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Bachkovo Monastery

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Uploaded on May 3, 2009

The Bachkovo Monastery or Petritsoni Monastery in Bulgaria is an important monument of Christian architecture and one of the largest and oldest Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Europe. It is located on the right bank of the Chepelare River, 189 km from Sofia and 10 km south of Asenovgrad, and is directly subordinate to the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The monastery is known and appreciated for the unique combination of Byzantine, Georgian and Bulgarian culture, united by the common faith.

The monastery was founded by Prince Gregorios Pakourianos or Grigol Bakurianis-dze, prominent Georgian statesman, military commander in Byzantine service, in 1083.

During the time of the Second Bulgarian Empire, Bachkovo Monastery was patronized by Tsar Ivan Alexander, which is evidenced by an image of him on the archs of the ossuary's narthex. Since the 11th century, a school was housed in the monastery.

It is believed that the founder of Tarnovo Literary School and last patriarch of the mediaeval Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Euthymius, was exiled by the Turks and died in the monastery in the early 15th century.

Although the monastery survived the first waves of Turkish invasion in Bulgarian lands, it was later looted and destroyed, but restored near the end of the 15th century. The refectory, whose mural paintings by an anonymous author bear a significant artistic value, was reconstructed in 1601 and the Church of Virgin Mary, still preserved today, was finished in 1604.

Bachkovo Monastery is the final resting place of both Patriarch Euthymius (13301404) and Patriarch Cyril (19531971).

Saints Cyril and Methodius were Bulgarian brothers born in Thessaloniki in the 9th century, who became missionaries of Christianity among the Slavic peoples of Great Moravia and Pannonia. Through their work they influenced the cultural development of all Slavs, for which they received the title "Apostles to the Slavs". They are credited with devising the Glagolitic alphabet, the first alphabet used to transcribe the Old Church Slavonic language.After their death, their pupils continued their missionary work among other Slavs. Both brothers are venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church as saints with the title of "Equals to the Apostles". In 1880, Pope Leo XIII introduced their feast into the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1980, Pope John Paul II declared them co-patrons of Europe, together with Saint Benedict of Nursia.

The Cyrillic alphabet or rather Cyrillic script is a writing system, shared by six Slavic national languages (Bulgarian, Russian, Belarusian, Serbian, Macedonian, and Ukrainian) as well as non-Slavic (Moldovan, Kazakh, Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Tajik and Tuvan of the former Soviet Union and Mongolian). It is also used by many other languages of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Siberia and other languages in the past. Not all letters in the Cyrillic alphabet are used in every language that is written with it.

The alphabet has official status with many organizations. With the accession of Bulgaria to the European Union on 1 January 2007, Cyrillic became the third official alphabet of the EU, along with Latin and Greek.

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