarian saints stemming from Saint Cyril and Methodius.

Saint-Seven-Apostles-of-the-Bulgarian-and-Slavonic-Churches-SvetiSedmochislenitsi-3

Saint Seven Apostles contemporary Mosaic Saint Sofia Church, Sofia Capital of Bulgaria

The enlightement spreading the new translated understandable texts for the Slavonic "Sea" of people and even in far asia for Slavs and respectively the Slavonic Churches, the biggest member of which is now the Russian Orthodox Church and through later through Orthodox Russia enlightened with Holy Orthodoxy Asia (China, Japan) and Africa. Back then among 1/3 of all the civillized world has been in contact or can speak some form of slavonic and the fact that the Holy Bible, and the Church books were translated for the Slavs has been unthinkably great.Today among 1/10 of the world still speaks and writes some form of Cyrillic thanks to the great works of Saint Naum and the rest six of the Holy Apostles, that are nowadays little known in Russia and the rest of Slavonic world.

Saint-Seven-Slavonic-Apostles-of-Bulgarian-and-SLavonic-Churches-Sv_Sedmocislenici_with_Jovan_Kukuzel_in_Ardenica

St. Seven Numbers and St. John Kukuzel. A fresco from 1744 from the main church of the monastery in Ardenitsa (present-day Albania), built on the foundations of the Holy Trinity Church, built with the patronage of St. Tsar Boris the Baptist. Written by the brothers Constantine and Anastas Zograf from Korca.

The names of the Seven Holy-equal apostles are  Saint Cyril and Methodius who created the Glagolitic script, and their five students Kliment, Naum, Gorazd, Sava and Angelariy.[ 3 ]. Another person we know of the of constellation of God enlightened apostle equal is Constantine of Preslav also considered a direct disciple of Methodius, the Church traditionally does not include him because he is not canonized (even though there is high probability he has been no less saint than the 7th). Saint Constantine of Preslav he is an author of the Alphabet prayer and multiple other Church books and works that are now completely destroyed and lost.

Saint Naum of Ohrid or Preslav himself was a medieval Bulgarian scientist (if we talk in terms of todays science), writer and saint. The Orthodox Church also venerates him as one of the Holy Septuagint translators as he used the famous Septuagint translation of the Bible as a specimen for his Cyrillic script translation.

 

Church sung chants on St Naum Feast

Troparion, voice 4

He left the world, became attached to Christ, crucified his flesh and lived spiritually, blessed Nahum.
You have endeavored to ascend in the way of the apostles, you have converted many, countless Moesians to the faith,
therefore, with your prayers, deliver us from temptations.

Kontakion sung, voice 3, similar to Virgo today

The honorable memory of your bright deeds, shining like a great sun for all,
enlightens those who sing to you, and casts out demons and all infirmities,
therefore, gathered with love, we truly praise her. 

St_Naum_of_Ohrid_Last_Quarter_of_XIV_Century_St_Mary_Perivleptos_Church,_Ohrid_Icon_Gallery


Short Biography of Saint Naum


Biography Information about his life before arriving in Bulgaria is scarce.
According to one of his biographies, he was born in Moesia, "of noble parents", but despising wealth and nobility, he joined Cyril and Methodius [1] 

 According to the life of Cyril and Methodius by Clement of Ohrid, Nahum participated in their mission in Great Moravia, and in 868 was ordained in Rome. In 886, Nahum was expelled from Great Moravia after spending some time in prison for his resistance to the influence of the German clergy. He arrives in Bulgaria together with Kliment Ohridski, Sava, Angelariy and Gorazd. Monastery "St. Naum ”on Lake Ohrid Naum is one of the founders of the Preslav Literary School (originally in Pliska, that was a major Capital of Bulgaria at that time and first Capital of Bulgaria [2] ). In Pliska St. Nauh worked between 886 and 893 on copying important books of the bible and multiplying the still scarce Church books in Bulgarian. After Clement of Ohrid was appointed bishop of Drembica in 893, Nahum continued his work at the Ohrid Literary School. During this period he founded a monastery on Lake Ohrid in honour of Saint Archangel Michael (a very likely reference to Baptizmal name of Saint King Boris the Baptizer of Bulgaria who accepted the name Michael in his Baptism. The monastery in Ohrid, where his holy relics lays till this day in a small grave  is now named in honour.

Monastry-of-St-Naum-Ohrid-Lake

Monastery of Saint Naum of Ohrid started by saint Naum

Even though the scarce information we have for the saint, the honour to Saint Naum over the centuries from the Slavonic Christiandome has been enormous and he has been especially invoked by people who suffer attacks by unclean spirits or are suffering long years sickness in heavy condition. In modern Theology he is also known under the name Saint Naum of Preslav-Ohrid a reference to the two major Bulgarian cities where he has done his spiritual labour in translating texts from Greek and perhaps Latin to the freshly invented Bulgarian alphabet recently reformed by his teacher Saint Kliment Ohridski who by himself has been a pupil of the Inventors of the Glagolic at that time Old-Bulgarian alphabet Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius.

Monastery-of-Saint-Naum-Lake-of-Ohrid

Up view to Monastery of Saint Naum of Ohrid (the Church size was common in the time the aim of Building small Churches was to show the humbleness of Faith)

Venerable Nahum of Ohrid was the youngest of the disciples of the holy brothers Cyril and Methodius, in the town of Devol, Macedonia, instructed in the faith of Christ, fought there and died in 910.


