Posts Tagged ‘place’

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.

Saint-Therapontius-Theraponti-of-Serdika-Sofia-Sveti-Terapont-Sofiiski

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:

Saint-hieromartyr-Theraponti-Therapontius-of-Serdika-Sofia-icon

"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 !

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

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

saint-Georgi-Sofijski-noveishij-icon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

saint-Georgi-Sofijski-newest-icon-painting

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

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

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

Church-of-saint-Georgi-Sofijski-in-Alexandrovska-hospital-Sofia-Bulgaria-the-place-of-martyrdom-of-saint-Georgi-Sofijski
source: Lives of the Saints. Synodal Publishing House, Sofia, 1991, edited by Parthenius, Bishop of Lefkada and Archimandrite Dr. Athanasius (Bonchev).

Saint_Georgi-naj-novi_Sofijski

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

Exaltation of the Holy Cross day in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church / Veneration of the Holy cross church feast

Saturday, April 3rd, 2021

Exaltation of the Holy Christ Cross icon, day in the Bulgarian Orthodox ChurchThe Universal Exaltation of the precious and life-giving Cross XVII century – icon from village of Belovo Trqvna region

he Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross (Elevation of the Cross)'s day is feted on 14th of September each year in accordance to the new calendar order, according to old church calendar, the Church celebrated it on 27th of September.

The day is marked by a strong fasting, for short we refer in Bulgarian to this big Church feast as (The day of the Cross / Krystov den).
The Holy Orthodox Christian Church does worship the cross 4 times a year on:

  • Third Sunday after the start of the Great Lent
  • Holy Friday (Good Friday)
  • 1st of August
  • and

  • 14th of September – The Exaltation of the Holy life giving Cross

On this day, we the orthodox christians go to the Church and admirationally bow and kiss the Holy Cross on which our Saviour Jesus Christ suffered for our salvation.Through his cross suffering our Lord has granted to all of us the Christians an unbeatable "weapon" against evil and sin.
Through cross Christ has been victorious over sin and death.

According to old Church tradition, on the day Christian people were asking for the priest to go to their homes and do vodosvet (sprinkle their houses with a blessed holy water).Vodosvet is one of the Orthodox Church mystics, there is a specific prayers begging God for forgiveness of sins, asking for good health and blessing. The prayers are being red over a vessel containing clean water. Finally he blesses the vessel with Water with the life Giving cross 3 times (as a symbol of the Holy Trinity). Then the priest uses a the cross and a tiny piece of twig to sprinkle all the people and objects in the house.

On the holy exaltation of the holy cross feast we also celebrate also the following 3 events:

1. The miraculous appearance of the Holy Cross to emper st. Constantine
2. The finding in Jerusalem of the Holy life-giving cross in Golgotha
3. The return of the Life-giving cross from persian captivity
On 14th of September, according to Church tradition saint John of John Chrysostom has give away his spirit and joined the assembly of saints of God, however because of the Exaltation great significance, the church holy fathers decided that this is celebrated on 13th of September.

The Antiphon for the Exaltation of the Cross feast is singed and translated from Slavonic its meaning goes like this:

Troparion-Vyzdvizhenie-na-Svetiq-Kryst-Gospoden-Exalation-of-the-Cross-Church-slavonic

 

Troparion of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross voice 1 / Тропар на светия Кръст, глас 1

Спаси, Господи, люди Твоя и благослови достояние Твое, победы на сопротивныя даруя, и Твое сохраняя Крестом Твоим жительство.

Troparion voice 1

Save Oh Lord, your people and bless possession, grant us oh Lord a victory over our enemies and save your inheritance with your Cross

Troparion voice 2

You've been lifted willingly on the cross, grant you mercies to your inheritance oh Christ our Lord,
stregthen the spirits of the pious king and to your people,
grant us victory against our enemies,
Surround us with peace and with peace give us unbeatable victory

In the Glorification part of the Holy Liturgy feast service its singed:

We magnify you, oh Christ life giver,
and your Holy cross, because you have saved us from the enemy.

What does the Church tradition says about the finding of the holy cross of Christs sufferings?

After the Church crucifixion of Christ, according to the tradition of that times, the weapon for punishment from this kinds – the cross tree was buried in the ground on the same place, where the punishment was executed.
Following the tradition on Gologthas where Christ was crucified was buried the cross used for crucifixion.
In later times, emperor Adrian in his attempt to destroy christianity and the place of pilgrimage of Golgotha has issued an order to built a pagan shrine on the same place.
Later under the reign of Emperor st. Constantine the cross appeared in the sky in a miraculous way and again under his reign the Golgotha place which means literally translated( the place of the Skulls) was discovered.

Third Sunday after start of the Great Lent – Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross

Today 03.04.2021 we the orthodox are in the blessed period of the Great Lent. It is no coincidence the Church has set this feast on exactly this date. It is set on 3rd week of the 43 days (7 Weeks) that lasts the fasting period on the Eastern Orthodox Christian church because this is a little bit less than the half of the lent period. We know by the experience of spiritual fathers that once we start the job the hardest periods are nearby in 40% once the work is done and in that times it is a desire of the person to leave and quit the job but if he perseveres suddenly when the set goal is progressing this is overcome but then again in the end of the period of the goal to complete we start desiring to quit the started job and loose all energy put together, as a plan of the evil which wants us to always loose energy (both spiritual and physical) and never gain anything. Thus the Church set the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross to give us a way to attain new energy for the cross to be able to goodly continue in the deed of the lent. By the cross and his glorious power hence the spirit of despondency is crashed down and we're strenghtened and rejoice for the great glory our God has given us.
The_Exaltation-of-the-Holy-Cross-of-Christ-bishop-Polikarp-Bulgarian-Orthodox-Church
 

The exaltation of the cross is also a feast of everyone celebrating his own cross. The victory over death and everything was once fulfilled by Christ on the Cross. The humanity is saved already but it is up to everyone's free will to accept this salvation or not. The path is set it is the path of the Cross of Christ, meaning acceptance (humility) of all the unpleasant life events and situations, accepting everydays unexpected changes believing that this is God's providence and cross for each one of us, accepting the pain and suffering that is part of the personal cross we hold, accepting that one day our beloved and friends will pass away from this life, accepting the fact we age and the aging guarantees sufferings of the body but the spirit is refreshed by the grace of God, accepting all and enduring everyhing for the sake of the cross … 

Sunday-of-the-Veneration-of-the-Holy-Cross-Bulgarian_Orthodox-Church

The cross is a holder of the Universe and there is no power that will ever overwhelm it as it is said in the Church singings The Cross is the Holder (binds together) the whole universe. It is by the Cross all the evil has been conquered and life eternal has been giving. The path of the cross is the suffering, this is hard for the modern man to accept as we have been set to believe the only measure for success is prosperity, personal well being, physical health, posessing things. On the contrary the Christian says the most blessed and best thing one can have is the cross meaning personal suffering for and with Christ. By the suffering of the Cross Christ has glorified the bodily flesh he was possessing while being on earth in the body. By the Cross Christ has become the one begotten of all the sons of God. By the cross saints has conquered all evils and has sanctified, by the cross we still continue to progress in the goodness. 
Let with the Holy miracle making power of our Saviour's cross by the prayers of all the Saints and our Theotokos (Holy Virgin Merry) God grant to all of us christians victory of our enemies! Amen

 

Saint Petka Paraskeva of Bulgaria of Epivates Thracia (famous as St. Petka of Tarnovo) feast day 14 October

Friday, October 16th, 2020


Sveta-Petka-Paraskeva-Bylgarska-Balkanska-Epivatska

The inhabitants of Thracia are of a great and royal origin and due to recent historical studies, Thracians have been one of the most developed nations for its time they're developments and achievements especially in crafts such as vessel creation even up to day are perhaps the most unique.
It is still unknown of the exact technology used to create such a elegant and precise vessels. A little is known of the Thracians society as they have reached their bloom in a high speed and the place of the later Roman Empire province Thracia has been in a place where it was destroyed to the ground and robbed at multiple times eradicating unique piece of one of the best created ever forms of art.
Territories of Thrakia has been geographically today located in Southeast Europe, now split among Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey, which is bounded by the Balkan Mountains to the north, the Aegean Sea to the south, and the Black Sea to the east.

Thrace_and_Thracians-present-day_state_borderlines-picture

Territy of Thracia shown on a contemporary European (Balkans Maps)

World-famous-Thracian-Treasury-picture-1

One of the most famous piece of such art is the World Famous Thracian's Treasuary.

World-famous-Thracian-Treasury-picture

The thrakians Empire and civillization has its bloom from 5th – 4th century before Christ era (B.C.). 
Saint Petka of Epivates region Thrakia was of a Bulgarian origin and lived much later in Xth – XI-th century A.D in Thracia. It is known she was of Bulgarian origin (her mother and father was of Bulgarian origin.) of the first generations who has received in 9-th century Baptism, in the times of the Baptism of Bulgaria conducted by the Apostle equal Saint King Boris I the Baptizer of Bulgaria in year 864 AD.  Thracians as an ancient and a blessed nation in craftship and arts was among the nations who received baptism on a good 'soil', as the seed of beauty and goodness has already been in their civillization.
 

The short Living of Saint Petka of Bulgaria (of Epivates)


Out of this Christian atmosphere has rised Saint Petka also known as (Parashkeva). Saint Petka name means literally translated Friday and due to being born in Thracia on today territory of Balkans she is been venerated highly not only in Bulgaria but across all Orthodox Christians nations on the Balkans – Bulgarians, Romanians, Serbs, Greeks, Macedonians. Due to that Saint Petka is also famous as "Saint Petka of The Bulkans".
Saint Petka could be therefore heard to be called often Petka of Serbs (of Belgrade), Saint Petka of Moldova (of Iași), Mother Paraskeva / ParashkevaParascheva the New, Parascheva the Young, Ancient Greek: Ὁσία Παρασκευὴ ἡ Ἐπιβατινή, Greek: Οσία Παρασκευή η Επιβατινή ή Νέα, Romanian: Cuvioasa Parascheva, Bulgarian / Serbian : Света Петка / Sveta Petka or Петка Параскева / Petka Paraskeva, Paraskeva Pyatnitsa, Parascheva of Tirnovo).

