Posts Tagged ‘feast day’

Saint Luke of Odrin, a Glorious Bulgarian XVI century Christ martyr who publicly refuted Islam, feast day 23 of March

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022

Saint_Lukas-of-Odrin-Adreanopolis-icon-Bulgarian-martyr-saint-of-ottoman-time

Holy Reverend Martyr Luka (the bulgarian name for Luke) was born in city of today's Edirne ( Odrin ) formerly known as Adreanopolis to pious Bulgarian parents – Atanas and Dominica. After the early death of his father, his mother gave him to a rich merchant from (Zagor) today's city Stara Zagora in Bulgaria, who treated him like a son.
The merchant once went to Russia, taking 13-year-old Luka with him.
On his return he stopped in Constantinople.

There Luca quarreled with a turk and started beating him. Then the enraged Turks captured him and wanted to kill him.
The frightened Luke shouted: "Let me go! I will convert to Islam!"

The turk immediately took him in and forced him to renounce Christ and convert to Islam, which the young boy did out of fear.
But after the fear passed, Luke became frightened by his action, lost his joy, and began to repent bitterly.

He reported himself to his batismal father (have to say at that time the importance of the God-father was very enormous much more than today). 
His father tried to release him with the help of the Russian ambassador.
But the evil turk, instead of freeing the boy, tied his hands and forcibly circumcised him.

After some time, Luca managed to escape from this Turkish home where he was forced to work as being counted a member of Islamic community and introduced himself to the Russian ambassador, who in attempt to save him from his slavery, sent him to the cities of Smyrna and Tire.
There Luke became seriously ill and, fearing death, called a Christian priest.
After hearing his confession, the priest advised him to retire to Mount Athos and repent there under the guidance of virtuous men.
After his recovery, he actually followed the advice of the clergyman and entered the Iviron  Athos Monastery, where he was restored to his Christian faith through the sacrament of Holy Anointing.

Saint_Loukas-Mytilene-confessor-Christian-martyr-who-denounced-Islam-neomartyr

Saint Luka of Odrin ( Adreanopolis ), the saint is well known in Greece as Saint Luke of Mytiliny (Mytilene a main city
in Lesbos Island Greece)

From there he moved to the Stavronikita Monastery, where he received a monastic vow.
But the enemy of human salvation did not give him peace.
Continuously Driven by temptations, he fled from one monastery to another. He went to the  Bulgarian "Zografski" ( Zographou ) monastery (from where he returned to the world, but failed to calm down, came to Mount Athos again) and then consequentlially to  Xyropotamou, Koutloumousiou  ( Kutlumush ), Saint John's Scyte, Grigoriou (Grigoriat), Saint. Anna Scyte.

Saint_Loukas of-Odrin-Adrianople-icon

Thinking about why he has no peace during all this time, but always moving from place to place, he came to the conclusion that this is a punishment from God for his denial of the Christian faith.

So he came up with the idea of ​​martyrdom (as a mean to redeem his sin) and shared it with some clergy: no one dared to recommend a martyrdom to him because of his youth.
But in the end, seeing his unwavering determination, the priest Ananias gave him a cell rule in preparation for martyrdom for Christ. Then the clergyman Visarion cut his hair in a Great Schema " μεγαλόσχημος" monastic vows and went with him to the island of Mytilene (today in Greece).

After partaking in the Holy Mysteries of Christ, St. Luke dressed as a Turk and went to the Qadi (Judge – qadis have been an institution in cities in Turkish empire pretty much like today's Courts).

He told allegorically how he was forcibly converted to Islam, openly renounced ungodly Islam and professed the Christian faith in the following way:

He went beforte the kadi and asked him in loud voice,

"Is it just for me to be deceived, a child like myself?"

The kadi asked,
"And who deceived you?"

Luka responded,

"Someone deceive me, giving me a badge of islam [meaning circumcision."

The kadi then asked to see the badge. But when Luke went to open his clothing, those
present in the courthouse finally understood what he meant and shouted for him to stop.

Luka then said,

"Being a young child of thirteen, I was deceived by you
and I came over to your religion, not being able to discern
the truth from falsehood. I therefore remained
with what is false and a lie for some time because I
understood your religion was not true, but false.
And he whom you call a prophet is not a prophet but a
deceiver and a mythmaker, and he has deceived all of
you and you believed him . Having therefore been
informed that your religion is darknes, I reject
it before you and I confess my former Christian faith
which is true light. I believe and worship a true God,
my Lord Jesus Christ who will come to judge all
the world, the living and the ded, and who will render to
each according to his works. If you do not believe in
HIm. as I do, you will all be damned."