Dormition-of-Saint-Naum-of-Ohrid-presentation-to-Christ
Dormition of Saint Naum of Ohrid

His relics are a source of healing. Venerable Naum Ohridski died on December 23, 910, when his memory is celebrated even till today especially in Bulgaria and today's Macedonia which back in the day has been part of the Bulgaria (the far border of Bulgaria, historical Albania was just 300 meters from Ohrid's Saint Naum self-built Monastery).

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Sea view to Monastery of Saint Naum Ohrid

Ohrid-Saint-naum-holy-Archangels-Church

Peacocks in the back yard of Saint Naum Church (peafowl has been common Christian symbol in the early centuries)

Since ancient times the Ohrid Archbishopric (which over the centuries has been usually identified with Bulgaria), closed as an independent in 1767 as desired by Turkish Sultan with the help of Ecumenical Patriarchate. In Bulgaria there is established June 20 as a day for a more solemn celebration of his memory.  [ 4 ]

Saint-John-of-Shanghai-and-San-Franciso-the-Wonderworker
Saint John Maksimovich (Bishop of Shanghai and San Francisco)

A curious and little known fact from the Life of almost contemporary 20 century saint John Maksimovitch (Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco) is Saint John of Maksimovich discovered about Saint Naum's existence "by accidence" during his studies. Finding a relief and spiritual enlightment and support from the Saint he used to go to hospitals to pray for the sick holding an icon of saint Naum of Ohrid invoking his holy prayers, throughout his life he held a severe reverance for the saint, thanks to whose prayers Saint John Maksimovitch presented himself to Christ, passed to eternal life on his feast day 23st of December.

Saint-Naum-and-Saint-Clement-of-Ohrid-Bulgarian-Enligtheners-and-one-of-seven-apostle-equal-man-enlighteners-of-the-Slavs

Saint Naum (right side) and Saint Clement of Ohrid
 

St. Naum Preslav-Ohrid remarkable Enlightener [ 5 ]

Author: Ivan Grudev

 

Brethren, let it not be without remembrance
Elder Nahum, this brother, comrade and
compassionate of Blessed Clement …
From the oldest biography of St. Naum, first quarter of the X century.

St. Naum Ohridski. Stamp of H. Zhefarovich, 1743. 1150 years have passed since the birth of Presbyter Nahum, the student, collaborator and successor of the great work of the equal apostles Cyril and Methodius, one of the most prominent figures of medieval Bulgaria.

The son of "his noble parents", Nahum grew up in Moesia (the biographer used the unofficial name of Bulgaria throughout the Middle Ages, and more likely – the medieval regional name of present-day Macedonia – Lower Moesia). There he joined Cyril and Methodius, "Who then walked all over the Bulgarian land, striving to convert the seduced to the Orthodox faith … To bring many to the Christian faith and enlighten them with the light of truth … translated the divine scripture, the old and the new, from the Hellenic (Greek) language to the simple Bulgarian language and invented letters for the Slavic language themselves "; or to Methodius during his reign as a Slavic principality in present-day Eastern Macedonia from approximately 837 to 847, or to Constantine-Cyril during his fateful mission among the Bulgarian Slavs of the Bregalnica valley (present-day northeastern Macedonia) from 855 to 859

The biographer's announcement that Nahum was the brother of Kliment Ohridski was accepted by most researchers in a spiritual sense – that the two were close associates in the great and long struggle for the establishment of the Slavic-Bulgarian education and literature. It seems the truth is different. A careful analysis of the facts that have come down to us cannot but lead to the conviction that perhaps Nahum and Clement were in fact brothers. The role of Nahum, the older brother, in relation to the ten-year-old and more talented Clement (born in the second half of the thirties of the ninth century), is strikingly reminiscent of the tender care and unwavering support of Methodius to Constantine. Cyril.

Both Nahum and Clement faithfully followed the Thessalonian brothers, providing them with the closest help and cooperation in their missions among their compatriots – the Bulgarian Slavs, the Khazars, Moravians and Pannonians, "Walking with them everywhere, even to ancient Rome."

After the death of Methodius on April 6, 885, Nahum was probably one of his closest students, who helped Clement to quickly write the Extensive Life of the immortal Slavic-Bulgarian first teacher, to raise him along with the previously written Extensive Life of Constantine-Cyril as a shield for the preservation of the works and covenants of the Holy Brothers among the Western Slavs. But their efforts are in vain. The united union of German feudal lords, the Catholic clergy and the traitors of the Moravian princely court subjected the work of Cyril and Methodius in Moravia and Pannonia to pogrom and destruction.

Clement's biographer reports that the persecuted students of Cyril and Methodius "longed for Bulgaria, thought about Bulgaria and hoped that Bulgaria was ready to give them peace." Such feelings and such aspirations could be felt only by people in trouble abroad, to their Fatherland, from which they once left with their favorite teachers around the world.

Unlike the Moravian and Pannonian students, who were thrown into prisons or sold into slavery, and some, such as Methodius' successor Gorazd and killed, Nahum, Clement and Angelarius, as Bulgarian subjects, were forcibly expelled from Moravia.

