May 14, 2018

Holy New Martyr John the Goldsmith of Bulgaria (+ 1802)

St. John or Raiko of Bulgaria (Feast Day - May 14)

John was from the town of Suma (Shoumen) in Bulgaria where he practiced the craft of goldsmith. He was a handsome young man of eighteen and great in virtue.

Across from his workplace lived a Muslim family including an unmarried young lady. She fell in love with John, but he did not reciprocate her feelings and rejected her advances. Insulted, she accused John before the Muslim authorities of molesting her.

John was therefore brought before the Turkish judge who gave him two choices: become a Muslim and marry the girl or die. John courageously replied that he preferred to die rather than deny his faith in Christ. This resulted in him being painfully tortured and beaten until he bled from various parts of his body. He was hung from the ceiling of his prison many times, and allowed to drop suddenly. The result of this almost killed him.

Though he was promised various gifts with flatteries if he became a Muslim, John remained steadfast in his faith. John was then placed on a spinning wheel which hurled him round and round, but no torture could shake him. They even burned his wounded flesh with lit torches, but this had no effect. Finally, John was sentenced to death and beheaded by the executioners. This took place on May 14, 1802.

His martyrdom was recorded by Saint Nikephoros of Chios. He was not officially recognized by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church as a Saint until June of 2017, when he was included under the name Saint Raiko of Shoumen. A church in his honor began to be constructed in Suma in 2006.