Bansko, Bulgaria, June 23, 2022
The Bulgarian Orthodox Church is festively celebrating this year the 300th anniversary of the birth of St. Paisii of Hilandar, a Bulgarian Athonite monk known for authoring The History of the Slavo-Bulgarians.
This year also marks the 60th anniversary of his canonization and the 260th anniversary of his seminal work.
The center of the celebrations was the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy celebrated in Bansko in southwest Bulgaria, the saint’s hometown, on the saint’s feast day on Sunday, June 19, reports the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
The Divine Liturgy was presided over by His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Nevkorop, concelebrated by six other Bulgarian hierarchs and a number of clerics, including guests from the Zographou, the Bulgarian monastery on Mt. Athos.
At the end of the service, the congratulatory address of His Holiness Patriarch Neofit was read out, in which he expressed great gratitude to God that a member of the Bulgarian family could be so nurtured with the spirit of monastic humility and thus help revive spirituality among the Bulgarian people, thanks to his years of ascetic labors on the Holy Mountain.
The festive day then continued with a celebratory program on the square in front of the memorial to St. Paisii.
St. Paisii of Hilandar was born in the year 1722 in Bansko into a pious family. One of his brothers, Laurence, was abbot of Hilandar Monastery, and another was noted as a generous benefactor of Orthodox churches and monasteries. St. Paisii himself went through his obedience at Rila Monastery.
In 1745 at age 23, St. Paisii went to his brother in the Hilandar Monastery on Mount Athos, where he received monastic tonsure. The ascetic matured spiritually on the Holy Mountain. He studied Holy Scripture and he was found worthy of ordination to the holy priesthood.
In the year 1762 St. Paisii wrote The History of the Slavo-Bulgarians, a book upholding the Christian Faith and awakening the national self-awareness of the subjugated Bulgarian nation.
Amid the darkness of foreign oppression the saint rekindled the lamp of Orthodoxy, lit formerly by Sts. Cyril and Methodius (May 11). The time and place of the saint’s blessed end is unknown.
On June 26, 1962, the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church under the presidency of His Holiness Patriarch Cyril, and with the participation of all the Metropolitans, expressed the indebtedness of the Church and country to St. Paisii. They decreed that Paisii of Hilandar and Bulgaria be glorified as a saint, and directed that his memory be celebrated on June 19, “when, according to the Orthodox calendar, St. Paisii the Great is commemorated.”
The name of St. Paisii is borne by a state university in Plovdiv, and by many institutes and schools in other cities and villages of Bulgaria. This testifies to the deep veneration of the saint by the Bulgarian nation.
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