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Forest of the Cross - a holy place in Bulgaria

The cappels ppels of the Twelve Apostles
Photo: Anna Kapitanova
Legend has it that a small piece of the Holy Cross has been buried in the heart of the Rhodope Mountain, some 6 km away from the village of Borovo, Southern Bulgaria. The place, which is called Cross Forest, is known as the land of wonders. Today people from all over Bulgaria and abroad come to Cross Forest to honour the wonder-working cross set up there, and look for a cure for their disease.

According to some old documents, once upon a time there had been a monastery there, which was destroyed during the Ottoman Domination, granny Elena told a Radio Bulgaria reporter. In her words, in 1903 her father and three families settled in the village of Borovo. Later, he became the mayor of the village only to build the church with the help of the villagers. Granny Elena remembers that once they found in the foundations of the church two stone candle holders covered in drops of wax and having a carved cross in the middle. One legend has it that some monks buried at the foot of the eminence where Cross Forest lied the golden icon of the onetime monastery, in which a little piece of the Holy Cross had been built in.

© Photo: Anna Kapitanova

The Miracle-makiing Cross

Cross Forest is located on a cross-shaped eminence where the Church of Holy Trinity is located. It consists of a complex of chapels and churches. There are 12 chapels on either side of the eminence. Each of them is dedicated to an apostle. Worshippers go to Cross Forest to seek solitude, and some stay on top overnight praying to be healed. The miraculous cross, which worshippers pray to, is situated at the very top of the holy place.

© Photo: Anna Kapitanova

“In 1936 during the rule of Bulgarian King Boris III Yordan Stoichev Driankov brought that cross”, Granny Elena says. “I remember that he slept at home. He came from the village of Kovachevitsa in the western Rhodopes. At every step on your way to the Cross you should pray, as if you were walking towards God. At every step you should say what your pain and wishes are, thanking God for having invited you to His abode. You shouldn’t be bored with the long queue. You should learn to be patient because God tests the strength of your faith”, the old woman told Radio Bulgaria.

Yordan Driankov had a vision that a big metal cross should be erected at that place. King Boris III heard about his dream and helped the locals build the cross. After the structure was set up, a white dove took Yordan to the place where a healing water spring flows today. It’s rumoured that the king’s sister Evdokia, who was ill at the time, was healed miraculously after she bathed in the spring.

© Photo: Anna Kapitanova

The Dove Curative Spring

Its healing properties attract many people today. You should invoke the divine power of the Holy Trinity, while pouring water over your body, Granny Elena says. After that the water should be poured over live flowers or grass. The stones scattered around the holy place are believed to be healing, too. They should be put in a container filled with water. To be healed one should first drink from the container and then pour some more water into it.

© Photo: Anna Kapitanova

Shroud of the Holy Virgin Church

Many people believe in the miraculous nature of these rituals. Many go to the Shroud of the Holy Virgin Church, which keeps an icon that is believed to make miracles. People would bring close to it various items which they would later put in their homes for good health and as a protection against the evil eye.

Every year on 14 September the Orthodox Church marks Holy Cross Day with a liturgy in Cross Forest. On the eve of the holiday thousands of people gather together on top to charge themselves with good health and energy under the starry sky. 

English version: Vyara Popova
По публикацията работи: Anna Kapitanova


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