The kadi further asked Luka where he is from and he said he has came to this place by ship from Russia as Russia has been considered the only country protectorof Orthodox Christians in the empire and
wanting to protect his relatives and the Church hierarchy in the Empire from from further beating or destructions of Churches and arrests of Orthodox Priests and clergy within the empire by the turks.

He further asked:
"Where are you staying?"

"Nowhere. I did not stop anywhere, but came straight here."

The kadi turned to the others in court and said,

"He is crazy. See if he recognized his own shoes."

Luka turned and immediately rushed to find his shoes and showed them
to the kadi and said,

"I am not crazy, as you say. Here are my shoes. I brought them in Constantinople."

The kadi said,
"I am sorry for you son.
If you do not listen to me,
you will suffer many torments, many of which
you have not even heard. So think well."

Luka replied:

"I have already though on all the torments which you
can inflict on me, and I have come. So, whatever you
plan to do to me, do it quickly, without delay, and be
assured that I am clean and blameless and I will not deny
my faith. I am an Orthodox Christian and I will die an
Orthodox Christian. I worship Christ and it is Christ
whom I desire. I confess him here where I once
denied Him in ignorance and I proclaim Him with true knowledge."

All-Bulgariasn-saints-Church-service-icon-Vsi_Bylgarski_svetii_sluzhba
All Bulgarian Saints icon, Christ in Glory surrounded by
Bulgarian saints – below Christ throne – Saint King Boris the Baptizer
and Saint Patriarch Euthimius, the monastery on the Bottom Rila Monastery
The first by importance and Largest Monastery in Bulgaria, Saint Loukas of Adreanopolis
is also commemorated on this date too

Neither the caresses and promises of the Muslims nor the threats of torture could shake the hard young man in his determination to die for Christ. The Turks beat him severely and threw him in prison, shackling his legs. At that time all the churches were praying for the martyr.
The Metropolitan of the island and the Elder Visarion managed beseech to send him to prison the Holy Mysteries of Christ for the last communion.
Finally, the judge saw Luke's unwavering firmness and sentenced him to death by hanging.
When the executioner hoped for the noose around his neck, he said,
"Confess Muhammad, our great prophet, and we will let you go!"

The Holy Martyr replied,

"I believe in my Lord Jesus Christ and I worship Him alone!"

St. Luke was hanged on March 23, 1802 at the age of 16.

The holy body of the martyr remained hanging on the gallows for three days, but during all this time it remained white and beautiful, emitting an unusual fragrance.
After three days, the Turks tied a large stone around his neck and his body was thrown into the depths of the sea, but instead of sinking, it remained with the stone on the water surface. When night came, the Christians found him on the shore and handed him over to the earth with due honors. The other clothes of the Venerable Martyr received healing power and by touching them the sick received healing.


Let by the Holy Prayers of Saint Luka of Odrin, God quickly grant all People worldwide more peace, love, hope, faith and wisdom that are so desperately needed today !

Text on the living of the saint  extracted from:
1.  Lives of the Saints. Ed. † Bishop Parthenius (Levkijski) of Lefkada, archim. Dr. Athanasius (Bonchev). Synodal Publishing House, Sofia, 1991
2. Witness for Christ: Orthodox Christian Neomartyrs of the Ottoman Period 1437 – 1860 by Nomikos Michael Vaporis p. 252-257

 

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

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

Tuesday, October 26th, 2021

Sveti Dimitar Solunski_kopie-ikona

Bulgarian icon of Saint Demetrius

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

Saint-Demetrius-and-Saint-George-icon-St-George-killing-Dragon-saint-Dimitar-killing-a-man

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

saint_Demetrios_of_Thessaloniki_icon_on-graved-stone

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

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

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

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

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

saint-Dymitr_z_Salonik-sankt-Peterburg-icon

Saint Demetrius Russian Icon

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Medieval_Bulgarian_King_Asen_portrait

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

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

Bulgarian-icon-of-saint-Dimitar-the-Myrrh-Bringer-Ikona-na-sv.Dimitar-Mirotochivi

Bulgarian Medieval Icon of Saint Demetrius the Myrrh-Bringer

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

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

 

