Sunken Fortress and Ritual Pits Discovered at Holy Island in Bulgaria

Sunken Fortress and Ritual Pits Discovered at Holy Island in Bulgaria


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Archaeologists in Bulgaria have discovered a Late Middle Ages Byzantine settlement, in the form of a sunken fortress, and a small monastery on Bulgaria’s tiny St. Thomas Island in the Black Sea.

In June 2018, during the initial phase of the island’s first ever archaeological research, a team led by Prof. Ivan Hristov from Bulgaria’s National Museum of History in Sofia discovered the first signs of what they called a “sunken fortress from Ancient Thrace” in waters between the island and the Bulgarian mainland. This area was at one time an isthmus, while the St. Thomas Island used to be a peninsula until the Middle Ages, according to an article in Archaeology in Bulgaria .

St. Thomas Island Archaeological Endeavor

St. Thomas Island in the Black Sea, otherwise known as Snake Island, is part of the Ropotamo Natural Preserve and as such the archaeological explorations were all “carried out under the strict requirements of Bulgaria’s Ministry of Environment and Waters and the project is being wholly funded by Bulgaria’s Ministry of Culture, according to the report.

The Island’s territory totals 0.012 square kilometers (12 decares, or 3 acres) and it lies only 0.2 nautical miles (appr. 370 meters) from the mainland. A 1955 archaeological expedition on Bulgaria’s St. Thomas Island exposed “the ruins of a small church and some auxiliary buildings” but the 2018 archaeological expedition has discovered the remains of an “Early Byzantine (/Late Roman) settlement from the 5th – 6th century AD with “ritual pits” and a small monastery from the 12th – 14th century during the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185 – 1396/1422).”

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Ruins of a small monastery which existed in the 12th – 14th century on the St. Thomas Island. Image: National Museum of History

Traces of the Thracians

Among the most interesting of the discoveries made so far are reoccurring “Ritual pits” which are found to contain “fragments from ancient amphorae” used by the ancient Thracians in sacrifice rituals starting around the beginning of the 5th century BC, according to a report in Archaeology.org. Staff at Bulgaria’s National Museum of History in Sofia told reporters that they believed “more Ancient Thracian ritual pits” might be hidden all over the St. They have also been able to work out from the exposed finds “that a large sea route shrine was located on the St. Thomas Island” which was “a small Black Sea peninsula at the time.” And the reason the shrine was located here in the first place was that it was “right off the ancient road from Sozopol to Constantinople” (called Byzantium at that time), the Museum adds.

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A diver from the underwater archaeology expedition shows one of the stone blocks that made up the outer wall of the sunken fortress on what is today St. Thomas Island off the coast of Bulgaria’s Primorsko. Image: National Museum of History

After “8 years of field research” studying the numerous fortresses and settlements located along the southern Black Sea coast of today’s Bulgaria, or what once was Byzantium’s “Haemimontus province,” Prof. Ivan Hristov has finally published a book entitled Mare Ponticum. Coastal Fortresses and Harbor Zones in the Province of Haemimontus, 5th – 7thCentury AD.” In his tome, he looks at “the Haemimontus province of the Early Byzantine Empire in the Late Antiquity and early Middle Ages.”

Recent Spree in Discoveries

With advancements in technology, the discovery of lost jungle covered kingdoms and sunken cities is becoming more prevalent. It was only last year The Independent reported on the result of an archaeological exploration in search of the ancient city of Neapolis. Working on clues left behind from a Roman soldier and historian named ‘Ammien Marcellin’, who recorded that “ Neapolis was submerged by a tsunami in the 4th century AD” a joint Tunisian-Italian archaeological mission went looking for evidence of Neapolis and sent divers down in Nabeul.

After half an hour the divers surfaced and reported that they had found a huge shaped stone that looked manmade, and right they were, for they had glimpsed what would turn out to be the 20 hectare plus mega-archaeological site for the first time in centuries. The archaeological dive team announced to the world’s media that “a vast 1,700-year-old Roman settlement had been discovered off the coast of Tunisia” and the mission’s leader Mounir Fantar told AFP “it was a major discovery” which also confirms Marcellin’s historical account about the city’s cataclysmic fate at the hands of mother nature was spot on.

