Saint Ivan Rilski – the most revered Bulgarian saint

Photo: BGNES

On October 19, the Bulgarian people and the Orthodox Church pay honor to St. John of Rila / 876-946 / Until the age of 25, he was an ordinary shepherd before accepting monasticism and preaching in various places, mainly during the time of rule of the Bulgarian Tsar Peter I. At the end of his life he lived as a hermit in Rila Mountain where he established the Rila Monastery. His life was during a difficult time of growing social inequality because of the development of the feudal system. The saint was extremely popular during his lifetime. Even King Peter himself traveled the distance from the capital Veliki Preslav to the Rila Mountains to see him. John bowed to the king without accepting his gifts of gold. He preached faith, love and hope, striving for a humble and dignified experience of earthly life on the eve of eternity. He helped people in need, healed them from serious illnesses and performed miracles. One of them showed his strength posthumously. When his relics temporarily ended up in Esztergom (Hungary), the local archbishop did not acknowledge the saint and lost his speech until he went to bow to St. John. Today, the relics of the saint, whom the Bulgarian people worship as patron are kept in the Rila Monastery.

Photos: and BGNES

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