Posts Tagged ‘years’

Living of the saints: Saint Mihail ( Michael ) Warrior the Bulgarian venerated November 22 in the Church

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2022

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Свети Михаил Saint Mihail (Michael) Voyn The Warrior  is known to be Bulgarian by blood origin.
He was born in the town of Potuk (it is assumed that this is today's Batak – the same region where just few years ago the Holy New Batak Martyrs about 1200 to 8000 people who suffered under the Ottoman Turks for Christ being collectively killed in the Church of Saint Nedely in Batak on the night of 2nd of May 1876 AD and were canonized in the Church just few years ago from now).

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Holy Batak New Martyrs icon

He probably lived in the time of the pious Bulgarian king Saint Boris-Mihail (King Boris – Michael the Ist known as the the Baptizer of Bulgaria, thanks to whose decision to receive Christianit and mass baptize of the Bulgarian nation and territories of his large country and his active work and financement to support the pupils of Saint Cyril and Methodius such as Saint Kliment Ohridski, st. Naum, st. Gorazd, st. Savva, st. Angelarius and the other many uknown holy man the Old Bulgarian cyrillic church books was translated from Greek and  shortly later other Slavonic nations could received the Church service Books in Old Bulgarian cyrillic whose slightly modified version in the 16th century become the famous Church slavonic language, which is used to these day in the Slavonic churches.

Saint Mahail the Warrior was the son of rich and noble parents, loved the pure life from childhood, had the fear of God, devoted himself to prayer and fasting, generously gave alms to the poor, which is why both his parents and strangers called him "the holy child".

When he was 25 years old, he was appointed the commander of a troppers unit in the Byzantine army.
At that time of living, his birth region even though having people inhabited with Bulgarians, had not yet entered the borders of the Bulgarian state.

In a war of the Byzantine emperor Michael III (865) against the Agarians (later known as the Ottoman Turks), Saint Michael the Warrior was left by the frightened Greeks alone with his subordinate warrior mates who followed his heroism.

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Invoking the name of God like the ancient saint all the while, he managed to drive away the enemies and together with the soldiers remained unharmed.

Returning home, he performed the heroic miracle same as of Saint Great Martyr George the Victorious:

He killed a huge dragon that came out of some lake, and thus saved a virgin from being eaten by it.
But the dragon whose head he cut off struck him with its huge tail so hard that he fell down and lay unconscious for some time.

Soon after his return to his native place, he died and the Lord glorified him with incorruptible miracles.

During the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, at the very beginning of the 13th century (in year 1206), the Bulgarian king Kaloyan solemnly brought his holy relics to his Capital Tarnovo and laid them in the Patriarchal Cathedral at that time dedicated to the "Holy Ascension".

After the fall of capital of Bulgaria Tarnovo under Ottoman rule in (year 1393), the traces of the saint holy relics were lost.

The great patriarch of Tarnov (Trnovo), St. Euthymius, compiled a biography of him, which has been preserved to this day and which is the main source for us to know about the saint.

Extract From: Lives of the Saints, Synodal Publishing House, Sofia, 1991, edited by Parthenius, Bishop of Levki, and Archimandrite Dr. Athanasius (Bonchev) with minor inclusions of the author of article Hip0

Author Notes: The story with Saint George Killing the Dragon, as being found mostly in medieval sources has been largely disputed by Theologians on its authenticity as the story originates from the 11th century A.D. with an oldest source for the tale being a Georgian Manuscript. In the 12th century saint George Killing the Dragon tradition has been already well known by the Western Christians. The theologians claim the story stems out of a living of saint Thedore Tiro ( Tiron ), who was very venerated and well known in Bulgaria. That would make some doubt in the authenticity of the story of both Saint George Killing the Dragon and might make them doubt that the story of Saint Mihail  (Michael) The Bulgarian Warrior is being taken from the saint George popular legends of the 11th century. However as a source of the original living for saint Mikhael has been saint Patriarch Eutymous of Tarnov (one of the most educated man of his time), who has been also the last Bulgarian patriarch before the fallout of Bulgaria under the Ottoman Turks in the year 1396 and a spiritual father and teacher of Hesychasm and  many of the Spiritual man such as Gregory Tsamblak and saint Cyprian Metropolitan of Kiev and all Russia ( 1390 – 1407 ) and many other famous copyist and enlightened people who moved out the Church service books and spiritual treasures of the Bulgarian Church as well as many holy miracle making icons and Christian art far in today's lands of Romania, Ukraine, and Russia, it is very less likely that the living of saint Mihail the warrior was compiled, based on false legends, especially by considering the fact that saint Mihael the Warrior lived only 3 centuries away from the moment in which his official spoken living was written down by saint Patriarch Eutymuous. Perhaps there is a Greek sources we don't know who was also the basis of st. Patriarch Eutymuous biography of saint Michael. The story of dragons and beasts tormenting people and regions has been common in medieval times, sometimes their real meating is interpreted by todays Theologians to be just an allegory to demonstrate the spiritual fight a certain saint has led with the originator of evil satan who as said in the holy scripture constantly fights against christians the Church and everything that is good and pleasant with the goal to destroy and kill. Other sources however such as Holy Mount Athos even by today has manuscripts written by monks of that time about the existence of large snakes and dragons who has been tormenting people and regions. We all know the numerous stories with Princesses and Dragons, but it seems these stories are based on monks testimonies about the reality of these things and later perhaps improved by people's imagination and desire of man put some difference in his every day monotonic life.
Thus some more conservative Theologians nowadays believe it is possible for such a large dragons and snakes to have existed and been conquered for real by saints, though we should keep in mind that some of the stories of the livings of medieval times has been including details, that were result of the personal imagionation of the author.

Let by the Holy Prayers of Saint Mihail The Warrior (Bulgarian) the world finds more love, peace and goodness !
Holy Father Mihail Warrior pray for us !

 

Saint martyr Angel of Lerina – a Bulgarian saint confessor and the Day of Saint Archangel Michael and of all Angels Archangels and Heavenly Powers

Wednesday, November 9th, 2022

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Saint Archangel Michael (Church of Saint  Archangel Michael Tryavna, Bulgaria) iconographer Yoanikij Papavitanov

On 8th of November in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, we celebrate the day to remember the gathering of Archangel Michael with all the Angels Archangels, Cherubims and heavenly powers that have kept loyal to the Holy Trinity God – The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.
The same arch-angels and powers who could do what they want and were created in the beginning of time after God as a helper Spirits to God and man.

The same angels are also supporting the whole universe with their deeds of love. They sustain the waters, make the wind blow, the clouds to move and give rain, the earth to give its fruits, possess and give wisdom or transfer secret messages from God to man when sent.

Others do protect all Christians and people from the evils of the fallen-agels who choose to misobey the True God Christ and follow the master of the evil spirits whose place is in the burning Gehenah and whose time is running out. 

They help the woman in birth-pain (like my sister Stanimira whose time to give birth is approaching), the make the organism of man to function properly. Or give the physics to make the stars shine on heaven, the Planet and heavenly bodies to move. Each and every place and Country and Church has its own guardian angels. And they're of a Big multitude the Church fathers says a lot about the Angels and many is still unknown and will be revealed in the that everyone will stand on the Judgement day in front of God and sees the Heaven and Hell realities and will stumble in fear seeing the gloriness of the archangels and cherubs (burning out of Love for God and man) made in a likeness of the Holy God.

The orthodox Church sticks clearly to the teaching of so called saint Dyonisious the Areopagites (often called in the Theology Pseudo Dyonisious), who was one of the important apostles of Christ, Athenian judge at the Areopagus Court in Athens, who lived in the first century. A convert to Christianity, he is venerated as a saint by multiple denominations.

 

The writings of Saint Dionysius the Areopagite hold great significance for the Orthodox Church. Four books of his have survived to the present day:

 

On the Celestial Hierarchy, On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, On the Names of God, On Mystical Theology

In additional, there are ten letters to various people.

The book On the Celestial Hierarchies was written actually in one of the countries of Western Europe, where Saint Dionysius was preaching. In it he speaks of the Christian teaching about the angelic world. The angelic (or Celestial-Heavenly) hierarchy comprises the nine angelic Ranks:

  • Seraphim
  • Cherubim
  • Thrones
  • Dominions
  • Powers
  • Authorities
  • Principalities
  • Archangels
  • Angels

 

The account of the Synaxis of the Bodiless Powers of Heaven is located under November 8.

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The purpose of the divinely-established Angelic Hierarchy is the ascent towards godliness through purification, enlightenment and perfection. The highest ranks are bearers of divine light and divine life for the lower ranks. And not only are the sentient, bodiless angelic hosts included in the spiritual light-bearing hierarchy, but also the human race, created anew and sanctified in the Church of Christ.

There is too much to be said about Angels, Archangels, through the years from ancient times, they can heal and help, and grant special powers to man and many, many more. There were innumerable heresies who have over-deified heavenly powers, especially gnostics and that is a well known fact. For those who want to read about Angels, and their hierarchy there is a lot ot read and learn, angels has helped the saints in their hardship in fight with evilness, there is really a lot about this for those who want to further learn. 

But what is less known is here in today's relatively small country of Bulgaria, we have a local saint Angel of Lerina who is born in Bulgarian family and stems from a Bulgarian village. As his endeveour and confession of his love for Christ and the Church was enormous he has suffered martyrdom for Christ in the 17th century during the times Bulgaria was enslaved by the Ottoman Turks. Thus as there is not much written about saint Angel Lerinski (Lerina), I dedicated this small article in glory of his memory. The article is also in memoriam of my grand-grand-grand Father who was also named Angel himself, perhaps in glory of Saint Angel of Lerina.