Top image: St. (Inset:12 th – 14 th century monastery) Source: National Museum of History

By Ashley Cowie


    3 x Wales Road Trip Itineraries & Best 40 Places To Visit

    So, you’re thinking of taking a Wales road trip? Good decision! The summer of 2021 is most likely going to be a domestic one and where could be more beautiful for a UK staycation than scenic, rugged Wales? I’ll be sharing three Wales road trip itineraries, as well as handy tips to make the most of your trip.

    hI’ve broken this post into three categories: Pembrokeshire found towards the west of Wales (get ready for lots of gorgeous coastal scenery), South Wales and finally, North Wales which many locals claim is the most striking and impressive part of Wales overall. For the ultimate Wales road trip for 7 days, I have an itinerary for all three.

    Important note – due to 2021 restrictions, please make sure to check with venues and attractions as they may have different opening times to usual.


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    Holyandhealingwells

    By Laurence Hunt

    Devon is a county of water and wells. With its majestic rivers, Dart, Exe, Torridge, Taw, Avon and Teign, fed by countless small brooks and streams, its sticky damp red soils in the lowlands, and the marshy misty heights of Dartmoor, water seems ubiquitous. Venerable old farmhouses huddle in sheltered coombes next to springs that have been their lifeline for centuries. Even today, many rely on them rather than go to the expense of installing tap water.

    Despite its abundance, water has never been taken for granted in Devon (the drought of 1976 came as a shock to those modern Devonians who had begun to accept its availability without regard). So in a county of so much water, there has also been much water veneration…

    Considerably more than 200 holy wells have been recorded in Devon, but details about them are often brief, sketchy and frequently spread among obscure sources. Most printed material is very dated and the present condition of most wells is unknown. What follows is an attempt to give details – and in particular details about the present state – of over 30 wells in Devon. Most are worth visiting – all are worth preserving.

    Six figure grid references are given for all the wells discussed and a sketch map gives the approximate location of each well.

    Approximate Location of Featured Wells

    A pleasant surprise in the rather straggly outskirts of one of Dartmoor’s stannary towns. A restored well, with water emerging from a granite wall in an enclosure by the roadside. An old cross stands adjacent. The well was known for eye cures.

    A curative spring on the common at Belstone overlooking the enchanting Belstone Cleave (the walk down the Cleave from here to Lady Well at Sticklepath (q.v.) cannot be recommended too strongly). A small granite structure is built over the spring and the water has no doubt been used by villagers from the earliest times. Whether it may be regarded as ‘holy’ is unclear. Although the church of St Mary is close at hand, the well has no dedication.

    Another curative spring, which issues into the River Lemon by the side of a bridge near the manor of Bradley (now National Trust) near Newton Abbot. It is known locally as a wishing well and said never to dry up. A baby born blind was bathed in the water and gained its sight.

    Visited in a torrential downpour in the spring of 1984, this well had a haunting effect on the sodden author. Whilst it lacks its foreign counterpart’s healing fame, it could be described as Devon’s Lourdes. Situated next to the little chapel of St Brannoc’s, on the northern edge of the town, the well is approached down a picturesque high-hedged drive. The well consists of a large stone-lined pool overhung by trees growing on the steep rocky hillside behind the well. Above, in a cleft in the rocks, stands a statue of Our Lady. Luxuriant ferns and other greenery surround the well and cover the rocky hillside behind. The present chapel dates only from 1957, but is on the site of an ancient medieval chapel which had fallen into ruins by the 18th century. It was restored as a Catholic chapel of ease by Mrs Incledon-Webber as a memorial to her parents and rededicated in 1958.

    Situated in a small wood on the south side of the lane that leads from the B3181 to Lower Comberoy Farm, about ¼ mile from the B road. A dilapidated gate leads into the wood, and after a very short distance the wood closes in and in a hollow is this very imposing stone structure. Its size and setting make it one of Devon’s ‘best’ holy wells and it is surprising that it is so little known or documented. Built of local Killerton stone, the well building consists of a large, well-carved, rounded arch and flanking stonework. Within, a deep pool of clear water harbours a flourishing community of water snails. Stone steps lead down into the water. On my last visit a wire frame had been placed across the entrance, presumably to prevent animals falling in the water.

