Beginning / St. Ivan Rilsky
St. Ivan Rilsky

A short biography

St. Ivan Rilsky. Icon from Rila Monastery.

The greatest saint on Bulgarian land ever, revered Ivan Rilsky was born around 876 in Skrino, hidden in the Osogovska Mountain near river Struma (near Dupnitsa). He was a contemporary of kniaz Boris (852-889) and of his son Vladimir, Tsar Simeon the Great and Simeon’s son Tsar Petar. Till his 25-year-age he was a shepherd. In this fragile age in the soul of Ivan began to grow and develop his religious faith. At those times there were building churches and monasteries around the whole Bulgaria.

The new monasteries became not just centres of the Christianity but literary and educating centres. The desire of the young man was to devote himself to God. He wished to go a monastery and became a monk. Firstly Ivan went to the close monastery “Saint Dimitrii” under mount Ruen. There he didn’t just develop his talent in the religious meditation, but educated and studied many of sacred, liturgical and religious books. He accepted the title monk but didn’t stay for too long in the monastery and devoted his life to an absolute loneliness, prayers, fasts and destitute.

Revered Ivan Rilsky lived in many places, until at last he settled down in the gorgeous Rila Mountain, where he stayed to the end of his life. There he has founded a monastery, which has survived more than a thousand years till nowadays. He made many miracles during his lifetime and after his death: he fed shepherds, cured with his pray a madman, healed and still healing from different sicknesses many pious people and being defending the monastery with his noble power.

St. Ivan of Rila and king Peter I.

The fame of the hermit spreaded soon among the Bulgarian people and reached the capital. While traveling to Sofia, Tsar Petar the I-st, made a 120 km detour to see the pious old man. Ivan Rilsky however didn’t allow Tsar Petar to come close to him but just bowed to the ruler from far and so did Tsar Petar. The recluse, of course, returned the sent gold as a gift from Tsar Petar. That action increased even more Ivan Rilsky’s glory and many students joined him, who built huts for them. That was the beginning of the most famous Bulgarian monastery.

Before his death revered Ivan went in full privacy and made his “legacy”. He holidayed on 18 august 946 at almost 70-year age and was buried in the narthex of a little church in a stone tomb. The stone tomb still exists. His assumption the Church celebrates each year on the same date.

The revered Ivan Rilsky is declared for and exceptional celestial sentinel of the Bulgarian nation and is being held in respect from all Bulgarian people.

Translation: Georgi Amudov
Certificated for the translation: Marina Rulioko

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