The Life of Saint Angel of Lerina


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Saint New Martyr Angel of Lerina (Bitolski) – picture source Wikipedia

All the sources about the holy martyr Angel of Lerinsky that we have reached cite the story of Saint Paisius of Hilendar as the main source for the life of the new martyr, called Angel or Agathangel. This is what St. Paisius writes about him in the History of Slavonic Bulgaria":
           "In 1750, in Bitol, where the Turkish and Macedonian Pasha sits, the Turks tortured and beheaded a young man, handsome in face and stature, for the Christian faith. Many forced and tormented him to renounce Christ, but he wisely and courageously denounced their godless faith. The Bishop of Bitola recorded many of his answers, described his sufferings in Greek. And God showed a great sign over his powers. His name was Angel from the village of Lerin. This holy martyr Angel shone in our time in the Bulgarian land."
          The Bulgarian Orthodox Church honors the holy new martyr on November 8, the feast of the holy Archangels. Probably the veneration of the saint in our church dates from the time when he was martyred, because his martyrdom was described by Saint Paisius of Hilendar immediately after it happened, since Saint Paisius was his contemporary.

          Greek information about the new martyr Angel Lerinski appeared only in recent years.

In the electronic version of "Οι Νεομάρτυρες της Булгариас" (New Martyrs Bulgarian) Αρχιμανδρίτου του Οικουμενικού Θρόνου Θωμά Ανδρέου Ιεροκήρυκος Ιεράς Μητροπόλεως Ελευθερουπόλεως (Archimandrite of the Ecumenical See Thomas Andreu, Preacher of the Eleftheroupolis Holy Metropolis), Kavala, 2011, p.88, we read :

         "Another case of a new martyr of Greek origin is that of Angel (or Agatangel) from today's Florina (in Bulgarian Lerin). The 2009 calendar of the Holy Metropolis of Florin, Prespa and Eordei honors this new martyr, who was martyred in the monastery of Pelagonia (now Bitola, Macedonia) on February 17, 1727*. The book "History of Slavonic Bulgaria" by Paisiy Hilendarski talks about the martyrdom of the new martyr ("his name was Angel or Agatangel and he was from the village of Florina")

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…..
          Little is known about the new martyr. We know that he was born in 1732 in Florina, in the sanjak (prefecture) of Bitola (Monastery). When he grew up, he became a tall and handsome young man. At the age of 18, the Turks tried to convert him to Islam, but Angel – although very young – did not succumb to the temptations and then bravely accepted martyrdom. In his book Paisius Hilendarski mentions that: "In 1750 in the monastery… the Turks tortured and slaughtered a handsome young man because of his Christian faith… His name was Angel and he was from the village of Florina" His testimony in the monastery was attended by the local Greek metropolitan, who described his courage and the intelligent and logical answers he gave in court. Due to the fact that he condemned the Muslim faith with particular wisdom and courage, he was beheaded when he was only 18 years old in 1750. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church honors his memory on November 8, during the Feast of the Archangels…."

          Additional information about the holy new martyr Angel Lerinsky can be found on one of Florina's sites (http://agiospanteleimonas-florina.blogspot.com/2010/06/blog-post_8186.html.)


          The Metropolitan of Florini, Prespa and Eordaia, Theoclitus, addresses the citizens on the occasion of the decision to start the veneration of the holy martyr Agathangel of Florina (June, 2010):

          "With special feelings of joy, emotion, holy contentment and reverence, I turn to you, the blessed children of the Greek Macedonian land, to become participants in the great spiritual joy experienced by our local Church for the first official celebration of the memory of the holy new martyr Agathangel in the seat of our metropolis Florina. It is already known to all of you. that the holy new martyr Agathangel, martyred in the Pelagonian monastery, originated from Florina, is our fellow citizen. At an early age he left Florina and went to Vutelion of Byzantium, to the monastery, seeking better living conditions. There, exercising the profession of shoemaker, he soon distinguished himself by his honesty and his diligence. …. But what distinguished him from the young people of his time was the pure and firm faith he had in Christ and in His "orthodox church". He loved Christ more than anything else in his life. No other love could "steal" the love that Agathangel had in his heart for Christ, he loved Him simply, purely, with all his heart, with all his strength, he loved Him as his poor parents and his blessed ancestors loved Him.
         

Along with the love for Christ, the saint had love for his homeland, conquered Macedonia. Almost four hundred years of slavery count the long-suffering "Greek Macedonians".
The Turkish conquerors treated them with cruelty. Sometimes with flattery, sometimes with threats, sometimes with violence, they try to make them change their faith. To deny Christ. To renounce the Orthodox faith and become Muslims.
And whoever renounces his faith renounces his homeland.

          Agathangel's heart was troubled by the fact that several of his fellow Roman Christians did not withstand the temptations or the violence, denying Christ and the country. His brave heart rebelled. He could not bear the Orthodox faith to be dishonored. For this, when during the three-day Bairam, which is celebrated after Ramadan, the forced conversion of the Orthodox increased, this young boy, not yet twenty years old, went to Constantinople, where he received a Sultan's firman, which forbade the forced conversion in the area of ​​Pelagonia.

On his return to the Monastery, the saint was arrested by those outraged by the Turkish Sultan's decision, and after cruel torture, he was beheaded on February 17, 1727.

           In a meeting we held in the Holy Metropolis, in which, in addition to the Metropolitan, the Honorable Prefect of Florini Mr. Ioannis Voskopoulas, the Mayor of Florini Mr. Stefanos Papanastasiou, the President of TEDC of N. Florinis, Mr. Dimitrios Iliadis, and the President of the monasteries of N. Florinis, Mr. Theodoros Vosdou, decided to jointly hold events in honor of the holy new martyr Agathangel…”

* 1727 is mentioned as the year of the martyrdom of St. Angel Lerinski in some sources, and sometimes it is mentioned together with 1750, in the same source. This discrepancy in the years of the martyrdom leaves the doubt that different martyrs are being talked about.


For this reason, we cannot say exactly whether the reliquary with the relics – the holy head of the new martyr Agathangel in the Kykkos monastery in Cyprus, which contains the same description of his life, but the date February 17, 1727 is indicated, refers to the same martyr, for which speaks Saint Paisius of Hilendar.

Dendritism in early ascetism, Saint John of Rila – a Great ascetic saint who practiced Tree living form of monasticism

Friday, October 21st, 2022

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“Dendrites hanging on a tree of life blooming in virtues, like a good fruits of the Spirit”

The monasticism is born in the late antiquity in the desert to Egypt, Syria, Palestine and Asia Minor, in a peculiar dialogue with the development of urban Christianity.
As we know, Christianity is a city religion, the structure of it is following example of administrative organization common for the age in the Roman Empire.

With the end of the anti-Christian persecution, church the christian communities in the city of the empire to strengthen, grow, and move on to onether new way of development – with all pluses and minuses for a new state. Freedom to confess (worship) gradually retreating locally to patronage of the empire, which with its whole repressive power stands on the side of the new religion, who has conquered for its four centuries  of existence with it’s evangelic radicalism, won the hearts of many thousands of Roman citizens. This puts the Christian communities in front of the unknown for them challenge, being a Christian now provides additional citizen advantages for better arrangement of lifely affairs. The wine of the apostoles preach to  unreservedly following of Christ is now inter-mixe with the common for a man conformity.

This comes to be a problem for many Christians and most importantly for those who do not want (or cannot) live with their Christian identity in conditions of the Imperial Church.
Hence, the end of the persecutions coincides with the stormy flourishing of monasticism and ascetism, in all regions of the empire from the end of the east to the external borders of the western parts. In the church life is born a single center, which is trying to remind the believers that the Kingdom of God is not from this world, but instead every christian is called to secretly raise his own seed of faith in his field (the good and clean heart) – in secret and independently from the worldly rulers.


Among the diversified forms of cenobitic monasticism and asceticism, present during the early Byzantine period, a typical one known for its radicalism of faith and asceticism of Syrian Christians. It is in the midst Syria where the phenomenon of monastic stylites “pillars” e (στυλίτες) they have a specific hermit type of life, in whose the monk lives on the top of open or closed “tower” or high stone, without coming to earth, in constant prayer, regardless of climatic conditions. Stylitism has received a wide spread between the Orthodox and Monophysitites to theEast, but not among the Nestorians (early christian heretics). Among the well known Stylites are Saint Simeon Stalpnik (Stylites) (lived in 5th century), Daniil the Stylites (5th century), Simeon The-Newest (Novi) and Alipiy the Stylites (6th century).

Having formalized the whole course in monasticism, so-called open monasticism. monasticism is openly (του ανοικτού μέσου), to whose branch a part are the Stylites and the Dendrites  δενδρίτες  (the monks who lives on a tree or inside a tree), monks who live without a shelter. „βοσκοί”. Other extreme forms of ascetism are the “recluse” (οι έγκλειστοι, κλωβίτες), they are part of the  the so-called. "closed type" monasticism (του κλειστού μέσου), the most notable saints representatives from this type are the elders Barsanuphious and elder Ioan (Elder).

Among the most unusual and rarely practiced forms of asceticism was dendriticism. These ascetics remain in the Romance languages ​​with their Greek name – dendrites – inhabiting trees. They lived inside, in the hollow, or in the branches of the tree, standing or sitting. Their feat is compared to that of the columnists, who also live in a small space on tree posts or pillars. The small space they occupied for varying periods of time—usually from one to several years—developed in them the virtue of manly patience. Dendrites "serve God in the trees", these wonderful creations of God, among whom a chosen one become the Holy Christ cross tree that served for the salvation and sanctification of man. With their "blessed solitude" they become the new "witnesses of conscience" after the end of the "witnesses of blood" who deserved and won eternal life in the persecutions of the Roman Empire.

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St. David of Thessalonica But as we said, the creation of a common monastic culture in the spacious borders of the Christian Empire brought this exotic way of life to the West as well. Pillars appear even next to the walls of the capital city – in the person of St. Daniel the Pillar, and Rev. David of Thessalonica (6th century) is among the most famous hermits-dendrites not only in the Balkans, but also in the entire Christian world. And although he spent three years on the almond tree in prayer and fasting, after which he continued his feat on a pillar, in Orthodox iconography he remains immortalized precisely on a tree. And the second hermit who went through this ascetic test was St. John of Rila, the founder of monasticism in the Bulgarian lands.

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But as mentioned, the creation of a common monastic culture within the spacious borders of the Christian Empire brought this exotic way of life to the West.

