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St. Athanasius – the founder of monasticism in Europe

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On January 18, the day after St. Anthony's Day (Antonovden), the Bulgarian Orthodox Church honours the memory of St. Athanasius the Great (Atanssovden). A zealous follower of Christ's teaching, St. Athanasius took an active part in the large council summoned by the sons of Constantine the Great in 343-344 in Serdika (present-day Sofia). According to reports, the councilwas held in the old basilica of Saint Sophia, next to which centuries later the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral was built.

St. Athanasius was a student of St. Anthony, and is revered by all Christian denominations as one of the most prominent theologians and defenders of the trinity between God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. According to church sources, he was the first disseminator in Europe of the monasticism that originated in Egypt. The date of January 18 is associated with his last return as Orthodox bishop of Alexandria, after he was persecuted five times by the Aryans. The church also honours the day of his death, May 2.

According to some sources, St. Athanasius was the founder of the monastery in thevillage of Zlatna Livada near Chirpan, known as the oldest monastery in Europe since time immemorial. It is claimed that this is exactly the place where St. Athanasius communicated with God.

Read more about this holy place in the publication The Saint Athanasius Monastery of Chirpan- the oldest in Europe from the collection of Radio Bulgaria.

Editor: Darina Grigorova

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