Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Relationship Between a Tsar Peter of Bulgaria and Sant John of Rila

St. Peter, King of Bulgaria (Feast Day - January 30)

Saint Peter, King of Bulgaria, was the son of the militant Bulgarian prince Simeon. St. Peter was distinguished for his Christian piety, and he often turned to St. John of Rila (August 18, October 19), asking his prayers, spiritual guidance and advice.

King Peter concluded peace with Byzantium on terms advantageous for Bulgaria. He also gained recognition from the Patriarch of Constantinople for the autonomy of the Bulgarian Church, and the affirmation of a Patriarchal throne in Bulgaria, benefiting all the Bulgarian Church.

St. Peter aided in the successful extirpation of the Bogomil heresy in his lands. He died in the year 967, at fifty-six years of age.

St. John of Rila

A Reflection by St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Here is an example of how emperors seek counsel from the saints and how the saints avoid vanity and riches and how they counsel emperors. The Orthodox Bulgarian Tsar Peter set off with his retinue toward the Rila mountain driven by the insatiable desire to see St. John of Rila and to benefit from his instruction. The tsar sent men ahead to inform the Saint of his arrival, but the Saint did not agree to meet with the tsar. The saddened tsar again sent some men with foodstuffs and an ample amount of gold as well as a petition requesting the Saint to write some counsel for him. John, accepted the edible things but returned the gold, not even wanting to touch it, replied to the tsar: "If you desire the heavenly kingdom, be merciful as the heavenly Father. Do not trust in injustice and do not be covetous; be meek, quiet and be accessible to everyone. Do not accept praises from your noblemen. Let your purple robe radiate with virtues. May the remembrance of death never depart from your soul. Humble yourself before the feet of Mother Church; bow your head before her prime-hierarchs so that the King of kings, seeing your sincerity, reward you with goodness such as never entered into the heart of man." Receiving that letter, the tsar kissed it, and after that read it frequently.

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