Pillars saints appear even next to the walls of the capital city – in the person of St. Daniel the Pillar, and Rev. David of Thessalonica (6th century) is among the most famous hermits-dendrites not only in the Balkans, but also in the entire Christian world. And although he spent three years on the almond tree in prayer and fasting, after which he continued his feat on a pillar, in Orthodox iconography he remains immortalized depicted precisely on a tree. And the second hermit who went through this ascetic test was St. John of Rila, the founder of monasticism in the Bulgarian lands.

The way of thinking of people in ancient times was very different from the modern way.
All ascetic Byzantine literature testifies to the desire to see in every detail of everyday life a lesson, a symbol, a sign of divine providence in the life of every person.
In this sense, the feat of the ascetics-dendrites is rich in Christian symbols and metaphors. The hymnography of the Church in their glorification highlights two main elements – of the tree of life, to which they become partakers with their feat, and of the freedom of complete surrender in God's hands, inherent in the "birds of the sky", who do not care for their sustenance, but rely on God's mercy.

This is what the first symbol looks like – on the tree not as an ordinary residence, but as an image of the Cross of Christ.

"The dendrites hanging on the tree of life flourish in virtues as good fruits of the Spirit", and in the service of St. David of Thessalonica – the most famous monk in the Balkans who experienced this way of asceticism, we also read:

"Like a light bird he climbed on the tree and made a hut, freezing in winter and burning in summer. Thus he obtained the golden wings of dispassion and perfection, which lifted them to the heavens."

The-Mother-of-God-Theotokos-the-Tree-of-saints

The tree is undoubtedly one of the most common symbols in Christian literature, dating back to the early church. Tertullian compared Christians to evergreen trees.
Origen compares Christ to the tree of life. For Didymus the Blind (4th century), the tree is the vine Christ, whose branches are the righteous men who bear true fruit. This imagery enters the language of church writers through the Gospel texts. The tree is a symbol that Christ himself used many times in his parables – I am the Vine of life… The fig tree that does not bear fruit withers and becomes useless. According to church teaching, "everything that died through the tree of the knowledge of good and evil will live again through the tree of the Cross and the water of baptism that springs from the Tree of the Cross of Christ." Pseudo-Ambrosius.

Clement of Alexandria says that the tree of the living Christ grows in the paradise of the Church, in the waters of renewal and gives as its fruit the teaching and the evangelical way of life.

All these symbols and metaphors of the tree as a symbol of the fall, death and salvation of man pass through the Gospel and patristic texts in the life of the ascetics and more specifically of those of them who choose the solitude of the tree as a place of their witness and feat.

During the period before the Christianization of the Bulgarian people, the Orthodox Church accumulated serious ascetic experience, represented in the monastic movement in its various forms. Different ascetics preferred different forms of asceticism, and each of them developed new virtues and spiritual gifts in the ascetics.

This priceless centuries-old experience grafted into the young Bulgarian Church and its first hermit, St. John of Rila.

The Church of Christ in Bulgaria found in him an ascetic who, within the framework of his life, managed to go through all the forms of asceticism that Christian monasticism had known up to that point – he created a new monastery, where he studied, then became a hermit, lived in a cave, in the open rock, in the hollow of a tree, and finally receives the charisma of spiritual fatherhood and gathers disciple monastic brotherhood.

Already at the very beginning of the Long Life of St. John of Rila, we see the comparison of St. John with the popular Christian symbol of the fruit-bearing tree: "and it bore fruit, indeed a hundredfold, as a tree planted by springs of water."

As in the lives of the other dendrite monks, St. John did not immediately proceed to this difficult feat – he began his monastic journey "in a monastery for the sake of learning" and only then withdrew to the wilderness of the mountain, where he lived in a hut of branches.

Saint John then spent 12 years in a narrow and dark cave! (the cave is nowadays located about 50 minutes walk from the Rila monastery in the mountain of Rila)

 The biographer of Saint John St. Euthymius informs us that only after that he moved "at a considerable distance" from the cave and settled in the hollow of a huge oak, like the oak of Abraham. It is obvious the desire of Patriarch Euthymius to make a connection between this unusual feat for this region of the Christian world and the hospitality of Abraham, who met the Holy Trinity under the Oak.

In the hollow of the tree St. John ate chickpeas. This is, by the way, the first mention of growing chickpeas on the Bulgarian lands – the chickpea is an unpretentious, but still heat-loving plant, which is grown mainly in the southern Bulgarian lands and Dobrudja today.
In the life, the sprouting of chickpeas around the oak of St. John of Rila is compared to the miracle of manna from heaven. The behavior of the shepherds who secretly collect pods of chickpeas from the saint and their unusual joy shows (they loot it) that this food was indeed atypical of the region where St. John traveled and it successfully growing on this mountain coldly place is one of the innumerable miracles of the saints which started even in his lifetime.

After that, exactly what is the logic of the ascetics-dendrites in the other popular stories about them – the sick begin to flock around the saint, his living invariably mention "possessed by demons" who come to heal to him.

The life of prayerful patience and extreme asceticism of these strange hermits living in trees reminded them of Christ's words that "this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting."
Life conveys to us the prayer of the saint, with which he frees the possessed – from the text we see that it does not have an exorcistic character as in most of the other saint livings, that is, St. John does not directly forbid the demons, but calls on God's omnipotence and thus reveals his deep, extreme humility, with which he receives daring before God.
It is noteworthy to mention that Reverend David of Thessalonica also received the charisma to cast out demons after spending three years in the branches of an almond tree.

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The duration of life on the tree for different ascetics is different – for Saint David it is three years, in the life of Saint John of Rila the time is not specified (most likely because the saint asked God to hide this part of his life again for humility).

Three is a symbolic number, corresponding to the request of the prophet David to receive from God goodness, knowledge and prudence. According to Susan Ashbrook Harvey, tree life "seems to have had the character of a temporary discipline in the ascetic practice, in which different places and modes of asceticism were changed." Unlike dendrites, those who live on a pillar spend many more years there, this way of asceticism also becomes a social service.

While life in a tree is usually a transition to some other asceticism, which means that as living conditions it was much more difficult. This is how Reverend David's life is described by his biographer: Further on, the author describes the sufferings of David in the (ἔν) tree – he was tormented by cold, by heat, by winds, but his angel-like face did not change, but looked like blooming rose. Some of his disciples went to the tree and begged him to come down and help them—lest the spiritual wolf prey on the flock while the shepherd was gone. David, however, was steadfast in his decision to remain on the tree. "I will not come down from the tree for three years, then our Lord Jesus Christ will show me that he has accepted my prayer."

Three years later, an angel appeared to him and told him that God had heard his prayer and ordered him to come down from the tree and build himself a cell, because another mission (οἰκονομία) awaited him.
It is interesting that at this point David turns to the official church authority for a kind of sanction of the vision ‒ he sends his disciples to tell what happened to the bishop of Thessalonica, Dorotheus and ask him whether this vision is really from God.

Researchers of monastic culture in the Byzantine era note the greater remoteness, isolation of the ascetics-dendrites from those who live on pillars. Entire temporary settlements of pilgrims, sick people, people from different tribes and countries arise around the latter, which often make noise and disturb the ascetic life of the saint. The most famous example is Rev. Simeon The Stylite ( Stulpnik ) the founder of hermit Stylitism. Around his pillar there was always a crowd that was not always meek, obedient and pious. There are often half-wild Arabs among her, sometimes 200, 300, 1000 people to come.
They often made a noise and continued their tribal quarrels at the foot of the pillar.

However, the dendrites immediately leave the place of their feat if people begin to gather around them – be they pilgrims or disciples. We see this in the life of Revend John as well:
"And the valiant Ivan, as soon as he learned what was happening, got up and went away from there, because he was afraid, and even more, he hated human glory."

We see this clearly expressed in the lives of two brothers in Syria – Rev. Maro (Saint Maron passed on to Christ 410 AD) and Rev. Abraham.
The first was a dendrite, and the second a stylite.
John of Ephesus in the Lives of the Eastern Saints tells of the Reverend Maro(n) Dendrite that he lived in a hollow tree near his brother Abraham, a stylite in his monastery.
Unlike the monks, St. Maro did not communicate with visitors, the door of his tree was closed, and he lived in silence until someone sought healing.
When his brother died, Maro left his imprisonment in the tree and moved to his brother's place and then began to communicate more with people.
But while living in the tree, Maro received no visitors.

saint_Maron-the-Syriac-hermit
Like Reverend Maron in Syria, Saint John of Rila leaves the tree of his asceticism as soon as people begin to gather around him, and switches to another form of asceticism – very close to stair climbing, namely on a high and difficult-to-access rock (today known as the Rock of Saint John a common place for pilgrimage).

But even here, tempted and physically injured by the demons, the ascetic does not remain hidden from the people. It was during this period that he attracted the attention of St. King Peter, who tried to establish contact with him. Of course, the high rock on which St. John of Rila lived for seven and a half years provided much harsher living conditions than the steeple, which is usually near a populated place. But as a philosophy of the ascetic feat, in both cases it is about something in common – maximally narrowing the free space for movement and directing all energy upwards, in the power of prayer and constant unity with God.

The common moments in the lives of the two most famous Dendrite monks in the Balkans – Revend David of Thessaloniki and St. John of Rila, who labored three centuries are similar.

Both begin their monastic journey with "discipleship in a monastery" before heading for the desert, that is, moving away from human society.
For both of them, the life in the oak, respectively in the almond branches is a period of extreme asceticism, which greatly impresses the surrounding population, who begin to flock to them. Their unusual feat inspires in people a desire to live near them and even to imitate them – in their lives we see a number of people who seek their help – starting with students (one of Reverend David's students also became a "dendrite" as his mentor and settled in the hollow of a large tree). There glory quickly reaches the local bishop and all the clergy, as well as the rulers of the city – as mentioned in the life of the Thessalonian ascetic, and to Saint King (Tsar) Peter and the Bulgarian boyars as mentioned in the biographical life of Saint John of Rila .

The biographers of both monks include the stories of the healing of demoniacs precisely while they were living in their unprotected "homes" from the natural elements – i.e. the trees. Finally, for all their desire to remain hidden in the wilderness of their solitude, they attract not only the sick, the afflicted, and the disciples, but the attention of the powerful of the day.
But while St. David came from the East, from Mesopotamia, St. John was local and did not have a great Eastern ascetic teacher as he was local citizen born in Bulgaria, in our lands.
His way of asceticism is undoubtedly influenced by the general ascetic patterns of the age, but it is also unique – it is a testimony to the general internal logic of Christian asceticism, regardless of which parts of the Christian world it is practiced.

