Posts Tagged ‘saint’

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Little known facts about the dedication to Saint Martyr George The Glory-Bringer and his veneration across contries and religions

Saturday, May 8th, 2021

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  • Largest part of body holy relics of the saints are kept in the town of Lod city 15 km (9.3 mi) southeast of Tel Aviv in the Central District of Israel. Back in the history due to the emerging veneration for saint George by both Christians and Muslims the town was temporary holding the name Georgioupolis, while his head relics is kept in Rome. There is a coptic monastery in Cairo pretending to hold personal belongings of saint George. In Saint Catherine Monastery (Mount of Sinai) are kept the three fingers of the arm of st. George. Churches dedicated to the saint started being built across the Roman empire even in the fourth century quite soon after his martyrdom, highest concentration of monasteries in his honor were born in Palestine. Biographics (Living) of saint George are written by the Byzantine authors saint Andreas of Cretes (written in 8-th century), Arcadius of Cyprus, Teodoris Quaestor, saint Gregory of Cyprus, saint Saint Symeon the Metaphrast (written 10th century).


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Saint Simeon Metaphrast (μεταφράξειν – translator and a historian of Byzantine empire passed on to Christ, 960 year famous for collecting and systemizing biographies of many saints, his works are important source of history on Byzantine empire)

  • Hundreds of Apocrypths are dedicated to the glorious living of the saint and his amazing miracles, written mainly in Latin, Greek, Syrac, Arabian, Coptic, Ethiopian and other multitude of other languages. The most famous apocrypha on saint is so called "Greek Vienna's Palimpsest" (5th century). as well as the "The Deeds of Saint George" (from 6-th century., as well as "The Martyrdom of George" etc. The Apocrypha's text are evidently full of hyperbolas and many unhistorical facts different from the true living facts of the saint. The fallacies and apocryphas have been condemned by the Decretum Gelasianum ( thought to be Decretal of the prolific Pope Gelasius I, bishop of Rome 492–496 ) as heretical and blemish for the memory of the saint.


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The miracle of Saving the Princess from the Dragon (one of the many apocryphas tradition about st. George) – Depiction Decani Monastery Serbia

  • Saint great martyr George together with The Holy Theotokos Mother Mary is a protector of Georgia (the country near Russia and not the State of the US :)).


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Georgian Metal carved ancient icon of saint George

In Georgia the local verbal tradition assigns a family relation with the first missionary and Baptizer of Georgia saint Nino. The first Church dedicated to saint George in Georgia is built in year 335 ! by King Mirian on the burial place of Saint Nino. In 1098 year saint George has been proclaimed protector of England, after appearing in a vision to the participants to Crusades of that time. One hundred years later during reign of Richard the Lion Heart the status of protector of the Army becomes an official in the West. In year 1222 The Synod of Oxford decides, that saint George is to be venerated throughout the whole kingdom of England on 23 of April (old style calendar) – 6th of May in the current Gregorian public calendar we use – still venerated on the same date in Bulgaria even to this day, while the remembrance day of the saint has been publicly proclaimed as labor free.

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  • In 14th century he is proclaimed a protector of England. In the beginning of 20th century the creator of the Scout Movement Lord Baden-Powell choose saint George for a protector of the Scouts. Saint George is considered protector of Moscow and Catalonia, until 18th century he was officially venerated as a protector of Portugal. In Greece he is venerated as agios Georgios, in Russia he is venerated under alternative names Jurij / Yurij (Юрий) and Egorij (Егорий). In year 1030 Grand prince of Kiev Yaroslav established in Kiev and Novgorod monasteries in honour of saint George (Yuriev Monastery) and gives an order the remembrance of saint George to be considered throughout Russian on 26th of November. The saint has been commonly depicted in Kings coins and seals. In Islam Saint George is famous under the name Djordjis (Djordjic).


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  • His Living is translated in Arabian in the beginning of 8th century and through Arabian-Christians becomes popular among Arabian-muslims. In Arabian apocrypha text his biography is included in "The History of Prophets and Kings" from the 10-th century, where he is presented as a pupil of one of the apostles of Isa Īsā ibn Maryam (Jesus son of Mary). In the Islamic apocrypha st. George is said to have been put to tortures, but even though killed multiple times he always have been resurrected by Allah as a faithful servent. In some Arabian icons on the horse of saint George there is a small human figure with a muslim clothes and a water vessel at hand.


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  • The iconography depicts also the miracle in Ramela that happened during a Church being built in dedication of Saint George, where one of the bought from far a stone pillar for the Church by a poor widow has been transferred by saint George miraculously via the sea by his all powerful prayer and placed to be the second Church holder right sight holder as well as the miracle when a Saracen Muslim soldier shoot towards the icon depiction of st George as an attempt to show that the saint icon is nothing more than a painted tree and immediately onwards his hand started unbearable hurting.


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Saint George's (Aravijska)'s Miracle Making icon of Holy Mount Athos Zographous Monastery St. Mrtr. George the GloryBringer

  • The healing of the unberable came only after a Christian priest give the adive to the soldier to light up a sanctuary lamp in front of the same icon of saint George and to annoint himself with the oil from the burning chancel-lamp. After the miraculous healing the soldier confessed to be Christian and has been immediately punished with a maryrdom death. The name of the martyr is not preserved but the miraculous event is depicted on the arabian ancient icons.


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Saint George the glorybringer in Church of saint George village Zlatolist (Bulgaria)

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The Famous Miracle making icon of saint George from Hadji-Dimovo Monastery Bulgaria

  • Another interpretation of why there is depiction of a figure on the backside of the horse of saint George is the so called "Miracle of saint George with the Paphlagonian" that is connected with my homeland Bulgaria. The history says a young-man of Paphlagonia, who has been taken as acaptive by the bulgarians and given as a slave to a wealthy bulgarian nobleman from Preslav. Once when the slave was carrying vessel with a hot water to his master towards the second floor of the house, out of nowhere appeared saint George, he put him backwards on his horse and bring him back to Paphlagonia. In Paphlagonia at this time his parents were already serving a Memorial service for the forgiveness of the sins of their boy thinking he has been already killed in captivity. Being reunited with his parents the youngster thought he has been dreaming to see his parents again out of a sudden and what show him that the miracle translation of the boy from one location back to his parents was a reality was the vessel with water which was still held in his hand, thus as a remembrance of the miracle the boy is depicted on the back of saint George's horse.

 

There is much more to be said about this glorious saint, as there is plenty of miracles and stories monasteries and Churches events and venerations facts over the last 21 centuries in which the East and The World become Christian,  but as the Gospel says it looks all the books on the world written won't be able to contain it.

The Great Canon of of Saint Andrew of Crete important repentance landmark in the Great Lent Church time

Monday, April 19th, 2021


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The Great Canon and Great example of Repentance

Every year the Great Lent, in the Orhodox Church an important part of the Fasting time and Church faithful meeting for the Services is the reading of the so called "Great Canon" .
Canon of Repentance  was composed in the distant seventh century by a notable saint in the Church saint Andrew of Crete (Greek: Ἀνδρέας Κρήτης, c. 650 – July 4, 712 or 726 or 740), also known as Andrew of Jerusalem.
He was an 8th-century bishop, theologian, homilist, and hymnographer. He is highly venerated in our One Holy Eastern Orthodox and considered in saint in the Catholic Church as well.

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His life's most important work The Great Canon prayed in singing form during every Great Lent period in the Church since then and is example for Christians for how a repentance's set stone should be set and which are the main positive and negative personages we know from the holy bible scriptures.  The Great Canon is known well and sung often by dedicated Christians even in their home in or outside of the great lent period.
The canon expresses the overall understanding of the Church through times for good and bad examples of how a man should live, if he wants to have a good life in Christ and what he should abstain and not do if he wants to accept in deed and "utilize" so to say the Salvation given by Christ on the Cross.

The Great Canon was composed by saint Adnrew in the Seventh Century ! And preserved its preserved its form and content up to this very day. 
It is  lenghtly one as it is a Church services that lasts sometimes from 1 hour 50 minutes hour or even up to 2 hours 50 hours if performed with a  Bishop or a Metropolitan. The Saint Andrews Canon is red every day in the First week during first of Great Lent divided by IV parts on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.

Great Canon Content

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Great Canon text consists of four parts, each divided into nine odes like any other regular church canon.
There are slight differences between the odes of the two compositions. In the Great Canon, there is a greater number of troparia (songs sung in honour of a Biblical major event, a saint veneration song or other song with content to glorify the miracles of Christ).
A common remembering part of the Canon heard is the begging "Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me,
At the refrain "Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me," a full prostration (a bow to the ground). is performed Also, some of the odes have additional refrains and troparia to the author of the canon, St. Andrew of Crete, and Saint Mary of Egypt who spend 47 years hermit life in the desert and is one of the greatest models of repentance in Christian history.