    The small wood has a very brooding atmosphere and is clearly un-managed, and although the M5 is a mere ½ mile away, it is another world. One can only hope that agricultural ‘improvements’ which are currently playing havoc with Devon’s patchwork of hedgerows and small woods, do not result in the destruction of this wood and its ‘occupant’.

    Of the well’s history, I have been able to discover very little. The present structure cannot be many centuries old – if that – and may well have been erected by the occupants of nearby Killerton House, on whose estate (now National Trust) it stands.

    The site of one of Devon’s most gruesome legends. The chapel and well are reached by a footpath leading east from the B3192 which runs along the crest of Little Haldon Hill between Telegraph Hill and Teignmouth. The path drops steeply into a coombe where the chapel may be seen in the trees, surrounded by iron railings. The walls of the chapel survive up to the eaves, but it somehow lacks the atmosphere of other ruins where a lot less survives. Just to the north is a narrow gully. The spring at its head is all that remains of the holy well. There has probably been headward erosion of the spring, and the water originally welled up next to the chapel (in dry periods the gully can be dry for a considerable distance below the chapel).

    Many stories are told about a monk who lived at the chapel and used to lure passing travellers into the chapel. Once there he would rob and murder them, disposing of the bodies in the well (rather a strange arrangement if the well was used for drinking water!) The chapel became newsworthy in the late 1970s when a Bristol photographer who took a picture of the chapel found that the developed print revealed a fully formed chapel instead of the remains.

    This well, now little more than a semi-circular headed niche of stone over a receptacle for dead leaves and litter, may be found in a wall a short way up Madford Lane, near its junction with Topsham Road. The water from the well was said to possess medicinal properties especially for eye complaints and was resorted to well into the 19th century. Now, alas, the water has been diverted.

    To the north east of Exeter High Street, beyond the line of the city walls, is the suburb of St Sidwell’s. Along the flank of the ridge below Sidwell Street are numerous springs of pure water which have been of great importance to the history of the area. At least three have been given saintly dedications in the past. Over the years the wells have been re-dug, built over and diverted so that today identification can be difficult.

    The well which gave its name to the area is named after a saintly maiden who was murdered with a scythe, commemorated in the dedication of the nearby church and featured in an impressive fibreglass sculpture on the front of the Tesco store in Sidwell Street. The site of this well – which reputedly began to flow where the saint’s head fell – is behind number 3 York Cottages, near the junction of York Road and Oxford Street. The well was sealed off in the 1870s, by which time it was known, rather confusingly, as Captain Cook’s Well (after a local constable, not the famous seafarer). It was once covered by a beehive shaped stone structure of Heavitree stone – as depicted in the cathedral window of the saint and on a 16th century map of the area. Its water was valued for skin and eye complaints.

    This well was situated slightly further North-east, approximately 150 yards north-west of the chapel dedicated to St Anne at the far end of Sidwell Street. A chapel and hermitage (later almshouses) have stood at the fork at the end of Sidwell Street from early medieval times: the chapel is known to have been rebuilt in 1418, and restored after Civil War damage and again in 1907-10. The site of the well is under the house next to the newsagent in Well Street. The well came to light in the 1920s when it caused subsidence of the house above. Earlier, in 1785, the wall, which supplied the city cistern at the time, became blocked. Intriguingly, the blockage was found to be caused by a mutton bone – a fascinating coincidence if the original dedication was to St Agnes (symbol – a lamb). During repairs at this tine, an extensive stone arched drain was discovered leading to a perforated stone which filtered the water. Water from this well was piped to the brewery near the Iron Bridge in Exeter, which became known as St Anne’s brewery.

    The third well in the neighbourhood worthy of comment, which it should be noted is, despite its name, nowhere near the Cathedral! This well supplied the cathedral community by way of a conduit, since earliest times. It was disturbed by the building of a cutting for the London and South Western Railway in 1857. The water supply was diverted and the well-building re-erected by the side of the steps leading down to St James’ Halt station, where it can be seen today with its entrance bricked up. Water still emerges by the side of the railway track and trickles away along a ditch – all rather pitiful.

    Another ancient well was disturbed on the opposite side of the cutting. Other named wells in the vicinity include Cake Well, Padwell, and St Catherine’s Well – the site of the latter being under the car park at the bottom of Paris Street.