Paradoxically, the brightest monastic examples in the Balkans became precisely these two monks, struggling in these harsh, atypical for the western parts of the empire, conditions – dendriticism, stylitism, living in a narrow cave and a high cliff.

Until the 9th century, that is, throughout the early Byzantine period, in today's Greek lands, the cult, the respect for Rev. David of Thessalonica (born c. 450 – 540) was comparable only to that of Saint Great-Martyr (Demetrius) Dimitar of Thessalonica and St. Achilles, bishop of Larissa.

Great Respect and recognition as a saint for him was already alive in the first half of the 9th  century at the same time when saint John’s greatnes shined upon the world, as we can see from the life of St. Gregory the Decapolitan, who sent one of his monks to worship at the saint's grave in a monastery founded by him near Thessaloniki. St. David the Dendrite monastery was an attractive pilgrimage center in the Balkan lands of the empire until the 11th century, when the relics of the saint were brought by the Crusaders to Italy.

Without the spiritual presence of its founder, its monastery declined and disappeared, and its relics returned to Thessaloniki only in the 20th century and were laid in the church of "St. Theodora".

The abode of the Rila desert dweller has a different destiny – it remains as a living spiritual center throughout the centuries, in the heart of the Rila desert, and its founder, already a resident of the Heavenly Jerusalem, invariably remains a faithful and reliable breviary for his kindred in the flesh the Bulgarians.

Report presented at the international conference dedicated to the 500th anniversary of the transfer of the relics of St. John of Rila from Tarnovo to the monastery he founded, organized in 2019 at the Rila Monastery. It was published in the eponymous collection of conference reports under the title: "Dendrite Monks in the Balkans".

Article originally posted in Bulgarian by Zlatina Ivanova on 19.10.2022 – Translated with minor modifications by me (Georgi D. Georgiev a.k.a. hip0)

Saint Sergius of Radonezh The WonderWorker (Sergij Radonezhki) a quick helper saint in life problems, pupils, students in educational hardships, exams and Orphans. A short living of father of Russian monasticism

Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

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Saint Sergius of Radonezh the Wonderworker (born in 1314, passed to Christ in 1392) is an ancient saint with enormous importance for the whole Christiandome and the Eastern Orthodox World.
He is perhaps the greatest ascet of the Russian land and a spiritual star who shone over the whole world sharing the and increasing the faith of Christ to shine upon many by his holy prayers. Saint Sergij Radonezhki is sometimes called in Russia the Abbot of the Russian land, for the reason he become the initiator (creator) and first abbot of the most notable and biggest monastery of Russia the Monastery of Saint Sergij of Radonezh in the XIV century.

In the Church service sung books, he is for that reason glorified calling him "a bright beacon of the Russian land, shining through its miracles like a second sun".  Saint Sergius Radonezhki's monastery was established in Glory of the Most Holy Trinity and the great ascet following the earlier example and spiritual tradition bequeted of the Great ascet Saint John of Rila (Ioan Rilski)  who lived in IX century in (876 – c. 946)  who established in the Rila mountain, the most famous Rila Monastey in Bulgaria, saint Sergius started his spiritual endurance in Russia as an ascet and did not initially planned to create a monastery, but God who sees everything seing his great ascetism sent him monks, willing to learn true spiritual life and that is how the Radonezh Monastery was born. Monastery quickly become aprototype of a new, amazingly pure and strict monastic life in Holy Russia, centered near in Moscow and the monastery which become a Laurel (the slavonic word translated as Lavra), (meaning the inhibitants of the monastery were exceeding 1000 monks) since y. 1744, become known in worldwide as Holy Trinity-Sergius Lavra.

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Just as the spiritual heart of Bulgaria is located in the Rila Holy Monastery (Rilski Manastir), where are the the holy incorruptable relics of most glorified saint Reverend John of Rila the Wonderworker, the Sergius Trinity lavra has emerged as most important spiritual center of Russia Kingdom and later Russian Empire. What was the spiritual significance for preventing the Orthodox Christian faith and shedding hope via the dark ages of Ottoman Turks slavery of Bulgaria,  Reverend  Sergiy Radonezhki was for Russia especially in the hard times when Russia was a small country and fought for their freedom and independence from the Tatars and other surrounding nations, who were constantly destroying parts of the then small kingdom of Rus. Thousands of pilgrims with reverence and gratitude have come and continue to come to the Trinity-Sergius Lavra for worship, near the monastery now is established the city of Sergiyev Posad (inhabited today with about 103 000 people).

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The shroud of the holy relics of Saint Sergius of Radonezh XV century

Prayers to St. Sergius of Radonezh are famous to protect you from any life problems.  People pray to the saint to protect children from bad influences and from failures at school. The prayer to the saint who was a model of humility helps in achieving humility and subduing the pride of ourselves and others.

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The very famous Holy Trinity unique icon held in main Church of Radonezh monastery painted by most famous Russian iconographer Saint Andrey Rublev

The icons and frescoes in the Trinity Cathedral in St Radonezh Lavra are unique piece of medieval art and were the work of Reverend Andrei Rublev and Daniil Chernyov in 1425. The main church icon that was painted in "praise of Rev. Sergius" is the old testamental visit the Holy Trinity to Abraham and Sarra icon – which is among the most famous and unique work of Russian icon painting. 

The Church feast of the Saint Sergij

The memory of St. Sergius of Radonezh is honored 4 times a year:

1. October 8 – on the day of his presentation to God
2. June 5 – together with the feast of the Rostov-Yaroslavl saints
3. October 18 – on the day of the discovery of the relics of St. Sergius of Radonezh
(interestingly just 1 day after in the Church calendar is 19 of October is the main feast of Saint John of Rila)
4. and on July 19 – together with the Radonezh Saints Church.

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Reliquary with the incorruptable Holy Relics of Saint Sergij of Radonezh, kept in the Saint-Sergieva-Lavra monastery

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Opened reliquarium coffin with the incorruptable relics of saint Serigius of Radonezh (the feasts are opened for veneration by pilgrims 4 times a year during the saint feast veneration)

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The Apparition of the Mother of God to St. Sergius 16th century icon

 

Short Living (Biography) of Saint Sergius Radonezhki

Sergius of Radonezh was one of the most famous political and historical figures of the 14th century.
He is the founder of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra, teacher and mentor of many Russian saints canonized by the Church.
According to ancient tradition, mainly from his student Epiphanes, Rev. Sergius was born in 1314 in the village of Varnitsa, Rostov in the family of the famous Rostov boyars Kiril and Maria (who are also canonized as saints) and in whose memory there are Churches consecrated in Russia and Belarus.

His parents named him Bartholomew at birth.
Although the family was noble, they lived very modestly and were very religious.
At the age of 7, Sergius and his brothers started going to school, and while his two brothers' education came relatiely easily, it did not for Bartholomew as for bartholomew learning was hard.
Suffering for his hardships to study even though he put great efforts to do so, as he did not have any other means to become proficient pupil like his brothers, wishing to change this, the boy fervently prayed to God to give him reason and strength to advance in learning.

According to the chronicles, the boy once he was looking for the lost horses of his father met an old schimonk elder who was praying to God. The boy asked the old man to pray for his success in school. The the unusual bright monk prayed and blessed him. Since then, the boy began to progress in his studies quickly.

In 1330, Bartholomew's parents moved to the village of Radonezh, near Moscow. Soon his parents died, and he, together with his older brother Stefan, left the inheritance to the youngest brother and took up a hermit life in the nearby forest, where they built a cell, and then built a small church, which was consecrated with the name of the Holy Trinity.

Soon Stefan decided to abandon the hermit life and went to the Moscow Epiphany Monastery, where he became abbot.
Bartholomew stayed and in 1337, at the age of 23, he was ordained a monk with the name Sergius.

The young ascetic spent more than a year in complete solitude. His life consisted of prayers, fasting and hard work.
Sergius became famous in the surrounding area and soon other monks began to come to him for advice and soon the brotherhood numbered 12 people. Each monk lived in a separate cell, and together they gathered for worship.
This is how the famous Sergius-Troitskaya Lavra was founded. In 1354, Sergius was ordained abbot.

As the biography testifies, Reverend Sergius of Radonezh performed miracles even in his earthly life:

"…
Pilgrims came, they saw the poverty of the desert, but they also saw the peace and grace among the brothers, and they brought this leaven into their native families like light, like salt. And the name of the God-pleaser became glorious throughout Russia and many came to him with faith. Once, by praying, the old man healed a seriously ill person, and another time he healed a mad nobleman who was not in his right mind, ranting and fighting, so that ten they couldn't hold the man back."

St. Sergius of Radonezh was honored with a vision of the Most Holy Mother of God, who appeared to him during a night service and said:
"Do not be afraid, My chosen one. I have come to visit you. Do not grieve, because your prayer for the students and the monastery has been heard; and your abode shall abound in all things; not only in your life, but also in your presentation before God. I will not leave this place, and will irrevocably supply all that is necessary, preserve and protect it with my covering."


Saint Sergius of Radonezh knew how to act with "quiet and meek words" even on the most hardened and cruel hearts and in this way reconciled even ruling country region principles and kings at war.
Thanks to him, all the princes united before the Kulikovo battle, thanks to whom Russia managed to establish itself as a leading world country in the mid-centuries recognizing the main role of the Moscow prince Dimitriy.
The Russian army received a blessing from the venerable Sergius of Radonezh before the upcoming battle with the Tatars.

He predicted (prophecised) the victory over the Tatars, and on September 8, 1380, on the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin, the Russian troops defeated the Tatars at Kulikovo field, marking the beginning of liberation from the Tatar yoke. In other words at the time when Bulgarian Empire had crashed and has been enslaved, the Trnov kingdom fall down in 1393 and Vidin's kingdom of Bulgaria in 1396, just few years before the opposite hapened in Russia. Already baptized by many Bulgarian clergymen and given the Old Bulgarian Church language so called in newer times the Church Slavonic Books, Russia together with its spiritual flourishment managed to liberate from the Tatars and increasing gruadally in influence, countryland and power.
Prince Dimitrii deeply respected his spiritual father – the Reverend Sergius of Radonezh, who was also the godfather of his children.