A basic distinguishing feature of the Great Canon is its extremely broad use of images and subjects taken both from the Old and New Testaments. As the Canon progresses, the congregation encounters many biblical examples of sin and repentance. The Bible (and therefore, the Canon) speaks of some individuals in history in a positive light, and about others in a negative one—the penitents are expected to emulate the positive examples of sanctity and repentance, and to learn from and avoid the negative examples of sin, fallen nature and pride. However, one of the most notable aspects of the Canon is that it attempts to potray the Biblical images in a very personal way to every penitent: the Canon is written in such form that the faithful identify themselves with many people and events found in the Bible.
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The earliest manuscript we know of attesting to the Great Canon (with a slightly different order of troparia and a shorter composition) is the Studite Triodion of the middle of the second half of the ninth century, stored in the library of the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg.
This manuscript has the Canon in hits original place in the services of Great Lent – at Matins of Thursday in the fifth week (when the life of St. Mary of Egypt is read). 
Only later does it also appear at Compline of the first four days of the first week.

The Canon is a soul-piercing, heartfelt lament of the righteous for his sins. The very beginning: “Where shall I begin to weep for the action of my wretched life? What first-fruit shall I offer, O Christ, in this my lamentation? (Ode 1)—attunes the soul for mourning and repentance, for the “wounding of the heart.”

The author of the Canon laments not only for himself, but for all mankind that has sinned. He recalls every transgression, every fall, from Adam to the New Testament. The majority of the Canon—eight odes—consists of Old Testament examples. St. Andrew doesn’t just recall the sins of the forefathers, but he experiences them as his own: “I have rivaled in transgression Adam the first-formed man, and I have found myself stripped naked of God” (Ode 1).

The transgressions of the forefathers become prototypes of the passions that torment a man: “Instead of the visible Eve, I have the Eve of the mind: the passionate thought in my flesh” (Ode 1). Or another example: “To whom shall I liken thee, O soul of many sins? Alas! To Cain and to Lamech. For thou hast stoned thy body to death with thine evil deeds, and killed thy mind with thy disordered longings (Ode 2: “See now, see”). Here St. Andrew follows St. Maximus the Confessor, for whom Cain is “the acquisition, the law of the flesh,” rising up against Abel, that is, the mind, according to the symbolic interpretation, and killing him. This is what St. Maximus writes: “Had Abel kept guard over himself and had he not gone out with Cain into the field, that is, into the plain of natural contemplation, before attaining dispassion, then Cain, who is and is called the law of the flesh would not have risen up and killed him” (Ad Thalassium 49).

If in the Canon St. Andrew recalls examples of Old Testament and New Testament righteousness, then it is first of all in order to reproach his soul for sloth and for sinfulness and to call it to imitation, for example: “O miserable and wicked soul, imitate the righteous and pure mind of Joseph; and do not live in wantonness, sinfully indulging thy disordered desires” (Ode 5).

The Canon is a broad historical panorama outlining the history of human sin and human righteousness, of the rejection and acceptance of God. The contents of the Canon are deeply Christ-centered, with heartfelt appeals to Christ in every ode, for example: “May the Blood from Thy side be to me a cleansing fount, and may the water that flows with it be a drink of forgiveness. May I be purified by both, O Word, anointed and refreshed, having as chrism and drink Thy words of life” (Ode 4). The only way of purification for St. Andrew is in Christ, through sobriety, feat (podvig), and all time giving and living all for God.

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The Great Canon of St. Andrew is, undoubtedly, based on a robust Patristic foundation, with quotes from St. Meletius of Sardis, St. Ephraim of Syria, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Maximus the Confessor. And the merit of St. Andrew of Crete is that he was able to synthesize their experience and imprint it into the Canon.

What is given to us in the Canon of Repentance of St. Andrew of Crete is the Biblical, ecclesiastical, truly universal experience of repentance, of the stinging of the heart, of the excruciating removal of the old, dead man and the putting on of the New Adam, in Christ Jesus, our Lord, to Whom glory is unto the ages of ages.

What is it like to become a father in the Age of Coronavirus Pandemics – Our baby Dimitar is born

Thursday, June 4th, 2020

After a long 9 months finally on 12.05.2020 12 of May 2020 by God's grace our baby Dimitar was born. He born one day after Saint Cyril and Methodius feast in the Church on the Church Feast of Saint Ephiphanius of Cyprus, Saint German Patriarch of Constantinopol a fierce fighter for the veneration of Holy Icons, Saint martyr Ermogen patriarch of Constantinople (according to new style Calendar) and Saint Basil of Ostrog (in old calendar) . I always loved spring and especially month of May so I'm happy the baby born exactly on this month. For many 2020 broght the coronavirus pandemics brought a lot of pain and surely for us it brought an extra stress with all this mask wearing and super extra precaution measures everywhere and self-isolation but for me 2020 brought me a great joy and a good things in life, after we changed the rented apartment and we moved from Mladost 3 to Geo Milev (a district that is much more fitting my temper), now just 4 months later we have this greatest joy of having a son, something that many people dreamed all their life and suffered. For us it was about 6 years without a baby and the lack of a child in a family seems to extra strain situation. I do suffer and pray for all those people who can't have child and desperately want it and I hope God will bless many with the same joy in the coming years. I have to say having a baby fills up a great hole in the family and brings up new horizons for development of both families and the new born child. Most importantly a new opportunity is there for a new man to get into the kingdom of Heaven know Christ and hopefully end up in eternal blissfulness in Heaven with all the saints by the mercy of God. If you think for a while how all of us some time back in time were also a kid and how our mothers had many sleepless nights and feared for our health and well-being and how from a small baby we become a man who studied excelled in things, failed in others and have the opportunity and rationality to do complex things such as writting this article you get into the conclusion all this is hard to believe mind blowing miracle …

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Right out of Mother's Belly seeing the Light of the World for a first time – First Picture of the Baby before he officially had a name

Many people prayed for the easy birth of my wife as she is already 36 years old and in that years sometimes giving birth is dangerous and often many woman loose babies or are forced to be cut for the baby to be delivered from the belly with Caesarian section cut. Svetlana give a normal birth thanksfully and she delivered the baby for just 3.5 hours after she was accepted in hospital the previous day and doctors did an infusion of oxytocin  (a liquid hormone that doctors use to acccelarate the birth process when the baby was over carried just like it was in our case and in the case of many woman) – Svetlana overcarried it with 5 days.

After a long struggle with my wife on selecting the name, we finally named our new born baby Dimitar  born 49 centimeters / 2980 grams / Dimitar was named in honour of one of the most notorious and loved saints in the Eastern Orthodox world Saint Demitrius of Thessaloniki after a very long struggle to select the name as my wife Svetlana desired to name him Daniil (Daniel), a name which is also beautiful and belongs to the Prophet Daniel and Saint Daniel the Stylite. Svetlana had some weird ideas to name the boy Elijan (Ilia) as well as some other ideas for names like Andrei (Andrew) a very beatiful name belonging to Saint Andrew the Apostle who by the way preached on the Bulgarian Sea Coast according to Church tradition I was against not because the names are bad but because I wanted strongly to follow our well known tradition in Bulgaria to name the first born male boy after the grandfather in that case I wanted to name baby Dimitar firstly in favour of Saint Dimitar (The Myrh Bearer) of Thessaloniki to be the heavinly guide of the boy together with all the other saints under the  Demitrius / Dimitrius name as well as to venerate my father who is a very hard-working and patient parent even over the years with a such a wild child which I am.

Holy Relics of Saint Demetrius the Myrh Bearer in St. Demetrius Basilica in Thessaloniki (Greece)

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Saint Demetrius killing Lyaeus the Glariator (depicting the spiritual destroyment of paganism by prayerrs of Saint Demetrius and a remembrance of fact that Christian Nestor killed much powerful Gladiator Lyaeaus who killed thousands of Christians on the Arena before by the all powerful prayers of Saint Demetrius)

I find worthy  to name a few of the other kid's heavinly prayer intercessors this is the well known Russian Saint Dimitrius of Rostov, The bulgarian saint Saint Demitrius of  Besarabia (an ex-territory of Bulgarian Empire) and Saint Dimitrij Donskoy, there is even more saints undet the Demetrius names canonized by the church over the centuries.