The first information about her living is found in a local educated person (writter) which as of the time were too little and writter  in Greek in short. It did not follow the Church cannons and due to that by an order of Patriarch of Constantinople Nikolas IV Musalon of Constantinople deacon Vaslik has described in a more well systemized way her living, the Greek original unfortunately is now lost. At the time of writting her biography, she has been mostly popular in the realms of Byzantine Empire Thracia.

Bulgarian-Empire-under-King-Ivan-Asen-II-map-1917

The Bulgarian Empire during the reign of Ivan Asen II. Atlas of Dimitar Rizov year 1917

Since the time of King Ivan Asen II a new biogprahy of saint has been written in Bulgarian which included narration of the transfer of her holy relics to Medieval Capital of Bulgaria Tarnovo. However peak and the key towards the immerse veneration to St. Petka that is evident to this very date has played the biography written by last Bulgarian Patriarch also a saint – st. Euthymius of Tarnovo. in year 1385 AD short before the fall under Turkish Slavery of Bulgaria in y. 1393.

Saint Patriarch Eutymious was the last person who in 1393 has actively parcipated in the protection of the fortified Tarnovo and see with his eyes the fall down of the city (by treachery).

When asked by the terrified people 'To whom do you leave us holy father, when the Turkish were taking him away?' He replied heart tearingly 'To the Holy Trinity The Father, The Son and The Holy Trinity our God I leave you and to the most Blessed Mother of God Theotokos now and For Eternity !!!'

Saint-Patriarch-Eutymious-the-last-Blessing-picture-sveti_Evtimij_seten_blagoslov

Saint Patriarch Eutymius (Evtimij) blessing the people in Medieval Bulgarian city Tarnovo for a last time before the Turkish took him away for imprisonment
Picture source Pravoslavieto.com

St Euthymius of Tarnovo work is one of the most unique bibliographies and a precious piece of medieval literature it is innovative for its time and spectacular, emotion rich creation, who become famous far before the borders of Bulgaria in the whole Slavonic world of that time, especially in todays territory of ex soviet countries Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and even far Russia.

Saint_Patriarch-Eutymius-last-bulgarian-patriarch-before-Turkish-Slavery

Saint Patriarch Eutymious of Bulgaria
Picture source Pravoslavieto.com

The veneration of Saint Petka of Bulgaria as a protector of family and a warm prayerer for all those who venerate her in this country has slowly spread in the coming centuries by pupils of St. Euthymius of Tarnovo who according to some historians whose works came to us in the form of the a bit more standardized Church Slavonic used in the Eastern Orthodox Churches as a fruit of the works of St. Euthymus.

The Living of Saint Petka Parashkeva

Sveta_Petka-Bylgarska-Balkanska-holy-icon

Saint Petka Parashkeva Picture source Pravoslavieto.com

Tropion 4-th voice

 Desertous and silent living you loved after Christ your groom, diligently you ran to and his good yoke you took in your younghood,
with the Sign of the Cross against the thought enemies you have manly armed, with fasting feats and prayer and with tear drops the coals of passions extinguished oh highly famed Paraskevo. And now in the Heavenly halls with the wise virgins you stay in front of Christ, pray for us who venerate your holy remembrance.

Kontakion, voice 6

Let us piusly sung our reverend  mother Saint Petka, because by living the corruptable in live, received the imperishable in eternity, becoming holy intercessor for all in trouble and exhausting from the evils of life. For the reason she received from God imperishable fame, glory and grace to be a wonder worker.

Sveta-Petka-Zakrilnica-Bylgarska-Saint_Petka-Protectress-of-Bulgarian-lands

NB ! St. Petka of Epivates has not to be confused with Saint Petka (from Inokia who lived in 303 AD venerated on 28 of October) or  St Petka the Roman (feast day 26 July).

St. Petka's  has been born in city of Epivates in Byzantium (today city called Selim Pasha nearby Odrin's Aegian City) in 10-th Century from a famous and respectful family, her father Nikita has been very rich landowner.

She lived in the second part of X-th century. According to hear living by Patriarch Eutymious, her smaller brother Eutymious who become a monk has been a Metropolitan of Maditos for 40 years and in year (989 – 996) died aged 81 and is shortly after canonized as saint, his younger sister St. Paraskeva passed away after him in the new 11-th century and is aged at least 85 in the time of passing in the city of Kallikrateia. 

The living continues that near the age of 10 year old she heard in a Christian temple a voice by Jesus Christ himself in resemblance to Saint Apostle Paul and said the Evangelical New Testamental words:
"Whoever wants to walk after me, let him deny himself, to take his cross and follow me !".

The unexpected vision convinced the young Paraskeva to immediately exchange her new clothes to a beggers to leave all her belongings to the poor and live a silent living similarto begger for a time in work and prayer, though she did not leave her parents home. On a few occasions all she had worked for has been distributed to the poor.

Sveta-Petka-Bylgarska-Balkanska

Greek typical depiction of Saint Petka of Epivates

When her parents died, her brother as already a monk and Bishop. St. Petka leave her house and travelled to Constanople and received a nun tonsure and as a nun she lived for 5 years near the deserted Church of the "Protection of the Virgin Mary" in the capital suburb of Heraklia. She travelled to the Holy lands visiting Jerusalem and Church of Holy Sepulchre.
Following the example of the blessed famed Saint Mary of Egypt, she lived in Jordan's desert many years till eldership.

Feeling and foreseeing her death, she travelled back through Constantinople to city of Epivates. Settle near the Church "Holy Apostles", where after 2 years of living in deep prayer and fasting labours living in solitary in holiness passed away silently to Christ in heavenly life. Compassionate Christians immediately buried her body of the nun outside of the city walls as a foreigner. A shortly after numerous miracles started happening on her grave.

St_Petka-Parashkeva-Epivatska-Klisura_Monastery_Holy_Icon

Saint Petka Parashkeva Bulgarian Icon from Klisura Monastery located nearby Sofia Bulgaria

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

Saint_Petka-Epivatska-Bylgarska-Romanian-in-Iashi-Romania-veneration-of-romanian-monks

Romanian Monks and Priests venerate the holy relics of Saint Petka of Epivates in Iashi Romania

In subsequent years, St. Petka Paraskevi’s holy relics were transferred to various churches in the region.

In 1393 due to the fall of Bulgarian capital to save them her holy relics were transferred to fortress of Bdin today city of Vidin Bulgaria, but 3 years later 1396 Vidin's fortress also fall under the ungodly yatagan of  the muslim enslaver and to protect the relics they were again transferred to Belgrade, specifically the Ružica Church. When Belgrade fell to Ottoman forces in 1521, the relics were transferred to Constantinople. In 1641, the relics were transferred to Trei Ierarhi Monastery, in Iaşi, Moldavia (nowadays, eastern part of Romania). In 1888, they were transferred to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Iaşi.

Since 1888 they are kept in Romanian city of Iaşi and are a target of pilgrims from all around Romania, Bulgaria and other Orthodox Christian countries of the Balkans. For the day her memory is remembered in the Romanian Church usually about 200 000 people mostly from Romania and others travel to Iaşi's Cathedral in the Trei Ierarhi Monastery (Three Hierarchs – saint John Crysostom, St. Basilius the Great and St. Gregory the Great) of the  for a blessing and to beg the saint for her families, personal issues, curings especially of eye diseases

A severe drought in 1946-47 affected Moldavia, adding to the misery left by the war. Metropolitan Justinian Marina permitted the first procession featuring the coffin containing the relics of Saint Paraskevi, kept at Iaşi since then. The relics wended their way through the drought-deserted villages of Iaşi, Vaslui, Roman, Bacău, Putna, Neamţ, Baia and Botoşani Counties. The offerings collected on this occasion were distributed, based on Metropolitan Justinian's decisions, to orphans, widows, invalids, school cafeterias, churches under construction, and to monasteries in order to feed the sick, and old or feeble monks.

In the historical document with Venezia as of (year 1347), King Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria swears in the name of most holy considered matters, the document says – quote "in the name of God, The Most Holy Theotokos, The Holy Cross and The Most Holy Paraskeva of Tarnovo".

 
Since Second Bulgarian Kingdom, St. Petka has been venerated as a main patroness and protector of Bulgarian nation and country, protectress of countries of Moldova, Romania and Bulgarian cities of Veliko Tarnovo, Gabrovo and Troyan.

In Bulgaria it is an old tradition to name our childs in favour of Saint Petka, my grand-grand mother God Forgive us has also been called Parashkeva in favor of Saint Petka.

Holy Mother Petka Paraskeva (Parashkevo) Pray the Lord Jesus Christ to have mercy on All us the sinners !

The beheading of Saint John the Baptist feats in Eastern Orthodox Church – A short history of saint John Forerunners Holy Relics

Saturday, September 14th, 2019

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Saint John the Baptist (The Forerunner of Christ) is all known for being the baptizer of the Lord Jesus Christ in Jordan's river in Israel.

However as nowadays most people are away from the Church and from traditions, that many generations of our ancestors used to follow, little know the details of his beheading and the meaning of why he is venerated so much by so many generations in the last 2000 years.

Thus In this small article, I'll try to shed some light on the Saint John Beheading feast known in Church Slavonic world as Oseknovenie (Осекновение) = beheading and is considered a day of sorrow for the Church for the reason the biggest Old Testamental prophet, a hermit and a man of Gigantic spiritual significance Saint John the Baptist has been beheaded unfairly for having no fault at all but this happened so his righteousness raise up even more and be clear for the generations to come.

The feast of Saint John the Baptist is celebrated on 29 of August in Eastern Orthodox Church, where old Calendar Churches celebrate the feast (13 days) later on 11 of September – I'll not get into details about calendars as this is a long discussion for a separate article.

It should be said in the Church saint John the Baptist is considered the highest saint among all“the first among martyrs in grace”, venerated next in glory to Virgin Mary.

The Martyrdom of Saint John happened in the 32 years after the Nativity (The Birth) of Christ as this is said in the Gospel of Mathew 14:1-12 and Gospel of Mark (6:14-29) in New Testament.

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Many of the small details, we know about saint John and his earthly living are not given in the Gospel however, but are instead given in the Chuch Tradition (that is kept in the main books and the Living of the Saints, as well as all the books written by the officially canonized saints over the years that used for Eastern Orthodox Church services Singing for many centuries).

From there we know the beheading of Saint John happened short time before the Crucifixion of Christ. After the death of Herode the Great, Romans divided the territory of Province of Palestine in 4 parts and on top of each placed his governor.