Reaching Belgrade with all their might, the three martyrs were received with great reverence by the Boritarkan (according to a later report, Prince Radislav), the Bulgarian military and civilian governor of the northwestern lands, as long-awaited guests. 
Saint-King-Boris-Baptizer-Sveti_car_Boris_pokrystitel

Saint King Equal-to-the-Apostles Boris-Mikhail from (852–889, Church feast 2 of May)


For a short time still holding a title Prince Boris-Mikhail enjoyed the dear guests in the capital Pliska, who brought there the light of the work of Cyril and Methodius, the most priceless treasure of the people and the state. The weary Angelarius died quickly, and after a short rest Clement took the road to the extreme southwest of the Bulgarian land, the territories most recently liberated from Byzantine rule, where the Greek cultural and religious influence of the great centers of Thessaloniki and Drach was almost irresistible. The highest state interests urgently demanded the creation of a hearth of Slavic-Bulgarian education and literature in order to save the Bulgarian language from the Greco-Byzantine aspirations. By order and with the generous help of Prince Boris-Mikhail, Clement established an educational and literary center in Devol (now a non-existent city in southern Albania).

Only Nahum remained in the northeastern Bulgarian lands. He was given a similar task. In order to avoid an undesirable complication of relations with the Greek clergy in Bulgaria and Byzantium behind them, again with the help of the wise ruler Nahum organized a Slavic-Bulgarian educational and literary center for the northeastern lands, but not in the capital Pliska, where the Greek Archbishop of Bulgaria, and in the nearby Slavic settlement of Preslav (and Clement chose for his activity not Lichnida, today Ohrid, the metropolitan center of the southwestern lands, but Devol, a city of the same diocese). The younger student of Metodiev, Konstantin Preslavski, reports that he was inspired by Nahum to write his Teaching Gospel. This announcement proves that the leader and organizer of the Preslav educational and literary center was Presbyter Naum.

After the brilliant research of our late scientist Prof. Ivan Galabov at the University of Salzburg, the use of non-scientific terms "Preslav Literary School" and "Ohrid Literary School" is no longer justified, as "school" primarily means individuality, originality, internal autonomous development. Prof. Iv. Galabov proved the very close cooperation between the artists from Devol-Ohrid and Preslav, in the undisputed championship and influence of Veliki Preslav, in which such giants worked as Presbyter Naum, Bishop Konstantin Preslavski, Presbyter John Exarch, blacksmith Dox (see Chernorizets Hnorizets Presbyter John, Presbyter Gregory the Monk, Blacksmith Tudor Doksov, Prince Simeon, etc., while the achievements of the Devolsko-Ohrid center are the work of only one Clement, although a giant of spirit and word. As far as Devol-Ohrid and Preslav flourished not only education and literature, but also fine and applied arts, architecture, crafts, etc., for which Prof. N. Mavrodinov proved their stylistic unity throughout the era of the First Bulgarian Kingdom, despite the insignificant local differences, the scientific concepts are "Devolsko-Ohrid Cultural Center" and "Preslav Cultural Center". 

The-Grave-of-Saint-Naum-of-Ohrid-one-of-the-Seven-Apostles-of-Bulgaria-and-Slavonic-lands

The Grave of Saint Naum Ohrid (situated near the Northern Wall of the Church)

In his monastery on December 23, 910, the famous educator and benefactor of the Bulgarian people died, buried by his "brother, comrade and compassionate" Bishop Kliment Ohridski. His tomb is preserved to this day in a special chapel to the right of the altar of the monastery church.

Although the church has been rebuilt twice, the temple built by Nahum has remained the central building of the present one. This surviving church, with the tomb of Naum Preslav-Ohrid and its highly artistic frescoes from 1806, the work of painter Tarpo Konstantinov from Korca (probably Debar master, settled there, or a descendant of Debar settler), in which central place is occupied by the images of Prince Boris-Michael, the Holy Septuagint – Cyril, Methodius, Clement, Nahum, Gorazd, Sava and Angelarius, separately of Nahum, Clement and Prince John-Vladimir, is the most exciting pantheon of the First Bulgarian Kingdom and his Golden Age.

No, the presbyter Naum Preslavsko-Ohridski was not left without remembrance and praise. No Bulgarian has forgotten that he is one of the first masters who laid in Preslav and Ohrid the foundations on which Bulgarian culture is built from then until today. And forever.

 

Used Sources

1. ref (Duychev, Ivan. Extensive Greek biography in the service of Naum Ohridski, in: Duychev, Ivan. Studies on Medieval Bulgarian History and Culture, Sofia, 1981, p. 178. )

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pliska

3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Apostles_of_Bulgarian_Orthodox_Church

4. Extensive Orthodox Monthly lives, ed. Tavor and Lives of the Saints, Synodal Publishing House 1991

5. First publication on the Internet liternet.bg. 

6. http://www.pravoslavieto.com/life/12.23_sv_Naum_Ohridski.htm

7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_I_of_Bulgaria

8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clement_of_Ohrid

Few words on Saint Prophet Daniel feast day in Orthodox Church December 17

Friday, December 17th, 2021

Saint-Prophet-Daniel-orthodox-icon 

 

Few words on Saint Daniel the Prophet Feast

 

Many of us today in the world who are baptized and members of the Church or do at least accept the Christian principles deeply routed in most of the Civillized developed workd tend to excuse themselves for not being good and doing the righteous things, thinking it is hard to stand for the christian principles and norms in a general antichristian atmosphere pointing it as a reason to not follow the guidance recommendations of the Church.

However we should not excuse ourselvse with the circumstances or the Church clergy who seems to us to not follow properly the spiritual vows. We should not excuse with time we're living in as it is reflected in perfect examples in the spiritual life of the saints and the practice of monks, who always have the golden rule to not excuse themselves for anything in the world for not following Gods perfect will and predestination in the good.