The name selection of a boy turned to be much more complicated than I thought and for anyone out there that has to go through the process of awaiting a new born I recommend you to select the name in advance as selecting the name after birth in negotiation with a woman who gave birth is a terrible and hard to bear experience as her hormones are making swing moods every now and then.

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Selecting a kid name in the past was quite an interesting process and there was various approaches here in Bulgaria, from naming the kid after a grandfather, grandmother to naming it after a big saint if he is born on a big saint's Church feast day for example if it is born on 6th of May (saint George's day) in Bulgaria it is common to name the kid Georgi or if it is Saint Cyril and Methodius Cyril.
Due to the fact the kid was born near the feast of Saint Apostole Simon the Zealot one of the names I suggested to Svetlana was Simon or Simeon even though that name was not my choice as a compromise that might fit us both. We had some discussion and we both liked the Kiril (Cyril) name, plus 11 of May was Saint Cyril and Methodius but I had an internal tension about it as we didn't have anyone in family called Kiril.

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Heart works perfect Praise the Lord ! 🙂

Finally my wife stepped back and she agreed to write the name in birth register the name Dimitar so now the kid in his Birth Certificate  is Dimitar Georgiev Georgiev.

Giving birth in Pandemics prevented me to be able to go and see the child until the day he and wife was discharged from Sofia's Maichin Dom University's hospital as clincally healthy.
Please excuse me if I'm turning your attention from the common IT themes Religion and Philosophy which I talk about but I thought putting a few lines for a life changing event as a baby birth is important for me personally to organize things in my head.

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The little Big Man

The stress around the baby born is always a big deal both for the mother and the father. But in my case thanks God I was relatively calm. The feelings in the days around birth for the father are quite extreme of course and perhaps this is why many fathers drink till forgetfulness after the baby is born. This however was not the case with me, even though due to the spiritual hardships I have a drinked a couple of beers overall I stayed sober around the birth and right after it before the baby came home.

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In front of the Prayer Chapel in Maichin Dom (where yearly the Patriarch of Bulgaria Neofit sanctifies the place with Vodosvet (Sanctification of the Water)

Talking about taking the baby I'm thankful to my dear Friends Angel / Krasimir his wife Irina and Mitko Ivanov, who were the only person to kinda of support me and come for the official dischargement ceremony in hospital. I had to organize a couple of things for the dischargement pay the bills currently in Maichin Dom the overall birth expenses for doctors, midwives, hiring room expenses (for 8 days hospitalization) was lets say normal 1345 LEVA  (~ 700 EURO) much lower price than in other non-government funded hospitals in Sofia like Nadezhda  where it would have been about 2300 LEVA, this is of course higher than social countries of Western Europe like Germany where a normal state funded birth would cost something like ~ 350 – 400 EUR but still very cheap if Compared to United Stateswhere a good orchestrated birth costs something like 25 to 30 000 USD.
As I heard from wife the birth experience she got was of course harsh but this is normal for the first baby where the levels of stress and uncertainty is absolutely unbearable for the your unexperienced parturient mother.

I have to express my sincere thankfulness to the great Head Doctor Miss Ivet Raicheva thanks to whom my wife succeded in normal birth and we have a healthy baby.as well Doctor Nikolay Gerdzhikov from Hospital Second Baby Specialized Hospital Sheinovo who  break off the amniotic fluids baloon of my wife to accelarate the overcarried baby timely birth, as well as all the pregnancy tracking doctors of UMBAL Nadezhda (A Hispital for Woman Health).

Just like I thank warmly to all the people who have given us baby clothes, baby car chairs, subtrates, carriage cangoroos and all kind of baby toys and equipment useful in raising the baby as well as all the friends who helped with advices during the pregnancy and many hardships in this 9 months before baby come to earth and after that. This are Mitko Paskalev, Mitko Ivanov / Anastasia, Krasimir, Hristina, Father Stoyan and his wife Yanna, our godfather Familiy Galin and Andrea, uncle Emilian, Vasil Kolev, Father Flavian and all others who helped us with warm prayers and good words during the hardships of pregnancy during the Coronacrisis.

Due to the Covid, every time I had to go to the hospital to bring my wife food, pampers, fruits etc. was only possible to be delivered by a medicine personal (with a small treatment fee) as entrance of externals like me was not possible.

I did not have the chance to go inside the hospital's 12th floor to pick up my wife with the baby due to the COVID-19 Virus, hospital entrance was only allowed to the parter stage and only after they check your temperature with an electronic wireless gun-like thermometer headed right in your head …
I had to then wait with the few bouquet of flowers, chocolate candys and alcohol to hand in to the main degenerating doctor which in our case was Ivet Raicheva, I have to kindly thank this professional woman for doing all the best for my wife in assisting her in birth and succeeding in a normal birth process which in our age is quite rare about at least 80% of woman give birth with a C-Section.

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Friends and Brothers / Sisters from the Church Angel, Krasi, Irina and Mitko Ivanov

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Krasimir and Irina

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In front of Maichin Dom Me seeing my boy for a first time !

After Svetlana was accompanied in the entrance stage with a medicine worker, we made the standard few remembrance pictures on the floor and infront the hospital and on a Volkswagen Taxi headed home with the baby being in fear for the baby in every car bump.

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The great joy of blessing to be with your Son for a first time

Once Dimitar was already home we rejoiced and placed him in his already prepared baby crib and left home wife for 40 minutes together with the baby and went out to for a quick treat for friends who were so kind to come for the baby.
The routine afterwards is expected as to every new born, a lot of breast feeding for wife, adaptated milk sometimes, changing pampers, baby bathing every day, swinging, singing songs to calm him down when he songs etc.

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The responsibilities for the father of course suddenly rise as you have to be a products supporter as your wife is quite weak over the 40 days after birth, you have to clean, buy food or prepare something to eat, prepare her a breastfeeding teas, confort her and calm her. But the overall it is clear that the woman becomes much more stable version of herself after the birth she starts thinking more to the ground and dream less in fantasies as the baby helps her better see the reality and learn to sacrifice more.

Georgi-Baby-Dimitar

Let God bless and protect Dimitar by the prayers of the Holy Virgin Mary Theotokos and All Sains and help him in all the hardships from the cradle to a fully grown and wise man that he'll become one day by God's mercy!

A day in a Nun Skete saint Ambrose of Optina in Rusakovo village near Zhyrovichi monastery – Biggest monastery in Belarus

Friday, September 20th, 2019

What is a Scete?

The skete (Scetis) as a form of cohabitant has been among the 4 types of early Christian hobatiation along with eremitic (hermet life), lavritic from laura (Greek: Λαύρα; Cyrillic: Ла́вра) is a type of consisting of a cluster of cells or caves for hermits, with a church and sometimes a refectory at the center. and coenobitic (another monastic tradition based on community life).

Origins of scete communities

A skete (from Coptic ϣⲓ(ϩ)ⲏⲧ via Greek σκήτη) is a monastic community in Eastern Christianity that allows relative isolation for monks, but also allows for communal services and the safety of shared resources and protection.

Skete communities usually consist of a number of small cells or caves that act as the living quarters with a centralized church or chapel. These communities are thought of as a bridge between strict eremitic lifestyle and communal lifestyles since it was a blend of the two. These communities were a direct response to the ascetic lifestyle that early Christians aspired to live. Skete communities were often a bridge to a stricter form of hermitage or to prepare for a martyrdom in times of persecutions.
 

Hitchiking to Zhyrovichi and Rosakovo Scetes


As I've been with my wife for a 2 weeks trip to her home country Belarus, staying in Krasnoselsk a small 7000 inhabitants town, near the bigger Valkovoysk, one of the local Church serving friends of mine Evgeni offered that we go for a pilgrimage to Zhyrovichi monastery. We took the road as a hitchhikers and on our way to Zhirovichy after changing 4 cars to reach a gas station nearby Slonim, the idea come that instead of directly going to Jirovichi to go instead and visit a Nun skete at village of Rosakovo consting of 9 nuns just about 5-6 km distance from Zhirovichy.
To reach there we were taken as hitchikers by a kind guy riding on a classical world famous Belarusian track MAZ (Minskiy Avtomobilnij Zavod literaly translated as Minsk Automobile Factory). This trip was my first trip on a MAZ truck quite an exciting adventure to be honest, as so far I never had the chance to ride on an old Soviet style truck 🙂

We reached in Rusokovo about 16:30 just to be amazed of the beauty of the beautiful Russian style Eastern Orthodox skete Church.

