Posts Tagged ‘village’

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

Saturday, January 15th, 2022

Biography of St. Prohor Pshinski

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

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

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

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Prophor Pchinski (Pshinksi) Byzantine Empire Icon

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

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

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

Saint_Prohor_Pshinski-XV-century-wall-painting-icon-Kyustendil-Bulgaria

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

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

Saint Prophor Pchinski in Modern Theology

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

 

Biography of Saint Joachim of Osogovo

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

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

Osogovo Monastery.

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Osogovo Monastery Saint Joachim Icon

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

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

Joachim-of-Osogovo-known-also-as-Sarandopolski-Poganovo_Ivan_Rilski

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

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

Biography of Saint Gavriil (Gabriel) Lesnovski

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

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

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St. Gavriil Lesnowski.
Detail of a mosaic on one of the doors of the Patriarchal Cathedral "St. Alexander Nevsky" in Sofia St. Gavriil Lesnowski. Detail of a mosaic on one of the doors of the Patriarchal Cathedral "St. Alexander Nevsky" in Sofia

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 9th, 2021

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

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

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

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

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


Holy

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


Righteous


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

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

Saint Anne fresco from Faras Gallery in Warsaw


True Saints

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

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

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

Saint_Joakim_Joachim-Orthodox-icon

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

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

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


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

Saint-Joachim-and-Anne-Chanter_Angelos_Akotandos_-_St_Anne_with_the_Virgin

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

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

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

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

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

Ikona_Kopiya_Sveta_Pravednaya_Anna

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

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

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

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

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

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

Short History

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

Bistritsa-monastery-st_Ioakim-Anna-Church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen

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

 

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.

Saint-Ambrose-of-Optina-Church-Skete-of-Rosakovo
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.

archibishop-Guriy-Apalyko-Novogrudskij-and-Slonimski

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.

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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
 

Rusakovo-saint-Ambrose-skete-Church

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

Evgeni-in-Rusokovo-garden

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Heaven like Church Garden near the Rosakovo village Belarus

Skete-Rusakovo-village Belarus

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.

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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.

kit-sceniavichi-Belarus

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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kolhoz-collective-farm-Zhyrovichi-monastery

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

Zhyrovichi-farm-turkeys
 

Travelling on Diesel Electric train through ex – USSR (Soviet Union Belarus) from Jirovichi to Ros via Slonim

Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

After spending 6 blessed  days in Jirovichi Sveto Uspenski Manastir (Zhirovichky Monastery) and having the possibility to pray and venerate the multitde of holy relics kept in Jirovichki (holy cloister), eat with the seminary students in Jirovichi spiritual seminary and receive a blessing of Archibishop Gurij and many of the Jirovichi serving father, hieromonks and talk to seminary students, visit the monastery library, viist students classrooms, computer lab  and get impression an impressions on general serminary monastir life, next on today I had the chance to travel for a one more time on an eletric multiple unit (famous in Russia / Belarus / Ukraine) as "elektrichka".

Sviato-Uspenskij-Jirovichki-manastir-bus-station

My  travel started in Jirovichi bus station which is situated nearby the Jirovichi Monastery walls.

Jirovichi is really unique monastery for a pilgrimage as it is the largest Eastern Orthodox Christian monastery and seminary (orthodox spiritual academy school) in Belarus. In Jirovichi is also the most holy considered icon in Belarus which happens to be also the smallest icon of the Non-hand made image of Virgin Mary (Theotokos).

Jirovichi-Dormition-of-Mother-Mary-Eastern_Orthodox-monastery

The miracle making icon of Holy Theotokos is self ingraved on a stone and was given as a sign from heaven to the inhabitants of Belarusia lands at that time because, perhaps many of the Belarusian "savage" like living people (dveriani) were falsely honouring cult hand made stones and trees and by the glorious miracle of God, the pagan inhabitants turned to faith in the True Lord and Savior Jesus Christ being astoned to see such an unique image of the mother of the Lord The Stone icon of the Virgin Mary appeared for a first time in Jirovichi in about year 1460.

The stone Virgin Mary icon was found by shepherds on top of a burning pear tree while wandering in the wood searching for their last sheeps.
Jirovichij (Bojii Mater)
as popular among Belarusians is said to have conducted a multitude of miracles through the years even to this very day.

