Bulgaria Honors Miracle Worker St. Ivan Rilski
Orthodox Christians in Bulgaria commemorate on October 19 Saint Ivan Rilski, known as the Miracle Worker and also celebrated as the patron of Bulgaria.
St. Ivan Rilski founded the Rila Monastery some 1 000 years ago. The saint's relics are kept there to this day, and are still believed to have the power to bring miracle cures for illnesses.
Hundreds of pilgrims are expected to gather Friday in Bulgaria's biggest cloister, the Rila Monastery, to mark the holiday. People line-up to touch the relics of the Saint, hoping he would bring miracles to their lives too.
St. Ivan Rilski is honored as the patron of Bulgarian people and one of the most important saints of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
He died in 946 AD in the seclusion of the monastery, and was canonized right after his death. Remembered for his miracles, he is one of Bulgaria's most influential spiritual leaders.
Shortly after the Saint's death, his remains, which were thought to have wonder-working powers, were transferred to Sofia during the reign of Peter I. After Magyar King Bela III conquered Sofia in 1183, Saint Ivan Rilski's remains were sent to the Hungarian capital Esztergom and stayed there for 4 years before being returned to Sofia in 1187.
In 1194, Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Asen I ordered the remains to be moved to his capital, Veliko Tarnovo. Surviving the Turkish conquest of the city in 1393, they were returned to the Rila Monastery in 1469 with the permission of Sultan Murad II.
October 19 is also the official day of Bulgarian miners, doctors and medical workers.