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Krastova gora (Cross Forest)

Krastova gora (Cross Forest)

"Holy Trinity" Cross Forest, 4243 Borovo, Bulgaria



Krastova Gora is a small geographic area in the Middle Rhodope Mountain. It is a sacred place for christians as it is believed that a piece of the Holy Cross is buried here. The religious complex is situated at 1,545 meters altitude, on a meadow amidst a beautiful forest. It includes the Holy Trinity monastery, the Protection of Virgin Mary church and 12 chapels dedicated to the apostles and Bulgarian saints. The chapels are placed alongside the road to Cross peak. Krastova Gora is one of the largest and fastest growing Christian centers in Bulgaria, attracting many pilgrims from across the county and abroad. The Holy Trinity monastery offers accommodation to pilgrims.
Earliest Christian activity in the area mentioned in the chrinicles of the Bulgarian kings date back to IX century CE. The Georgian cleric Gregory Bakuriani founded the Bachkovo monastery in 1083. A few decades after this, its spiritual twin – the Troitzki monastery (dedicated to the Holy Trinity) was established near Cross Peak. The two monasteries florished, becoming major religious, cultural and educational institutions. Their golden era ended with the coming of the second wave of Ottoman religious oppression. Throughout the XV century CE, the christian population of the Rhodope area was subjected to persecution and forced conversion to Islam. The monasteries were destroyed and the clergymen - marthyred. In mid XIX century, Brother Gregory of Athon to the Middle Rhodopes. He founded chapels and schools and preached to the population. In his sermons, he refers to the area of “Cross Forest” and instructs the laymen to rejoice as they are blessed to be living on sacred land, under the protection of the Lord, the Holy Cross and Mother Mary. In 1933 the seer of visions Jordan Drenkov came to the Rhodope region. He was an honest and extremely pious person. He became known for his gifts of healing and clairvoyance. The story of the Holy Cross came to him in a mystical revelation. He received a divine commandment that a monumental cross must be erected to mark the spot where a piece of the True Cross is buried. Brother Jordan managed to convince King Boris III to follow his vision. The king ordered the casting of a large metal cross. Its weigh was 100 kg. The monument was placed on Cross peak and consecrated on the 1st of May 1936. At the end of the Blessings of waters rite, a white pigeon landed on the vessel with the holy water. Brother Jordan interpreted it as a divine messenger and said it was sent to lead them to the long lost healing spring of the original monastery. People followed the bird until it landed upon a rock. Digging under it, they found the spring indeed. Jordan Drenkov became a martyr for the faith at the end of his life. Because of his religious convictions and connections to the King, he was put in a labor camp by the Communist regime. He met his demise in 1960. He was buried alive as an exemplary punishment. The chapel of the old Holy Trinity monastery was rebuilt in 1958. It remained secluded during the next decades, because religious activity in the country was suppressed by the ruling party. Pilgrims were not permitted to visit Cross peak before 10 November 1989. The Protection of the Holy Mother church was consecrated in 1995 by the Holy Patriarch Maxim. In the following years, monastery was rebuilt and a complex of cult buildings grew around it.
According to the mystical vision of Brother Jordan, It was St. Helena, who found the remains of the True Cross. They were excavated during the construction of a Christian temple on the hill of Golgotha. The Roman Emperor decided to split the relic in three and send a piece to Rome, Constantinople and Jerusalem. After the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, one piece remained in the treasury of the Sultan. The Russian King send a delegation to purchase it. They were successful, but the Sultan send his soldiers to retrieve it. On their way, the Russians passed by the Holy Trinity monastery and gave the relic to the monks for safekeeping. This became the reason for the destruction of the monastery. However, the monks buried the relic in a secret place. It was not found, until the Holy Spirit revealed it to Brother Jordan.
Most pilgrims visit Krastova gora on the eve of Cross day (14 September). Each year thousands of pilgrims stay for the night vigil in front of the Protection of the Holy Mother church or spend the night praying in some of the chapels. It is believed that prayers for healing and salvation during this night are extremely potent. The Holy Pentecost is the temple holiday of the monastery. It commemorates the the fiftieth day of the Lord's resurrection the Holy Spirit came down over the apostles in the form of flames and endowed them with gracious gifts. The evening liturgy is combined with the morning worship. From the altar entry walnut leaves are thrown to the worshipers. They symbolize the flames above the apostles' heads.
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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.