Sergius of Radonezh died on September 25, 1392, reaching a very old age.
He predicted his death 2 years before and appointed his successor – his student Reverend Nikon.
St. Sergius of Radonezh was buried in a monastery founded by him, and 30 years later his body and clothes were found incorruptible and odoring with heavenly odor.

This happened in 1422 during the construction of the new and enlargened "Life-giving Trinity" church.

Shortly before the construction began, Sergius of Radonezh appeared in a dream to a pious man, telling him to convey the following words to the brothers:
"Why do you leave me so long in the grave, buried in the ground with all this water, it is narrow here for my body. "

When they dug for the foundations, the imperishable relics and clothes of St. Sergius of Radonezh were found unharmed, and the grave was full of water.

During the consecration of the Trinity Church, the relics of the saint were transferred to it, where they lay even to this day.

Let by the Holy Prayers of Saint Sergius of Radonezh the world, find more peace, love, faith and brotherhood, which we desperately need in these day of the absurd brother shedful war in Ukraine. 

Holy Reverend Father Sergij of Radonezh, pray the Lord Jesus Christ to save our souls and grant repentance to us sinners and peace to rule again in our hearts !

 

Living of unknown saint Saint Sophronius of Sofia, known also as Saint Soprhonius of the Bulgaria / Sofronij of the Balkans

Saturday, May 28th, 2022

Sveti-Sofronij-Bylgarski-SofijskiSaint-Sophronius-of-Sofia-Bulgaria-of-the-Balkans
 

Biography of Staint Sofronij / Sophronius of Bulgaria Sofia, Known also as Saint Soprhonius of the Balkans

The parish priest of the village of Penkyovtsi (Sofia, Bulgaria region) Stefan (Te fled to Sofia with his wife due to Turkish violence, from hence he later fled to Wallachia region to the great Wallachian voivode (Duke) Radul. His wife died there and he became a monk named Sophronius (not to be mistaken with the very famous Bulgarian saint Saint Sofronius of Vratza / Sofronij Vrachanski).

After the death of Duke Radul, he returned from the Danube river to his homeland and settled in a monastery near city of Ruse (probably he lived in the cave monastery of Saint Joachim I Patriarch of Tarnovo and the Venerable Demetrius Besarabovsky, that even today is the biggest monastery nearby the city of Ruse).

There he struggled with common sanctification practices as fasting, prayer, work and alms for the poor. The devil did not tolerate his monastic great achievements and set a monastic servant against him, who struck him on the head with an ax and killed him.

Three years later, Sophronius appeared to the people living in the monastery, who obeyed his suggestion (obviously they got inspired to  dug up his grave which is a common ancient Christian practice for notable christians who might have been saints) and look up if his relics are incorruptable and found his relics incorruptible and fragrant (emitting a heavenly odor), as they have been inspired by God's Spirit to do.
People with great joy placed the holy relics in a coffin for common (universal) worship of all the Christians.

We do not know the exact dates he was  born or has been killed, because of the devilish envy, as at that time Bulgaria has been under the Ottoman turks and the founding of his holy relics has happened years after his martyrdom. But most probably the Venerable Sofronij  lived in the second half of the fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth century, by the second decade of which he must have suffered. This information about him is told to us by the Bulgarian writer and priest Father (the bulgarian word for which is Pop – stems from the greek word Papas (Father) Peyu. The same Pop Peyu has been also the author of the life of Saint George of Sofia the New not to be mistaken with Saint George the Newest from Sofia  who maryrdom suffered in year 1515 because of his unwillingless to accept the false Islamic faith.

© Lives of the Saints. Synodal Publishing House, Sofia, 1991, edited by Parthenius, Bishop of Lefkada and Archimandrite Dr. Athanasius (Bonchev) with minor inclusions of the article author Georgi Georgiev

Let by his holy prayers the Bulgarian homeland and especially the suffering in Ukraine and all people everywhere, finds more Peace, Love, Hope, Faith and Goodness 

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

Saturday, January 15th, 2022

Biography of St. Prohor Pshinski

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

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

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

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Prophor Pchinski (Pshinksi) Byzantine Empire Icon

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

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

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

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

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

Saint Prophor Pchinski in Modern Theology

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

 

Biography of Saint Joachim of Osogovo

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

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

Osogovo Monastery.

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Osogovo Monastery Saint Joachim Icon

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

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

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

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

Biography of Saint Gavriil (Gabriel) Lesnovski

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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 Filothea Temnishka of Tarnovo feast day 7 of December. A XII century miracle working Saint little known in the West

Tuesday, December 14th, 2021

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Living of Saint Filothea of Tarnovo 

The Venerable Filothea (Filotea) is born in the Byzantine city of Polivot in (Southern Thrace). She was a fruit of a continous prayers of her parents. 
Received a good education for the time and reached adulthood, her parents give her for a bride (in arranged marriage against her will) which was a standard practice of its time.
Even merrying using  her enormous wisdom she was able to persuade her husband to live vestal life (the marriage was not consumed). 
In relatively short years her husband passed away. She has moved to a Insland nearby the close lake, built a small hermit cell hut and prayed and fasted incessantly living a a holy hermit life in solitude, night vigils, tears and repentance and stillness.
Because of her zealoutry God has given her the Grace of Miracle working prayers and the wisdom to teach. A well known spiritual persons, cleargyman, priests, deacons and people come to her to hear her graceful words and councils as well as to receive a healing through her holy prayers.

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Cause of her absitence of food and sleep and praers all over the clock she lost body weight, forseeing her death she has presented herself to the Lord on 7th of December (the exact year of her death and the age are unknown, presumably she lived somewhere in the XII century). Her holy relics turned to be incorruptable (a sign for immerse holiness, among with wonder working healing miracles were considered some of the conditions for considering a deceased person a saint – for more on inccorruptability of saint relics check out my previous article here).

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In the beginning of XIII century her holy relics were solemnly carried with honor from Polivot to the Capital of Second Bulgarian Empire Tarnovo by King Kaloyan. There her holy relics stayed by God's great providence for 200 years, being visited by the whole Christiandome for veneration.

The-Transfer-of-Saint-Filotea-Holy-Miracle-Working-relics-to-Tarnovo-Bulgaria-thirteen-century

After the fall of Bulgaria under the Ottoman yoke (year 1393). Probably to save the holy relics from destruction, they were taken to the far North Bulgarian borders in the Fortress of Bdin (today city of Vidin) and after staying for a while once the fortress was taken over by Mohameddans, taken a by the Serbs, and later Wallachs (todays Romanians) has taken the relics from Serbs, once the Serbian lands were invaded.

Currently her holy relics are present the old Wallachian Capital Curtea de Argeș (near river of Argeș).

Holy-relics-of-Saint-Filotea-of-Tarnovo.
Holy Relics of Saint Filothea, one of the most famous places for Christian veneration in Romania
(Saint Demetrius of Besarabia – another Bulgarian saint, Saint Filotea, and Saint Petka of Bulgaria are among the most venerated saints in Romania today)

The main source we have for the living of Saint Filothea (Filotheus) is written by Saint Patriarch Euthymius of Tarnovo Bulgaria (born circa 1325, died c.1402 / 1404). It is a very long document describing a lot of interesting details about Saint Filothea's healing miracles after she prayed with crying to the Lord even before she died. The miracle healings, chasing out of demons and restoration of eye sight and other glorious things continued even after she passed out to Christ to multitudes of people who prayed in front of her relics with faith.

Saint-Patriach-Euthymius-of-Tarnovo-last-Bulgarian-Patriarch-before-Turkish-Slavery-author-of-saint-Feotheas-Living
Saint Patriarch Euthymiuus of Tarnovo, the main source author for today's Filoteas Living 

During her life she spoke to the people coming to her a lot of his sacred methodical words.
She told them before her death:

"The time has come for me to leave here, so I thought it right to remind you of the traditions and decisions of the Orthodox faith by the Holy Apostles and the Divine Fathers. You know that the Orthodox faith is the head of our lives. In your efforts to give it to us pure and immaculate, the Holy Apostles suffered various kinds of death. , and to keep the church traditions unshakable, and not to waver here and there from different winds.

However, the Lord Jesus Christ shed His blood for her and did not allow his Church to be completely destroyed. But he gave her help, and fate led her to victory. I, the poor, have been brought up in piety since my childhood, and I received it from my parents as a precious treasure. Therefore, as a holy peak in the Church, I ask you not to forget the tradition of the Holy Prophets and Apostles, as the great apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: and others to learn! " (Tim. 2: 2)

Saint-Venerable-Filotea-of-Tarnovo-Romanian-icon

You deserve to hold the true faith and not listen to pagan fables at all. They can rebuke us a thousand times, they can insult us a thousand times, but a lie will never defeat the truth, nor will malice prevail over wisdom. For, they reduced the name of the Deity in the creation, in men – oh wickedness! – in trees, in stones, cats, dogs, and are not ashamed to think that creation came into being by itself, and do not understand, the unthinking, in their evil wickedness and wisdom, that everything was brought from non-being into existence by one true God, Who created heaven and earth and everything visible and invisible. And the gods, who did not create the heavens and the earth, may perish! (Jeremiah 10:11). Let those who make them and who hope in them be like them! (Ps. 113:16; 134:18). Therefore the Gentiles were deceived, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Considering themselves to be wise, they proved foolish, and changed the glory of one God in the likeness of quadrupeds, reptiles, and birds (Rom. 1: 21-23). Let the wretched see where the celestial bodies and earthly beings in the air and water came from, and most of all where the even more primitive came from – heaven and earth, air and aquatic nature! Who mixed and divided them? What is their communication with each other – separation and consent? Who moves and leads them? How does one element, which is contrary in nature, run away with another harmlessly in the fullness of one world? How do they exist in agreement without consulting and talking? All this is the work of divine providence, and they left the Creator and honored and served creation instead of the Creator (Rom. 1:25) and wander in vain and rage against our pious faith and against pious Christians, to whom they impose ruthless torture and force them to renounce the sweet name of Christ.

