February 17, 2020

Saint Theodosius of Trnovo (+ 1363)

St. Theodosius of Trnovo (Feast Day - November 27)

Saint Theodosius began his exploit in the Bulgarian city of Vidin, at the Nikolaev Monastery. After the death of the abbot Job he settled near Trnovo, then the capital city of Bulgaria, at the Holy Mountain Monastery of the Most Holy Theotokos in search of a spiritual guide.

He left the Holy Mountain Monastery and for a long time went from monastery to monastery. Finally, he learned about the monastery called Paroria, so named because it was on the border between Bulgaria and Byazantium, where in pursuit of asceticism Saint Gregory of Sinai had moved from Athos. Saint Theodosius found in him an experienced guide of the hesychastic life.

The Paroria Monastery of Saint Gregory of Sinai suffered often from robbers. The abbot sent Saint Theodosius to the emperor Alexander with a request to defend the monastery. The pious Bulgarian Tsar, at the request of the ascetic, provided him with the means to surround the monastery with strong walls with towers, and made the monastery secure with land and cattle.

During his final journey to Trnovo on an errand for the abbot to the Tsar, a nobleman asked Saint Theodosius to take him along to the monastery. The holy ascetic brought him to Saint Gregory of Sinai. This was Romanos, who became the sincere and beloved disciple of Saint Theodosius.

After the death of Saint Gregory of Sinai on November 27, 1347, Saint Theodosius refused to become head of the monastery, and he left the monastery with his disciple Romanos. After visiting Mount Athos, Thessaloniki, Constantinople and many places in Bulgaria in search of a spiritual harbor, they settled and founded a monastery on a hill near Trnovo, afterwards called Theodosiev. Soon, a large spiritual brotherhood of Bulgarians, Serbs, Romanians, Hungarians and Greeks gathers around him.

Saint Theodosius was famous as a zealous defender of Orthodoxy against many heresies, especially the Bogomils, Judaizers and Messalians. Their false teachings were especially pernicious. The Patriarch and the Tsar rendered great help to Saint Theodosius in the struggle with the heretics. In addition to this, the holy ascetic translated Greek writings into Slavonic, but unfortunately there is no indication of which specific works.

Due to robberies, the brotherhood of Saint Theodosius moved closer to Trnovo to the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, which was inaccessible to attacks because of the steep hills. Here Saint Theodosius lived for three years. In 1360, he became grievously ill. Wishing to see his friend and spiritual brother Patriarch Kallistos I, who also was a disciple of Saint Gregory of Sinai, he went to him at Constantinople with his disciple and later Patriarch of Trnovo Euthymius and three other disciples, entrusting the direction of the monastery to his disciple Romanos. Patriarch Kallistos would later become Saint Theodoius' biographer.

Before his death, Theodosius made a will in which he advised his disciples to keep intact the pious Orthodox faith. PHe confessed to the dogmatic ordinances of the Ecumenical Synods and communed with the Immaculate Mysteries of Christ. Then his cell filled with beautiful fragrance. His face brightened and appeared blissful. The last words he said were, "Look, the Heavenly army!" Saint Theodosius died at Constantinople in the Patrarchal Monastery of Saint Mammas on November 27, 1363.

Romanos had been suffering from a severe cough for years, but thanks to his strong spirit and self-discipline, he overcame the suffering. He died on February 17, probably in 1364.

Saint Theodosius of Trnovo is commemorated on November 27th and Saint Romanos of Trnovo on February 17th.