Rila

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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.

Sources:

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.

Rila

 

(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.

References in periodicals archive ?
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.
A hiker takes in the grandeur of two of Bulgaria's famous Seven Rila Lakes atop Rila Mountain.
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).
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.
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.
This comes hours after another wildfire, the second in less than two weeks, started in the Rila Mountain on Friday evening.
7 on the Richter scale with an epicenter located in the Rila Mountain, southwest of Musala peak, and west of the Beli Iskar dam, at a depth of 0km.
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.
Currently Bulgaria has 114 protected zones, but the size of some of them, mostly in the Rila mountain, is below the required minimum and they have to be enlarged.
The Sofia District court has ruled thatA Simeon Saxe-Coburg-GothaA and his sisterA Maria-Louisa should return into state ownership the chalet in the Rila Mountain on grounds it was built on state land, 24 Chasa daily reported late on Friday.