Herodos Antipa received by Emperor Augustus Galilea as a territory of Governance. He had a law binded marriage, who was a daughter of king Arepha. Herod left her and cohabited (unlawfully) with Herodias who was his mistress and brother's wife.

As Herodos was a governer and recpetively example for all his subordinate in his Kingdom and was living unlawfully with that woman saint John who knew him personally rebuked him multiple times publicly advising him to leave that woman and live with his lawfully marriaged one as it was written in God's law – that such people are worthy for death just like moreover this was the unwritten law followed by all kind of peoples of his time from noble to smallest and poorest.

Herodoes did not listened and wanted to get rid of saint Johns somehow but he was scared to accuse him for some kind of kingdom lawlessness as the knew saint John was a true prophet of God and feared the people who recognized him as a true prophet  as well as feared he might be put off throne for his evil deed if he finds an excuse to kill the prophet of God.

As the critics on Herodoes living with a concubine while being in marriage, eventually not finding any other way to shut Saint John's mouth, king Herodoes put saint John in Prison with the excuse Saint John was a rebel and preaching things against established authority (About this event is said in Bible Gospel of Luke 3, 19-20).

For his birthday Herodoes prepared enormous banquet in which in front of the many invited guests danced (Salome / Salomia) – the daughter of Herod II and Herodias and her dancing was so much pleasing for the already drunk Herod and in his drunkenness he promised to give her anything she desired up to half of his kingdom.
Salome was still young woman and as it was the tradition then not knowing what would be the best to ask for, she asked her Mother and the Mother being in unlawful relations with Herod in her hatred for the rebuking prophet saint John asked, the head of Saint John the Baptist on a platter.

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The dance of Salome with Saint John's head on a Platter Orthodox icon

Even though Herod was appaled by this strange request, he had to reluctanly agree to keep his word as he was a ruler of a great power and for that time, not keeping a word publicly given would make him though weak, a fraudulant and eventually this will be reason for a rumors for his unseriousness to circulate the kingdom, thus unwillingly he agreed sent soldier to the prison to behead Saint John and the Head of the saint was brought to the perverted Solome and the harlot mother of hers Herodias.

Due to Church tradition when the Head of the 'Biggest in Spiritual Power' of Man born after Christ, as the Gospel speaks was brought to the lecherous feast, the Head even in the platter continued to rebuke, the unwalfullness of Herod.
 

The Jewish famous Historian Flavius Josiphus in his historical book Antiques of the Jews wrote, the reason for beheading of Saint John was:

"lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his [John’s] power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do any thing he should advise), [so Herod] thought it best [to put] him to death."

Flavius also states that many of the Jews believed that the military disaster that fell upon Herod as his throne fall a by the hands of Aretas his (father-in-law) was God's immediate punishment for unrighteous behaviour.
There is no exact date when behading of Saint John occured but the historians place it somewhere in year 28 or 29 A. D. (Anno Dommini).

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The body of saint John was buried immediately (separately from the body) as Herodias for her hatred for the prophet ordered the body to be buried separately from the head, it was buried in the small Palestinian Village (Sebaste), while Herodias took his holy head and buried it in a dung heep. 
Later Joanna (canonized later by saint known as Saint Joanna) – a wife of Herods steward, secretly went to place took the head and buried in the Mount of Olives, where it remained hidden for many centuries.

But the wrath of God is never late soon after Salome was passing a frozen river and while walking on it the ice collapsed and her body up to the head fall hanging in the water, while her head was sitting still over the water.
Just as she used to kick her feet on the ground, she was now, like dancing, making helpless movements in icy water.
 

So Salome hung until the sharp ice cut through her neck. Her head, cut off with a sharp ice, then her head was brought to Herod and Herodias, as John the Baptist's head had once been brought to them, and her body had never been found. The king of Arif of Arabia, in revenge for the dishonor of his daughter – the wife of Herod the four-owner – moved his troops against the wicked king and defeated him. The Roman emperor Guy Julius Caesar Caligula (37-41) in anger sent Herod, together with Herodias, into captivity to Gaul, and then to  . There they were consumed by the sprawling earth.


By a divine revelation the head of Saint John has been found in the 4th century (Celebrated in the Church with a special feast known as The First Finding of Saint John's the Baptist head by a governing official of Eastern Roman empire district who eventually choose to become a monk (monk Inokentij / Innocent). The head of saint John has been found by both divine revelation and the testimony of an Old Jew who confirmed the Jewish oral tradition for the burial of John the Baptist head on that exact place .
Innocent decided to build a Church and a monastic Cell in glory of Saint John the Baptist as the place was holy and sanctified by the graceous head of St. John.
Fearful that holy relics of such a high importance, might be soon stolen and sold, mocked over by unbelievers or destroyed, he immediately hide (burid) the St. John on the very same place, where he found it in the same vessel it was orginally.
Unfortunately on monk Innocent dead the Church fell into ruin was abandoned due to its desert location and eventually as it always happened in that times with old buildings, people used its construction stones for fortifying their own near village houses.

The Second Finding of the Head of Saint John the Baptist, happened some years later in 452 A.D. , during the days of Constantine the Great by two Christian monks who went for a Jerusalem for pilgrimage.who had God given revelation (Saint John himself appeared in a kind of a Vision to the two) and hsa indicated for the same hidden location where Innocent found it (laying under the Church ruins altar).
After digging on the place, the holy relic was found placed in a sack and brought with them to heir home land. On the way back they've met a potter not telling him what was inside the bag and asked him the bag to carry being lazy to do. Saint John the Baptist appeared the potter and told him to take his head and bring it away from this careless lazy monks immediately. The potter took Saint John's head home, and kept it there praying fervently to saint John the Baptist daily, soon before his death he put the head in a container and gave it to his sister.
The 1st and 2nd finding of saint Johns head is established as a feast celebrated yearly in Eastern Orthodox Church on 24 of February.

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The feast of Beheading of Saint John in the Church is always observed in the Eastern Orthodox Churches Bulgarian, Russian, Serbian, Greek, Romanian, Georgian etc. with a strict fasting as a sign for the great sorrow we Christians have for the beheading of the Greatest of Prophets and Highest in sight of God born of man.

In some cultures, the pious will not eat food from a flat plate, use a knife, or eat round or red food (such as tomatoes, watermelon, red peppers etc.) on this day.

A short time after a Hieromonk Eustathius (considered by Church historians) to be part of the Arian heretical division happen to have th chance to possess the holy head and he used it frequently to attract followers to the Heretical teachings of Arius (a Lybian heretic presbyter who was condemned in 325 A.D. on the First Council of Nicea convened by Saint Emperor Constantine The Great. Being in a hardships Eustathius buried the head in a cave near Emesa (circa 810 – 820) and soon after a monastery was built on that place by God's providence.

In the year 452, St. John the Baptist appeared to Archimandrite Marcellus of this monastery and indicated where his head was hidden in a water jar buried in the earth. The relic was brought into the city of Emesa and was later transferred to Constantinople.

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The current pressumable relics of head of Saint John the Baptist kept in San Silvestro in Capite Rome

The head of John Baptist disappeared once again after it was transferred from Comana of Cappadocia during a period of Muslim raids (about 820) and was again hidden in the ground during a period of iconoclastic persecusion.
After the veneration of icons was restored in year 850, A vision was revelead by God to patriarch Ignatius of Constantinople (ruling on patriarchial throne in 847 – 857) saw a vision revealing the place where the head of saint John was hidden around y. 850. The patriarch as the order was then communicated about his vision to emperor Michael III, who sent a delegation to Comana, where the head was found. Soon after the head was transferred to city of Nyc and here on 25 of May it was placed in a church in emperor court in Constantinople. The Church feast of the Third Finding of Saint John Baptist head is established for celebration in the Eastern Orthodox Church on 25 of May.

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Currently many small particles of Saint John Head are available for generation among many Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.

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The head  is claimed to be in San Silvestro (Saint Silvester) in Capite in Rome or in Amiens Cathedral, said to have been brought from Constantinople by Wallon de Sarton as he was returning from the Fourth Crusade.
There are also some sources claiming that the real head of John the Baptist is buried in Turkish Antioch or Southern France.

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Amiens Cathedrale Notre Dame France – one of most magnificent Gothic edifice in Europe.

During the French Revolution the kept Head in Amiens has been secretly hidden by the Amiens city Mayor in his own home to protect this sacred relic from the destruction (as many holy relics saints disappeared or have been destroyed) by the rebellious enraged crowds fighting for the rights of "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" being the goals of the Masonic bortherhoods and many secret societies in France in that time.

Also a reliquary at the Residenz in Munich, Germany, is labeled as containing the skull of John the Baptist by Catholics. In history some sources claim the St. John used to be owned by Knight Templars
А piece of Saint John Baptist skull is held at the Eastern Orthodox Romanian skete Prodromos on Mount Athos.

Further on according to Church tradition saint Luke the Evangelist went to the city of Sebaste bringing with him the right hand of Saint John the Forerunner which was conducting numerous of miracles.

Some of the Relics of John the Baptist are said to be in the possession of the Coptic Orthodox Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great in Scetes, Egypt.
It is said John the Baptist's arm and a piece of his skull can be found at the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, Turkey.

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It is said John the Baptist's arm and a piece of his skull can be found at the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, Turkey.
At the time of Mehmed the Conqueror, the skull was held in Topkapı, while after his death, his stepmother Mara Branković, a Serbian princess, brought it to Serbia. It was then kept a while at the Dionisios monastery at Mount Athos, then the skull fragment was sent to a nearby island in order to prevent the outbreak of a plague; however, the Ottoman fleet seized it and delivered it to Hasan Pasha of Algeria, who held it in his home until his death. It was then returned to Topkapı. The skull is kept on a golden plate decorated with gold bands with gems and Old Serbian inscriptions. The plate itself is stored in a 16th-century rock crystal box.

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The face of St. John the Baptist, in the Cathedral of Our Lady in Amiens.

St. John's arm was brought from Antioch to Constantinople at the time of Constantine VII. It was kept in the Emperor's chapel in the 12th century, then in the Church of the Virgin of the Pharos, then in the Church of Peribleptos in the first half of the 15th century. Spanish envoy Clavijo reported that he saw two different arms in two different monasteries while on a visit to Constantinople in 1404. With the Fall of Constantinople, the Ottomans seized possession of it. In 1484, Bayezid II sent it the knights of Rhodes, while they held his brother Cem captive in return. In 1585, Murad III had the arms brought from Lefkosia castle to Constantinople (henceforth known as Istanbul). The arm is kept in a gold-embellished silver reliquary. There are several inscriptions on the arm: "The beloved of God" on the forefinger, "This is the hand of the Baptist" on the wrist, and "belongs to (monk) Dolin Monahu" on the band above the elbow.