Lets look at the first Christians who lived, did their life was easier or more favourable than today for confessing the faith ? Even materially if we think at the times back then most people were poor, they have attained everything they had with a hard labour and was busy 24/4 / 7 days a week, there was no medicine for almost nothing except few herbal treatments, there was no dentist, no electricity and no transport. The doctors who can help at times of sickness were few, in the beginning of Christianity, it was prohibited to be Christian and being a Christian was a sure sentence for death sooner or later, not to mention that emperors and the powerful of the day were requesting from people obedience in anything they say and slavery was popular and even many much more than today lived all their live in slavery both physical and spiritual (as most people did not have the chance to hear the Graceful words of the Holy Gospel). Priests were scarce, there was practiculally no education and there was no easy way to produce and keep information, paper was not there. Having a book was only possible for few of the richest people who were the top layer of society. The few knowledgable who can read or knew solution to the innumerable problems of man were considered nobles (Elders / wise men)  had been often wanted and scarce as well as kept near the "top management" people who governed society society – kings, emperors, governors or amy man. This is rawly how the world looked back then. Even though that people both Christians and non Christians had been more stronger in spirit and had been unshakable in their decisions for confession their life credo. 

Saint-Prophet-Daniel-icon-slavonic

  • Those old nobles have been divided  generally speaking into two categories the fraudants:
    Wizards (whose wisdom was received by the demons)
  • Second truthful ones
    Servants of God the prophets the righteous, the Jewish priests who confessed truely the One True God, the saints and other gifted people by God.

Tomb-with-relics-of-Saint-Daniel_at_Assa
The most likely location of holy relics of Prophet Daniel Tomb of Daniel at Susa, Iran

Among the truthful ones perhaps most significant for elevating the humanity from the worst to perfect are the prophets, who has the revelation from God directly from God, to be leaders and examples for perfection of the religion, moral and political life for the Old Testamental choosen people the Jews and respectively after Christ's crucifix the Christians who has held their place as the true choosen children of God and through them for the gentile.

Today we celebrate the memory of one of the supreme prophets who has lived in world for all ages – Saint Prophet Daniel his name is delivered from Jewish and means "God (El) is my judge"

saint-Prophet-Daniel-with-a-scroll-orthodox-icon-cyrillic

Daniel and the Stone Slavonic Icon (Bulgarian ?)

Prophet Daniel is the biblical hero of the Book of Daniel who interprets dreams and receives apocalyptic visions. His book is one of the most notable prophetic book in which in a hidden way it is said what is expecting the world until the end of the times.
 

The Prophet Daniel appears in the Old Testament in the Book of Daniel as a captive carried away to Babylon by order of Nebuchadnezzar after the fall of the kingdom of Judah during the sixth century before Christ. His ministry as a prophet came late in his life. He is commemorated by the Church on the December 17.

While remaining loyal to his faith in the one God, Daniel attained a high position of the court of Nebuchadnezzar and was known for his skill in the interpretation of dreams (Daniel 1:17 and 2:14) and of mysterious handwritings on the wall. He is included in the Septuagint among the prophets and was referred to by Christ as a prophet in Mark 13:14 and in Matthew 24:15. The precise time and circumstances of Daniel's death are not recorded. By tradition his age at death was near 100 years. A number of places have claimed to be his place of burial, including Susa in present day Iran, Daniel's Tomb in Kirkuk in Iraq, as well as Babylon, Egypt, and Tarsus.

He is a descendant of Jude's knee, he was descending of noble rich family, presumably he might have descendent even from king's line an evidence for that is the Chaldean king Nebuchadnezzar II, after the conquest of Jerusalem in (year 607 B.C.) give an order to select the best and most educated and intelligent from the captured jews with the goal to learn the Chaldean language and receive education, and prepare for a government service.

These young man has been put into many temptations as the custom of the chaldean civillizations was pagan and contradicted the jewish.
Four of the chosen ones were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (who as an attempt to change the mindset and are identity of the ones and distant them from their original jewish mindset, were renamed with the Babylonian names of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah even though the babylonization attempts of their identity, have shown severe firmness and continued to follow the Jewish Law of Moses.

As they were part of the kings palace courtiers, they lived surrounded by luxurity, they did not forget God's law diligently they prayed and eat as food only bread and fruits, refusing any food given by the Kings table as this food has been consecrated to the pagan idols the babylonians were worshipping.

The good God seeing the perseverance in goodness of the youngsters and their fortitude in confession of truth and strict follow the Mishrah (the law of the jews) gifted them with amazing abilities to understand visions and dreams.

Catacomb-of-Priscilla-Fiery_furnace_01

Catacomb of Priscilla, Rome, late 3rd century/early 4th century.

At the beginning the four were not among the famous ones in the babylonian kingsdom, however they became famous as the king has called them to interpret a troubling dream he had – a dream the king immediately forgot. Noone among the wise mand and wizards couldn't neither tell the kings dream nor tell what it meant thus, by God's providence the 4 ones whose fame continuously grow in kingdom were summoned and Daniel could interpret the kings dream and the meaning of it. The king out of amazement decided for future to always council the the 4 God people, as he saw their wisdom exceeded the wisdom of the other liege in the kingdom. Daniel and his 3 friends were tested by the fire, as they have been thrown in fiery furnace fire, as a punishment for their rejection to obey a Golden pagan idol statue as god, breaking the king's decree.

