April 25, 2011

Bulgarians Flock to See Wondrous Bachkovo Icon

April 25, 2011

Monday Bulgarians are celebrating the second day of Easter, and the first day of the Bright Week, or Week of Renewal, following Jesus Christ's resurrection.

Thousands gathered at the great Bachkovo Monastery in the Rhodope Mountains south of Plovdiv in a traditional Easter meeting centered around the wonder-working icon of Virgin Mary.

The story goes that the icon was discovered some time in the 14th c. by two little shepherds high in the mountains, where they witnessed wondrous flames going out from the ground.

It is said to have healed and otherwise helped many a person ever since.

Monday Christians gathered in a solemn religious procession behind the image of the Mother of Christ.

Bachkovo Monastery is one of the largest and oldest Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Europe. Located along the reaches of the Assenitsa River (29 km south of Plovdiv and 189km of Sofia), the Bachkovo monastery ranks second after the Rila Monastery both with regard to size, and to architectural, artistic and literary significance. It was founded by the Georgian Grigorii Bakuriani in 1083. Almost immediately after its foundation, the monastery turned into a wealthy landowner, its properties stretching as far as Salonika.