St. John is the patron Saint of Bulgaria. He was the first acclaimed “athlete of prayer” from this land (though he fled acclaim). When he began to be eagerly sought after by many on account of the miracles the Lord performed through him, he fled to solitary places in order to escape pride and vainglory and to devote himself to prayer. He lived in caves in the Rila Mountains. For more on St. John of Rila:
His Feast day is October 19th.
Below, Melissa Bushunow recounts the miraculous results of her pleas to Saint John of Rila in regard to her little baby boy Symeon’s non-functional vocal chords. His intercessions to the Lord were wondrously effective! For the whole story: .
A merciful act by St. John of Rila and his exhortations to the King of Bulgaria:
St. John of Rila and the King
St. John offered a small loaf to nine famished royal hunters who had not eaten for five days. They ate to their hearts content, and after that half the loaf was still left! The hunters reported this wonder to King Peter, who hurried and sought a word from St. John of Rila. He offered him various foods and gold; St. John rejected the gold, but humbly received the food. And this is what he said:
To entirely accept your gift would not be fitting for me. But because of your faith and your zeal towards me, I accept the food. The gold, however, I must return to you, for it greatly harms a monk, especially a monk living in the wilderness and inaccessible places. Why does one need gold who is contend to eat bread, but not to full satisfaction, and enough water only to moisten his parched tongue? To us ‘Christ is life and dead is gain.’ In your state of life, however, gold is a necessity. But even you, who are adorned with a diadem, must not delight in gold because it is said: ‘When wealth is flowing, do not attach your heart to it.’ In spite of what is written: ‘Wealth is proper to a king’s state,’ it is to be used for his arms and his army, not for his own pleasure, but most of all it is for the disabled and the poor, for the naked and the homeless. Therefore, if you wish to inherit the kingdom of heaven, be generous as our heavenly Father is generous. Flee injustice and plundering. Be meek, calm and accessible, and let your eyes be opened for all. ‘Let the oil of your mercy run over all, but let not your left hand know what your right hand is doing! Let the poor be happy when they leave your palace! Your princes curry praises on their lips! Your purple robe shine with the light of virtue! Your sighs and tears be your offspring! The remembrance of death be always on your mind! Your thoughts be unceasingly centered upon longing for the Kingdom! Prostrate yourself at the feet of your mother the church. Diligently kneel and bend your neck before those who rule her, so that the King of kings and Lord of lords, when He sees your diligence, will give you the reward which ‘eye has not seen, nor ear heard neither has entered into the heart of man – that which God has prepared for those who love Him.’”