Sveti-Otroci-v-Peshti-ikona

Icon Source: Pinterest

In the burning enormous fire the king was amazed to see not 3 but 4 people (the fourth one was an Angel of God who was protecting them). The fire not only did not damaged them even though it was all throughout their body but did not even burn the clothes or the hairs on them. 

Prayer of the Three Holy Youths known in Church as "The Song of Daniel" 

The Prayer of the Three Holy Youths is a component of the biblical Book of Daniel. It is a segment of a larger component called The Prayer of Azariah and the Prayer of the Three Holy Youths which. although part of the Septuagint text, is considered by Protestants as part of the Apocrypha rather than a fully canonical part of Scripture, and so appears in most English-language bibles as a seperate section. If included within the larger text of Daniel, it would appear in the third chapter of between verses 23 and 24.

In Orthodox Christian worship, the prayer is the basis of the seventh and eighth biblical canticles sung at Orthros. Although the text of the canticles are generally not read in contemporary practice, the hymns sung as part of the canon reference the theme of the Three HolyYouths. At Vespers of Holy Saturday, the text of the prayer is heard as part of one of the fifteen Old Testament readings prescribed for that day. In Byzantine practice, the closing refrains to each verse "bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever" are chanted elaborately.

The song constitutes a hymn of thanksgiving to God for deliverence from the fiery furnace into which the three young men, Ananias, Azarias and Misael (also known as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) had been cast by the Persian king Nebuchadnezzar. They were cast into the furnace for refusing to worship a golden idol that Nebuchadnezzar had created. However, an Angel of the Lord entered the furnace and protected the three young men. In liturgical practice, the event is seen to presage the Resurrection of Christ, thus its inclusion in the canon.

The Abingdon Bible Handbook (ISBN 0687001692) suggests that the Prayer was based on an earlier composition and was added to the existing text of Daniel sometime in the second or first century B.C.

The Song of the Three Holy Youths​

Text

Blessed art thou, O Lord God of our fathers: thy name is worthy to be praised and glorified for evermore:
For thou art righteous in all the things that thou hast done to us: yea, true are all thy works, thy ways are right, and all thy judgments truth.
In all the things that thou hast brought upon us, and upon the holy city of our fathers, even Jerusalem, thou hast executed true judgment: for according to truth and judgment didst thou bring all these things upon us because of our sins.
For we have sinned and committed iniquity, departing from thee. In all things have we trespassed, and not obeyed thy commandments, nor kept them, neither done as thou hast commanded us, that it might go well with us.
Wherefore all that thou hast brought upon us, and every thing that thou hast done to us, thou hast done in true judgment.
And thou didst deliver us into the hands of lawless enemies, most hateful forsakers of God, and to an unjust king, and the most wicked in all the world.
And now we cannot open our mouths, we are become a shame and reproach to thy servants; and to them that worship thee.
Yet deliver us not up wholly, for thy name's sake, neither disannul thou thy covenant:
And cause not thy mercy to depart from us, for thy beloved Abraham's sake, for thy servant Issac's sake, and for thy holy Israel's sake;
To whom thou hast spoken and promised, that thou wouldest multiply their seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand that lieth upon the seashore.
For we, O Lord, are become less than any nation, and be kept under this day in all the world because of our sins.
Neither is there at this time prince, or prophet, or leader, or burnt offering, or sacrifice, or oblation, or incense, or place to sacrifice before thee, and to find mercy.
Nevertheless in a contrite heart and an humble spirit let us be accepted.
Like as in the burnt offerings of rams and bullocks, and like as in ten thousands of fat lambs: so let our sacrifice be in thy sight this day, and grant that we may wholly go after thee: for they shall not be confounded that put their trust in thee.
And now we follow thee with all our heart, we fear thee, and seek thy face.
Put us not to shame: but deal with us after thy lovingkindness, and according to the multitude of thy mercies.
Deliver us also according to thy marvellous works, and give glory to thy name, O Lord: and let all them that do thy servants hurt be ashamed;
And let them be confounded in all their power and might, and let their strength be broken;
And let them know that thou art God, the only God, and glorious over the whole world.
And the king's servants, that put them in, ceased not to make the oven hot with rosin, pitch, tow, and small wood;
So that the flame streamed forth above the furnace forty and nine cubits.
And it passed through, and burned those Chaldeans it found about the furnace.
But the angel of the Lord came down into the oven together with Azarias and his fellows, and smote the flame of the fire out of the oven;
And made the midst of the furnace as it had been a moist whistling wind, so that the fire touched them not at all, neither hurt nor troubled them.
Then the three, as out of one mouth, praised, glorified, and blessed, God in the furnace, saying,
Blessed art thou, O Lord God of our fathers: and to be praised and exalted above all for ever.
And blessed is thy glorious and holy name: and to be praised and exalted above all for ever.
Blessed art thou in the temple of thine holy glory: and to be praised and glorified above all for ever.
Blessed art thou that beholdest the depths, and sittest upon the cherubims: and to be praised and exalted above all for ever.
Blessed art thou on the glorious throne of thy kingdom: and to be praised and glorified above all for ever.
Blessed art thou in the firmament of heaven: and above ail to be praised and glorified for ever.
O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever,
O ye heavens, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye angels of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O all ye waters that be above the heaven, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O all ye powers of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye sun and moon, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye stars of heaven, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O every shower and dew, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O all ye winds, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever,
O ye fire and heat, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye winter and summer, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye dews and storms of snow, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye nights and days, bless ye the Lord: bless and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye light and darkness, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye ice and cold, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye frost and snow, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye lightnings and clouds, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O let the earth bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye mountains and little hills, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O all ye things that grow in the earth, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye mountains, bless ye the Lord: Praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye seas and rivers, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye whales, and all that move in the waters, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O all ye fowls of the air, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O all ye beasts and cattle, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye children of men, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O Israel, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye priests of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye servants of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye spirits and souls of the righteous, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye holy and humble men of heart, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever: far he hath delivered us from hell, and saved us from the hand of death, and delivered us out of the midst of the furnace and burning flame: even out of the midst of the fire hath he delivered us.
O give thanks unto the Lord, because he is gracious: for his mercy endureth for ever.
O all ye that worship the Lord, bless the God of gods, praise him, and give him thanks: for his mercy endureth for ever.