In July 2010, a small reliquary was discovered under the ruins of a 5th-century monastery on St. Ivan Island, Bulgaria. Local archaeologists opened the reliquary in August and found bone fragments of a skull, a hand and a tooth, which they believe belong to st. John the Baptist, based on their interpretation of a Greek inscription on the reliquary.The remains have been carbon-dated to the 1st century. Currently The found relics are being placed for veneration in the sea resort town  of Sozopol, Bulgaria in the Church of saint saint Cyril and Methodius.

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Saint John the Baptist Holy Relics in Sozopol Bulgaria

 

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 A Lity (Orthodox Vespers) in front of Saint Cyril and Methodius Church in Sozopol resort Bulgaria

There is much to be said in Saint Johns beheading and many great Theology books have been written on the topic however I hope the goal of this article to give a very brief overview for the ordinary people to know our human history over the last 2000 which is highly entangled with Christian faith  succeeded to give a very brief overview on the history of the beheading of saint John the Baptist and the deep history across his holy relics veneration over the centuries.

As a closure for the Article I find worthly to share the sung troparion in the Church services glorifying of saint John the Forerunner in Old Bulgarian / Church Slavonic, Greek and English

TROPARION IN CHURCH SLAVONIC

Па́мять пра́веднаго с похвала́ми, тебе́ же довле́ет свиде́тельство Госпо́дне, Предте́че: показа́л бо ся еси́ вои́стинну и проро́ков честне́йший, я́ко и в струя́х крести́ти сподо́бился еси́ Пропове́даннаго. Те́мже за и́стину пострада́в, ра́дуяся, благовести́л еси́ и су́щим во а́де Бо́га, я́вльшагося пло́тию, взе́млющаго грех ми́ра и подаю́щаго нам ве́лию ми́лость.

TROPARION IN GREEK

Μνήμη Δικαίου μέτ' ἐγκωμίων, σοὶ δὲ ἀρκέσει ἡ μαρτυρία τοῦ Κυρίου Πρόδρομε· ἀνεδείχθης γὰρ ὄντως καὶ Προφητῶν σεβασμιώτερος, ὅτι καὶ ἐν ῥείθροις βαπτίσαι κατηξιώθης τὸν κηρυττόμενον. Ὅθεν τῆς ἀληθείας ὑπεραθλήσας, χαίρων εὐηγγελίσω καὶ τοῖς ἐν ᾍδῃ, Θεὸν φανερωθέντα ἐν σαρκί, τὸν αἴροντα τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου, καὶ παρέχοντα ἡμῖν τὸ μέγα ἔλεος.

TROPARION (TONE 4)
O Prophet and Forerunner of the coming of Christ, in spite of our eagerness to render you due honor, we fall short when singing your praise. Your glorious birth saved your mother from the shame of barrenness, returned to your father the power of speech, and proclaimed to the world the Incarnation of the Son of God.

KONTAKION (TONE 3)
The woman who had been barren becomes fertile and gives birth today to the Forerunner of Christ. He is the greatest and last of the prophets, for standing in the waters of the Jordon River, he placed his hands on Christ whom all the prophets had announced, and in so doing he became a prophet himself, a preacher and a forerunner of the Word of God.

Trip to Bakadjiiski ( Bakadji ) monastery Bulgaria near Yambol peak Bakadji and a Rocker Moto feast- A little known tourist Mountain virgin perl of Bulgaria

Saturday, May 13th, 2017

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Perhaps many of Bulgarian citizens and people in Europe who have heard about Bulgaria and its Capital Sofia or have been on a tourism trip to Bulgaria know Saint Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Bulgaria capital Sofia.

However perhaps few know or have heard that saint Alexander Nevskij's Cathedral is not the only Church dedicated to the Russian saint but earlier another small Christian church was build as a remembrance and honor of the Russian-Turkish War Bulgarian liberators who were consisting of (Russian, Belarusians, Ukrainian, Finish and Romanian) soldiers who have sacrificed there life (according to official sources about 70 000 – 100 000 deaths from Russian side) but unofficial sources says 200 000 – 300 000 as a real numbers of victims of Russians and about les say at least 80 000 victims of Bulgarian side.

The Russian-Turkish Liberation war of 1877 and liberation of Bulgarian from Ottoman slavery are among the most notable events for Bulgarian history.

With the coming of peaceful times, the warm feelings and high appreaciation of Bulgarian nation to Russian liberators have been demonstrated numerous times with the creation of innumerable number of Christian Churches and Chapel and other Christian monuments, the most notable along with saint Aleksander Nevski on the city center of Sofia is the monument of emperor Alexander Nikolaevich II-nd   the Liberator

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The first monument in remembrance of the Russo-Turkish Bulgarian Liberation war was built nearby the city of Yambol after the victory of 23rd Donsk – Khazak regiment in Yambol is established 55th infantry (Podolski) regiment, 95th infantry regiment of Krasnoyarsk and some other Russian troop forces while finally in the end of year 1878 here is established 30th infantry regiment of the corups of General Skobelev-Junior.
In the beginning of next year the famous General discusses with Yambol citizens his idea to build a Church "for eternal remembrance of Russian soldiers on the battlefield during the liberation of Bulgarian of Ottoman slavery".

 

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It is decided the idea to be implemented with joint forces between the North slope on the first peak of Bakadjika – also known as "Saint Spas", and on its ridge – on the same place of the Destroyed by Turkish soldiers Monastery "Sveti Spas / Holy Saviour) during the Bulgarian Uprising of April (Aprilsko Vozstanie).
Gen Skobelev and the local people decided to build a small chappel in honor of Russian saint Alexander Nevski who played key role for the rise of Russian nation and thanks to whome Russians managed to escape slavery from the surrounding Turkish khan rulers like Bhatai Khan etc.

With the success of preliminary plan, the place become a common visited (usually mostly during Summer months) by citizens of about 12 km far Yambol city.

With the withdrawal of last Russian soldiers of the region while departing from there general Skobelev gave a precious gift to the newly built Church – an Evangelion with an Engraved Cross.

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Evangelion gift by general Skobelev

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The Cross gift by General Skobelev to the new built memoriam Church saint Alexander Nevski

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Icon of Alexander Nevski kept in the St. Aleksander Nevski Memorial Church in Bakadjika Holy Saviour Monastery.

After the depearture of Russian soldiers the consturctuion works of the temple are completed by Bulgarians with the material aids from Russia.
The iconostasis follows the Russian Orthodox Church tradition engraved by Russian monks and moved in parts to be mounted in the Church.

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The gonfalons and most of the icons are brought by Kiev Pechersk Lavra (The biggest and one of oldest if not earliest monastery on Russian lands) nowdays in capital of Ukrain Kiev.

In 1884 with the presence of the Russian embassador for Eastern Romelia with many official guests and locals
the official sanctification of the Church-monumentum st. Alexander Nevski (nowadays Bakadjishki monastery) has beenmade.
The Church and monastery had gone through a really hard times during Communism (Socialism) in Bulgaria 1944-1989 and until 10-15 years ago it has been left in a very bad state.

However thanks to locals and a Hieromonk Sofronij (known by many locals as Stefan Bradata (Stefan The Beard), the monastery has been quickly starting to recover its material base.

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Fr. Sofronij has been in process of building monastic corups where guests can stay for a night or few but is facing financial problems and he is kindly asking anyone who has the finances and love for Christ and the Eastern Orthodox Church to help with finances, material goods or even workforce and of course novice monks are always needed.

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Nearby the monastery there is a famous Cave well (holy spring water), which according to the local tradition has been revealed in a dream to a monk and the monks has dug hardly the cave wall about 30 meters and then dug down exactly the the place where the monk had the Vision of the Blessed Mother Mary.
Just like in the dream the Miraculous Holy Spring water has emerged exactly on the place shown in the dream, because of the resemblance of the Well found with the Evangelion story of the Samaritan woman at the well – whose name btw in Christian Eastern Orthodox tradition is Photinia, the well later received a name The Well of Samaritan.

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The entrance door leading to the Cave Samaritan Well

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Fr. Sofronij with the Italian sculteres of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Samaritan

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The Well with (Buklica – traditional water vessel in Bulgaria)

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Italian statues of Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well (Holy Water / Agiasmo / Aiazmo Spring)

In case if you want to spend the night in Bakadjika Monastery for a really cheap – 5 euro please contact:

Yambol Bakadjicite
089 895 4611
bradara_indjata@abv.bg


Each on Bakadjika it has become a local tradition for Rockers / Metalheads and Moto fans all around Southern Bulgaria
to gather near Bakadji just 1 km away from Bakadjiski monastery.
Since ancient times the spiritual centers has always attracted people and perhaps this is also true for Bakadjika which earlier has been a place for a heroic battles for freedom and nowdays has become a rocker arena of a different understanding of wild life and human freedom.

This year 2017 it is the 20th anniversary for Rockers gathering on 12 of May on Bakadjika-Yambol Moto feast to meet other who are alike. The rocker event is about to last 3 days until 15 of May.
For the safety of Rockers this year the rockers has been granted a great honor as a Bishop of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (Bishop of Agathopol – Ierotey Kosakov his whole biography is on Bg-Patriarchy website here) has personally come to the event to pray (with the so called Vodosvet – Or Blessing of Water) for the well being of the Rockers who are to ride and take participation of organized games and racing events of Bakadjika feast.

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What is famous near the monastery and perhaps little known outside of Bulgaria and perhaps in Eastern Europe is the existence of Gigantic Monument (Soviet times / Communist) of Bronze build in year 1987 in honor of 110 years of the Liberation of Bulgarian from Ottoman Turkish Slavery. The monument is a kind of symbiosis between concrete plate with plastics and 32 tons of bronze.

The monument depicts events related to Bulgarian history divided on 3 parts.

