In an interview for BNR-Blagoevgrad, the abbot of the Rila Monastery, Bishop Evlogiy, spoke about Bulgaria’s biggest monastery, the Rila Monastery, that remains a preferred place for many believers even in these months of difficulties and troubles.
In the interview, Bishop Evlogiy said it was good for every person to find contact with God, comfort, support, hope. He added that we acted in compliance with all measures and hygiene requirements that were established for the whole country. “We do whatever it takes – disinfection is constantly carried out in the church, at the entrance we have a special mat with a disinfectant solution. The icons are also regularly disinfected, as are all the wooden parts of the church that the worshipers have contact with, the wooden thrones for sitting, the railings,” stressed Bishop Evlogiy.
Anyone who wishes to spend the night in the monastery is welcome, Bishop Evlogiy said. Unfortunately, in winter Hrelyo’s Tower and the magernitsa (refectory) remain closed to visitors. Instead, one can visit the museum, the monastery buildings and the church where one can seek solace in God.
The abbot maintained that prayer was what could help us beg what we needed from God and gave us peace, faith, hope, trust. He highlighted that without prayer nothing was achieved. “In the years of vicissitudes in the past, when there was plague, cholera and other similar epidemics in the area, it was prayer that helped people to overcome these trials by participating in common worship. The Holy Liturgy is served for all Christians, but those who are unable to visit any of God’s temples or holy monasteries can also pray at home. Home prayer also has its great significance for every Christian, for every single person.”
Legend has it that the history of the Rila Monastery is connected with Saint Ivan Rilski (John of Rila) who came to these lands in the 10th century to indulge in fasting and prayers away from worldly vanity. After his death, his followers built a monastery near the place where the monk ended his earthly journey.
Over the centuries, the Rila Monastery grew to become a spiritual, educational and cultural centre, until the 14th century when Bulgaria lost its independence, falling under Ottoman rule. Years of darkness followed, and a century later the monastery was destroyed and looted by the Ottoman invaders. The first rays of light came at the end of the 15th century when with the help of Bulgarians from all over the country the Rila Monastery began to slowly revive and regain its halo to a spiritual centre.