Jirovichi-holy-icon-of-Mother-Mary-Jirovichka-bojia-mater

The found Stone self-ingraved icon of Jirovichi monastery, the smallest (miracle making) icon of Virgin Mary on earth

Today in Jirovichi monastery the place where the burning pear was is on the entrance of the monastery main Church which is in honour of the Dormition of Virgin Mary.

Jirovichi-bojij-mater-Mother-of-God-Jirovichi-holiest-place-of-Belarus

Jirovichi Bojii Mater

The monastery has 2 corpuses one for seminary students and one for monks. Inside the monastery there are about 20 monks and 10 priests regularly serving various services and holy liturgy daily. The seminary has a beautiful garden and a holy spring (well) right infront of the main Church entrance.

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Jirovichi Mother of the Son of God Holy Icon

I've catched a bus from the holiest place of Belarus situated in village of Jirovichi (hosts about 1000+- citizens) to Slonim (Vokzal) = Train Station in Russian language. The bus from Jirovichi to Slonim is about 20-30 km and ticket was 8000 BYR (which is very cheap to about 0.40 USD).

Then from Slonim's Train station I've bought a Train ticket to Ros as I needed to go to Krasnoselsk and there was no direct transportation to it. Ros is a nearby poselok to Krasnoselsk (another poselok) nearby the town of Valkowysk , (Volkovoisk), Волковыск is inhabited by about 44000 people as of time of writting. In Russian (poselok is a little bigger than village but not really to be called town usually consists to up to few thousands of people up to 10 000 ppl.

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Slonim City Center Tank

Travelling through ex empire of Soviet Union ( USSR ) which was an union in many things to reside the today's European Union is an unique experience as one sees the endeavor of soviet people to build different things that kept running the so called communist regime. 

The train ticket is really cost low (costed me 14.900 BYR Belarussian Rubles = about 0.80 dollar cents!). The train ticket looked just like an ordinary cash reeipt printed on a cheap paper, however uniquely on the train ticket is written besides the departure and arrival towns also, number of kilometers from town A to town B that you pay for, in my case from Slonim to Rosy this was 088 km. The train itself is a real excitement for anyone who is in love with history and old trains.

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Slonim Belarus, Bus Station with a Kiosk

While waiting the train I dropped by the Caffeteria nearby the Train Station (Vokzal) and get a coffee for 6000 BYR (about 0.25 USD) and 2  kinda of local Belarusian snacks (bulochka) which costed about 3000 BYR each (0.12 USD)! Amazingly I had my coffee and a quick meal for less than a dollar, amazingly cheap isn't it? 🙂

Diesel-Elektrichka-inter-town-village-train-Belarus-DR1A-135
 

The Russian type trains are different from European as the rails distance is higher than in rest of Europe. Actually there was practical reason behind the rails standard differene as the Russian rails standard was invented to be different from European in order to stop Hitler's Nazi Germany to easily transport goods / tanks etc. from and to the Stalin's U.S.S.R.

Because of the different rail distance the inside of the train coupe is also wider separated in two column seats on each of it could sit up to 3 people:

Elektrichka-common-train-between-villages-and-cities-in-Belarus-Russia-and-ex-USSR

The train toilet is also unique to see as it belonged to the perhaps 30-40 years old train:

Even though the toilet doesn't look shiny still it was clean and there was a toilet paper, what intrigued me most was the hole on the ground in front of the toilet seat, the meaning of it was to be a kinda of a natural air-condition 🙂
The toilet flush is really amazing to see too, usually in europe and everywhere I've been including in Arab Emirates (Dubai), the water flush is being triggered on top of toilet paper with hand, well in ex-USSR this is different to to flush the water you have to press a button with your leg. The sink water is also interesting to see usually in Europe sink water is being triggered by pushing on top or by turning a stopcock, here in Russia you have to press down to make water flow. Talking about oddities another oddity for non-Belarusians in Belarus is the home bath locks, usually in europe we're used to have some kind of lock mechanism, locking with a key is most common, here in Belarus in home the lock doors mechanism is simply a button to be pressed up or down. 