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The skete of Rusakovo started its existence just 14 years ago in 2005 with the blessing of Zhirovychi monastery abbot archibishop Guriy (Gurij) – archibishop Novogrudskij and Lidskijy.

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Archibishop Guriy Apalyko Novogrudskij and Slonimski
(Архиепископ Гурий Новогрудский и Слонимский (Апалько)

Skete started to build in the dying village of Rusakovo left with just few inhabitants very near some of the post-communist abandoned buildings of a Kolhoz (collective ownership) so popular in the times of communism across USSR and its satellites, which stemmed from the Jewish Kibbutz used by Jews before the official establishment and official recognition of Israel.

The idea of the Skete is to create a more ascetic place, where the many volunteer ladies who often are helping in the works of the Zhyrovichi Men (Monks) monastery and desired to become a novice nuns and nuns to be able to live and pray incessantly in their own sisterhood.

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The village of Rusakovo is situated just about 6 km from the Village of Zhyrovichi and Zhyrovici monaster which is at the moment the biggest monastery in Belarus by number of monks (currently the monastery consists of about 34 monks and few novices).
Local people of Zhirovichy and the region say because of Zhirovichy's monastery and the appearance of the Holy Theotokos Virgin Mary the Mother of God, Zhirovichy and all its regions are under her spiritual protection.
This believes by locals could be feeled for sure in the Skete of Rusakovo as my Soul their felt like being in heaven in an inexplainable peace and joy.

Skete-Rusakovo-village-Belarus

The unusual bus stop of Rusakovo village Grodnenskaja Oblast, (common for villages in Belarus)

The existence of such a Skete exactly in Rusakovo village was also not a coincidence as in the past this village was famous for having a people with a very strong faith in God as well as the village was famous for many of its inhabitants serving in the Church altar as "panamari" / hipodeacons many of whom are being buried in the small graveyard near the end of the village.

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Elder Saint Ambrose of Optina Desert

 

Short History on how Rusakovo Scete was build

As a first living breath to Rusokovo Skete St. Ambrious of Optina Desert (a Russian saint from the, several nuns were transferred from the Slonim Holy Annunciation Monastery, here they settled in an old decrepit wooden house. There were cracks in the floor, the water froze, slept on folding beds, there was no money and bread, and the only income the nuns had was their own grown potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, pepper, cabbage, garlic, onion etc. …

 

The nuns started building the Skete's Church on top of old abandoned village home, sitting on elevated place.

During the Church construction works the nuns learned a lot of subtleties and wisdom of builder mastery. A lot of people relatives and close friends to the nuns and the few novices nuns joined and helped with the construction of the Church and the monastic cells building. A good hearted benefitors were found that has sacrificied in the name of Christ and donated the Church Bells, gave money and materials for the creation of Church Domes and one good hearted man even made a donation of the whole iconostasis Church wall !

View to Rusakovo Skete Main Church

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The multiplication of Breads – Icon painted with the Blessing of Saint Elder Ambrose of Optina Desert
 

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The Church built in honour of saint Ambrose of Optina looks very beautiful as a temple of the true God should look like, the coupols are gold-plated as it is in many Russian Church, the reason for that is to accent that the Holy Spirit of Almighty God is descending over this domes to the the Church alter.

Inside the Church the atmosphere could be best described with the words warm and welcoming, entering the Church building, feels like really entering home. On the Church entrance, we had the blessing to meet the serving priest which as of time of writting this article is father Georgij, inside the Church we found one of the nuns mother Tatiana which had the obedience to sell Church candles and the monastery produced herbal medicines.

The magnificence of the outlook of the Church is hard to be described in words.

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View to Church Alter Doors (Dveri) a symbol reference to the Heavens Gates -ХВ stands for Христос Воскресе / Christ is Risen

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Saint Ambrose of Optina icon with embedded holy relics Rusakovo Zhyrovichi skete Belarus notice on the back the bricks – this is a Russian Petch (Петчь) / Petchka. This was how Russians heated their homes and cooked for centuries, in the Church "The Petch" is used to heat the Church in the Cold Belarusian Winters.

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Saint Nicolas icon and the usual feast Church icon which of this day was for the Beheading of Saint John The Baptist

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Heaven like Church Garden near the Rosakovo village Belarus

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A Big bad guardian dog nearby the Church

Nuns and voluntery workers work hard in the skete a lot as just like in the ancient monasteries the skete nourishes itself mainly on their own production and the small financial help that comes from Zhirovichy Monastery when current official person in charge (a kind of Abbess) – Nun Mother Maria requests it in cases of unexpected events which can't be covered by the incomes of the monastery.

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Elder sister (nun) abbess Maria Rusakovo Scete (skit) Belarus

Talking about incomes its main income is mainly from creation and selling of mixtures of Monastery prepared ointments of Healing Herbs, Olive Oil and other Oils.

Herbal natural medicines preparation is perhaps the main unique product for ordinary layman the monastery offers.
Here sister nun Anatolia who graduated bio-faculty higher education in her worldly life, compiles herbs, makes ointments, infusions and oils. This includes herbal health recovery cream (ointment) that is anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antiviral ointment, ointment for diseases of the veins, joint, skin diseases, anti-alcohol and anti-toxic infusions. The list is so large that you can’t name everything, I recommend you go alone and choose whatever you need …

The monastic farm is large, besides the many season grown vegetables and fruits and the hothouses which are used to raise vegetables in harsh Belarusian winters, they have about 100+ hens used to produce eggs and even among the hens could be seen an ancient breed of hensthe Russian Pavlovian hens, which was almost destroyed in Soviet times.

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Ancient Russian Pavlovian Hen rarely to be seen in Russia and Belarus nowadays

Miraculously few of the Pavlovian hens survived. These chickens are different in that their eggs and meat have less cholesterol (but as the Sketes rule prohibits nuns and visitors to eat meet this chickens are only used as a source of eggs.

View-of-Rusakovo-flower-beauties
Another common source for feeding the Scetes are Mushrooms collection from the near Woods in which there is a strong tradition here in Belarus as mostly all people in villages and towns are riding and collecting eatable mushrooms together with healing herbs which are collected by the novice nuns, sketes voluntary workers and sometimes with a blessing by the nuns. Cats and dogs are walking all around the yards and the long village one straight street  (which nowadays is consisting of a line of village old beautiful colored and well maintained wooden houses, most of which gradually become uninhabitant already due to most of Rusakovo's population was consisting of old people who passed away and their younger offspring choose to live already in big cities as Minks, Homel, Mogilov, Grodno, Vitebsk etc.).

To prevent this beautiful abondoned houses in Rusakovo from gradual ruin due to being uninhabitant, mother Maria along with the rest of Nuns decided to gradually buy some of the houses, some of which were turned as normal living places where visitors are usually being accomodated in Summer, the Belarusian Church is also organizing there a Summer School camps and those bught and restavrated houses are used as accmodation for the teenagers.


Once we arrived the Skete, we worshipped the holy relics in the Church and we want around the yard of the monastery where we met once again father Georgij with whom we had a few minutes talk after which he offered us to stay for the Night Vigil Liturgy that was organized in the monastery in honor of the feast of Saint Alexander Nevski (a great warrior saint that is highly venerated in Russia and all across the Orthodox countries that were part of the USSR), in honour of saint Alexander Nevski is named the Second Biggest Cathedral in the Balkans and Eastern Europe in city of Sofia Bulgaria. I do venerate saint Alexander Nevski thus it was a great joy for me the opportunity to stay for that Liturgy and respectively sleep in the skete.
After we were invited to stay by fr. Georgij with the blessing of matushka nun Maria whose blessing he requested by calling her over the mobile, we were brought for a Dinner in the scetes dining room, the dinner was humble but very delicious, where mother Tatiana (the nun) that was assigned to bring us to the dining room has prayed and blessed the food with a holy water. The dinner consisted of some boiled potatoes, tomatoes, bread, cucumbers and a sweet kind of jar cakes but perhaps due to the fact it was made with a lot of love it was more delicious by the worldly food we consume daily.

After the dinner novice monk Alexander brought us to the pilgrimage house and accomodated us. I have to say this man was very kind and a good hearted man. Even seeing each other for a first time the interaction with him was so opened and easy that it felt like we knew each other all our lives.

Midnight Liturgy started in 11:30 and continued until almost 02:00 a.m.. and after the Night Liturgy we went home and slept just to wake up in the morning in 09:00 full of joy and energy (perhaps due to the prayers of the nuns, the vigil itself the clean air and most importantly because of abundant God's grace that was filling up this blessed place).