1. A Russian Soldier and a Bulgarian (opalchenec = guerilla of the liberation war) – symbol of the heroic victory over Ottoman enslavers and the Victory of Christianity on Bulgarian lands over islam

2. Second comes plastics depicting a mother with a child – symbol of continuity between generations

3. A Cosmonaut (Spaceman) – a symbol for Bulgarian-Russian achievements in science and the mastering of cosmic space  and on the top with a plastic is a young-woman – a symbol for advance of resurrected Bulgarian nation

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Trip to Dragalevski manastir (Dragalevci) and Bay Krystio Hut in National Park Vitosha Sofia Bulgaria

Saturday, May 28th, 2016
Vitosha-Dragalevtzi-Holy-Monastery

The spring and summer season in capital of Bulgaria Sofia gives unique possibilities for rest of the ordinary busy IT person like me because Sofia is situated in the ridge of Vitosha Mountain. Actually mountain tourism is really a great way to reduce pressure and clean up our heads of the overbusy daily office life consisting of non stop solving complex management, programming and other system administration tasks.

Dragalevci-Pyteka

Besides being a great place for lovers of Nature Sofia and nearby places gives a lot of entertainment mountain huts (the popular Hijas, delta planers, ski lifting, horse riding,  crystal clear air and mountain springs and perhaps the best a unique virgin nature situated just a 20 minutes with bus from the center of 1.5 million people.  One common route in Sofia for residents and also for tourist who come for a visit to Sofia is actually Dragalevci (a Sofia village like Suburb) and the route leading to the ancient and famous monastery of Dragalevci which is in honour of The Holy  Theotkos (Virgin Mary) Vitoshka.

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From there there is ecological mountain footpath leading to a place called Bai Krystio who was a famous mountain tourist who helped a lot during 20 century for developing of mountain tourism in Bulgaria and Dragalevci and build a Hija (a mountain hut) which today is currently named in his honour.
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For the lazy ones after 14:00 you can also go their with a car there is an asphaltous way leading to the Mountain Hut, even though it is much preferrable to go their walking the steep wild road going through the wood surrounded by beautiful springing waters. A walk in Dragalevci to the Hut could be successfully made for less than 2 hours with a small 5 minutes breaks the pathway leading to it is long and as a lot of tourists go their regularly there is no chance for you to lost yourself.  From Dragalevci there are a lift-station  chairs called "Goli Vryh" translationg as "Naked peak". Right the Dragalevci station their is a "plazza" which leads to the very famous near Sofia rest place called "Hija Aleko  / Hut Aleko".

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Walking through the wood once reaching the asphals, there is a sign showing the way  to Aleko hut (which is named after the famous Bulgarian author and publicist Aleko Konstantinov). Our trip started from Paradise Mall and to reach their we catched a bus number 93 the bus ticket is just like an ordinary city ticket and costs only 1 leva, the bus we travelled with was a bit archaic some old medel Mercedes but in my opinion there is also a charm in these too.
 

Going to Dragalevski monastery has 2 ways either the asphalt one or the wood footpath so we me (Billiana, Ilia and Svetlana) choose the footpath from which you see and hear the relaxing voice of Dragalevska river which is parallel the walk path. Dragalevski-manastery-monk-cells-Vitosha-mountain-Sofia
      Dragalevtzi view to the nuns cells and cemetery
 
Dragalevski Nun Monastery is a very peaceful and beatiful place  behind the beautiful church is the cemetery where about 7 nuns are peacefully laying waiting for the resurrection of the Dead that is to come in the Judgment day when the Lord Jesus Christ commands all the dead to Resurrect for judgement.

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Dragalevci Eastern Orthodox Church Holy Alters (actually belonging to 2 Churches the old and the new one)
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Dragalevtzi Monastery Bells Going through a stone stairs you reach a spring water (Holy Spring / Aiazmo) and a monastery wood pavillion where you can sit to have a picnic or have a peaceful rest looking through the beautiful garden downway.
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Holy Spring in Dragalevtci Monastery Virgin Mary (Vitoshka) Dragalevski-manastery-monk-cells-Vitosha-mountain-Sofia
Nuns livings cells

If you continue uplifting the mountain footpath after about 30 – 40 minutes you reach the mountain-lifts in the region of Bai Krystio and you see a lot of people lifting down the mountain, a great way to travel back if you're too tired from the walk.

Dragalevski-lift Sofia Vitosha mountain tourism

In the Bai Krystio hut you'll find a kind of mixture of a mountain restaurant and caffeteria where you can have a great lunch / dinner of meatballs with french fries / kachamak / bob a cabbage salat with carrots, shopska salata with beer or hot tea. We had the chance to have a quick interaction with the selling old granny and the helper kitchen lady which was too kind calling everyone my child and having the mothers like behaviour. The hygene and the overall atmosphere of the  Hija was okay though don't expect a 5 stars restaurant. Also it is notable that everyone we saw on the wood path leading to the Hija was greeting us so the atmosphere was much warmer than the cold and lonely cities we live in nowdays. If you continue from Bai krystio you can reach the marked pathway leading to Goli Vryh and from their you will reach to Aleko Hut, Cherni Vryh (Black Peak) or Momina Skala (The Maiden Rock).

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We enjoyed a lot and I'm thankful to God for the great day we had today, if you happen to live in Sofia and looking for enjoyment for the weekend or you are on a holiday i recommend you go Dragelvtzi you'll not regret it.

The feast of 26 Zographou Bulgarian Holy Mount Athos Martyrs – burned alive by the Roman Catholic Crusaders

Friday, October 24th, 2014

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On 23 October (10 of October in Julian Calendar every year in Zograph Monastery in Holy Mount Athos is celebrated the martyrdom of the 26 Martyrs who were martyed by Latin crusaders in October 10, 1280. The 26 martyrs were burned alive after refusal to accept Union with the Roman Catholic Church as ordered by Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Paleologos. The then wanting to secure his throne emperor gave allowance for Crusaders together with his mercenaries Tatars and and Turks to go and “convert” the Orthodox Slavs to accept the union with the pope who wanted a primacy in the Church.

Mt. Athos stood in firm opposition to the Union. The Athonite monks sent a letter to Michael pointing out that the primacy of the Pope, his commemoration in the churches, celebrating the Eucharist with unleavened bread, the insertion of the “filioque” [“and from the Son”] into the Creed, could not be accepted by Orthodox, and they asked the emperor to change his mind. “We clearly see,” the letter said, “that you are becoming a heretic, but we implore you to forsake all this and abide in the teachings that were handed down to you…. Reject the unholy and novel teachings of a false knowledge, speculations, and additions to the Faith.”


Holy Theotokos – The Virgin Mary icon which spoke with a human voice to a Zographou monk

An icon spoke to an old monk warning that the “enemies of Christ” are coming. The monk went to forewarn the brothers (as he was living 30 minutes afar in a grave-yard), but for his surprise the Holy icon of the Theotokos which spoke to him was found on the monastic entrance.
The brother went and told the abbot (Igumen) Thomas who told to the brothers to either flew in the woods if they’re weak in spirit and to the strong he said to stay and cofess the Holy Orthodox faith. Abbot Thomas together with the 23 monks (24 monks including the abbot) toghet with 4 pilgrims decided to stay in the monastery and suffered martyrdom. The Crusaders who were returning from Jerusalem sent by the ungodly emperor tried to convince the 26 confessors to accept Roman Catholic doctrines such as “filioque” (The teaching that the Holy Spirit cames also from the Son) and to celebrate the eucharist with unleavened bread (like the Jewish) and wanted the confessors to accept the papal union accepted also by the emeror Michael. The 26 Martyrs rebuked these heresies and explained that the “filique” is against the decisions of the 7 Church Councils. Also they give the proof that the Holy Spirit doesn’t proceed from the Son by retelling how John The Baptist baptized Christ and how the Holy Spirit descent over the Lord Jesus Christ in form of a dove. This didn’t convince the papists and the truthful words of the Zographus monks rebuked their error the papists were angered and burned the tower with the holy Martyrs alive. One of the monks fall of the burning tower and the latin though he is dead left him behind however he survived more 30 days! – even though he was on a dying bed and later told what happened to the brothers which came from their hiding places to the monastery. The Holy Martyrs prayed from the fire their last prayer to God to save the Holy Mount Athos and every true Christian on earth from heresies. When they ended their prayer they heard a voice from heaven “Rejoice for great is your reward in heaven!”. The Roman Crusaders heard the voice and were scared howeveras their spiritual eyes were darkened by the lack of the Grace of the Holy Spirit, they kept in their heart tightening. The Martyrdom happened according to Greek chronicles on 10 of October 1280.

The names of the Martyrs for Christ were as follows:

Igumen Thomas, and the monks Barsanuphius, Cyril, Michael, Simon, Hilarion, James, Job, Cyprian, Sava, Jacob, Martinian, Cosmas, Sergius, Menas, Joasaph, Joannicius, Paul, Anthony, Euthymius, Dometian, Parthenius, and four laymen.

The tower building where the holy martyrs were burned was partially kept even though the fire until 1874 however the tower was already too old and it was about to ruin – that’s why it hadto be destroyed. To preserve the memory about the martyrdom of 26 martyrs all brothers of the Zographou monastry decided in one spirit to build on its place a monument.

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This happened the same year 1873. The monument had to be sanctified on the day when the memory of the martyrs is celebrated at the eve after sunrise began a night vigil. The night was moonless and on the heaven one could see only few stars. All around was silence. During the vigil exactly in midnight, after beginning the living and martyrdom of the the holy Zographos martyrs”, above the church all 600 hundred people saw a fire column. Column lighted up the whole monastery and the whole region with such a bright light, that even the small objects in the monastery could be seen. This divine column stayed over the Church for 3-4 minutes and moved and stayed above the monument for 3-4 minutes more and after that started ascending above and formed a ring like a crown, crowning the place where the holy martyrs suffered.

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This unusual event continued for about 15 minutes. An eyesights of the miracle were all the brotherhood, guests and hermits who came from nearby Sketes for the feast.

That’s how the Almight God has shown by this miracle omen showing in front of everybody how Godly was the martyrdom of this great confessors of the true faith and loyalty to the Holy Orthodox Church.

Holy 26 Martyrs and Cofessors of the true faith pray the Lord Jesus Christ to save our souls!

Pilgrimage to Holy Mount Athos, second most holy place on Earth – The Garden of Holy Virgin Mary – Agios Oros Authonomous Orthodox Christian Monk Republic and how to go there

Monday, September 1st, 2014

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By the mercy of the most holy Virgin Mary, I had the opportunity to be for 2 days and a half to the second most holy place on earth after Jerusalem's (Holy Sepulchre Church of Christ Resurrection) and biggest monk governed republic on planet earth ( Άγιον Όρος ) Agios Oros Athon (Holy Mount Athos)Светая Гора Афон – Света Гора Атон. Holy Mount Athos exists as a large monks community since 96.