 

Daniel and the Lions Den

Daniel was also thrown at another time in a Den hole with Hungry Lions (a typical fun for Romans usually the victim was a very dangerous criminal), however in adverse to the well known natural laws instead of cutting him into pieces eating him the Lions started licking the legs of Saint Prophet Daniel.

Daniel-and-lions

The Grace of God in Holy Prophet Daniel restoring the original Lions nature of grass-feeding animals as they were.
The abundance of Grace of the Holy spirit of the Lions turned them to treat the prophet as Cats would their beloved master.

Prophet-Daniel-and-in-the-Lions-Den-Daniil_DanielsDen_MarcellinusAndPeter

Daniel and the Lions (Book of Daniel 6:16-24)fresco of catacomb of Saint Marcellinus and Peter in Rome

Daniel and his friends, even though the paganism has followe their faith and establishment of the fathers, even though the hardship. How sad it is that today many of us are excusing with the time and the situation or encirclement as a reason to not follow the prescription spiritual cures of the Church (The holy mysteries, Confession, Repentance, Fasting and Holy Communion).

No ! We should not excuse ourselves with the situation and time of living. Are the first Christians lived in more benevolent world and did this stopped them from following Christ's teachings strictly and go for a martyrdom to them following the bright examples of the prophets ?
 

Church Troparion sung on Church service (Tone 2)

Great are the accomplishments of faith,
for the Three Holy Youths rejoiced in the fountain of flames as though in the waters of rest;
and the prophet Daniel appeared,
a shepherd to the lions as though they were sheep.
So by their prayers, O Christ God, save our souls!

 

Kontakion sung on Church service (Tone 6)

You did not worship the graven image,
O thrice-blessed ones,
but armed with the immaterial Essence of God, you were glorified in a trial by fire.
From the midst of unbearable flames you called on God, crying:
Hasten, O compassionate One!
Speedily come to our aid,
for You are merciful and able to do as You will.

Troparion-of-saint-Daniel-17-December-Church-Slavonic

Troparion of Saint Daniel and the three Jewish Youths Feast sung in Church (Church Slavonic)

Today 17 of December, we celebrate prophet Daniel and the the three Jewish youths Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, were chosen to serve the worldly emperor, but they preferred ofthe One God and be God's choosen people than to choose the temporary world glory.

Let us also follow the example of saint Daniel and the three Youths, and follow the Gods revelations, the divine revelation moral law nevertheless of the environment and the circumstances, because God shows mercy to those who love him and his laws. 

Let by the Holy Prophets Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah God have mercy on us all the sinners ! Amen!

Text Translated from Bulgarian from Father's Karamihailev Preach (A Priest in Bankia's Church Saint Cyric and Julita) with inclusions

Historical and other references used:

 

1. The Holy Bible also briefly mentions three other individuals of this name: The Book of Ezekiel (14:14, 14:20 and 28:3) refers to a legendary Daniel famed for wisdom and righteousness. In verse 14:14, Ezekiel says of the sinful land of Israel that "even if these three, Noah, Daniel and Job, were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness."

2. In chapter 28, Ezekiel taunts the king of Tyre, asking rhetorically, "art thou wiser than Daniel?" The author of the Book of Daniel appears to have taken this legendary figure, renowned for his wisdom, to serve as his central human character.
3. The Book of Ezra (8:2) mentions a priest named Daniel who went from Babylon to Jerusalem with Ezra.
4. The First Book of Chronicles (3:1) mentions a son of David called Daniel.

5. https://orthodoxwiki.org/Prophet_Daniel
6. https://orthodoxwiki.org/Prayer_of_the_Three_Holy_Children
7. Orthodox Church Service Liturgical Books (Chasoslov)
8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel
9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_(biblical_figure)

Saint Holy Rightous Joachim and Anne the partents of The Virgin Mary Mother of God feast in the Eastern Orthodox Church

Thursday, December 9th, 2021

Saint-Joachim-and-Anna-and-Jesus-Virgin-Mary-the-Mother-of-God

Feast day is cebelrated today in our Mother Church the Holy Eastern Bulgarian Orthodox Church 9th on December 9th December.
The name Joachim as derived from (/ˈdʒoʊəkɪm/; Hebrew: יְהוֹיָקִיםYəhōyāqīm, means "he whom Yahweh has set up"; Greek Ἰωακείμ Iōākeím)..
Anne, alternatively spelled Ann, is a form of the Latin female given name Anna. This in turn is a representation of the Hebrew Hannah, which means 'favour' or 'grace'. Saint Joachim has been a descendent of the bloodline of Saint King David (the one to whom the Psalms section of the Bible are ascribed) and Anna descends out of the Aaron the brother of Moses (who is the father of priests family line in Judaism).