Rusakovo-one-eyed-dog

Upper picture you see one of the friendly dogs (though it apeared different on the picture) that was following us all the time in the monastery, the mind association I got this dog follows us very much resembling our Guardian Angel who is always following us and helping us in our daily deeds, the very same Holy Angel we Orthodox Christians believe to receive during baptism.

It is common here that a car flies past and an animal is thrown out of it. Just recently the next in line unwanted animal that was left in Rusakovo is  one-eyed dog. In the same way, the Marquise cat a victim of car hit was saved from sure death thanks to the nuns, who brought the animal for medication in near place animal hospitals. Marquese now have the chance to live a normal life after intensive care from the good hearted nuns.

To survive the harsh winter in Belarus the Skete inhabitants are preparing conservated jars with whatever vegetables and fruits have been locally grown during the summer as it is being done almost all across Russia, Belarus and mostly all Eastern Orthodox countries (Bulgaria, Serbia, Moldavia, Romania) etc.
The skete's private houses bought has currently a capacity to accomodate about at least 50 – 80 people, sometimes for a great Orthodox feasts as many as 27 individuals came and was accomodated in the Skete.

The usual day of the Rusakovo Scete is seen on the Door of the pilgrim accomodation room and is relatively easy perhaps because the goal of the Skete after all is to leave its visitors more time for thinking over their life and God's providence and to pray

Schedule-of-a-standard-day-in-Rusakovo-skit-skete-Belarus-1

The daily Schedule of the Scete looks like so (transslated from Above text which is in Russian):

07:00 – Wake up
07:45 – 09:00 – Night Vigil with 12 Psalms
09:00 – 09:30 – Breakfast
09:30 – 14:00 – obediences (work on things ordered)
14:00 – 14:30 – Monastic Lunch
14:45 – 17:00 – obediences
18:00 – Monastic Dinner
18:30 – 20:00 – Compline (Malko Povecherie) End of the day prayers
20:00 – 23:00 – Free Time
23:00 – Sleep hour

On Big Sunday – The day of resurrection which is the biggest feast commemorating the glorious events of Christ's Resurrection from the grave and victory over death the schedule is even lighter

08:30 – Canonical Hours
09:00 – Holy Liturgy
17:30 – Lunch
18:00 – Horologion
– 
Greek: ὠρολόγιον (Chasoslov / Часослов in church slavonic )

Alexander-novice-monk sent from Zhyrovichi monastery

Novice Monk and monastic worker Alexander sent from Zhyrovichi monastery together with brother Evgeny (a graduated Theologician who graduated Jirovichi Minsk spiritual academy 5 years course)

The pilgimage house was a standard but well and cozy old Belarusian wooden house with all the comforts you might dream for, e.g. – a bed, a blanket and even an old stove, that is used in times of cold in Winter, late autumn and cold spring times.

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The prayer corner situated East as it is in every Orthodox Chapel

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One of the room beds note the Upper right corner situated Icon this is a traditional place where Belarusians who are generally very pious people place their icons

To obtain a drinkable water each of the pilgrimage accomodation houses has its own well. As Belarus is a country rich in Lakes 11 000+ lakes it is a country generally rich in water. And most people in villages are digging about 50 to 90 meters to have their own well – a free of charge source of water.

 


Graveyard at the end of Rusakovo village (that has buried many of old village inhabitants and a lot of good christians.
One thing I've noticed in Belarus is many of the Graveyards places in this country are placed on the highest heighted place (hillock) in the region, perhaps they do this because they expect the dead to be nearer to heaven to which each of the resurrected bodies should be taken on the Resurrection day as we believe in Christian faith.

Rusakovo-skete-pilgrims-prepared-houses

View of Rusakovos nature and a pilgrim accomodation house

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This is how the pilgrimage accomodation houses of Rusakovo Scete looks like

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Few of the nuns of St. Ambrose of Optina Skete

Rusakovo Skete has a vkontakte group where you can contact them and if you like you can ask for a blessing to stay a couple of days if you're ready to work for free like 4-5 hours a day and feel the atmosphere of this blessed place.

On the next day after we woke up, we were brought by the novice monk Alexander again to the dinner room and they gave us a delicious fasting breakfast in 11:00. After that we thanked them and hitchiked to see another smaller skete in Sceniavichi the next village inhabitated with only 3 nuns vowed themselves to follow a harsh ascetism.

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Bus stop of Sceniavichi Skete village Belarus

Finding the Skete took us about 10-15 minutes walk from the bus stop, we had to walk like 3 minutes in direction of entering the village and then turn right and walk for some time until we reached the big fance as in below pic.

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Skete Sceniavichi fence wall

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The house type of Church of Sceniavichi skete
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Church bells

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Inside the Sceniavichi Skete Church view to Iconostasis

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Icon of All New Confessors of Eastern Orthodox Faith of Belarus

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Skete of Sceniavichi monk cell house

We were received in the Scete by a sister nun Olga a kind young nun which showed us the Church and offered us a coffe with some traditional belarusian fried dought (called draniki). Nun Olga happened to be a zograph (icon painter). The lady was mostly kind to us and even give us a gift of a small Calendar with the famous Prayer of Saint Ambrose of Optina and the last Elders of Optina below is the prayer itself:
 

The Prayer of the Last Elders of Optina

O Lord, grant that I may meet all that this coming day brings to me with spiritual tranquility. Grant that I may fully surrender myself to Thy holy Will.

At every hour of this day, direct and support me in all things. Whatsoever news may reach me in the course of the day, teach me to accept it with a calm soul and the firm conviction that all is subject to Thy holy Will.

Direct my thoughts and feelings in all my words and actions. In all unexpected occurrences, do not let me forget that all is sent down from Thee.

Grant that I may deal straightforwardly and wisely with every member of my family, neither embarrassing nor saddening anyone.

O Lord, grant me the strength to endure the fatigue of the coming day and all the events that take place during it. Direct my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to be patient, to forgive, and to love. Amen.

sister Olga was so kind to show us her icon painting atelier and after further talk with her we found out some interesting details, like the fact the 3 sisters living in Sceniavichi scete has given vows to not eat any meat or any animal products while they're in the scete and since 1.5 years we found this ascetic nuns were fed only with vegetable food.

Joyfully we had from their to Zhyrovichi monastery farm where monastery property consists of cows, sheep, pigs, caprines, goats, horses, ducks, turkeys, hens which is about 2 kilometers away from Zhyrovichi.
The farm is functioning based on the monastic system of blessings over each of the workers just like any monastery functions based on obediences and I have to say it works pretty well. The horses in the farm are breeded as an attraction for the groups of young pupils that ride to visit the monastery regularly for a Summer Orthodox Christian Schol Camps.

Below are some pictures taken from the monastic collective farm – there is no question this is definitely interesting for youngsters nowdays most of whom have raised in the cities and never had a chance to ride on a horse or see most of the animals that each of our grandma and grandpa had in their own village house in the short past.

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A near view to monastic farm Zhyrovichi Dormition of Virgin Mary Monastery

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Cows pasture near farm

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Moooooo !

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Mamma pig with the piggies 🙂

Bale piles used for food and floor cover in the animal cells

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Belarusian Seeding Machine Traktor in the farm

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Saint King Boris feast and a Holy Liturgy in the Great Basilica of Pliska – 2nd of May 2018

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

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Pliska is the first capital of Bulgaira and an ancient city that traces its roots back to the Baptizmal of Bulgaria by Saint King Boris (The Baptizer of Bulgarian lands and Slavonic People) the feast is of a great importance for Bulgaria to be pressent on the map of Europe over the last XV centuries since Bulgaria's establishment in 681 A.D. 

 

Pliska which is an enormous architectural complex dated from IX / X century hsa played a pivotal role for the Baptizmal process of Bulgarian nation as it was King Boris's palace at that time and the Christianization of Bulgarians and Slavonic (natioons) people started exactly in the newly built so called Great Basilica of Pliska  which was an archibishop seat and a central Monastery and Palace Church of Bulgaria, the building was completed approximately in 875 A.D. and was the biggest Cathedral church in Europe for about 1000 years onwards with the gigantic area of 2,920 square meters (31, 400 ft).

Old_Basilica_in_Pliska-walls-reconstruction

20 century reconsturction of the Church walls based on descriptions from history annals 

The Basillica was build on top of ruins of older Bulgar pagan temple and has martyrium (a place dedicated to a martyr who has been martyred there) as many of the ancient Churches had. It is believed that the martyrium may be Saint (Boyan) Enravota – the first Bulgarian saint (circa 833). The basillica has a form of a Cross shaped mausuleum.