In the train there was policeman, the policeman here in Belarus are firm man walking threating all around the train, so no place for bad or misbehaving citizens here in Belarus 🙂

I've safely reached village of Ros in 16:35 (with a delay of about 5 minutes) which is pretty normal for a non-western train, so overall train timing was cool. The train had some signatures with some instructions what is allowed and disallowed in the train, smoking was strictly prohibited and there was huge sum fine / "shtraf". Even though that I've seen a young person to smoke a cigarette (while closing the doors) in between coupes compartment obviously not much caring about the cops standing just a few wagons next 🙂

Before reaching Rosy we've passed on few villages, the villages here in Belarus are very beatiful there is difference in how Belarusians built a lot of their old wooden houses if compared to lets say Bulgaria or Balkans where we build brick solid houses a lot of village houses in Belarus are wooden, here is few pictures to give you an idea on how a typical Belarusian village looks like:

Belarus-ex-USSR-village

Belarus-derevnija-picture-ex-USSR-village

Even though the harsh Soviet atheistic communism regime which tried to force unbelieve in God and kill all kind of religiousness in people after the fall of the (USSR) United Soviet Socialistic Republic Belarusians who used to be historically a very religious people are gradually returning to faith.
An interesting fact worthy to mention is Belarus used to be proclaimed the first officially Atheistic country in the world which "freed itself" from the slavery of faith as the anti-christ communists used to be loving saing. 

Well obviously they were wrong nowadays, in many of villages which doesn't have their own Church in Belarus it is typical practice to bringup the Holy Cross of Christ as in below picture, each year the nearby city / town / Poselok Eastern Orthodox priest comes to pray to God for the blessing of the village and abundance of fruits this typically happens on Eastern or Nativity. In Belarus the Eastern Orthodox population is about 78% with some 15% person of Catholics, so often villages with mixed (Orthodox and Catholic) citizens has both separate crosses like in the picture where Orthodox and Catholics christians go to pray seperately.

Belarus-ex-USSR-village-Cross

A living saint in Bulgaria Dqdo (Elder) Dobri of Baylovo village – The living Christ example we Christians should follow

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

elder-dobri-from-baylovo-a-great-saint-like-example-christians-should-follow

In this dark days of humanity, we can rarely find persons who live in a holy way like the saints from the Holy Bible or the Books of the Living of the Saints

Saintship has been slowly disappearing from earth just like it's prophecised by Christ our Saviour and the Holy Apostles and in later times by many monks, Church hierarchs, patriarchs and hermits.

In Bulgaria as in most parts of the Orthodox world the Christian faith apostacy is also clearly seen.
We can no longer see saint hermits like our patron saint of Bulgaria Saint John of Rila

Even in this dark days God still shows mercy to us and still present us some of his saints.
The topic of this article as you have already red in the title is Elder Dobri of the Baylovo village

Elder Dobri of Baylova has been a regular person like all of us with a family and children just until 12 years ago.
About 12 years ago the I would call him The Living saint has decided to let all the earthly passions and sorrows for Christ and his eternal salvation.
He despised the earthly goodness and become a beggar, all the collected money he got were distributed among other poor people or donated to Churches and monasteries belonging to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

Day by day and a coin by coin, he has collected thousands of levs (the bulgaria national currency).
The gathered money were given to support the live of monasteries and Churches, by this very date. This old man is the greatest donator for the Cathedral Church St. Alexsander Nevski (situated at the heart of Bulgaria's capital Sofia)

His words spoken just like the saints are full of grace and goodness. One of his famous sayings are:

Man has Always two wills in himself in every moment of his life, the will to do good and the will to do evil
As all the truths his sayings are simple but represent the ultimate truth which was also said in many other forms in The Holy Bible Gospels and God's law.

The external outlook of Dqdo Dobri is also saintly, he has long beard a shining eyes and a national folklore dress.
He looks like he has been out of some old Bulgarian tale.

It's very striking fact that he that this old man is the biggest donator for our Cathedral Temple, we have many millionaires and businessman in Bulgaria but nobody has decided to donate to our Church such a high sum of money.

