Monastery of Rila, Bulgaria

We left Thessaloniki after the breakfast and after 3 hours, more or less, in bus we reached the Bulgarian border. Bulgaria entered in the European Union last year, reason why we noticed that the policemen in the border done their job a little bit too seriously: they copied all the documents of the journey we had and for this reason we lost half an hour. After crossing the border, we drove for 2 hours and finally we reached the monastery of Rila. The landscapes were really beautiful, a plain completely green and in the distance mountains covered by the snow.

The monastery Rila is situated on the namesake mount, in the altitude of 1140 m. It was founded in the X century by hermit Saint John of Rila (in Bulgarian Ivan Rilski) and since then it was destroyed twice and build up again. At the beginning was rebuild only the central church, but after many attacks around was build a true and proper castle. In the centuries of Ottomans domain, many privileges (obtained prematurely from the Bulgarians kings) were confirmed by sultans; reason why the monastery represented a spiritual and cultural reference for the Bulgarians.
The monastery of Rila is protected by UNESCO.

On the bellow photograpies you can see some of numerouse murales on the frontal of the church.

The history of Saint John of Rila

In the year of 865 prince Boris I (baptismal name Michail) converted the Bulgarians to Christianity. Bulgaria joins the list of European Christian countries. Christian virtues became a model and people followed them in all their forms. The first Holy Monasteries were founded and many initiated by God men began life in spiritual retreat there.
God chose Rila Mountains as a very good place for spiritual achievement and spiritual enhancement. The Venerable Saint John of Rila, the Miracleworker, was born around 876 and settled down in the Rila Mountains to live there. All Ortodox Churches respect and praise him. He was born in the village of Skrino near the town of Boboshevo (near Doupnitza). He became a monk in one of neighboring monasteries situated in Ruen Mountains, at the age 25. So began his difficult, but glorious way to Spiritual Perfection.
A few years later his steps led him into the wilderness of Rila Mountains. He dedicated himself entirely to a life of isolation and prayers to God. Rocks were his bed and sky his cover. He lived twelve years in a cold cave (without any physical amenities) for seven years sleeping on bare ground and under open sky. Through his strong faith in God, prayers and fasting he resisted the temptation of the devil.
He was the founder of Bulgarian monasticism (life of a hermit) and he established a great confraternity of his disciples and followers. He reposed in the Lord on August 18th 946.

South Balkan

Meteore

Thessaloniki

Mount Athos

Rila

Ohrid

Albania

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