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A priest lights candles at the Church of the Birth of Holy Mother at the monastery in Rila, Bulgaria, which was founded by a tenth-century hermit and is home to unique relics and artifacts, such as Raphael’s Cross. AFP/Getty Images.

Rila (Bulgaria)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Not long after Bulgaria converted to Eastern Orthodoxy, a hermit named Ivan Rilski (tenth century) began a monastery in the Rila mountains in the south-central region of the country. He soon became known as a healer and miracle worker, a wise counselor, and teacher. He attracted others to his monastic practice, and they joined him in creating one of the most prominent religious building complexes in the country. He would later be canonized by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, and his mummified relics are on exhibit in the monastery’s church.

The monastery thrived through the fourteenth century with the support of the Bulgarian monarchy, but suffered greatly after the invasion of the Ottoman Turks in the fifteenth century. With Russian support, it revived somewhat at the beginning of the sixteenth century, but it was only with the complete overthrow of Muslim rule in the nineteenth century that a real revival was possible. The main church was erected in the mid 1840s. The monastery is home to a set of valuable icons painted in the fourteenth to nineteenth centuries, and a unique creation called Raphael’s Cross. The cross was made of a whole piece of wood. The monk Raphael used simple tools to carve hundreds of figures and religious scenes on the cross. He finished his work in 1802 after twelve years of work.


Chavrukov, Georgi. Bulgarian Monasteries. Sofia: Naouka I Izkoustvo, 1974.
Stamov, S., Angelova, R., et al. The Architectural Heritage of Bulgaria. Sofia: State Publishing House “Tehnika,” 1972.
Thomas, John, and Angela Constantinides Hero. Byzantine Monastic Foundation Documents: A Complete Translation of the Surviving Founder’s Typika and Testaments. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2000.
The Encyclopedia of Religious Phenomena © 2008 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(also Rila Planina), a mountain massif in southwestern Bulgaria, the highest mountain massif on the Balkan Peninsula. The mountains reach 2,925 m in elevation (Mount Musala). They are composed predominantly of ancient crystalline and metamorphic rocks. The Rila Mountains are characterized by sharp peaks, cirques, and troughs. The Iskŭr, Maritsa, and Mesta rivers originate in the mountains. There are many lakes at elevations of 2,100–2,500 m. The slopes of the Rila Mountains are covered with oak, beech, and coniferous forests; above 2,000–2,100 m there are subalpine and alpine meadows. There is logging and pasture livestock breeding in the mountains.

The Rila Mountains have mineral springs and health resorts, including the Borovets resort. The area is popular with hikers, mountain climbers, and skiers. Located on the southwestern spurs of the massif is the Rila Monastery, which was founded in the tenth century by Ivan Rilski. Today, the monastery is a museum. It includes a stone tower from the 14th century, a pentagonal courtyard and church from the 19th century, and many paintings and wood carvings.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
"With the announcement of the zones, a big step forward is being made to preserve Rila Mountain, its forests and a unique animal world," said Coalition "To remain the nature in Bulgaria".
A hiker takes in the grandeur of two of Bulgaria's famous Seven Rila Lakes atop Rila Mountain. The lakes, situated 2,100 to 2,500 meters above sea level, are connected by small streams that form tiny waterfalls and cascades.
Situated in the Borovets region on the Rila Mountain, Borovets Euphoria Club Hotel & Spa is just 800 metres from the ski resort of Borovets and 8km from the town of Samokov.
Spiders (Araneae) from the high altitude zone of Rila Mountain (Bulgaria).
Mountain Rescuers are conducting a rescue operation for a young person from Belgium who has suffered a hypertonic crisis during a climb in Rila mountain, 24 Hours daily reported.
Anumber of reasons have taken us to Beli Iskur over the years, most related to the tranquility of the placid Rila mountain hamlet, reached after a drive of about 60km from Sofia.
BOROVETS: Situated on the Northern slopes of the Rila Mountain. One week at the Hotel Victoria starts at e359pps.
A meteorological station based on Musala peak in the Rila mountain has shut down on a temporary basis, the Bulgarian National Television confirmed on Monday.
The European Commission is takingA BulgariaA to the Court of Justice of the EU over the countryas failure to protect unique habitats and important bird species in the Rila Mountain.
According to the National Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology's website, the alert includes the regions of Burgas, Yambol, Varna, Shumen, Dobrich, and part of Silistra, where risks of fire will remain high throughout the day.Possibly, blazes may break out in the areas around Pleven, Veliko Tarnovo, and Vidin in Bulgaria's north.This comes hours after another wildfire, the second in less than two weeks, started in the Rila Mountain on Friday evening.Around 60 firefighters will continue on Saturday to try putting out the flames raging in a remote area of the mountain, the Bulgarian National Radio quoted officials as saying.
The entire city of Sofia, most of the Sofia valley, Stara Planina (the Balkan Mountain range) as well as the Rila Mountain range and Musala summit--the highest mountain in southeastern Europe--are all visible from there.