Elder Dobri's donation for the St. Alexander Nevski's Church is in value 35700 levs (around 19000 euros).
Dqdo Dobri is a beggar for Christ, this is one of the major types of saintship we read about in the living of the saints.
All the collected money from people are given for God's Glory. It's amazing heroism and an example, all we the Christians should follow to fulfill Christ's law of love and inherit the internal salvation.
A friend of mine who has the blessing to see Elder Dobri with her own eyes and have a small talk with him, has shared with me that even though he wears an old ragged clothes, his clothes and body emit a roses like odor!

As the fame about the same has grown these days, the Bulgarian National television has prepared a small video about the saint. I believe the video as a true blessing for us the Christians and will encourage us to persist in the good deads.
Here I present you the videos you can see the living saint, I hope by his holy prayers God will show mercy to all us who watch his graceful words:


The Living Christian Saint from Baylovo Village – Bulgaria


Elder Dobri from Baylovo – Bulgaria

Inteview with Elder Dobri in his house in Baylovo (the interview is in Bulgarian)

Why saint George is depicted on icons killing a Dragon (an ancient story of saint George killing the last dragon) – A Collection of 7 icons of Saint Martyr George

Friday, July 6th, 2012

saint_Georgios-killing-the-dragon-in-cave
Saint George is one of the most venerated Orthodox Christian saints in the Eastern Orthodox Church. My interest in saint George is cause of the reason, I myself bear the name Georgi (the Bulgarian equivalent of George). Saint George is mostly venerated in the Slavonic Christian-dome.In almost all Church icons depicting st. George in Orthodox and Roman Catholic christiandome saint George is piercing killing a dragon.
One of the reasons, st. George is depicted piercing the dragon is a reference of st. George victory over satan, through his martyrdom.

The Beast (Dragon) on the iconi is a straight reference to the Holy Bible; Chapter Revelation also known under the name Apocalypse.

In revelation, we read humanity and our saviour Jesus Christ will finally once and for all will kill the "ancient beast" = (satan)

In same logic, as Saint Martyr George has been victorious over Satan by his unshakable confession of faith in Jesus Christ in early 5th century A.D. , we believe in the Orthodox Church he is given the crown of (eternal) life as a prize for bearing un-human tortures in the name of the of Christ.

To illustrate visually the victory of saint George over Satan through his immesurable faith confession with which he become, there is a an early tradition in iconography in the Church to depict st. George killing a dragon.

The other reason why saint George is depicted to kill a Dragon is due to a Lebanon / Palestinian ancient story saying; There was a huge Dragon living somewhere in nowdays Lebanon / Palestinian lands.
The beast created a huge havoc killing many people and systematically torturing people in the area.

As the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition continues …. the Dragon is said to have inhabited one of the caves near some village.
Interesting, the story tells these very same dragon was the last Dragon crawling the earth before the final disappearance of dragons.

Many brave local people tried to kill the beast but many died as the beast was unbeatable.
Being unable to beat-up the dragon with a physical (human) force the local population turnted to God for help – saying continously prayers to Saint George to help them defeat their dragon mischief.

Soon after, Saint George appeared on a white horse and pierced the "old dragon / snake". The dragon liberation miracle is said to be evidenced by local people and according to Orthodox monk books is one of the many great miracles occuring in past times.
The report of the miracle has quickly spread around all Lebanon / Palestinian lands and soon, being confirmed as real spread along all Russia as well as the rest of the Slavonic and Orthodox Christian world (Bulgaria, Serbia), Greece, Egypt (Alexandria) etc..
To illustrate saint George's appearance miracle, monastic iconographers started depicting saint George as we see him until this very day – Riding a horse and slaughtering a monstrous beast.

Below are seven 12-th century early icons of saint Saint Great-Martyr George killing the dragon;;
I've collected the icons from various website online. Hope this collection will be blessing for all Christ brother and sisters and generally anyone reading this post:

12-th century mosaic icon of st. George the Great Martyr Xenophontos Monastery

12-th century mosaic icon of st. George the Great Martyr Xenophontos Monastery

Orthodox Christian icon saint George dated to 1130 - 1150 A.D.

Orthodox Christian icon saint George dated to 1130 – 1150 A.D.