To visit Mount Athos, the general requirement is to be orthodox christian only 10 visas per day are issued for non-orthodox pilgrims.

This immersely blessed place on earth can be entered only with a special monastery issued Visa (Diamontirion)

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There is a special procedure which usually takes up from 1 month max to 2 weeks min to receive such a Athos visa. The procedure to receive Visa for Holy Mount Athos includes sending of a fax to the Bureau of Pilgrimage in Thesaloniki (Solun) with a copy of the ID Card (Passport) the tel. number to send the fax to plus.
In fax message should be included the desired monastery to visit and the stay period. Visa which is usually issued for 2 / 3 days period costs 25 euro. There is a daily quota of visits to be issued which is about 100 visas per day.
People who want to stay for more than 3 days in monastery has to follow special obediences (work given to pilgrimage inside the monastery).
Extensive information
on how to visit Holy Mount Athos monks republic is on holy mount athos website.

Diamontirion is given only to man (only man can visit holy island), because the Mother of God The Holy Virgin Mary said she will be the only woman on this island unto the end of the world. There were a couple of times through out history from the IX-th century from which Holy Mount Athos exists as a monk republic in which woman try to enter the island, but such attempts failed and usually woman who tried to break out the island female enter prohibition (known as ABATON) get severely sick after that and couldn't get well for a long time some died some female after serious redemption confession and taking the holy sacraments recovered by the mercy of the Virgin Mary. There are already several stories of woman who tried to enter the island dressed as men and which have suffered from the quick heavenly judgement and later told the world their stories to warn other woman from trying to enter Athos which is the most eastern part of Chalkidiki peninsulaIt is curious fact Holy Mount Athos is the one and only place on earth existing prohibited for woman.
While talking about woman it is a curious fact that the only woman that are allowed being iconographed in Holy Mount athos due to rule are the Most Holy Virgin Mary, The Anna and the Hermit Saint Mariya of Egypt. First monk is said in Monastic Chronicles is Protos in y. 908.

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The region is governed by the "Holy community" – every monastery from the 20 orthodox monasteries (actually the monasteries are 21 but one is schismatic with so called Zealots, therefore not counted).

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There are (Greek, Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian) monasteries as well as Sketes, Cells, small chapels of other Orthodox nations – e.g. Romanians, Georgians, Macedonians, Monte-Negro etc. Holy Mount Athos monasteries are under the ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople – currently patriarch Bartholomew, however the patriarch is not having power to decide anything the monasteries or the monk republic and he is more than a public person with no authority over internal island monks life.

Entrance Holy Mount Athos is possible only through a small  ship due to monks republic governing law. Boats transport people with issued visa only from Ouranoupolis  port everyday from Monday to Saturday, there are at least 2 boats going to Agion Oros – one in 06:15 and one in 09:45 which costs 6.30 euro per person.

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For people who want visit Holy Athos by airplace, Ouranoupolis is located 120 km by car or bus from Thesaloniki Airport so you should fly to there. We have travellet to Uranoupolis by car from Sofia – it is about 6 / 7 hours driving – only 631 km.  Crossing the border from Bulgaria to Greece is very quick a passport check is made only one time on the border. Once arriving to Ouranopolis – one have to park somewhere, there is cheap paid parking only 5 euro a day, where one can park (nearby the port from where ship departs). To get the Athos visa there is a special Bureau where you go with you present your password and receive the visa. Visa is received in a very speedy manner it takes up to 30 seconds after showing the pass, you're name is checked and if visa is already present and printed for you you're handled the diamontirion.

There are also privately owned boats (scooters) which can transport up to 4 people – in case there are is not enough space in standar boats, but this are really expensive something like 120 EUR.
The Boat-Ship travelling from Ouranoupolis to Agios Oros is named after saint Anna (The Mother of Most Holy Virgin Mary – In Greek Panagia).

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The ship is travelling only on days where the weather is suitable for travelling so some certain days there are no cruises to the garden of Holy Theotokos. The ships cruising back from Holy Mount Athos to Urunopoli schedule is also twice daily – and are the same ships travelling in the morning. One is saling back in 12:00 (stopping on each of the near coast monasteries ports) by reverse order and one in 16:00. Sometimes the ships doesn't stop one some of the ports and you can't go back to Urunipoli, when the ship has to many people or for some other God known reason.

On the ship of one moun Athos one can see a truly international monks community – there were literally Orthodox Christians monks from all around the world and people from all around the globe that has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, there was even an African priest and a batushka (priest) from Cyberia. Most of the people on the boat were pilgrims from many nationalities but for major Church feast like The Dormition of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) which is each year celebrated on 28 August a lot of monks from many country come to Athos to venerate the Mother of God and receive heavenly blessing.

We have stopped to leave some laggage on the Port of Bulgarian Monastery (located 7 km from Zographou Monastery – saint great martyr George (Свети Георги Зограф) and then continued to port of Dafni. Going back from the ship one can feel the abundant heavenly grace and the heavenly protection of the Theotokos. There were a small caffeteria where we drink Greek Coffee (a coffee prepared on a hot sand – very much like the Turkish coffee) and eat fasting food something like Bulgarian Banica but instead of cheese it is filled with baked pumpkin.
There are small bus-es moving in Mount Athos which brings to some of the more famous monasteries on Athos – bus ticket is 3 euro. However as we wanted to visit more monasteries and because every step made on Agios Oros is a blessing and as the elders say Agios Oros is to be walked, we choose to walk. We took a steepy pathway leading to Xiropotamos. Xiropotamous is famous from the XII century Crusaders times, Roman Catholic Crusaders has invaded the holy mount and tried to turn monks to Roman Catholicism by force, those who rejected to receive Catholic faith were killed by Catholics – became martyrs. Some of the Monks of Xiropotamou, decided to save their lives and accepted to recognize the authority of the Roman Pope, Roman Catholics entered the monastic Church and served a Roman Holy Liturgy in the moment where the Pope was mentioned in prayers as a head of the Church, the Church walls fall and killed most of the people in the Church, those who survived, escaped and converted back to Orthodoxy – by this God clearly showed which is the real Christian faith. As all monasteries on Athos Xiropotamou's brotherhood has holy relics – the biggest holy relic of Xiropotamos is about 20×5 cm sized part of the True Holy Cross on which the Lord Jeus Christ was crucified.

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Xiropotamou was founder in 10th century, and is dedicated to the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste.
The monastic walls were closed when we reached there around 10:00 in the monastery receives visitors only 2 times a day one in 11:30 and one in 16:00. Waiting for to become 11:30, we walked around the monastery and saw the small chapel the grapes, the monks fruit gardens all is exceptionally beautiful – the monastery is quite big. In 11:30, when inner monastic walls opened we were invited into Arhondarik (The Monastic Guest-house), where the monk bring us immediately a cup of fresh water, Turkish delight and 50 grams of Greek national drink – Uzo 🙂
We met two other Romanians who wanted to also venerate the Holy Cross and we had a small nice chat with them in 11:30 the Church was opened and a priest bring us to a small square near Holy Altar opened a golden case with emeralds keeping the big piece of the True Holy Cross it is an amazing miracle that for this 1980 years from the Crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ the wooden didn't rot but preserved – any normal wood decays for such a long time! God's grace (The Spiritual Power) that one feels nearby the Holy Relic is amazing. The monastery is also famous with an orange tree giving a miracle making (healing) fruits, the three failed to give its fruit when Catholics came to Holy Mount Athos and started giving its fruits again after Catholics leaved Agion Oros. We saw a couple of trees with Orange fruits on it but was unsure which of the trees is the actual tree about which monastic tradition tells.
After the monastery we catch the way to Karyes (Καρυές) which is like Capital town, seat of the administration and has the name "Megali Mesi Lavra" (Big Central Assembly). – they have Agios Oros Police, Hospital, Bakery, a Caffeteria, Public Toilet, 2 small shops in Karyes is also located the major church at Karyes, the Protaton, which is the church of the Protos, or president of the monastic community. It is Curios fact that initial "rules of the republic" were written in XII century by saint Archibiship Sava creator of Serbian Orthodox Church who lived in a small cell in Karyes (Карея).

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In the Church on the picture is keeping the famous miracle making holy icon "Dostoyno Esty" / Достойно есть in Greek Panagia known as "Axion Estin" meaning It is Truly Meet . This icon is so important and connected to Orthodox Christiainity, that it has a Troparion included to be sung on each Holy Liturgy in praise of the (Theotokos) Mother of God  and sung on almost all kind of morning and evening services or private prayers, it is curious fact that the icon before its glorification was situated in a small monk cell near monastery Pantekrator (All Keeper). There is a notable miracle how the second part of Axion Estin Church troparion was given by an Angel supposedly given by Archangel Gabriel. At the Axion Estin cell in year 982 was living an old virtuos monk Gavrail with his desciple, that night Gavrail was outside of the cell to nearby monastery for all night vigil leaving the young monk (also Gavrail / Gabriel)  at midnight a stranger come knocked on the door and in Agios Oros tradition was received as a stranger, the stranger also went for the night vigil in the morning the stranger and the old monk sung together troparion in glorification of the Holy Mother of but the stranger sung it differently adding few words to the already well known and established church song lyrics, the monk liked the song so much that he asked the monk to write down the lyrics, they didn't have a pen and paper and the stranger took a piece of stone and write down the lyric using his finger! The monk stunned realized the stranger is actually an angel and a short after the angel disappeared.

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Here is the Dostoino Esty Troparion lyrics text as given by the Angel in Church Slavonic, Greek and English:

Достойно есть Church Slavonic:

Достойно есть яко воистину блажити Тя, Богородицу,

присноблаженную и пренепорочную и Матерь Бога нашего.

Честнейшую Херувим

и славнейшую без сравнения Серафим,

без истления Бога Слова рождшую,

сущую Богородицу Тя величаем.