You do not pay attention to their threats, even if they lead you to the torturous wheels, to the boiling cauldrons, to the sword or fire, do not be afraid of their horrors! (Isa. 8:12, 70s). Another life and another age that awaits us awaits us, where the prophets rejoice, the apostles rejoice together with the figures of the Venerable Lent, with the angels and archangels, with the martyrs and all the saints. Always think this, write this in your hearts! Take care of yourself and the whole flock, among which God has appointed you shepherds and teachers (Acts 20:28), in order to keep yourself and them pure and undefiled!

Everything in this world will be beautifully and habitually scattered like dust and forgotten, only virtue lasts forever and ever. Therefore, try to keep yourself clean and to lead the entrusted flock to lively pastures, so that the Lord of all, seeing this diligence of yours, may reward you with a reward worthy of your labors and make you worthy of His kingdom! " 
 

Saint_Filothea_Tarnovska_Romanian-icon
Romanian Contemporary Icon of Saint Filothea

A high-ranking and famous man named Navkratius, from the city of Amoria, was appointed by the then king to be the governor of Greece. It happened to him to fight the godless Agarians (The Turks), and after the two sides fought, by the unknown destinies of God, his whole army was defeated: some were killed, and others were captured and taken to Sicily. Along with the others, a stratilat (army commanded) was captured, but his name was Artavan, from the town of Philomelia. Taken away by the ungodly, they were imprisoned in a gloomy dungeon and guarded with great care. Thus detained there, they were perplexed as to what to invent and what to do. And overwhelmed with grief, they called for the help of Almighty God and His loved ones.

Then Artavan remembered St. Philothea and began to tell them about her glorious miracles and that she had received the gift of healing various ailments and diseases. As he listened to Stratilat Navkratius, his heart burned and he began to call for her help. And because he was filled with divine desire and was inflamed with fervent faith, he could not wait to hide it for a long time, but he quickly got up and raised everyone to earnest prayer, shedding tears. And all of them unanimously rushed to earnest prayer and called for the help of the God-loving Philotheus, saying:

"Christ-related slave, undefiled bride, pure dove, abode of the Holy Spirit, if you look mercifully on us humble and desperate, and free us from this terrible dungeon, we will be trumpets of your countless miracles, with a loud voice we will we preach, and we will spend the rest of our lives chaste and pure. O Venerable Mother, do not despise us, for we are bitterly distressed in this terrible and miserable dungeon! "

Saint-Philotea-saint-Alexander-Nevski-Cathedral-Sofia-Bulgaria-wall-painting

With such prayers they spent the whole night, with hot tears and heartache. When they had finished this all-night vigil and finished their prayer, they lay down to rest and give a little sleepy consolation to the body. Everyone fell asleep in their place, the reverend appeared to them and rejoiced their hearts with words of consolation, saying:

"Your prayer has been heard and God has not despised your sighs. So go in peace and return to your homes, thanking God for your gratitude, who frees prisoners from bondage!" (Ps. 67: 7).

They awoke with joy, the iron chains lay fallen from them, the dungeon was wide open. They believed the vision to be true, and immediately left the open dungeon, the guard lying as if dead, and fleeing freely. But before they went home, they first went to the island to pay their respects to the reverend. After fulfilling this obligation, each of them returned home and told all the glorious miracles of the Venerable Philoteia.

After this spread everywhere, and managed to enter every ear, a leper, full of faith and fervent zeal, quickly came to the church of the Venerable Mother, called for mercy and with diligent requests and frequent bows, long sleepless nights, fasting and torture tormented himself and he relentlessly spent in her divine temple. The Blessed One, seeing his long diligence and his bodily leprosy, which had almost ended, immediately bowed to mercy, appeared in the dream of the church cleric and ordered him to anoint him with oil from the holy chandel of the Immaculate Conception all over his body. When he awoke, the cleric quickly obeyed the order. and not many days later he sent him safe to his home to glorify and thank God, as well as to His close friend.

A lot of time passed and many miracles happened. The Greek kingdom was exhausted and its scepter holders found themselves in difficult circumstances. Finding the right time, the Romans stormed the Greek state and inflicted unbearable misery.

At the same time, the Bulgarian kingdom became very strong and powerful, and it encompassed and conquered all the surrounding areas. At that time in Bulgaria the tsarist scepter was ruled well and even magnificently by the pious and glorious tsar Kaloyan (1197-1207). Seeing the Greek kingdom completely exhausted, he attacked it manfully, and many cities and villages were captured and ruined. And having gathered all the good, he brought it to his glorious city of Tarnovo – the whole nation with all the animals moved to their country. As he did all this, he heard the miracles of the Venerable Philotheus, and his heart was greatly inflamed. Because it is usually a matter of the souls of the pious to show zeal for virtue and to show zeal in every way.

After conquering the whole region and subduing it to his authority, he came to the place where the venerable body of the reverend lay, filled himself with unspeakable joy, praising God and diligently thanking Him. He fell before the reverend relics of the reverend, flooded them with his tears, and reverently kissed them. He then ordered an all-night vigil and gave many alms to the poor. In the morning a divine liturgy was celebrated, which was attended by the king in great joy and merriment with all his army. And he made the good decision to bring the reverend's body to his country. 

Holy Venerable Mother Filothea pray the Lord to have mercy on every suffering and needy, poor, sick, weak and low and all the people who remember your holy memory and summon your prayers !

Amen !

Article Sources:
1. The Living of Saints by dr. Atanasii Bonchev and bishop Partenij 
2. The Living of Saint Filothea written by Saint Patriarch Euthymius of Tarnovo

 

How to Create New Windows 10 NTFS Drive partition from new empty ( Unallocated ) space with Windows Disk Management or diskpart command

Thursday, November 18th, 2021

Windows-10-paritioning-with-disk-management-diskmgmt.msc

As mentioned in previous article, I've been setting up a new PC that is a bit old a 11 years old Lenovo ThinkCentre model M90P with 8 GB of Memory, Intel(R) Core(TM) i5 CPU         650  @ 3.20GHz   3.19 GHz, Intel Q57 Express Chipset.

After the installation was successful on the new Desktop PC attached SSD, I was curious to see how Windows detects the 521 GB Solid State Drive Samsung  Disk, as well as to assign all the SSD Disk space, so I don't have unused parts of the drive hanging around.

To get the exact type of SSD installed on the Lenovo ThinkCentre, it comes to a simple PowerShell command (note that the PowerShell command has to be executed as Administrator).

 

Windows PowerShell
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Try the new cross-platform PowerShell https://aka.ms/pscore6

PS C:\Windows\system32> Get-PhysicalDisk

Number FriendlyName               SerialNumber   MediaType CanPool OperationalStatus HealthStatus Usage            Size
—— ————               ————   ——— ——- —————– ———— —–            —-
0      SAMSUNG MZ7LN512HAJQ-00000 S3TVNX0MC04330 SSD       True    OK                Healthy      Auto-Select 476.94 GB


PS C:\Windows\system32>
 

 

PowerShell-Get-PhysicalDisk-command-print-exact-SSD-type-attached-to-a-Windows-computer 

During the Windows installation, I did installed Windows on a 110GB partition that was left behind from my attempt to copy another 120GB ssd drive as, I've described in my previous article.
Cause of that big part of the SAMSUNG MZ7LN512HAJQ-00000 SSD was left unpartitioned ( unallocated ) and respectively the space did not show in Windows, hence to work around this I was supposed to 
create new Windows Drive and format it either in VFAT (FAT32) or NTFS. Through the years when I had to do such an operations I often either booted from some bootCD and did the desired partitioning or if
partitioning had to be done on a LivePC without reboot, I've used Windows Partitioning Software, such as:

  • The Industry Standard Partition Manager ( Acronis Disk Director ) 
     
  • EaseUS Partition Manager


Using a Good partition manager is a great thing if some complicated partitioning operations needs to be done,  however for such a trivial stuff such as mine in that case – Creating a new NTFS filesystem from unallocated space is a bit of nonsense, thus this time I've decided to use the Windows Standard tool for Partitioinng
 

  • Disk Management

To run the tool you need to run Computer Management tool first either by just looking it up in the Search bar near Start menu (Windows 10 flag icon) or by invoking command line start window, by pressing together

Windows Button + R and runnining command:

C:\Users\Emilian> compmgmt.msc

 

From there on navigate to

Storage -> Disk Management

windows-computer-management-screenshot

Go over box Unallocated (365.15 GB) and Press Right Mouse Button and select

-> New Simple Volume

new-simple-volume-screenshot

Next steps are quite self explanatory, had to just follow the New Simple Volme Wizard steps

windows-computer-management-screenshot

windows-computer-management-screenshot-3

windows-computer-management-screenshot-4

I Prefer to use NTFS because it is quicker and kinda of a standard since Windows 8+ onwards, besides that this computer will be used as a simple web browsing station and there is no plans the disk will ever have to be attached to a different OS like UNIX / LInux..However always keep in mind for compitability reasons VFAT Filesystem is usually not a bad idea. 

windows-computer-management-screenshot-5

https://www.pc-freak.net/images/new-ntfs-volume-F-drive-windows-10-screenshot

As you can see the drive is prepared and now accessible from Windows Explorer under Drive F:\. If you wonder why the drive is not D:\, it seems to create the D:\ the unallocated space is supposed to be be on a separate Disk which waas not the case with this PC setup.

After installing the SSD drive and setting the proper partitions another good practice is to use Disk Defragmenter Win tool to optimize the Drives for speed. Another useful feature of disk degragmenter is you can use it to check what kind of hard drive you have installed e.g. SATA or SSD, as well as check if the installed SSD is NVME (Non-Volatile-Memory-Express), e.g. of a faster type.