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

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

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

Byzantine_themes-in-Bulgaria-on_the_Balkans-map-11th-12th-century
The Byzantine themes (or districts) of Bulgaria and Paristrion 

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

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

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

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

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

Saint_Demetrius_Tarnovo_Church-Klearchos

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

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

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


Saint_Demetrius_Bulgarian_icon-1824_Sveti_Dimitar

Saint Demetrius Bulgarian icon year 1824

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

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

Saint_Demetrius-Holy-relics-relics

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 30th, 2021

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

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

Simon_ushakov_last_supper_1685

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

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

(Gospel of Mathew 10:2-4)

 

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

(Luke 6:13-16)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Synaxis_of_the_Twelve_Apostles_by_Constantinople_master_early_14th_circa_Pushkin_museum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.  Saint Jacob the Zebedee (30 April)

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

5. Saint Apostle Philip (14 November)

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

7. Saint apostle Thomas (6 October)

8. Saint apostle Mathew – evangelist (16 November)

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

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

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

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

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

 

24th May Day of Slavonic Writting and Culture

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

st. Cyril and Methodius Zahari Zograf painted icon from Trojan Monastery from the year 1848

On 24-th of May as an old tradition we in Bulgaria celebrate the Day of Slavonic/Slavic Writting and Culture.

It’s quite of feast, the streets are full of people and everybody wents out to celebrate or have a walk as the whole day atmosphere is extremely cheerful.
Until some years during communism on 24th of may was also a Church feast day of st. Cyril and Methodius, however since some years the Bulgarian Orthodox Church decided to commemorate the two saints on a different date.

However the secular educational tradition of remembering the two saints memory on today’s date next to considering the holiday as the official feast of triumph of educational enlightenment and science is still alive in the primary and secondary schools.
24th of May is also considered as the official day of Bulgarian and Slavonic Writting and Culture.
The two saints Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius are considered to be patron saints protector of all Schools, universities and educational institutions in Bulgaria.
On this date it’s common that a bit of secular icon images of the two saints to be holded in a public schools manifestation, where specially dressed pupils play music with trombones and drums and all teachers and students does a manifestation lined in a column in the streets (this tradition is a hermitage from communistic times as manifestation on major celebrations were a common thing during the communism years, when Bulgaria was part of the USSR).

24th of May public school pupil Manifestation

24th of May is considered maybe the brightest public feast in Bulgaria, even the secular atheist and unbelievers connect the day of 24th May celebrations with St. St. Cyril and Methodius who historically are the founders/inventors of the Slavonic writting letter and thus highly respected among all Orthodox Christian slavonic nations and as far as I know even are being known and venerated in some countries in the Roman Catholic western world (I’ll be glad to hear if some western people who are subscribed to my blog, give some reports if they know the two patron saints of Slavonic Culture.

Many cities in Bulgaria has an official local city feast on 24th of May. Dobrich my home city also marks off it’s public holiday on 24th of May.

Many small and middle sized villages also does celebrate heavily on this date, as the so called (people gatherings / (sbor as we call them in Bulgaria)) are occuring on this date.
On this assemblies, where people goes out to buy stuff, we have a lot of gipsies who sell a various hand-made food as well some gipsies home-made children toys 🙂

It’s very pity I have no picture to show you what kind of bulk stuff the gipsies are selling via an improvised made kiosks especially for the fesat.
The gipsies sales all kind of weird food especially for the holiday like, (pink ice-cream, all colors sugar-cotton and pink cream, pink sugar sticks (shiker as we call it) and a tons of other weird foods you cannot see anywhere else)).
I’m quite convinced that every foreigner will truly enjoy this feast of ours and I recommend, if you’re about to come to Bulgaria to try to be in our country on this feast, it’s truly wild and natural as it is and always was in the bolkans ! 🙂
It’s also traditional on this date of triumph of culture that many cultural events around the country occurs, as well as the traditional folklore performers and dancers perform on the cities centres.

24 May Horo Folklore Dance on a City centre
Horo (Bulgarian Traditional Folklore Dance on a city centre)

To generalize 24-th of May is our greatest and brightest holidays here in Bulgaria, there is some kind of established believe that on this date the weather is always nice. This year this national believe come true, as we have a wonderful sunny day here in Bulgaria :).

Pomorie Monastery Holy relics from st. George’s day pictures

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Here are the pictures of the holy relics which were temporary sojourned in Pomorie’s Monastery for veneration in the the period 04.05.2011 – 14.05.2011.

