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Saint John of Rila

About Saint John of Rila

Saint John of Rila, often simply referred to as Saint Ivan Rilski, is one of the most revered saints in Bulgaria. Known for his extreme asceticism and deep spirituality, he played a pivotal role in setting monastic traditions in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. His legacy, the Rila Monastery, remains an enduring symbol of Bulgarian culture and Orthodoxy.

Feast Day

October 19

Birth Place

Skrino, Bulgaria




August 18, 946
Saint John of Rila

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Early Life and Education


Early Life and Education

Born in the village of Skrino in the early 9th century, Saint John lived during a formative period in Bulgaria's Christian history. As a young man, he was drawn to the monastic life, renouncing worldly pleasures to seek spiritual enlightenment.


Ecclesiastical Career

In his pursuit of spiritual solitude, Saint John chose the isolated wilderness of the Rila Mountains. There, he lived in caves, sustaining himself with minimal nourishment, often just herbs. Stories of his miracles, visions, and prophetic abilities began to spread, drawing both laypeople and royal figures to seek his blessings and advice.

Ecclesiastical Career

Later Life and Canonization


Later Life and Canonization

Recognizing the need for a more structured religious establishment, Saint John laid the foundation for the Rila Monastery in the heart of the mountains. While he did not oversee its full construction, his disciples and followers, inspired by his teachings, expanded the monastery. Over time, it grew into one of the most significant spiritual and cultural centers in Bulgaria.



Saint John of Rila reposed in 946 AD, leaving behind a profound spiritual legacy. The Rila Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stands as a testament to his impact and the resilience of Bulgarian Orthodoxy. The monastery houses numerous artifacts, religious relics, and writings, preserving centuries of Bulgarian history and Christian tradition.

Today, Saint John's feast day, celebrated on October 19th, sees thousands of pilgrims visiting the Rila Monastery, reflecting on the life of a hermit who profoundly influenced a nation's spiritual direction.

For those interested in exploring more about Orthodox Saints, we invite you to explore our collection here. Discover the inspiring life and works of a saint who greatly impacted Orthodox spiritual life.



Where are the relics of Saint John of Rila

The relics of the Orthodox Saint John of Rila, commonly known as Saint Ivan Rilski, are primarily enshrined in the Rila Monastery in Bulgaria. The monastery continues to attract pilgrims and tourists alike, who come to venerate the relics of the saint and to admire the architectural and artistic heritage of the site.

Other Saints from this region

Saint Clement of Ohrid

Saint Clement of Ohrid

Saint Clement of Ohrid, a revered figure in the Eastern Orthodox Church, was a medieval Bulgarian saint, scholar, writer, and enlightener of the Slavs. He significantly contributed to the spiritual and cultural development of the Slavic world, making him an enduring figure of veneration.
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Written Works

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History of Orthodoxy in Bulgaria

Eastern Orthodoxy in Bulgaria: A Tapestry of Faith, History, and Spiritual Splendor

Embark on a captivating exploration of Eastern Orthodoxy in Bulgaria, a country rich in history and spiritual heritage. Bulgaria stands as a bastion of Orthodox Christianity, with a profound connection to its ancient roots and a vibrant expression of faith that has endured through the ages.
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