 

Old_Basilica_in_Pliska-left-part-of-the-alter

Reconstruction of walls left part of the Altar


The archibishop residence was north and south of the basillica on the northern yard there was a residential building with a bath which included hypocaust (an ancient water warming system). Building south of the cathedral was used as school and scriptorium. Nearby the basillica are situated necropolis (most likely monk graves).

Old_Basilica_in_Pliska_Sarcophagus-near-altar

Pliska Sarcophagus near the Great Basillica Church altar

As with every basilica of that time there is a special allocated place of the Church for nobles. Yard northside was used as a kitchen and a dining room and accomodated other monsatic buildings.


The Old Basilica reconstruciton original model should have looked something similar to below picture which is found in the Museum (which holds a little part of the artefacts found) situated about 1.5 kilometer from the Basilica.

Old_Basilica_in_Pliska_Reconstruction-model

A presumable reconstruction model of the Old Basilica

On 2nd of May KIng Boris Feast in 2015 for a first time since many centuries in memoriam of 1150 years since Christianization of Bulgaria in the Great Basilica was served an Eastern Orthodox Christian (an open air) Holy Liturgy headed by the Bulgarian Patriarch Neofit with many Metropolitans guests from other Eastern Orthodox national Churches where the ex-president Rosen Plevneliev and the Living ancestor King Simeon the III-rd was present.

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Patriarch Neofit Patriarch and head of Bulgarian Orthodox Church blessing in Great Basilica y. – 2018

The event in 2015 was continued with the idea to become an yearly event on the feast of Saint King Boris each 2nd of May yesterday in 2018 by the Metropolitan of Varna and Veliko Preslav his eminence Metropoltian Ioan (John).

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Orthodox Christian Believers in the Great Basilica Preslav 2018 (People gathered being transported by free of charge buses organized by the Eparchy from Dobrich, Varna, Shumen, Targovishte 

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Fr. Peter reading The Apostle readings

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Metropolitan Ioan (John) of Varna and Veliki Preslav Blessing in Holy Liturgy 2018

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The Holy Altar with the Holy Sacraments in Pliska Basilica in 2018 (Metropolitan Ioan and his deacon)

The Church service was a big gathering for the region (if we take the fact that the current town Pliska has about 900 citizens and is in practice a village), the overall present people were perhaps about 200 to 250. More than 1/3 of the priests (38 priests) from the whole Eparchy served the service together with the Bishop. The weather before the service was rainy but just after the service and onwards, it came sunny again just like it was saint King Boris with all the Christian saints rejoiced to see so many Christians gather together just like the times when Christianity started to spread from this same place over the lands of Bulgaria country and later during the golden age throughout the territories of Bulgarian Empire and all the Slavonic borderlines such as nowadays Romania, Serbia, Ukraine and Russia. 

The whole set of pictures from saint King Boris feast in Pliska can be seen on the official  website of Varna and Veliko Preslav eparchy here

Living and Martyrdom of Saint Zlata of Meglen (Muglenska) one of the greatest Bulgarian Martyrs during the Ottoman Bulgarian Slavery

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

saint_Zlata-of-Myglen-one-of-the-greatest-Bulgarian-martyr-saints-protector-of-bulgarians-abroad

Saint Zlata of Meglen (Muglen) or also as we call it in Bulgaria saint Zlata Muglenska (Αγία Χρυσή) is a Great Holy Martyr Christian saint venerated mainly in Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia and Serbia (nowadays), however historically even though being from the nowadays Macedonian lands, she was Macedonian Bulgarian by blood heritage she lived in the times of deep physical and spiritual darkness that has been sheeding on the ex-Bulgarian empire lands in the XVIII century in a very poor family originating from the village of Slatino ( the Orthodox Christian eparchy of Slatino ), the Ex-Ochrid Bulgarian epipscopy.

For the time she had a extensively distinguished from other young maids with her beauty and her soul has been gifted with excessive humility, Godliness, pure heart and a truthful burning unshakeful faith in / for God.

Because of her unearthly unusual beauty, a young Turk fall in love with her and decided to kidnap her and to rape her.
One day she went to the deep woods to gather trees for the coming winter uknowing the young turk with other turk friends has prepared an ambush for her.
The turk descended over the pure virgin with the help of his other friends and they captured the God servent lady and brought her to his home offering
and promising her marriage under the turms that she convert to his faith Islam.
The turk told her she either has to merry him and convert to Islam or stay Christian and suffer Christian martyrdom because of her stiffness.

Saint Zlata of Meglen stood firm in her Christian faith and rejected the offer, but the young turk being pushed by the devil has decided that this young beauty has to become
his wife, so to help his goal to convert her to his Muslim faith he brough ladies to sing her enticing songs (as an ancient manipulation technique) to brainwash the lady to
reject her Christian faith.

The young turkish ladies which by the way belonged to someone's local person harem (seraglio), were singing and dancing, smiling at her and giving their
best to show her the beaties of Islam, they told her how nice the muslim treat their lifes and how superior is according to them Muslim faith, trying their best to convince her to reject
her faith and join their false godliness.

Saint Zlata looked at the songs and lures as a temptations from the devil recognizinig the unclean spirits works inside the young ladies and turks surrounding her and strongly stood
and was watching at them with deep disgust
, praying inside her self to the Lord Jesus Christ to help her and strenghten her to stand firm in the temptations, asking him better
for a martyrdom than false enjoyment of this temporary lieful and earthly goods which leads to the eternal hell.

The young turkish ladies seeing her firmness for Christianity and unwillingness to reject the Lord and Saviour of mankind The Lord Jesus Christ had an assembly together on how to behave and came to conclusion that the only ones that can turn her from Christ might be her own family (mother, father, sister, brothers) and adviced the young turk man that the only help here might be if the family of the young virgin Zlata influence her to change her mind to reject Christ and merry the turkish man.

The family of the woman knowing the craftliness of Turks and there unrespect for the life of the Christian saw that the only option for her daugher and sister in Christ to stay physically alive is to accept Islam, so they started convincing her to accept islam, perhaps secretly hoping she can become Mohammeddan on the surface but become Christian in her heart (something that many Bulgarian, Serbian and Greek, Albanian and (others from the so called Rum-Milet Cast people or People of the Eastern Orthodox Faith within the Ottoman Empire)  were forced to do to occasionally to save their lives).

But Zlata was unshakable in her decision and firm fireful faith for Christ and publicly reinforced her decision that she better die in suffering than to accept the ungodly eartly wicked religion of Islam.

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This unshakeful behavior of saint Zlata additionally scared off her family and they becomed crying in front of her continuing to convince her to convert to Turkish faith and reject Christ, they were scared about their own physical lives and this cry outs were not a cry outs by reason but a cry outs inspired by the devilish fears for the body, they were forgetting Christ words who says, "Don't fear those who kill / destroy the body, but better fear Whom who has power to throw out body and soul into the eternal Ghehenna (Hell)", the exact citation from Holy Bible is  like this "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." Mathew 10:28.

Of course seing the closest beings of her crying in the soul of Saint Zlata become a division, common for us mortals.
The love for her parents and her sisters was pushing her to listen to her family and the love for the world was pushing her to listen to the turks but the love for God Christ and her Christian Duty were pushing her to become unshakeful 'till the end and accept martyrdom for Christ.

But in the young virgin the love for the world was less than the love for Christ and she screamed boldly but humbly at her spiritual torturers.

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– Even if you my parents my sisters, are forcing me to reject the Lord Jesus Christ, do know that you're no longer my parents, no longer my sister!
– My father remains only my Lord Jesus Christ and my mother – the Most Holy Mother of God (Holy Theotokos) Mary, and my brother and sister are now – all the martyrs for Christ!


The turks underestood now the virgin is not willing to change her faith, and decided to force her with other means (by physical tortures) to change her faith.
Consequently three months they beat her with staffs. And then when the staffing did not help them change her mind, they started cutting skin out of her body back
and show that bloody skins to her eyes to scare her off.

A rivers of blood flow of the young pure martyr. Finally they took a glowing iron stick and pricked (holed) her head from the eye to the eye.
Christ's Grace were helping the saintly Virgin Zlata to endure all this and even after all this unbearable for a normal human body torturings
she become alive.

She was left temporary in a prison by her maryrs and by God's providence right in that time she heard the Priest (spiritual elder of her parents, and pro-Igumenos (main abbot) of Holy Mount Athos the hieromonk Timothey (Timothy) visited Meglen village.

