Bulgarian Orthodox Church

RILA MONASTERY

Home Hermitages and Nunneries The Old Hermitage

The Old Hermitage

Some 5 km east of the monastery is located the Old Hermitage, which hosts the building of the Church of the Dormition of st. John of Rila. The year of its construction is unknown, but it was mentioned in 1385, 1742, and 1746. In 1820 it was renovated with the funding of hieromonk hajji Cornelius. Cells for the monks who chose a stricter, fasting lifestyle, were also built. The church is monolithic, made of stone, with narthex and naos of almost equal volume. The frescoes in it, partly preserved, are similar in style with those of the St. John the Theologian Chapel in the eastern wing of the monastery. They were the handiwork of artists from Samokov, disciples of Christo Dimitrov. Among the images, those of the warrior saints stand out. At the western side of the narthex there is one more room, at the corner of which is located the grave of st. John of Rila – a place of prayer for many worshippers.

Behind the temple is the cave in which venerable John spent the last twelve years of his life. Here, anyone having faith can solicit the blessing and protection of the Hermit from Rila. In the neighbourhood of the church and the cave there is a holy spring with healing water, which broke out after the prayers of the saint, and a bit further to the east is the rock from which st. John sent his prayers to God.