 

Axion Estin In Greek:

Ἐπὶ σοὶ χαίρει, Κεχαριτωμένη, πᾶσα ἡ κτίσις.
Ἀγγέλων τὸ σύστημα καὶ ἀνθρώπων τὸ γένος,
ἡγιασμένε ναὲ καὶ παράδεισε λογικέ,
παρθενικὸν καύχημα, ἐξ ἧς Θεός ἐσαρκώθη
καὶ παιδίον γέγονεν, ὁ πρὸ αἰώνων ὑπάρχων Θεὸς ἡμῶν·
τὴν γὰρ σὴν μήτραν θρόνον ἐποίησε,
καὶ τὴν σὴν γαστέρα πλατυτέραν οὐρανῶν ἀπειργάσατο.
Ἐπὶ σοὶ χαίρει, Κεχαριτωμένη, πᾶσα ἡ κτίσις
δόξα σοι.

It is truly meat English Translation:

All of Creation rejoices in thee, O full of grace:
the angels in heaven and the race of men,
O sanctified temple and spiritual paradise,
the glory of virgins, of whom God was incarnate
and became a child, our God before the ages.
He made thy body into a throne,
and thy womb more spacious than the heavens.
All of creation rejoices in thee, O full of grace:
Glory be to thee.


In shops it is forbidden to sell meat, because monks doesn't eat meat and meat consumption on holy mount Athos is generally forbidden. The only think closer to meat sold in shop is fish, octopus and other sea food. There is also a small shop selling Church / monk accessoaries, icons, prosphoras etc.

On the city center there is free drinkable water, each Monastery has a building like Embassy – which is both a monastery representative and a strangers guest-house (Konak). People who want can sleep a night in the Konak with a blessing, each Konak has a small chapel inside dedicated to Mother Mary or a certain saint.

On many places on holy mount athos there are springs with drinkable water so almost always there is a spring on every few hours walk in the mountain woods. About 10 or 20 minutes walk from Karyes, there is a Greek Monastery Koutloumousiou, the monastery has many miracle making icons and to me personally is very favourite place – Koutloumoush is famous with being the monastery where the Elder Paisios served as a monk for many years.

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After praying there, on the road we saw a sign for the cell of Elder Gavrijl and after some time we reached a little house with a bench in front and around 10 people from all age waiting for the Elder to go out for a while of his cell and tell some spiritual advises.

For non-Orthodox Christians, we have Elders who have a very close connection to God and due to their holy living God has blessed them with the gify of claiorvoyance, Starets Gavrijl is said by many on holy mount Athos that he has the gift of clairvoyance.


Elder Gavrijl speaks only Greek, so I couldn't undestand his preach, nomatter that even his presence made my spirit joy. After the preach we all took a blessing from those saintly living man.
I asked one of the Greeks to translate to me the Starets was talking about the Christian family and importance for husband and wife to be patient with each other, respect each other and truely love each other and most importantly forgive each other. He said that in this time it is of the main thing the devil wants is to destroy family and we have to not let family broke, he also said we should never quarrel infront of children, because when children grown they will do the same with their children.
I've asked the Starets about personal matters and he gave me the same answer as the Elder fr. Georgi of Jeglarci which is a proof fr. Georgi also have the gift of prophecy.

After leaving elder Gavrijl we headed to the monastery of Iveron to be on the all night vigil and the feast of Dormition of the Holy Theotokos. On the same way nearby 15 minutes away from the pathway we saw a sign leading to the cell of the Elder Paisios and we went for a pilgrimage there. After 15 minutes on a steep ways we reached in front of Elder Paisios small house. The house is now inhabitated by a monk who is still growing the same vegetable garden grown by Elder Paisios. The house is really small and the Starets lived in a small room 4×4 meters, the room has two big icons on the east just like a Church and light up night-light infront of the icons of Pantokrator (All-Keeper) Lord Jesus Christ and the Most Holy Theotokos, each wall in the small room has few icons hanging I remember clearly the icon of saint Arsenios the Great.  On entrance, we were threated by the monk with Turkish Delight and a cup of water, just like the Elder Paisios used to while still alive. Turkish Delight (Lokum) was the most delicious one I ever eat and on my way out I asked the monk for another two pieces 🙂

Going out of Elder Paisios cell we walkted through the Athos mountain woods passing by parakleses (small chapels) and on many places there were wooden crosses and icons with lightning candles in front right in the woods. We met some Romanian group of pilgrims and had a little chat on the road, Romanians are very good people, all the day we had the blessing to meet mainly Romanians.

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We reached in Iveron monastery (located nearby the sea coast) about 17:30 by God's mercy, the feast of Dormition had already begun there, it is an Orthodox Tradition to do a Lithia with the Miraculous Iveron icon of Most Holy Virgin also famous as Vratarnica.

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The monastery was full of people, there were probably about 800 people, probaly about 200 monks and priests were also there for the feast. It is a tradition that at that night the monastery gives a sleeping packs for all the pilgrims, so if someone feels to sleepy he can use the blanket and have a sleep on open air. There was an evening service just like it is done before Liturgy is served on next morning and right after the service, everybody present in the monastery was fed (all people ordered and had to enter 3 the monastic dining room divided by 3 waves). The food was some macaroni with some pieces of sea food (probably octopus), one tomato and 2 little pieces of watermelon. Even though the food was little it was enough to completely feed me plus it was so delicious you can't imagine, blessed  (manastic food) is always more delicious 🙂

Right after the dinner, the Night Vigil started, night vigils are common in the night before a feast of the Saint in whose honor is local Orthodox Church named in this case the Church of Iveron is in honor of the Dormition of the Mother of God and this was the reason for the Night Vigil. I and Pavel (the brother in Christ) which whome we travelled last night to Holy Mount Athos were quite tired and thus we didn't kept awake for the night vigil but immediately went to sleep and woke up on next morning about 5:10 and saw just a litte part of the night vigil and stay for the Morning service and the Holy Liturgy served. The Atmosphere in the Church was hard to explain in words it was powerful monks spirit. The service was in Greek as it is Greece Monastery and the service is serviced in Ancient Greek and as all ancient languages Ancient Greek is much more spirited than modern languages which are much more profane. Also it is distinctable that everything in the service was sung in Byzantine (Eastern) Orthodox singing style. For the service was also present 3 or 4 bishops, the atmosphere was mostly solemn and the fact that so many Orthodox Christians were gathered and praying together is an outstanding experience which I wish you feel someday.
All the Church service is done on candles, there is no electricity in Churches in Holy Mount Athos and I believe this is a right thing. In short the Church services in Athos is an the perfect example which the rest of us Orthodox Christians should try following.
After end of Church service, we left the monastery before the feastly lunch given to everybody who came to monastery to venerate the Dormition of the Mother of God, because we wanted to quickly move to pilgrimage the Miracle Spring, where the Mother of God has steped for a first time on Athos, we drink water prayed a bit and moved on and catched one of the minibuses stopping near the monastery to Karyes. In Karyes we drink some water have a small rest, drink coffe had some chat with Pavel and ate few peaches and apples, actually it is quite a miracle that we ate so little these 2 days on Athos, but in there you don't feel hunger and you don't feel sleepy and you need less sleep than usually because of the abundant God grace.
In Karyes, we had a small discussion where to head up from now and after calling monk Kliment from Zographou monastery for advise where to go he advised we go to the Russian Monastery Saint healer great-martyr Panteleimon (who is one of the main doctor Church saints). I was quite happy for our decision to go to the Russian Monastery, because actually I wanted to go there. Then, we had a safe 4 hours walk through the mountain pathways surrounded by a wild nature, we passed by a Sketes where saint Siluan of Athos  lived (1866 – 1938, Russian new-times saint).

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Athos is a very interesting place, because even your stay there for a little time teaches you a lot about the spiritual reality and just being there improves seriously ones spiritual life. Reaching the Russian monastery, I was stunned by the Beauty and size of the monastery, monastic yard is all green and beautiful there is a spring with water in the form of flower in front of monastic doors, the sideview of sea coast and the stones also left a bright mark in my mind.

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st. Panteleimonos monastery is known in whole Athos with its strong rules and ascethism, we asked if it is possible to sleep a night in the monastery but was told we need to do a one day in advance reservation to stay there (which by the way is a good thing because that way the brotherhood is not interferred by monastic guests but prepared to receives them). In the small Church nearby the bell-tower there are holy saint relics of about at least 200 saints!!! We had the Chance to see the Holy relics just to mention few of the Holy Relics of the monastery (the right hand of great martyr Panteleimon, the head of Saint Cosmas and Damian, relics of saint Seraphim of Sarov, head of saint Siluan of Athos, relics of many hermit saints, relics of Saint Basilius the Great, Saint Grigorius and saint John of Crysostom).

As we couldn't sleep in Russian monastery, we were instructed by monk Climent if they don't accept is to go to Xenophontos. So we took the way to Xenophontos which is 3km away about 1 hour near shore walk.

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It was on the way to Monastery that I learned Xenophontos's heavenly protector is my saint George ( Georgi / Georgius), I was very happy to learn that because I already felt a bit of regret I still haven't venerated my saint protector on Holy Mount Athos.
Reaching the monastery we saw on the monastic door a monk going out of the monastery and asked him if we can stay for the night, the monk which we later learned is called Prodromos was very hospitable and accepted and accomodated us. I went to the monastic Church where still there was an Acathist ongoing in glorification of The Holy Mother of God. The saint who founded Xenophontos Μονή Ξενοφώντος is saint Xenophont. The monastery is very beatiful just like all the rest of Holy Athos monasteries. Monk Prodromos, who was mostly kindly to us give us food even though the monks had already had their dinner earlier as we were in the monastery around 21:00 at noon. Talking about time it is notable to say in Athos, they use Byzantine time which is +3 hours to Greek time, meaning we were in monastery around midnight Byzantine time (as this is early the sun was going to its sunset). Xenophontos is famous with its two miracle making icons of Saint George and The Holy Mother of God, I greatest holy relic kept in monastery is the right hand of saint George. On next day the morning service started in 4 o'clock early in morning before sunrise, we went for service around 5:00 because we couldn't get up at time, the Church bell rings around 03:50 in morning! and then on a couple of times bells at the end of morning service right before holy liturgy and whenever they serve an Acathist. In Summer morning services in holy mount athos start everyday in 04:00 (7 byzantine time) and in 03:00 (08:00) in Winter time. Everyday Holy Liturgy is served in Holy Mount Athos in every monastery and monks have an evening service starting exactly in 17:00. I would skip here to explain the Church atmosphere and the spirituality because this cannot be retold but has to be experienced. The Holy Liturgy ended around 08:00 and the monks rests for about an hour until 09:00 when the monks had an Acathist until 09:30 in the second old Church whose wall paintings dates backs probably as early as 13 or 14 century. After the Acathist, we were invited for a breakfast which was scarce but delicious. During we ete a text was red from the Ancient Paterik (The Living instructions of the Ancient time Abbas hermit saints).
After the breakfast, I had a coffee (in the guest-room) there is a free-coffee machine 🙂