It’s been like a tradition that the monastery is blessed with having a different saints holy relics on the Monastery feast day (St. George’s day).

Last year in the monastery were exhibited for veneration the holy relics (the hand remains) of St. Dasius

This year the holy relics the good tradition by God’s grace was continued as the holy relics of the saints:

  • Saint Great Martyr George
  • Saint Venerable Macrina
  • Saint Marina
  • Saint Cyprian and Saint Justina

were for veneration in the Monastery Church called also Saint Great Martyr George / Sveti Velikomachenik Georgi

Here are the pictures of the holy relics I was able to obtain:

Holy relics of the hand of saint great martyr George / Georgi Saint Great Martyr George hand holy relics
Saint Venerable Macrina Holy Relics picture from Pomorie Monastery Saint Venerable Macrina Holy Relics (hand bone)
Saint Cyprian and Justina holy relics Saint Cyprian and Justina Holy relics
Saint Martyr Marina Holy relics (hand bone) Saint Martyr Marina Holy relics
There were also few other particles of saints which are permanently in the Pomorie monastery and christian pilgrims can freely go there to venerate them so I would not post pictures of this holy relics here.

What is really striking is that all the Holy relics had a very specific odor (similar to Roses) but as the monk Father Sergii said (an Odor not of this world).
God’s grace can be felt with one’s spiritual heart when he is near the holy relics of this great saints, the monk father Sergii also told me that the reason for the odor is that God testifies in through the odor that the holy relics belong to his holy saints.
Each saint holy remains had a different (parfume like) odor, it’s really amazing and hard to believe if you don’t smell it yourself but I have smelled the scent myself, the almost 15th century old bones (miraculously preserved by today) emits a specific beautiful odor.
The preservation of this holy relics for all this centuries is another great miracle of God, as any normal not hermetically preserved bone kept for veneration for all this years would have decayed by so far, however this saints relics are obviously not!
As you can see truly Great is God in his saints! Glory be to the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit now and forever and ever. Amen!

st. Georgi’s day in Pomorie Monastery st. great Martyr Georgi pilgrimage of the relics of saint great martyr George

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

the relics of saint great martyr GeorgePomorie Monastery st. (George) Georgi miraculous craeting icon of saint George

Currently I’m once again in Pomorie’s monastery for the Saint George’s day

It is the second year I take the time to come for a pilgrimage in Pomorie’s Monastery st. great Martyr George (Georgi).<</b>

I’m named after the great Christian saint (It’s my Name day today :)!) and I do wanted to receive a spiritual blessing here in the monastery.

The believing Orthodox Christians this year could receive a spiritual blessing this year from the Monastery as some of the Holy Relics of many great saints are temporary in the monastery for the Monastery’s feast day which is the day we commemorate our great Orthodox Christian martyr saint Georgi.

It’s unique that this year by God’s grace the monastery has temporary received a small particle of the holy relics of st. George.
The pilgrims could come here and does venerate the great saint martyrs for which I thank God for being allowed by his providence to be here in the monastery and venerate the holy relics.

Here are few photos of the Holy relics from the monastery, on the pictures you see the holy relics of Saint Cyprian & St. Justina on the right, st. George’s holy relics in the center and st. Macrina’s holy relics on the left.
Saint Georgi (George) holy relics in Pomorie Monastery Bulgaria

Abbot of Pomorie Monastery Father Ierotei and holy relics of st. Macrina

On the picture above you see the Abbot of Pomorie monastery Father Ierotei (who is a truly great father and a wonderful spirited man !) with the holy relics (bones) of saint Macrina on his left.

On this last picture you can see the holy relics of the Pomorie’s monastery embedded into icons (the two icons on the right).

Pomoriiski Manastir Holy relics

I thank God for blessing me with being here in this holy cloister and blessing me with being able to venerate the holy martyrs relics and through this bless me and strengthen me.!

It’s important to say that we the orthodox Christians had the tradition to venerate our saint holy remains as a way to venerate God himself in accordance to the holy bible psalm which says Great and Glorious is God in his saints!

I’m sorry to provide my readers with this bad quality pictures, I’ll try to put some better quality pictures of the holy remains in very short time.
Being able to show this holy remains to other orthodox christian brother and sisters is also a great grace and blessing which by God’s grace was given to us the sinners! Just to close I’ll say glory be to our God – The Holy Trinity now and forever and ever amen!