To run Disk Degrafmenter do  Win key + R
 


C:\Users\Emilian> dfrgui

 

dfrgui-command-screenshot-windows-1

Below is what dfrgui reports on the ThinkCentre after running Disk Optimize for each Drive – (Optimize All) option.

dfrgui-partitions-on-lenovo-thinkcentre-windows-screeshot

Just to show you what you can see with dfrgui, here is the dfrgui screenshot from another PC that has attached both SATA disk and NVME SSD Drive.

dfrgui-command-screenshot-windows-2

 

How to do partitioning from Windows console with diskpart command (useful for scripting)

 

If you're coming from Linux world and you're pretty used to fdisk / cfdisk etc. to do partitioning daily, then you'll be most happy to hear about existence of the diskpart command in Windows, which is a kinda of an equivalent tool.
The tool is perfect for domain administrators which need to do some dynamic partitioning operations on multiple computers at once.

 To use diskpart you need Administrator command prompt, there is much you can do with diskpart, below is how to create another NTFS partition on a secondary

C:\Windows\System32> diskpart

diskpart-win-screenshot-1

DISKPART> list disk

diskpart-win-screenshot-2

DISKPART> select disk 2

diskpart-win-screenshot-3

To clean all the content (e.g. delete everything on hard drive) e.g. all files and directories

!!! BEWARE NOT TO DELETE BY MISTAKE YOUR DATA DON'T BLAME ME IF YOU JUST COPY PASTE IRRESPONSIBLY WITHOUT THINKING.
AFTER ALL IT IS YOUR COMPUTER !!!

DISKPART> clean

 

diskpart-win-screenshot-4

Next lets, create a partition, in below screenshot you can see how to use help and what are the supported partition types in Windows 10 as of year 2021.


/diskpart-help-create-partition-type-screenshot
 

DISKPART> create partition primary

diskpart-win-screenshot-6

To format new assigned primary partition as NTFS

DISKPART> format fs=ntfs

diskpart-win-screenshot-7

Once formatted to assign Drive letter that is the next available free one in order

DISKPART> assign

 

diskpart-win-screenshot-8

If instead of auto assigning a letter to new formatted partition, you would want to assign a specific Drive letter, lets say F:\> as it was in our case with the Graphical Windows Disk Management tool earlier in article.

DISKPART> assign letter=F


Using diskpart it is pretty easy to do much stuff from command line such as formatting a new attached empty unallocated drive, or formatting and setting a desired filesysteem of external attached Hard Drive. Note that the disk list arguments will list any externally attached Supported Storage and you can use disklist similarly to do quick format / repartition / wipe out data or whatever.

Further on just for fun I've run CPUID which is a great Windows freeware tool to report System Information, pretty much like the good old Everest such as exact CPU type, MainBoard, Graphics Card and Mainboard type of the certain hardware you have on running.

cpuid-screenshot-windows-10
 
That's all folks Hope this article, helped you learn something new.

Cheers 😉

 

19 October Saint John of Rila Тhe Wonderworker – A little known Hermit saint of Great importance and fervent prayer intercessor for humanity

Wednesday, October 20th, 2021

Saint-Ioann_John_of_Rila_Rylsky_icon

I've already blogged a number of times articles of Saint John of Rila as he is The Greatest venerated Bulgarian Saint as of today his birthplace nearby today's Ruen Monastery as well as my inspiration from the Night Vigil prayer gatherings in the Monastery in his Memoriam in German. But I'm pretty sure this spiritual giant  is under estimated and little known to the public not only the non-bulgarian English speakers but even to Bulgarian and the saint deserves much greater veneration and honour than it has received through the ages for the fact he has been among the greatest prayer intercessors for the world until the beginning of ages.

For his immerse hermit achievements in a similar way as Saint Anthony the Great he has been granted All the innumerous Gifts of The Holy Spirit.
The humble hermit even in his life time he has been defined as "Angel in flesh" and a "Citizen of heaven".
The life of Saint John has been a X-th century continuation of the life of Saint Simeon the Stylites and Saint Simeon Stylites the Younger attempted to be repeated as far as possible by more contemporary saints such as Saint Siluan the Athonite.
 

He has been a teacher (even though he ran away from people) all his life. He has been the major establisher of Monasticism in Bulgaria, 

In 18 of August year 946 Anno Dommini saint John has departed this world. Dying with a painless way called in Church language with the term Dormition or Assumption – (meeling he did not felt any kind of fleshly pain as normally one goes through when he ends his life unsanctified). His Dormition  in a similar way as The Mother of God (Theotokos), an end of life who has been granted throughout human history only to few other saints.

Assumption_Dormition_of_Saint_John_of_Rila_by_Toma_Vishanov

Saint John who spend his hermit lifetime in Mountain of Rila was born circa y. 876 AD and passed away to Christ on August 18, 946 A.D.
Thirthy four years after his dormition, he appeared in a dream to his pupils and has commanded them to dig out his incorruptable body and move it to in Sredetz (today the city of Sofia capital of Bulgaria). In Sredetz the holy relics of the saint has been kept in honour for 200 years.

Saint John has been a contemporary to Saint King Boris I the Baptizer of Bulgaria, King Simeon the Great (Son of King Boris, who raised Bulgaria to Empire reaching to 3 Oceans, who has been one of the largest empires of All times) and King Petar (Peter) the First. His glory as a Wonderworker who has been desired to been seen by many to receive physical healing or spiritual advice has been mostly through the rule of King Petar I (927 – 969). In Medieval times the Glory of Saint John of Rila has been widely known throughout all the Christianized Lands (including Byzantine Empire) and the West in the Catholic Church. The implication of his importance as a medieval healer saint and a model for hermit life and saintship and image for truthful spiritual life is well seen as his Biography (Living) is seen as he has about 15 Known different livings saying varyious details about his lifetime written in different centuries in Old Bulgarian Language and in Middle centuries in the new transformed form of Old Bulgarian writting called Church Slavonic, where saint has been simply adressed by monk name Ioan (John).

According to his biography we found until the age of 25 Saint John has been a simple shepherd. Until the yough age in his heart John had the burning love in his heart and a desire to dedicate himself completely to God. When his parents has passed away, he gave away all his received inheritance to the poor and sick people and entered as a aprentice in the monastery of today Boboshevski Saint Dimitar under the Ruen Monastery in the Mountain of Vlahina.

There in he received a Theological education, studied the liturgical books, received a spiritual dignity and prepared himself for the great spiritual mission of hermitage and life long prayer for the world. Receiving the monks schima, he gave away completely to fasting and prayer, initially establishing himself in Vitosha Mountain (most likely in today Monastery of German Monastery St. John of Rila (convent of Mount Athos Monastery of Zograph) nearby Sofia

Saint_Ivan_Rilski_Zemen-ikona

St. John of Rila Wall Painting XIV century from the Church Zemen Monastery Saint John the Theologian

In German Monastery often times the ancient Christian tradition of Night Vigil is followed on hist feast Major Christian feasts even today.
Later he has been for a while in the small Village  "Dobarsko" near The Europe Famous Resort of Bansko.
A short after 20 km of Dobarsko he has established The Most Famous Monastery for the Balkans, the Rila Monastery, a pivotal place whose light has shined upon practically all parts of the land as it become a school for tens of thousands hundred monks throughout the last 20 centuries. Many manuscript works prepared in Rila Monastery has been later on transferred in Today Ukraine, Russia, Serbia, Greece and even the Western Catholic lands.
There is no exact place in history when Saint John was officially canonized as in Medival Times, saints did not go through an official canonization but has been testified by the multitudes of peoples who has been cured by their wonder-working prayers. By the prayers of Saint John many has been able to conceive childs, leppers get cured and could walk, eye diseases were healed, full health has been restored or the gift of faith has been giving, not to mention the multitudes of people who came to Christian faith thanks to the prayers of St. John.

The-Meeting-of-Saint-John-of-Rila-and-King-Peter-First-of-Bulgaria

King Petar I-st meets the Hermit Holy Father John of Rila (Wall Painting)

The story of the powerful medieval Bulgarian ruler Peter the First who travelled 450 Kilometers only to see the saint is well known. Travelling about 450 kilometers from the capital of Bulgaria Veliki Preslav to the Cave of Saint John of Rila only to meet him.

Cave-of-Saint-John-of-Rila-Peshterata-na-sv-Ioan-Rilski

The Cave of Saint John of Rila Cave exit

The monk however refused to meet him due to his immerse humility, where King Peter I-st was able to talk in a long distance via a valley with the saint, offering him gold and fruits. St. John refused to receive the king's gold, as he said he did not left the world and everyhing to it to attain gold or anything but to save his soul. He received the fruits not wanting to insult the king. Many people who deserved to learn a true monasticism and ascetism has quickly reached the saint and asked them to create a monastic brotherhood and wanting to be useful his poor brothers and having revelation of God that it is the will of God to establish the monsatery he accepted and become the first Abbot of Rila Monastery.

He passed to the Savior Christ about in year on 18 of August 946 AD being aged about 70 years old he has been buried in the Church porch in a stone tomb, preserved even today.

The-Testament-of-Saint-John-of-Rila-Given-to-his-pupils-monks
Saint John Giving his Written Testament to his Monks (The Testament is Famous for the quote "I beg you children to mostly fear from the snake of avarice which is the root of all evils".


Until his death he has departed from the brotherhood in complete solitude and wrote his famous "Testament".  The Testament of Saint John of Rila he left for his pupils on 25 of March on the feast of the Annunciation in year 941. The text of the Saint John Testament is preserved in a copy manuscripts dated from the XVIII and XIX century and contains a multitude of quotes from The Scriptures of Old and New Testament

Engravement-of-the-Living-of-Saint-John-of_Rila_monastery-icon

The Living of Saint John of Rila


Saint_John_of-Kronstadt-Ioann_Kronshtadtskij

 

A little known fact is that the Russian All Famous Saint Father John of Kronstadt (also a wonderworker) (Ivan Ilyich Sergiyev, born: 31 October [O.S. 19 October] 1829 + Passed to Christ: 2 January 1909 [O.S. 20 December 1908]) has received his Baptizmal name after Saint John of Rila as he has been born on his feast day and his parents following the Russian tradition to name the baby after the Saint honour in the Church Calendar gave the name John of St. John of Kronstadt. St. John of Kronstadt deeply venerated Saint John of Rila and asked his prayer intercession alway until his life time.
​In 1900, Father John established the women's monastery of Ioannovsky Convent, named for his name patron John of Rila, as a branch of the Sura Monastery of St. John the Theologian, where he was later also buried.

