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Saints and Feasts of October 27

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Holy Martyr Abraham of Bulgaria (+ 1229)

St. Abraham of Bulgaria (Feast Day - April 1)

The Holy Martyr Abraham the Bulgarian, the Wonderworker of Vladimir, was born in Volga Bulgaria, amongst the Muslim Volga Bulgars in what is now Tatarstan, Russia. He was a rich and noble merchant, who traded in the cities of the Volga region, and was unusually good and kindly towards the destitute. Visiting Russian cities, talking with Russian merchants, he was deeply interested in the Christian faith. God's grace touched his heart and, knowing the truth of the holy faith of Christ, he accepted Holy Baptism. So this merchant became a Christian and received a new name, with which he is recorded on the pages of the Book of Life, Abraham (nowhere in the annals is there mention of the name of the Saint before Baptism).

And just as before his adoption of Christianity, Abraham sympathized with the calamities and deprivations of his neighbors, so after accepting the saving faith of Christ, he began to get sick in spirit and grieved for the spiritual calamities of his fellow man, for their ignorance of the true God of heaven and earth, revealed to us through His only begotten Son in the Holy Spirit, and about the disorder of morals arising from this ignorance (John 17:3; Rom. 25:31).


While on a business trip to the city of Bolgar, on the lower stretches of the Volga, Abraham began to preach to his fellow countrymen about the true God. Instead of engaging in business matters at the local bazaar, he instead taught the people about the blessings of eternity and the truth of salvation through the God-man, Jesus Christ. Muslims however became increasingly annoyed, and persistently persuaded him to renounce Christ. But Abraham was unshakable in his faith. Upon learning that he was not Russian and was not under the protection of the Vladimir-Suzdal prince, Abraham was arrested and tried for a long time. Seeing the intransigence of Abraham, he was tortured and hanged upside down. With holy zeal Abraham cursed Mohammad and the Islamic faith. They tortured the martyr fiercely and for a long while, but he endured everything with unshakable patience.

On April 1, 1229 they quartered (cut off his hands first then his legs) the Holy Martyr Abraham, and then cut off his venerable head next to a well near the Volga River. Russian Christians living in the city buried the Saint’s body in the Christian cemetery. On March 6, 1230, the relics of Saint Abraham were transferred by the Holy Great Prince George Vsevolodovich of Vladimir (Feb. 4) to the Dormition Cathedral of the Knyaginin (Princess) Monastery in the Chapel of the Annunciation. His memory began to be celebrated from that time.


Soon after, according to the chronicle testimony, the city of Bolgar (Bulgar) was burnt by the Great Prince as a punishment "for the blood of the martyr of Christ". On the spot of execution of Abraham of Bulgaria a healing spring appeared. A local legend says that the first person to be healed by this source was a Muslim man. The Saint became known in Vladimir as the patron saint of infirm babies. He is also known to heal people of mental illness and eye diseases.

On May 11, 1711 the relics of Abraham of Bulgaria were transferred from the Annunciation Chapel of the Dormition Cathedral to the main chapel and transferred to a new wooden coffin. In 1806, a new silver coffin was made for the relics. In 1878, the Bishop of Vladimir Theognost (Lebedev) sent to Bulgaria an icon of the holy martyr with a particle of his relics. In 1919, the relics of Saint Abraham of Bulgaria underwent a “survey” by the Soviets. In 1923, the Vladimir Dormition Monastery of the Princess was closed, and the relics transferred to the museum. In 1931, the Ivanovo Regional Museum received a number of “exhibits” from the Vladimir District Department, among which the relics of the martyr Abraham were the first on the list. Later, any trace of the sacred relics is lost. And the last mention of them as “not representing historical significance” is found in the “Act on things to be excluded from the inventory book of the Suzdal Museum Fund” for 1954.


Prior to the seizure of the relics, however, the abbess of the Monastery of Olympiad (Medvedev) gave a piece of the relics for storage to a resident of Vladimir, and in 1992 it was transferred to Bishop Eulogius of Vladimir. In 1993, the Dormition Monastery was revived, and on April 10 of the same year, a procession from the Dormition Cathedral to the revived monastery took place. The procession was led by Bishop Eulogius, who transferred the ark with a particle of the relics of Abraham the Bulgarian to the monastery.

In Soviet times, the shrines were lost, the chapel at the well at the place of execution of the martyr was destroyed, and the well itself was defiled. Only the phalanx of the finger of the right hand has been preserved, which was saved by the inhabitants of the city at a home, which is now located in the Church of the Holy Martyr Abraham of Bulgaria (Holy Avraamy Church) of the city of Bolgar. In the fall of 1993, the chapel was rebuilt and consecrated, along with it was also consecrated the well, previously cleansed of sewage and debris. The well was cleaned and deepened. Water, which previously had the smell and taste of oil products (in the 80s of the 20th century, oil products spilled), became suitable for drinking. Water analysis showed the presence of silver.

Dormition Monastery of the Princess in Vladimir

Church of the Holy Martyr Abraham of Bulgaria in Bulgar




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