Saint Joachim and Saint Anne are two less known saints in nowatimes even though in the Middle Ages this feast has been enormously popuplar in Both the Orthodox Christian East and the Roman Catholic West.  

St. Joachim and St. Anne (Anna) has been called Holy Righteous by the Church for a good reason. For they have possessed immerce sanctity that only of the born on earth ever have. They were called Saint Holy and Righteous, for a reason, and perhaps little might know but their is a sanctity hierarchy in the Church and the reason this accent of 3 words of the Church fathers is to emphasize the couple of St. Joachim and St. Anne had exceeding grace.
Saint Joachim and Saint Anne just like the Holy Family of Holy Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph are the Christian model for perfect famly in virtues, which all Christian families should try to follow to their maximum. The celebration of St. Joachim and St. Anne feasts seems to have been on purpose put to be done during the Christmas Fasting period for a reason, as for another preparation for the Great feast of Christ-mass known in the Church as Nativity (which improperly is unknowingly profanized by many with the abbreviation XMAS).

Lets shortly see few details of the Earthly Living of the two saints and why the Holy Fathers who prepared their Living we read today, call them with this grandiose epithets – Saint, Holy and Righteous.


Holy

  • They have lived all their live in servitude for the sick poor the hungry and the weak and dedicated all their God given lifetime in service for all whose begged in need.
  • They have been praying regularly and longly for the goodness of Mankind and families all around
  • They have been strictly following God's Old Testamental Jewish laws


Righteous


The english word Righteous stems from the Word 'Right' for a good reason as in the light of the Holy scriptures the Right side has been always associated with Good and the Salvation for the reason we know from Revelations that when time comes for God to judge the nations and everyone's individual deeds and rights as Christ has told in the Gospel those who have been done right (e.g. they have done good) and persevered to do good things throughout their short lifetime, will be put on the Right side of God – those are the so called Sheeps of Christ, the Unrighteous one will be put at the Left hand on the Judgement and will be cast out of the face of God because of their own undesire to receive and reflect the light of Christ (just like the Moon reflects the Light of the Sun) and transfers it to the earth and gives Light at night, each mans eternal God's predestination is to be like this receivers and reflectors of the Grace of The Holy Spirit.
Saint Joachim and Saint Anne has been such reflectors in such a enormous size that most of the Light they have emitted from God was transferred to rest of their relatives and people to whom they were continuously at help and as we believe in the Orthodox Church this process of re-emission of light is continuing even today. As we believe those who have departed from this life and have been favorable for God are staying in front of the face of God and praying fervently incessantly to God for the good of mankind. 

Saint-Anne-detail-national-from_Faras_National-Museum-Warsaw

Saint Anne fresco from Faras Gallery in Warsaw


True Saints

The saintship is a quality one receives as a Gift from God as we read in the patristic literature and cannot be attended by deeds, however the greatest gifts of God due to the practice were given to those who have persevered to suffer, greatest trials, persecution, shaming, hatred and lack of reception in society for their confession of the faith – this as we know in the New Testamental Church of Christ is mostly seen in the Holy Martyrs who confessed Christ to the degree they preferred to give out their life and bodies to martyrdom than to reject Christ.
Saint Joachim and Saint Anne even not a physical martyrs has the same perseverance even before the age of the Martyrs (that had been at highest degree in the first  centuries 1-st, 2nd, and Third century until Christianity has been legalized in the Roman Empire by Saint Constantine).

They longed for a child but remained childless into their old age (which can be equalled to martyrdom – many couples even today know how uneasy it is to live together for a very long time and not to be able to have inheritance).

Because of their continuous fasting periods they have followed, St. Joachim and St. Anne did not have much of physical intimacy (or sexual life) as we use to call it today, we know today that the lack of intimacy doesn't bring babies, plus the fact that it was obviously Gods desire for them be childless  until their very old age.
However  not realizing this once they have bring their Thanks Giving offerings according to Jewish law they have been ashamed by the Jewish Priest in the Solomon Temple in Jerusalen, even in their old age – (the jewish priests, just like our Christian priests are absolutely forbidden to insult anyone, and insulting an old person was a taboo back then just like it is considered bad today) being blamed for not being able to carry out a Child. 
Being shamed by a Priest at the community of jews was a terrible thing and some would even commit suicide.

Saint_Joakim_Joachim-Orthodox-icon

Others who had children jostled Joachim, thrusting him back as unworthy. In despair, he consulted the geneological records of the tribes of Israel and discovered every righteous man in the nation had been blessed with children, except him. 
This caused the aged saints great grief, and he and his wife left with heavy hearts.

However as the couple was saintly their reaction was to seclude from people and pray secretly to God. 
Saint Joachim went to the desert and fasted and prayed grieving with inhumally for 40 days, and saint Anne stayed and grieved in her garden thrice as first she has never had the chance to become a mother and she was publicly ashamed at their community and did not know where her Husband has been, perhaps thinking he might passed out somewhere because of his exceeding grief.

Sts. Joachim and Anna had been married for fifty years, and were barren. They lived devoutly and quietly, using only a third of their income for themselves and giving a third to the poor and a third to the Temple. Joachim had done this since he was 15-years-old, and God multiplied his flocks, so the couple was well provided for. 


