#RILA15 is an annual expedition of the first-year students with the slogan “Feel the Rila Monastery” which includes several disciplines – Medieval Bulgarian Literature, Medieval Bulgarian Language, Anthropology, Architecture etc. The main purposes of this research is develop and expand knowledge, to analyze the students, who visit the monastery for the first time and to make an innovative international presentation for the cultural monument through thematic assignments with creative thinking, which will be uploaded here and translated in a number of languages. Sponsor of this project is the National Assembly of the Students’ Councils of Bulgaria.



The images of crosses in the Rila Monastery are everywhere. There is no way not to notice them if you do not have the aim to stare at them. I had the task to stare at all crosses around. It is impossible not to realize the diversity of the different types of crosses, their abundance, diversity and beauty. From the smallest and most simple images representing two crossed lines, after Gamma-cross, to the most ornate and ornamental crosses – they all are there to remind people, that they are into the space of God, a sacred place, where the most important thing is humility, and where the human has the opportunity to feel closer to the Creator.
The tourists, who daily visit the Rila Monastery, after a certain time, get used to images of crosses surround them – high on the monastery’s walls; in the beginning of the painted manuscripts; hidden in the murals; over doors; in the corners of the arches scrawled in the Hrelova tower probably from visitors; and even on over the stand with the famous mekici (fried pastry). Inside the main church of the temple, the crosses are the biggest and most beautiful. They make a huge impression. Some of them are ornamented with gold. And all of this to express belonging to the faith, to convey to visitors the sanctity of this holy space and to show them that God is all around them, especially in a place like this monastery.



After my visit to the Rila Monastery, I would say that it has become one of the most evocative experiences in my life. I do not know where to start, to describe the best that what I felt, so will start from the beginning. I have always heard very good reviews about this place, but this is not the only reason why I was ready to go there. The fact that this is one of the holiest places in Bulgaria and one of the most remarkable our cultural treasures, it was a significant reason to look forward to my meeting with the Rila monastery.

Surely much of the information that I heard of the things that I saw in the museums will fade with the time, but one will never fade – the memory of the feeling that I felt when I saw the Rila Monastery in all its shine. It was something like a kind of intoxication. A moment of pride, inspiration, humility, and amazement in one. And definitely, join those who say that this is one of the places that worth seeing because the monastery brings incomparable emotion and mental peace.

However, in the order of things to note, that the stories I heard were a very big plus for me and knowledge gained during lecture. I am grateful for the opportunity to touch this cultural treasure and to enrich not only my mind but also and my soul with what I saw and experienced in the Rila monastery. To be honest, because I had never been there before, I was not filled with great expectations. But for my happiness, the reality exceeded my expectations and I was not only impressed, but and intoxicated by the “magic”, that was the monastery. It is a memory that will forever remain in my mind.



Praise of water

You are mystery for me,
a question, almost invisible, remains unanswered.
The need takes me back in the beginning.
Captured by your beauty,
I haunt you until the spring.
Your beginning and end are clear,
but your temperament – unpredictable!
Will you bless the fruits of our labor
or will pour all your power on us?
You give the life and you take it away.
I saw – you start with quiet streams;
crawl slowly, glide gracefully on the rocks –
you are there, but stealthily!
After that – raging storm-absorbing everywhere!
Rumbling disarray, inspiring awe in everyone glimpsed your strength!
First rill, and thence stream, you fill lakes and reservoirs.
You give water to animals, vegetable gardens, villages, and cities;
the magical expanse of water dictates life!
Some people are trying to tame you. They are fools, I know that!
You are the ruling, not they.



The attitude to relics

To tell about everything we saw in our short, but exciting visit to the Rila monastery, I will have to start with the question: What exactly is the relic? In the interpretative dictionary that word is explained so: ” Holy relics or other objects that are declared object of religious worship.” Or “Items that are respected from other people and stored as cherished memories. The relics are objects, holy remains, in which people believe. They are not just decoration of the home, the church or of our hands, they are an expression of our faith. Between our past and nowadays, there is a big precipice that has emerged over the centuries. But fortunately, there is still a stable bridge, through which we can touch the expensive things for us that have not lost their value despite the centuries. The faith, hope, and trust in God still have great strength to hold everyone. Is today still pays homage to the relics and holy relics? From observations we had, we can say “Yes”! I secretly observed how some of our colleagues ignited candle. This process of personal introverted gave us a new vision for them. We found one alive, burning flame… No, not talking about the candle flame, which held in their hands, it is for hope to shine, which shone from their eyes, standing in front of the icons of saints. Many of our colleagues bought bracelets – red bracelets with a cross, others – small icons that can be worn anywhere -and all this proves that today we, the young, still keep faith in these relics, believe in their miraculous power, believe that they keep us in one or another way.