    A small, overgrown arched structure, complete with a small tree growing out of its roof, and a wooden board over its entrance, in a very muddy field in the hamlet of Philham, to the south of Hartland village. I have been unable to find out much about its history – save that an adjacent chapel once existed, and the almost inevitable assurances from elderly local inhabitants as to the great purity of the well’s water.

    A hundred yards east of the splendid parish church in Hartland churchtown an overgrown lane leads down to this substantial building. Legend states that St Nectan landed at Padstow, in Cornwall, from Wales, and travelling north through Devon was set upon by bandits. He was violently beheaded by the robbers, but miraculously picked up his head and carried it to this spot, and gave both the well and the church their dedication (an interesting variation on the frequently occurring legends of wells springing up where saints’ heads fell – c.f. St Sidwell, Exeter). The church is one of the most impressive in Devon, and the well, despite some rather hasty re-pointing, is quite imposing and still contains running water. A new door and door-frame have recently been fitted.

    A small, rather quaint, baptismal well, high on Hatherleigh Moor to the east of the village, commanding wide views. Constructed of brick, with a stone roof and a green door. The well still issues forth a copious flow of water – which on my visit was flooding the hollow in which it stands. The well can be approached from the road to Monkokehampton, through a gate near the hilltop monument.

    The dedication of the well is to St John the Baptist. In her study of ‘Holy and notable wells of Devon’, Theo Brown noted that this was the most common dedication for holy wells in the county with the exception of those devoted to St Mary or Our Lady. She had recorded eight examples.

    To the west of Hatherleigh village, more remote and considerably more ruinous than St John’s Well is St Mary’s. Situated in the corner of Bembridge Woods above the River Torridge, and approached along the edge of the woods from the back road to Sheepwash. Although very overgrown, a distinct spring emerges here in a fern-lined hollow, and the remains of a stone building survive around it. On my visit a large branch had fallen across the well – this I removed and attempted to clear out the well of other debris. The well was resorted to, especially on Ascension Day, and pins were thrown in.

    A spring in the grounds of Oxton House (private) which is said never to freeze over, even in the hardest winter. It was credited as a healing well, known especially for ague, though it is little known or visited today.

    Situated on the windblown edge of North Dartmoor high above Okehampton, and overlooking the outstanding moorland fringe landscape currently being desecrated by the planning disaster of the decade – the Okehampton bypass. The site itself consists of an old granite cross adjacent to a small water-filled hollow, across which are placed granite gate-posts to prevent cattle falling in the well. It used to be visited on Easter morning by youths and maidens, and was known for eye cures. A similar legend is attached to this well as Fice’s Well, Princetown (q.v.) concerning a couple who lost their way on the moor only recovering it again on reaching, and drinking from, the well. Tradition, and the well’s name, associate this legend with the Fitz family who had a manor at nearby Meldon (but see also Princetown).

    A large well in a bank near Maristow House overlooking the River Tavy, north of Plymouth. The house was badly damaged by fire in the late 1970s and there are doubts whether the well is anything other than an old supply for the house, but it is quite imposing nevertheless.

    Known variously as Holywell or Ladywell, this well is situated in the north-west corner of the churchyard of this ancient parish, now subsumed into Barnstaple. The well consists of an arched recess in the wall, containing water diverted from a nearby spring. There is a plastered-up niche above the well. All the signs of a pre-Christian sacred well adapted for Christian use.

    Situated on private, prison property to the north of the B3357 near Rundlestone, in the heart of Dartmoor. A simple well cover built of large granite boulders over a spring of clear water. The building measures about 4 feet in length and is just over 3 feet high. On the front part of the cover is a sunken panel carved with the letters ‘I.F.’ and the date 1568. A protective circular wall with 3 external and 5 internal steps was built around the well when New Forest Intake was enclosed as part of the convict prison farm.

    The generally accepted origin of the well is that it was a token of the gratitude of John Fitz (locally ‘Fice’) of Fitzford near Tavistock, and his lady, who having lost their way on the moor, drank at the well and at once rediscovered their path. Traditionally they had been ‘pixie-led’ and only the water of certain springs can break the spell cast by mischievous elves. It is intriguing how the story and name of this well has also attached itself to the well above Okehampton (q.v.) – even more so that different, documented Fitz families are involved in each case. To add to the confusion, this well is listed twice in Hope’s 19th century survey of holy wells – once under ‘Fitz’s well’ and again under ‘Dartmoor’!