Through one of the Christians who visited her regularly in prison she send a beseech to hieromonk Timothey to fervently pray for her, so that God gives her an honorable end of her Christian Martyrdom.

And God had honored her with a final martyrdom and an eternal honour in his One Holy Eastern Orthodox Church.

The torturer turks being embittered by their failures to break off the fervent faith in Christ of the Holy Martyr, invented another final bestiality.

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They hanged Saint Zlata on a pear tree and come to her sticking her with knifes and finally they hunged her on the same tree, after which to prevent
other Christians to bury her in a Christian rite, they cut the body in parts.

In that manner of unhuman but spiritually glorious manner the Holy Great Martyr received her glorious Martyrdom for Christ
and she become an Eternal prayer for all the true Christians all around the world.

Like a clean gold, cleared by the sufferings, saint Holy Great Martyr Zlata give up her soul to God on 18 of October 1795 year filling up
the sonhms of Christian and Bulgarians saints for the Savior of the World Lord Jesus Christ.

Her martyrdom by God's providence has happened just one day before the celebration of the Greatest Bulgarian saint and Hermit saint John of Rila whose Dormition happened on 19th of October 946.

Pieces of her martyred body, were distributed among believing Christians for a blessing and many received healings from her Holy relics.

Saint Zlata is said to protect the emigrant and Bulgarians abroad and is doing miracles and helping people who stood firm in their Christian Believe 'till this very day.

Holy mother and Great Martyr Zlata Muglenska pray the merciful Lord Jesus Christ to save our sinful souls!

 

Sources used:
The Livings of the Saints – Synodal edition, Sofia 1991, under the edition of Bishop Parthenij Levkijski and Archimandrite dr. Athanasij (Bonchev), including some reasoning and additions to details by the Article Author Georgi Dimitrov Georgiev as inspired by God

 

Saint Cyprian the Bulgarian – Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russians

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Saint Cyprian the Bulgarian Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russians

Probably few Bulgarians and even less Russians have heard about Saint Cyprian the Bulgariana great saint who played a ey role in esblishment of nowadays Russian Orthodox Church.. I have learned about the living of the saint just recently. Cyprian (The Bulgarian) (c. 1336 – 16 September 1406) was Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus' with the Metropolitan's residence in Moscow. (The official title was Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus' until 1448, even though the metropolitans were in Vladimir-on-Kliazma and later Moscow since 1299.)

Saint Cyprian was a Clergyman of Bulgarian nationality, he lived for some time at Mount Athos. In 1373, the Patriarch of Constantinople Philotheus Kokkinos picked him for his devout lifestyle and excellent education and sent him to Lithuania and Muscovy on a mission to reconcile the princes of Lithuania and Tver with Metropolitan Alexius. In 1375, after the hostilities between Moscow and Lithuania had started all over again, the Lithuanian princes asked to appoint Cyprian their Metropolitan. Philotheus Kokkinos made Cyprian Metropolitan of Kiev, all Russia and Lithuania, so that he could unite both ecclesiastical provinces after the death of Alexius. In 1376 he was ordained as a bishop in Constantinople at the behest of the Lithuanian grand duke Algirdas and become Mitropolitan of Kiev. Because this ordination was not recognized by Moscow, he was driven out from Moscow on his first arival there and had to wait in Constantinople until he was officially recognized as Metropolitan. He became officially regognized metropolitan of "all Rus" by the Moscow Duke later in 1389.

His residence from there on was Moscow, although he visited Kiev and other Ukrainian eparchies regularly. In 1378, Metropolitan Alexius died. As a result of the ensuing skirmishes and intrigues, Cyprian became Metropolitan of Moscow in 1381. One year later, however, he fled from Moscow due to the approaching armies of Tokhtamysh. Subsequently, he was removed from Russia and replaced with Metropolitan Pimen (1382–1384). The latter was succeeded by Metropolitan Dionysius (1384–1385). In 1390, Cyprian was returned to Moscow by Vasili II, who he had always supported, and appointed Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia. Cyprian is remembered as a wise and experienced church administrator who fought for the unity of the Russian church.

In fact, he is mainly responsible for uniting the Church in Russia and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. He faced serious opposition during his metropolitanate; Dmitry Donskoy and his advisors were excommunicated for opposing Cyprian's efforts to take up his place in Moscow, and Novgorod the Great – especially Archbishops Aleksei and Ioann II – also opposed his efforts to adjudicate ecclesiastical cases there, which would have allowed him to gain the court fees from Novgorod during the time he sat in judgement there. St. Cyprian was an erudite person and oversaw the copying and creation of a number of important works, including the Troitskaia Chronicle (or Troitskaya letopis') and, probably, the Metropolitan Justice (also known as the Pravosudiye metropolich’ye or Правосудие митрополичье). He also rewrote the Life of Metropolitan Peter, originally written around 1327.

Under st. Cyprian's governance, a church "reform"  was made on how the iconostasis is build the called "high few raws of icons" on the Church Alter wall iconostasis so common nowadays in Russian Church is actually his invention.
He also corrected biblical books and translated a number of ecclesiastic works from Greek into Old Church Slavic.
A little known fact is Andrei Rublev was under St. Cyprian's spiritual guidance when he painted the most famous Russian icon (and the only canonical icon depicing) "The Holy Trinity".

Andrey_Rublev_The_old-testament-Holy_Trinity_icon made under spiritual guidance of Saint Cyprian the Bulgarian

St. Cyprian is buried in the Assumption Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin. He was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in the 15th century. One curious fact is St. Kiprian Peak on Greenwich Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named for Cyprian.

Here is a movie Saint Cyprian the Bulgarian (unfortunatelyin Bulgarian language)

:

Film about Saint Cyprian the Bulgarian – Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russians

Saint George’s day in an Elder – Spiritual father Georgi (91 years old Priest) in Jeglarci’s Village Bulgaria

Friday, May 9th, 2014

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This year on 6th of May – saint George's day Church feast and army celebration in Bulgaria I had the blessing to be in a small village with 868 citizens – Jiglarci (Jeglarci).
Jeglarci is situated about 40 km from Dobrich. Father Georgi from Jiglarci is a well known priest in Dobrich region. He is spiritual father of many priests, monks and nuns here in Bulgaria. This is the 3rd time I'm visiting Jiglarci one time I was on Great and Holy Friday – the day on which the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified and one time I was a few months ago with some brothers and sisters from Holy Trinity Church in Dobrich. This time I had the blessing to go fr. Georgi with my wife Svetlana with Russian family from moscow Mihail and Mariana, and Denica (a sister from Church in Dobrich).

Jiglarci-Cyrkva-Church-building-where-father-Georgi-from-Jiglarci-serves

The Church saint George in Jeglarci village

Each time I visit father Georgi I have the blessing to see and hear a living proof of God's existence. Father's Georgi from Jeglarci is famous all around Bulgaria for being one of the spiritual elders of Bulgaria. He is now 91 years old but even though his age  continues his service for God (serves Holy Liturgy every day during great Lent!), continue to preach and accept dozens of people almost daily looking for spiritual advice, spiritual help, confession, or questions on how to deal with life hardship situations.
Father Georgi is known in the world under the secular name Georgi Stoyanov Peev his life is full of miracles, interesting events and wondrous facts. In communism times of atheism and Orthodox Christian faith persecutions, father Georgi was one of the many priests who underwent tortures and persecutions for his faith in Christ. Because of his firm faith of zealous priest, the Lord endowed the fr. with great spiritual gifts. In short I will mention some facts about fr. Georgi From Jeglarci life as the father is an example of a living saint, very much like another Bulgarian Church Elder (Dijado) Dobri from Baylovo.

Father Georgi has been nurtured with Christian virtues since his childhood – his aunt (sister of his father) was a nun. By his own words, "Since a child, the joy of my life was in faith". Since his youth years his faith was strong and because of that God has helped him in numerous times. Fr. Georgi had 6 children 3 sons and 3 daughters. All of his sons choose the way of priesthood and are now priests in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. His nephew fr. Stoyan is also a priest in Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Dobrich. The father become priest while being 43 years old, by studying in seminary after feeing the call of God and need for firm believers and mass disbelieve in atheistic communist times. In seminary father Georgi studied together with his son. To be able to support himself and his family financially, he worked all kind of hard labour  (sand mining near his village). His all life was labor and prayer in all his free time during studing he learned the church services, readhing the living of saints and holy bible.

Thanks to the house whom he turned into a small chapel almost 20 people become priests later in Bulgarian Orthodox Church. In his priesthood fr. Georgi was among the minority which opposed the ungodly communistic regime, he rejected to comply with communist desires to close the Church in Jeglarci and as a responce to their closure opened as a Church his own house. He was questioned and asked for reports being increminated from local Communist authorities, threatened with death and called in police stations many times because of his refusal to stop his service in Church and preaching the Gospel.

