Our Holy Father John of Rila.

Commemorated August 18 in the Orthodox Christian Menaion

From the Prologue

This great ascetic and light of the Orthodox Church was born near Sophia, in a place called Skrino, in the time of the Emperor Boris. He was born of poor but worthy parents. After their death, he became a monk and withdrew to a high mountain, where he began to live the ascetic life in a cave. He endured many assaults both by demons and men, from robbers and from his kinsmen. He afterwards moved to the mountain of Rila, and there took up residence in a hollow tree. He ate only the herbs and berries that grew, by God's providence, in the vicinity. He saw no man's face for many years until, again by God's providence, he was found by a herdsman searching for his lost sheep. The saint then became known among men, and people began to come to him, seeking help in sickness or trouble. The Bulgarian king, Peter, himself visited him, to ask his advice. Many who were seeking the spiritual life settled near to John, and a church and monastery were soon built there. St John entered into rest in the Lord on August 18th, 946, at the age of seventy, and appeared to his disciples after his death. His relics were first taken to Sophia, then to Hungary, to Trnovo and finally to the monastery of Rila, where they are preserved to this day. The monastery of Rila has, through the ages, been a lighthouse and a place of wonderworking power and spiritual support to the Christian people of Bulgaria, most especially during the time of slavery under the Turks.

From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
©1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK

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