      In the monastery, assistant Savova asked one of the monks to show us the holy relics of St. Ivan Rilski. All we gave homage to the saint. Great impression on us made the history, which we were told, namely, that if you want something very strongly – you must write it on a piece of paper and let it on the rocks of the cave of St. Ivan Rilski. It is believed that the saint will help us and our wish will come true. This is a process which is actually a religious pilgrimage to the saint. Believing in him helps us and gives the strength to perform our strongest desires.

     Some people say one of the biggest symbols of pure love is the kiss. We noticed that some people come to worship the icons and they make this kiss. This most sincere act of worship and homage to the sacred relics answers the question: Do people today worship the relics? Of course, not in the same centuries ago, but yet these relics and objects symbolizing the faith. They bring us some memories that we continue to keep.  All we noticed as attitude was that the relics still keep their ancient significance, even today. People believe in them, belief in their strength, pay homage to the icons, but by this honor, they worship to the saints. It is good that these things are restored and maintained their material value. But even more joyful it is when to preserve their spiritual value we keep them deep in our hearts. When you decide to visit a holy place as the Rila Monastery, the experience is otherworldly and satisfying. But this visit should be inspired by the purest sense. When you feel a need like this, visit the monastery, but without obligation, just like that... to feel in harmony with yourself.



The soul of the speechless men
Оh, you, city of destitution,
why destroyed your children?
They devoured your color,
it had become in a pale bluish darkness.
Why you leave your hopes?
Why you died with them?
Did not reached rebounds and fires?
Mortal wounds, soaked for eternity.
I know, you sold your eyes,
to see again foreigners eyes.
But listen the gentle voice,
wich the nymph speaks!
Would he lost his color,
or would he broke his branches?
He would not! Because his power resounds.
He would not wear the pallium of death!
I bow to your sacred act,
that made us obedient.
Blessed to be your hand!
Kill entire depravity of the pale bluish misery!
The soul of the speechless servant,
turn him in naive beauty!
For a moment, for two, he had forgotten
his insidious vanity.



The omnipotent

Water – from gold more valuable you are,
without you, there is no life.
For the thirsty – you are priceless,
for the sinner – regenerating,
for the priest you are sacred.

You wash away all sins,
re-create us in other people,
erase our fears,
in faith we find support.

In the rain is hidden your strength
and in the drops of dew on the grass.
In the rocks like streams, you are hidden
and in the unabated power of the rivers.

You washout badness,
you irrigate the forest,
you reveal new worlds,
life with your power donate.



The gold and golden color in the space of Rila Monastery “St. Ivan Rilski”

Your admiration is increased gradually when you are into the Rila Monastery. You have been there as a child or a few months ago – it is the same because you know what you will see and feel (on the way up and up, enjoying the greenery, indulging in inner harmony, which satiates you), but the experience is always different. You are impressed by nature, of the people who are calm, by the architecture, the charge, and energy of the place itself. This happens with every step. Entering the church “Virgin Birth” you can fuse with the true admiration and reverence hidden in you.

The gold is associated with the sacred and gives grandeur of the place. The golden altar brightens the temple, as the true light in it and expresses strength and power that remain your first impression and feel of the experience. We see gold in chandeliers – in the center and over us. The high and central location and the gold “tell us” for the world of the sacred, there, where we can not be and where we feel at this time. Looking deeper, we will find depicted stars in gold. In the dark background of a mural they seemed to glow and the show of light expresses the sacredness of the world we are trying to perceive. The Halos of saints are made of gold or golden color, which prevails in the murals, and radiates sanctity and light.The dove on top of the fountain, serving as a consecration of water, located right at the entrance of the temple, is golden and reflects the unity and purity of God’s greatness.



The fire

   „Young“, „wild“, „godlike“… Many are the names of fire in Bulgarian folklore.  Many are the reincarnations into our rituals and customs. But its meaning is always the same – to purify the soul and to give us light and beauty.       

       The worship and the cult of Bulgarians towards the Fire are reflected in the folk beliefs and festive ritual traditions. They are determined by its destructive and creative force. They are related mostly to the period of the summer with some of its heavenly elements. The fire plays an important part in people's beliefs, which  attributed  his magical, cleaning, protecting and prophylactic power. The fire can chase away evil demons, disease, vermin and insects. May also protect against hail, fire or any other disasters.

       The fire from a candle on a corpse is a remedy  for reincarnating. The ash from the fire, that burn in the so-called “Dirty days” ( the 12-day period between Christmas and Epiphany), is placed in the seeds to be born pure wheat and the harvest to be rich. From incompletely burned Badnik are made parts for the plow with the idea for future fertility.

The fire and burning process have often been used in religious rituals because the smoke rises to the sky. The fire is one of the four natural elements, as well as one of the five Chinese elements. In Hinduism, the fire is one of the five basic elements that make up every living thing. It is also an essential element in sacred ceremonies. In Christianity, the fire is a symbol of the Holy Spirit and often used to depict hell.



Venera Dimitrova#RILA15 IN ENGLISH