We had chat with few other Greek pilgrims, and one of the Greeks was especially hospitable with us, he brought us and show us the small monastic fabric where all kind of wooden things are produced by few monks and layman (in that number icons are built there monastic chairs – tables, Church wooden ornaments etc.). We were shown by this kind greek the monastic ossuary, the monastic greenhouses, the monastic graveyard. I later learned this Greek has so special attitude to us Bulgarians, because he is architect and he was working in Rila Monastery as architect for a while while still atheist and after that when he came to Greece he believed in God thanks to the prayers of the greatest Bulgarian saint John of Rila.
After Xenophontos last monastery we visited Dochiariou monastery which is honor of Archangel Michael.
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This monastery most holy relic is the infamous holy icon of The Theotokos SkoroPoslushnica (Quickly Hearing), the icon is called like this because it hears and answers the prayers of whoever prays in a very quickly manner.
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The monks in this monastery was very active, we saw some preparing wine from grapes, others doing some construction work, the monastic icon was locked in a special room in a small chapel in front of the monastic Church which was also locked, so by God's grace we asked a monk to open for us. The monk who keeps the key of the icon gave the key to a small 10 years old kid which unlocked for us and we prayed in front of the Most Holy Virgin. The grace this holy icon emits is just amazing the love and piece you feel is unsaid, I think one can feel that even by seeing the icon here in that post. A small note to make here is the pictures I've put in this post are not mine but are from the Internet and I do not hold copyright for them, thanks to whoever made the pictuers and I hope they were made with a blessing.
If I'm not mistaken Dochiariou is famous with that due to the prayers to the Archangel Michael (a warrior Angel), the Archangel drive back the invasion of the Arabs to Athos, there is also an icon in front of monastery showing this scene. It was impressive that in this monastery, there were a lot of kids helping the monks I saw at least 5 kids. I got the impression it is like a monastic tradition that kids are welcomed and help there since a long time.
Finally after spending some 2 graceful hours in Dochiariou and walking through and seeing the interesting and beatiful monastic walls and buildings architecture, flowers etc. we left off and waited for the ship Ourenopolis to come to monastic port. The ship came take us and after two more stops on Zographou port and Hilandar Serbian Monastery it is a curious fact that Hilandar used to inhabited with Bulgarian abbot and Bulgarian monks for about 80 years.
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In the ship we had a small chat with monk Makarious which is a monk in the Zographou St. Martyr George Bulgarian Monastery. We were sent by  the Holy Mother of God bt few dolphins sailing after the boat and doing water  jumps in grace and joy.
Love for Holy Mount Athos is strongly into my heart into even this moment when I write this article. Actually to be honest I was unwilling to leave this piece of earthly paradise. I yearn to be there again soon when the Mother of God Holy Virgin Mary lets me to.

Trip to Troyan Bulgaria and Troyan Monastery – Third monastery by size in Bulgaria

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Troan Monastery Church - Trip to Troyan Monastery from 16th century Bulgaria - 3rd monastery by size in Bulgaria
This weekend I went with my wife for a Trip To Troyan monastery from Sofia – bus ticket currently costs 12 lv (6 euro) and the distance is rawly 160 km.

Troyan is a remarkable mountain city situated in the center (heart) of Bulgaria, famous with being one of the main places where opposition and preparation for the Turkish Bulgarian war occured. Troyan monastery situated near Oreshaka village was one of the places where the idea of liberation of Bulgaria originated. Troyan was often visited by the remarkable revolutionaries and greatest Bulgarian heroes of all times like Vasil Levski and Hristo Botev.

Troyan Monastery - ancient orthodox monastery in Bulgaria from 16th century

Here in Troyan there was existing one of the many secret commitees in period (1869 – 1876) – Central Secret Revolutionary Committee (BRCK – as widely known in Bulgaria), creation of this commitee become reality thanks to the Deacon Vasil Levsky who saw there is no awakened Bulgarians to fight for national freedom.
Efforts of CSRC later lead to Liberation of Bulgarian from 500 years Bulgarians being under the yoke of Turkish Slavery.

Eco path in the steps of the Apostle of Freedom Vasil Levsky Bulgaria

Our first impressions from Troyan were quite negative, the bus station looks post communistic and a little bit like a horror movie, near the bus station there was a lot of criminal looking gipsies.
Just 5 minutes walk from there is a small beautiful park with children playground, what impressed me most in the park is a bush cutted in the form of ancient amphora and next to the park is the city center surrounded by a river Beli Osym, all from the city center you can see the beatiful mountains all around. There are two historical museums filled with archaelogical remains from early ages, national dresses, weapons from the Liberation war, explanation with chunks of history and Bulgarian national heroes connected to Troyan, there are beautiful expoisitions on how locals used to live through the ages museums, famous paintings original of local artistsBulgaria is a unique country, because of it combines outstanding nature and rich history remains of which is well preserved and standing firm testifying about the Bulgaria glorious past.

Entrance door of The Troyan Monastery - Troianska sveta obitel uspenie Bogorodichno

After taking a walk in the city center, we went to a local city bus station to take a bus to Oreshaka village – at the end of which is located Troyan Monastery. His Beuaitutide Patriarch Maxim who passed away 98 years old was born in Oreshaka village and become monk in Troyan monastery and was a brother of Troan monastery. Currently his holy body is buried in the monastery which is titled "The Dormition of the most Holy Theotokos".  One can feel the place is graceful even from reaching near Oreshaka village, the near view is also stunningly beautiful. The bus from Troyan has a bus stop right in front of the monastery and is cheap (costed only 1.90 lv per person 0.80 euro cents). Bus to the monastery travels 4 times a day, so it was convenient to reach the monastery.
Oreshaka and Troyan region is well famous since ancient times with its skillful craftsman and all kind of crafts developing.

Tryoan monastery mamut and lion - monuments from ancient God creation

Near the monastery there is small chapel from which the monastery started, the history of Troyan monastery, all revives around the miraculous icon of Holy Theotokos (Troeruchica – The Tree Handed Virgin).

Miracle making icon in Troyan Monastery Holy Virgin (Theotokos) Troeruchica - Tree Handed

The monastery story revives around this icon, a monk from holy Mount Athos was travelling to Vlashko (nowadays situated in Carpathians – Romania near border with Moldova), on his way he heard about a hermit with his pupil living near Oreshaka region and spend some time in fasting and prayer with the hermit local people heard about the miracle making icon and come from near and distant regions to venerate the Holy Virgin and pray. When the time come and he decided to move further in his trip to Vlashko he put the icon on his settled horse, made the sign of the cross and walked after few steps the horse stumbled and break his leg, in this event the monk understand it is not God's will to travel and he returned back to the hermit. After spending some time with the hermit, he settled again his horse but on exactly the same place the horse fall again – in that the monk understood this happens because the icon wants to stay on that place. The hermit offered to the monk that he stay there and they service God together, but traveling monk rejected, he venerated the holy icon for a last time and continued his travel to Vlashko. A small brotherhood formed by God's providence near the hermit and they decided to make a small wooden Church for Troeruchica and started servicing God there. This is how Troyan monastery started in the XVI century. The Glory of the Holy icon of Virgin Mary (Troeruchica) quickly spread all around enslaved Bulgarian lands and people come from all regions to pray to the Virgin to cure them, grant them good fortune, good health, solve spritual and family problems … The notes over the last 400 years shows that everyone that come with faith and prayed in front of the Virgin icon found confort, healing, numb started talking, deaf started hearing, paralytics walked.

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Monastery chronicles say that thanks to the Theotokos Troeruruchica in year 1837 the icon saved the locals from the black death which was taking its toll in the region, nobody that came to the monastery to ask for protection from the plague didn't suffered plague, everyone that decided to stay in the monastery during the plague survived, even though people from all around were coming to confess and take the sacraments, no one in the monastery wasn't infected by plague.

We arrived in Troyan Monastery around 16:30 and by arriving were hospitally accepted by our marriage godfather Galin and his sister Denica and were threated with fresh watermelon and even 50 grams of Bulgarian traditional drink Rakia. They're currently painting walls in the monastery dining room in 18:00 we had the blessing to attend the evening Church service. The service was deep and unique experience that moves you to the Kingdom of heaven. After the Church service we went to nearby Mehana Kaizer (Old Bulgarian Dining Inn – Krychma whole made to look in Old Bulgarian Style – there is plenty of traditional food to choose and food was super delicious 🙂

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On Sunday 10.08.2014 we were for the Holy Liturgy service and after that we walked through the monastic Church and saw near the Church the bell tower and next to it the old monks monastic graveyard. We visited also the museum of the monastery which contains various religious use objects dating back from year 1700+, old  craftmen instruments, old icons, potirs, priest clothes, old coins from all around the world and Bulgaria. There was a lot of information about historical facts regarding the monastery brotherhood, as well as some chronicles and documents explaining participation of the monastery in the fight for national freedom of Bulgaria. The musem is made of two rooms one of which was the same room where the Apostle of Freedom Vasil Levsky – one can see there the exact hiding place which Vasil Levsky was using to sleep secretly – the hiding place looks like a normal wardrobe.

Scyth saint Nicolas near Troan Monastery Oreshaka Bulgaria - revolutionary city led to freedom of Bulgaria

After seeing the museum, we went to see the monastic Scyth – "Saint Nicola", which was used earlier by the monks, whenever they wanted to have period of seclusion to raise their spiritual life. The Scyth has a large Church in honor of Saint Nicolas, most likely this Church was visited by people from the village, in times when Christians in Bulgaria was forbidden to attend Church services by Turkish Empire – and this is why it was build in such a secluded place. Near the scyth is the grave of a famous rebel for Bulgarian Freedom, and there is a cave with a spring.

Graveyard and skeleton of haidut - rebel Velko fighter for Bulgarian freedom Schyth near Troyan Monastery

Then we walked back the road to Troan Monastery and near the monastery, we went to see workshop of a carpenter lady who makes wooden ornaments for Churches in the region and the monastery.

The lady give us some herbs as a blessing. We had the chance to also take the blessing from the current Abbot Biship Sionij who was earlier rector of Sofia's Seminary Saint "John of Rila".