Great Martyr Zlata of Maglen – patron saint of Bulgarians living abroad

The Great Martyr Zlata of Maglen is regarded a patron saint of all Bulgarians living abroad. Zlata was born in the 18th century in a poor Bulgarian family in the village of Slatina, in the Bulgarian province of Maglen (today Chrysi, Greece) during the ottoman Rule. Saint Zlata is described as a very beautiful and godly girl with pure heart and humble soul. Her beauty did not remain unnoticed by the enslavers and one day, while she was gathering wood in the forest, Zlata was kidnapped by a Turk who wanted to make her become his wife. When he urged her to become a Muslim and renounce her faith and roots, Zlata replied: I believe in Christ and him alone do I know as my bridegroom. I will never deny him, even though you subject me to a thousand tortures and cut me into pieces.

Then the Turks summoned her relatives and with terrible threats commanded them to convince Zlata to accept the Muslim faith and threatened them with the most violent tortures of they failed to do so. Fear forced Zlata’s parents and sisters to do what they did not want to do and began to persuade Zlata to obey and accept the Muslim faith: A sweet daughter, have mercy on yourself and on us-your parents and sisters. We will all perish if you don’t accept the Turks’ proposal. Christ is merciful and will forgive you this sin committed by coercion and violence.

For a moment, her love for her parents and sisters filled her soul with hesitation. However, her love for the Christian faith was stronger: You, who force me to deny Christ, the true God, are no longer my parents and my sisters. In Your place will be my father, Jesus Christ, mother- the most holy Mother of God, and my sisters and brothers-all martyrs!

The Turks realized they cannot make her change her faith and subjected her to brutal tortures. Zlata endured the tortures and was helped in her sufferings by the power and the belief in Jesus Christ. On October 18, 1795, Zlata gave her soul to God.

Today, the memory of Saint Zlata is honored both by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and the Greek Church, because her birthplace is now on the territory of Greece, where she is known as Agia Chrysi. Icons depicting Saint Zlata can be found in almost all Bulgarian churches. A fresco with the image of the Bulgarian saint and a well preserved inscription “Saint Zlata Meglenskaya” could be seen until recently In Saint Petka temple in the Greek village of Periklia. However, the inscription was erased and a text in Greek language appeared instead. Saint Zlata of Maglen is depicted as a young woman wearing traditional folk costume. Since 2009, at the proposal of Bulgarian historian Professor Plamen Pavlov, Saint Zlata of Maglen has been regarded as the patron saint of all Bulgarians living abroad. An annual award of the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad was named after her. It is awarded to Bulgarian women who contribute to the preservation and development of the Bulgarian national consciousness and cultural identity of the Bulgarian communities abroad. Today, Zlatka, Zlatko, Zlatan, Zlatomir, Luka and Lukan celebrate their name day.

Editor: Darina Grigorova

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

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