Recognition of Saint John of Rila Holiness shortly after his death


After his death in y. 946, st John has been buried nearby the established by him Holy Rila Convent, shortly after King Peter I-st ordered to be transferred to Sredetz (Sofia). Most likely this can be considered for original date of canonization of the saint. About y. 989 – 992 y. his holy relics has been transferred by King Samul and then Patriarch German-Gabvril (German-Gabriel) in Sredetz. This happened on 19 of October and since then on this date is venerated his bright memory.
Initially his holy relics has been kept for venerateion in the Church of "Saint Great Martyr Georgi the Glorybringer" and later on moved to Church of "Saint Apostle and Evangelist Luke". In the XII century in his honour the Church of "Saint Luka (Saint Luke)" was built near which a monastery has been established. The Byzantine writter Ioannis Skylitzes / John Skylitzes testifies that in Sredetz the Holy Relics of Saint John has miraculously cured emperor Manuel I Komnenos.

In 1183 during the consequential Hungarian-Byzantine war, the Hungarian King Bela III of Hungar conquered Sredetz and moved the holy relics of Saint John in his capitzal Estergom today the Komárom-Esztergom County. According to tradition the local Roman Catholic archibishop declared he has not been aware for the existence of a saint John of Rila and because of his words the saint has punished him with immediate numbness. Once he venerated the holy relics of the reliquary and begged for forgiveness, his speech was recovered. Amazed and worried about this miracle, in year 1187 hungarians transferred back the holy relics of the saint to Tarnovo? Bulgaria.

The-Return-of-Holy-Relics-of-Saint-John-of-Rila

The Return of the Holy Relics of St. John to Trnovo Bulgaria

On 1st of June the Church celebrates the return of the holy relics of saint John of Rila from Tarnovo to Rila monastery. In 1195 Bulgarian king Ivan Asen the First solemnly transferred the Holy relics once again to Tarnovo in the church still being built St. 40 Martyrs (dedicated to 40 Martyrs of Nikomidia). Until the church was completed the holy relics has been kept on Krastec Peak, now the place has a small chapel in honour of St. John of Rila The Wonderworker".

In 1469 year Bulgaria is already invaded by the Ottoman Turks, thus  after a permission from the Sultan, the monks of Rila convent brought the holy relics of the saint from Veliko Tarnovo to his established Rila Monastery, where holy relics are kept to this date and where anyone who needs a spiritual fortification, restorement of health, or suffering from unclean spirits (devils) could ask with faith and hope for healing for the saint and wait for the miracle.
I myself have had the chance to meet a man who has being to a Night Vigil to Rila monastery and testified that he and his life both being in his old age of fifties after not being able to have kids and trying out everything has asked the saint during a night vigil to pray for them to able to conceive a child and the saint heard their prayers and granted them a kid and she conceived right after that and brought to the earth after 9 months a very healthy and lively baby 🙂

Another modern miracle I'm personally aware of made by Saint John is the Gift of Faith in God which was granted to a Greek architect, I've personally met while being on a pilgrimage visit to Holy Mount Athos. The Greek shared that he had never been a believed in God and was a grown atheist, until he had a work duty to do some reconstruction restoration works in Bulgarian Rila monastery. Spending a few months as part of his business-trip duties, he has received the gift of faith. I've met the Greek (unfortunately no longer remember his name), nearby the monastery of Xenophontos.

 

The troparion of our rev. father John of Rila, tone 1

A foundation of the repentance, an example of the tenderness,
a model of the consolation and of the spiritual perfection,
oh Reverend Father, was your equal to the Angels life therefore
staying in prayers and fasts and in tears
pray to the Christ God for our souls.


Today the holy relics are miraculously still incorruptable and emit a specific nice odor  which is typical for many of other saints, a testify to the unbelievers for their saintship. The saints relics in a special reliquarium in the right corner behind the iconostasis icons. The right hand of the saint is kept in nun convent in Island of Tinos Greece and the story how it ended there is a worthy for a small pamphlet and I'll try to say few words on that in some of the next posts.

Let by the Holy Prayers of Saint John of Rila our Home Land Bulgaria and all Countries are granted more Peace, Love, Faith and Kindness and relief from the terrible diseases that are plaguing the world today !

Holy Father John of Rila Pray the mercyful Lord Jesus with All the Saints and The Most Holy Theotokos to save our Souls and grant mercies to us the sinners !

7th of July The Feast of Saint Nedelya Kyriakia one of the most honored woman saints in Bulgarian Orthodox Church and few words of the history of Sofia Second biggest Cathedral Church St. Nedelya

Thursday, July 8th, 2021

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Saint Nedelya is a major Cathedral in Sofia Bulgaria dedicated to an early Christian saint Kyriaki (martyred year 289 AD). It is is a second biggest Cathedral Church in Bulgaria and a place where they serve the Holy Liturgy daily. The Patriarch and most notable spiritual leaders of the Bulgarian orthodox church do hold services there regularly.

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Coffin with Holy Relics of Saint Stephan Urosh II Milutin in the St Nedelya Sofia Church right corner near alter wall

Saint Nedelya Church  is a beautiful peace of Christian art the Church is also known in XX-th century as Holy King (because the incorruptable Holy Relics of Sebian King Saint Stephan Urosh II ( Milutin ) are found in the Church).

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Saint Nedelya Icon Arapovski Monastery Bulgaria

The fact that Saint Nedelya is the second Church by spiritual importance for Bulgaria is not a coincidence and this is related to the high veneration of saint martyr Nedelya (Kyriakia) Bulgarians had for the saint through the years especially in the Second Bulgarian kingdom during the reigh of King Asen's Dynasty (12-th 13-th century). The incorruptable Holy relics of the saint Kyriakia has been transferred to Trnovo (Tarnovo) the capital of Bulgaria at that time by saint Patriarch Euthymius (Evtimij) of Tarnovo (who was the last patriarch head of Bulgarian Orthodox Church during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, right  before the fall of Bulgaria under the Turkish slavery (Yoke).
 

Saint Martyr Nedelya ( Kyriakia) died in July 7th 289 A.D.

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Saint Nedelya Debrene Church iconographer Dicho Zograph from year 1844

Inspired by the great deed and the great grace received by receiving the incorruptable relics of the saint, saint Euthymius wrote a glorofication called "Praise to the Holy Great Martyr (Nedelya)". The Nedelya word meaning in Bulgarian Language is Sunday and is a literal translation from Greek's Kyriaky.

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Saint Kyriaky dedicated Church, Istanbul Turkey

The veneration for saint Kyriaky has been quite common in medieval times one of the major Churches in Constantinople (today Istanbul) is dedicated also to saint Kyriaki.

According to Church tradition described by patriarch Evtimij, we know saint Nedelya has been born in Asia Minor and has been a child who has been long awaited kid that was gifted by God. Saint Kyriaki's was born in responce to her parents Dorotheus and Eusebia many fervent beseach prayers begging for a kid that will help Christ's salvation plan for the mankind.

 She was brought up in the truths of Christ from an early age.

At a very young age, she decided to dedicate her life to God. She happened to live at the time before Saint Constantine The Great when still the ligth of Christianity did not yet overcome the false believes of paganism in the time of the peresuction by emperor Diocletian. This was the time of persecution against Christian confessors and brutal violence against Christians – they were persecuted, imprisoned, exiled or forced to renounce their faith. Nedelya was thrown into prison and tortured, and her parents were exiled to the town of Miletin. The miraculous healing of her wounds, as well as her refusal to worship pagan idols, led the authorities to sentence her to death as they believed she is doing her wonderful healing by some strange whichcraft.

Kyriaki was tortured again by Apollonius, the successor of Hilarion. She was thrown into a fire, but the flames were extinguished, and then to wild beasts, but they became tame and gentle. Apollonius then sentenced her to death by the sword. As she was given a little time to pray, she asked God to receive her soul and to remember those who honoured her martyrdom. Upon completing her prayer, she rendered her soul to God before the sword was lowered on her head. Pious Christians took her relics and buried them. At the time of her death, she was 21 years old.[

At her place of death, after prayer, Sunday surrendered her spirit to God before the sentence is carried out exactly on her feast date (July 7, 289). For early Christians the day of death or martyrdom was considered the date of the real birthday for eternal life in heve. Nedelya died at the age of 22, as saint Patriarch Euthymius of Trnovo writes, "Dying in a short time, she fulfilled long years, because her Lord's soul was satisfied, purity – great enough, feats enough …"

The Second Biggest Bulgarian Cathedral is dedicated to saint Nedelya

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Saint Nedelya Church, Sofia – Capital of Bulgaria

As many of the Churches in Bulgaria the history of Saint Nedelya's Church in Capital of Bulgaria, Sofia  goes back to distant X-th century and as many of the Churches of the time was most lilely laying on a stones and built of wood as Churches used to be built of that time. Today's architecture of the Church is of the XIX century.

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The church became famous during the assassination attempt by Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP / BKP) on April 16, 1925 during the funeral of General Konstantin Georgiev, when it was destroyed. Then on this sad date for the Bulgarian history, 193 people mainly from the country's political and military elite were killed and about 500  bystander believers, who attended the liturgy were injured. The assault was perhaps the worst terrorist act in the history of Bulgaria, and at that time in the world. The aim of the temple blowing assault was to kill King Boris III, who was not in the Church at the time because he was slightly late for the service by the providence.

After this bloody terrorist act of the Bulgarian Communist Party, the church board of trustees assigned the architectural bureau "Vasilyov – Tsolov" (architect Ivan Vasilyov and architect Dimitar Tsolov) the restoration of the church. Renovation began in June 1927. By the spring of 1933, an almost new, huge central-domed temple was built with a length of 30 meters, a width of 15.50 meters and a height of the dome of 31 meters. The surviving two-row gilded iconostasis has been returned to the temple.

The church was solemnly consecrated again on April 7, 1933. The fresco decoration was made from 1971 to 1973 by an artistic team led by Nikolai Rostovtsev. Around 2015, the Church iconography has been fully restored and is amazingly beautiful worthy to see, if you happen to visit Bulgaria.