The Miracle of Faith, Hope and Love – The Birth of the God-Mother the Queen of Heaven Virgin Mariam
 

Saint-Joachim-and-Anne-Chanter_Angelos_Akotandos_-_St_Anne_with_the_Virgin

God has seen the great grief of the two and as he is merciful worked a great miracle just like with  Abraham and Sarah, and give them a blessed child to comfort their old age, which will become later the Holy Virgin Mary (Theotokos / Богородица), to become the Mother and Hope and all Humanity from which the Light of the World and Saviour Christ was born. 

Holy-Righteous-Joachim-and-Saint-Anne-Birth-of-Virgin-Mary

God sent the Archangel Gabriel to each of them, who gave them tidings of the birth of "a daughter most blessed, by whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed, and through whom will come the salvation of the world." Each promised to have their child raised in the Temple as a holy vessel of God. The archangel told St. Joachim to return home, where he would find his wife waiting for him in the city gate. St. Anna he told to wait at the gate. When they saw one another, they embraced, and this image is the traditional icon of their feast.

Saint-Joachim-and-Anne-with-Holy-Virgin-Mary

St. Anna conceived shortly thereafter, and in the ninth month gave birth to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This Conception of the Most Holy Mother of God is celebrated by the Church on December 9 and the Nativity of the Theotokos is celebrated on September 8.

God sent the Archangel Gabriel to each of them, who gave them tidings of the birth of "a daughter most blessed, by whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed, and through whom will come the salvation of the world." Each promised to have their child raised in the Temple as a holy vessel of God. The archangel told St. Joachim to return home, where he would find his wife waiting for him in the city gate. St. Anna he told to wait at the gate. When they saw one another, they embraced, and this image is the traditional icon of their feast.

Ikona_Kopiya_Sveta_Pravednaya_Anna

St. Anna conceived shortly thereafter, and in the ninth month gave birth to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This Conception of the Most Holy Mother of God is celebrated by the Church on December 9 and the Nativity of the Theotokos is celebrated on September 8.

Sts. Joachim and Anna took Mary, at the age of three, to the temple to be dedicated to the service of the Lord, and presented her to the priest Zechariahs. The parents then, after offering up her sacrifice (according to the custom of the time), left the Virgin with other maidens in the apartments of the temple to be brought up therein. The Church commemorates the Presentation of the Theotokos on November 21.

 Although Anne receives little attention in the Latin Church prior to the late 12th century, dedications to Anne in Eastern Christianity occur as early as the 6th century.

Bistritsa Monastery of Saint Jaochim and Saint Anne (near Sofia, Bulgaria)

The Bistritsa monastery "St. Yoakim and Anna" is located in the Mali dol part of the Vitosha mountain, about 2 km to the south-east of the village of Bistritsa.

Bistrishki-monastery-st-Joachim-and-st-Anna

Short History

According to priest Dragomir Kotev, author of regional studies of Bistritsa, during the time of Tsar Boris I or later during the rule of Simeon, a great temple was built there and was expanded during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. It was part of the monastery complex called "The Little Mount Athos."

Bistritsa-monastery-st_Ioakim-Anna-Church

During the siege of the Ottomans and after strong resistance, the fortress and monastery were destroyed, and during the Ottoman domination the ruins of the old monastery were buried deep in the ground. The site was marked by a stone cross and people continued to gather at the sacred place. During excavations in the 20 century, the cross was discovered erect placed in what is today's holy throne in the temple. Now the cross can be seen outside the church.

Saint-Joachim-and-Anne-Bistritsa-near-Sofia-monastery-Cross

During the period of the Bulgarian Revival the memory for the monastery continued to exist.
The monastery "St. Peter" which had existed on its present place in the IX—X century, was destroyed by the turks in the XIV century. Its foundations were discovered in 1925 and the present church was sancrified in 1950. After the Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule in 1878 the church was rebuilt as a chapel. The construction of the present monastery is connected with the visions of the prophet Bona Velinova. On Orthodox Sunday (the first Sunday of Lent) in 1925 she spent the night in fasting and prayer, and in the morning gave a detailed explanation of how the church destroyed by the Ottomans looked like. Bona ordered people to dig and foundations of the old temple were discovered. She said that it should be rebuilt, and called after the holy family pf Sts. Joachim and Anna. Since then, every year on Orthodox Sunday a solemn service takes place here. The new church was built with funds and volunteer work from local people in the period from 1936 to 1950 and was consecrated on August 6, 1950. Legend has it that the treasures of the last Bulgarian kings are buried somewhere around. Not far from the monastery there is a a spring. Here on Christian holidays, after services in the monastery, pilgrims come to drink water from the holy spring. They believe that this water cures eye diseases. 
During the period 1965-77 residential buildings were built. The complex consists of a parish church, the St. Ivan Rilski chapel and a massive building to its right, a kitchen and rooms. 

At present the monastery functions regularly. It is a complex including a church, one-nef, one-apse, with a cupola and inner and outer narthex, residential and farm buildings. The church was built over a mound necropolis, and under the church nef there is a preserved ancient vault from the end of the IV – the beginning of the V century (3,35 x 2,99 x 2,28 m), to which a stone staircase from the narthex.

Bistritsa-Monastery-saint-Joachim-and_Anne-near-Sofia-Church-view-to-altar

The iconostasis of on the picture is from the palace (chapel) of last Bulgarian King Boris III. It was brought to the monastery after 1944.

Let by the Holy Prayers of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne God grants mercy and Grace to All families everywhere and to everyone that is grieving
God provides his abundant consolation of the Holy Spirit so we can endure the temptations and hardships of life !

Amen