Here is a story of fr. Georgi's youth:

"Our Lord as a Good Father, not only listens our prayers but also reads in the hearts. In 1953 my brother Atanas was a soldier. We received a letter, that soldiers will be dismissed in January next year, this was a very long time. It was st. Dimiter's feast and I wanted my brother to be home for Christmas. At night I prayed the Lord, simple and by all my heart: "Lord for you nothing is hard or impossible. I beg you – in one way or another make it possible, that my brother Atanas to come home earlier.

I had a strong faith in God. My faith in God was so strong that I was feeling like being able to fly. In 3 days later only, when I saw my brother Atanas on the front door, my legs started shaking and I sat down, started crying and in my thoughts started giving thanks to the Lord, "Lord, Lord I'm a big sinner and what you've done for me the sinner …
In a short while, my brother told me how in a human way everything ordered in a way that he was able to come home, 3 days after my prayer. When I received the letter on St. Dimiter's day I've prayed, the prayer was heard and God moved. The human mind is a spiritual substance connected with God. God orders things and we in a human way receive them. On the next day after st. Dimiter's feast the coy was gathered and the commander said, "Atanas Stoyanov Peichev, make 5 steps forward and start Marching!". Together with another man commander sent them in hospital, where a doctor had to inspect their health. The two soldiers took their luggate, foreseeing that they might be kept in hospital. The health check prooved they're healthy. There were 4 months until service completion but in hospital the doctor told them – "Come on go home. Your service is over". – Do you see how in a human way the things ordered. Disbelievers would say it was a coincidence but believers knows the Lord hears our prayers, when they're prayed by our whole being and with pure heart."

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Saint George Church in Jeglarci – Altar and Dveri

Another of his stories is connected with fasting:

"The fasting of the body is a big power. It does clean up the body and draws us near God. The fasting gives a big power. I was hindered in many ways, disbelieving authorities in the village has done me many attempts to do me evil but the Lord has saved me. Didn't allowed them nothing bad to happen to me. He grant me powers, spirit to speak the truth and to not resign from righteousness. But I leave fasting …

Fasting and Prayer are lights leading to God. I was warned 3 times by our Lord about fasting significance. When we were living in North Dobrudja, following thing happened to me: " I was 15 years old. Near our village Karamankyoij a river rich of fish was flowing. One day my bigger brother cought a lot of fish from the white one. My father and all of us was tempted, we wanted eating and it was during the Great Lent. My father said, "Okay prepare the fish and let us eat, God will forgive us?" Notice he said that in faith! apostol Paul writes, 'who eat eats for the Lord and who doesn't eat- also doesn't eat for the Lord'". We have done so as well, we were big family 7-8 children,  grandma, grandpa, my father, mother. Some eat others doesn't. I was in the group of those who ate. We ate and we went to bed. A sudden pain in stomach came … hard to explain. Nothing helps, a thought came to my mind: "Lord forgive me, I will no longer eat fish during fasting". The pain immediately disappeared I immediately got well.

But unfortunately I was weak. On the other day my brother prepared fish again and invited me.

– Genyo, come lets eat.
– I suffered yesterday – I don't want.
– Don't worry your pains was from something else not from the fish, come eat I beg you.

I was tempted and ate. We played until night time and all was well with me. In night, I fall asleep, but suddenly the pain come again, 3 times more painful. I thought I am dying, I was all sweating. My mother and grandma tried to heal me but nothing helped. Then I turned with a prayer to the Lord: "Please Lord forgive me this time also." And out of a sudden I hear a noise like from many waters coming like from heaven. Something went through me and took away the pain. There was a flash in front of my eyes. Do you see how merciful is the Lord!"

Among the many spiritual gifts of fr. Georgi is the gift of "foreseeing" (thoughts and deeds, and future). Many people who visited him later narrated the father told them things which helped them improve their spiritual life. During my first visit of the father I had the possibility to raise few questions on my spiritual life, his answers was a proove for myself that the fr. has truly the gift of sagacity.
Father Georgi had many dreams during his life and many of his dreams were prophetic about future events to come. By his own words often God spoke to him in "dreams and visions". A very notable gift he has is the gift of humility and pure Godly love. He speaks in his stories about everyone including of many who tried to do him evil with profound love and forgiveness.

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By prayers of father Georgi many miracles has happened, he openly speaks of this miracles, believing that through this the weak in faith are strengthened. The father says "Even if the whole earth is convincing me to deny what I saw and experienced with my spiritual eyes I will not forsake.

His humility is sincere, he says about himself: "I am just negligible mot and the miracle is not in human deed but in God's. God uses a lot simple people and through them creates miracle to edify "the smart", those which is of God is being remembered like it happened today.  Wondrous are God's deeds!"

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"The Spiritual deed is very hard. I have worked many kind of works, when you get tired you take a rest, and for the spirit there is no rest.
What to say, how to behave, how to determine the spiritual in you, to be vigilant for your food and for body pureness for pureness of your thoughts and your heart … And of course the Prayer! This is a hard labour. The devil is trying to hit us exactly there, because in all those is the direct relationship with God. Your thought is careless, you remember "important" things, you get tired to be concentrated … And it is most harder to collect your mind and feelings and enter the heart with pure infinite faith that the Lord is with you and he hears you and then pray from all your heart and soul … So is this all easy?! And there is no end and there is no station. But once you live like this there is delight and you can't live no longer in another way …"

 

 

Trip to Ruen Monastery Saint John of Rila – The birthplace of a saint, a God piece of Heaven beauty on earth

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

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Last Saturday me and my wife Svetlana together with a Christian friend family (Tsvetomir and Dimitrina with their < 2 years old boy – Boris) went to a small 1 day pilgrimage trip to Ruen Monastery – (Ruenski manastery). The holy cloister is situated very near Skrino village, the birth village of greatest Bulgarian saint saint John of Rila. The village is located about 90 km from Sofia and is very near to town of Boboshevo. To reach Ruen Monastery when coming from Sofia, the traveller has to move in direction of "Kulata / (The Tower)" and to pass the village of Djerman and Usoika. Then before entering the village of Skrino there is a 5 km steep car road leading to the monastery.

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Saint John of Rila lived in Skrino until his twenties and due to Christian tradition he accepted monkhood in the nearby monastery next to Skrino and a bit later started a hermit life dwelling himself in his first hermit cave situated near Skrino. The Cave of hermit dwelling of Saint John of Rila is now situated about 200 meters from Ruen Monastery and represents a tiny cave encraved in a rock. The rock is so small that maximum of 2 people can be in cave together. It is amazing how a man could live in such a small space.

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Current Ruen monastery Church is recently rebuild in 1995 and the rest of monastic buildings are completed in y. 2002, but according to history it is known a monastery was existent on same place known in medieval times under name "The Holy Father" in  XV century.

Veneration to Saint John of Rila was so high in mid centuries that obviously people recognized Saint John of Rila among the greatest saints.

The nature view near monastery is breath taking .. On the road to it there is Struma river the monastery itself is situated in Vlahina mountain from it there is a sightview of part of Rila mountain.

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Near the monastery buildings there are two paths one leading to the Cave of Hermitage of Saint John of Rila and another one leading to a place with a Cross visible from throughout the region.

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The monastery though being among the newest rebuilded ones in Bulgaria has already 3 saint holy relics, one of which is Holy relics from Saint George the Victorious. We had the blessings by God's grace to also meet RuenAbbot Father Ioan (John). We asked the father how many monks are inhabiting the monastery just to get the humorous answer that half of the inhabitants are present (meaning currently in the monastery there are only 2 monks). Fatehr John was evidently very young kindhearted  person  probably in his 30s. He was quite hospitable and invited us for tea and cookies in the small monastic dining room. We had quite a few spiritual talks and spoke on hardship of being a monk in nowadays confused world.

We were send with the Father's blessings and a gift – an icon of saint John of Rila and a book with the history of the monastery from ancient times to now – the book included also the Testament of Saint John of Rila

On our way back before entering Boboshevo we stopped to see and pray near an ancient Church from the 5th century consecrated under saint Theodor (Stratilat) – a Christian martyr saint from the 4th century who lived near Black Sea.

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The Church is an unique Cultural monument as it contains wall patings probably dating back to at least 10th century or even earlier.

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Thanks God the weather was quite warm for the Winter season leaving impression Spring has come 🙂