Saint Georgius the Dragon Slayer icon XII century orth icon

Saint Georgius the Dragon Slayer icon XII century orth icon

St. George Enamel icon Georgia 12th century

St. George Enamel icon Georgia 12th century

saint George Christian icon Yuriev Monastery Novgorod 12th century

saint George Christian icon Yuriev Monastery Novgorod 12th century

st. George Staraya Ladoga Orthodox Christian icon

st. George Staraya Ladoga Orthodox Christian icon

sv. Georgius 12th century Aios

sv. Georgius 12th century Aios

Nowdays saint George Holy Relics particles are kept for veneration in many Orthodox Christian countries monasteries. Here in Bulgaria saint George Holy Relics are kept in a Monastery nearby the seacoast in Pomorie. Any Christian visiting Bulgaria have the opportunity to venerate the Holy in (Pomorie's Monastery – St. Great Martyr Georgi.
 

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."

fr-Georgi-Jeglarci-elder-of-Dobrich-Bulgaria-3

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.

fr-Georgi-Jeglarci-elder-of-Dobrich-Bulgaria-2

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!"

fr-Georgi-Jeglarci-elder-of-Dobrich-Bulgaria-1
 

"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 …"

 

 

My cousin’s Marriage – Impressian from Burgas (Bulgaria) marriage and Kamenartzi herbal healer

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

kamenar-near-burgas-herbal-healing-bai-Dimitar-natural-healear-who-was-healing-cancer
We (Me and My Family) had to stand up early in the morning around 4:30 in Saturday and we traveled to Burgas. First we had to go to a herbman to prescribe me some Herbs. The herbamn is called “bai Dimitar” where bai is a bulgarian specific title for a man on age after the middle age he is located in Kamenartzi village (a small village near Bourgas). He is a sort of strange guy and is speaking very strange things. I hope this herbs will help me. I have to boil them and drink them five times a day. After that we went to Bourgas in my aunt Galia and uncle Galen’s apartment. Everything was a sort was going smooth, Gergana my cousin which was going to merry dressed with a bride dress and waited for his future man (son-in-law). The guy appeared with a limosine and an orchestra. Some ordinary Bulgarian rituals were followed after that the ceremony continued in the council house. Where they became man and wife officially (in front of Bulgaria). After that it followed a celebration in a Bourgas Hotel called “Bulgaria”. The celebration of the marriage included again different traditional Bulgarian dances, guest also danced and ofcourse the Bulgarian familiar horos. I did eat a lot of food and drinked a lot of the meaningless of marriage and all this vanity into celebrity and a lot of empty words spokened there I also convinced myself that I would NEVER EVER allow to have a marriage celebration like this. Some 20 or 30% of the music was Chalga which ofcourse drived me mad. In somewhere 05:00 in the morning we traveled back by car with my father driving. My father is driver from some few months and I definetely can’t say he is an experiencable type of driver which may allow himself to drive with speed higher than the maximum allowed, anywayz he did and I just tried to make him aware that he is braking the driver codex rules. He instead of taking my notes which I made with the idea that I would like to be home back ALIVE, nagged him and he started yelling at me and telling me to stop to complain. That ended in again making me hate him and regret I have parents like this which was a expected to happen since I was angry at all the stupidity and the low intelectual level of most of the ppl who were invited into the Marriage ceremony (although most of them were businessman and a ppl with a high degrees, education). The thing that irritated me the most that the had a marriage ceremony in a orthodox Church and they probably did this just because this is the ordinary way most ppl in Bulgaria does. PFF.. I have slept just for a hour or two today so I probably will go to sleep soon. But first I intend to go for a Liturgy in St. George’s orthodox church. This is after 20 minutes from now. Well thats most of how I spend my saturday on “nothing”. The good thing from all that was that Niki, a.k.a. Nomen’s brother has given me his PSP for the weekend. So I had the time to examine it and generally play with it. I even used a free wifi access in the restaurant where we were and did a bit of browsing :)END—–

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

ruenski_monastery-beautiful-mountain-view-near-birthplace-of-a-saint

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.

ruenski_manastir_near_sightview

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.

hermit_cave_of_saint_John_of_Rila_near-his-birthplace
 

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 🙂