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THE RILA SAINT

One of the most important representatives of the monastic movement in Bulgaria is Ivan Rilski, the Rila saint and to him are dedicated hundreds of stories and legends.

It is known that after the death of his parents, influenced by Christian preaching, the young man left his home (according to a legend it was near today's Sofia), renounced the world and lived in seclusion "in a high and deserted mountain". He went round the monasteries along the River Struma and the Vitosha Mountain. Then he headed for the inaccessible Rila Mountain where he could finally devote himself to contemplation.

According to Scilitze's passional, he lived in a tree hollow, then in a cave where he spent twelve years with his students.

With his piety, the saint attracted not only the ordinary people from the near-by villages whom he healed, advised and blessed, but also King Peter I himself. Towards the end of his life Ivan Rilski wrote his "Legacy", in which he offered advice to his brethren in the Rila Monastery. Ivan Rilski died in 946 and after his death the Bulgarian Church sanctified him. As time passed he became protector of the Bulgarian people. Today the memory of him still lives not only in Bulgaria but also with the Russian Church and that of Constantinople.

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