    The well was held to have a curative effect on eye complaints and there are stories of an old man who came a considerable distance annually and carried away as much of the water as his strength would allow.

    (Another well building was erected by John Fitz at Boughthayes near Tavistock, which was reported to be dry and dilapidated in 1973 – I have yet to locate this well).

    Although known only as ‘Parish Well’, it is situated below the parish church and likely to be of great antiquity. Found by following the ‘water path’ between the Church House and the Glebe House, which takes one round the back of the churchyard. A spring issues from the tumbledown remains of a granite structure.

    On the southern edge of the village, at SS 634 008, are the remains of ‘Clear Spring’, the ancient source of water for the New Inn and the lower part of the village. The water was once piped to the granite trough still to be seen opposite the inn on the B3216.

    A small stone building at the side of the lane leading north from the church in the small village of Shobrooke near Crediton. The well was recorded in registers in 1576 – ‘Paid for making clene of the well and pavyne. . .xxd’ – and thoroughly restored in 1925. Today the door is kept locked but the building is in good repair.

    This must be the easiest well in Devon to find, being situated next to the old A30 trunk road in the village of Sticklepath. A small pipe issues water into a small stone-lined trough, and an the inscription reads ‘Lady Well. Drink and be thankful.’ On the many occasions I have passed the well I have yet to see it dry.

    Situated in the riverside park towards the west of the town, overlooking the river Tavy, and easily accessible. An elegant carved granite canopy is built into the hillside over this natural spring. A paved path leads up to the well – just in front of which is a rather tastelessly sited inspection cover. Numerous local enquiries revealed little about this well, though it seems likely to be connected with the once-prosperous abbey of Tavistock, remains of which are to be seen nearby.

    A large well situated next to the village school in this village near Barnstaple, and well looked after. On my first visit in 1983 a very large crack existed right across the well building suggesting considerable subsidence, but since then this has been repaired. The well is dated 1390, although the present building looks considerably later than this. A carved cross surmounts the building and a new wooden grill has been placed over the doorway. A plaque over the door records the well’s restoration early this century. The guidebook to the outstanding parish church states rather vaguely – ‘Tawstock’s holy well is thought to be 2000 years old…’ implying great antiquity, but giving no further information.

    Recorded as ‘Harperyswill’ and as supplying the castle moat in 1471. Regarded as a curative well. Water still flows in the conduit at the bottom of Harper’s Hill just across the busy A381, Western Way, at the top of the town.

    Hidden away down a narrow alley called Leechwell Lane which leads off South Street at the top of the town. A large walled enclosure with two recesses into the bank, granite troughs and copious water are to be found here. This is one of the oldest water supplies for the town. It is sometimes known as Leper’s Well after a nearby medieval leper hospital and chapel.

    A remote and beautiful place – Welcombe is a hilly and windswept parish on the coast near the border with Cornwall in north-west Devon. The small churchtown contains a few cottages, an attractive stone church and, across the road, a stone well building over a natural spring. The well is sometimes known as ‘St Nectan ‘s’ as well as ‘Holy Well’, and has given its name to the village. There are no records of it being curative, merely very pure.

    One of the most picturesque wells in Devon, even if its antiquity is disputed. Located downhill from the centre of the village, just below the post office (and occasionally hidden by a parked car) this charming little well is known variously as ‘Holy’, ‘Wishing’ and most commonly ‘Saxon Well’ – implying considerable antiquity. The water is reputed to have never run dry and was noted for eyes. More recently pennies have been thrown in. It is possible, however, that the well may only have ‘gained’ its age and virtues when the village started to become a major tourist attraction (Widecombe Fair, Uncle Tom Cobbley, etc.). Nevertheless, it is considerably more attractive than many of Widecombe’s other modern ‘attractions”.

    Just below the escarpment, near Woodbury Castle Iron Age hillfort. Today a marshy hollow under a tree, but possibly of great age, and given its name probably connected with the hillfort.

    Given its name, rather a disappointment. Another marshy hollow, just to the south of the road over Lympstone Common, on the parish boundary of East Budleigh and Withycombe Raleigh.

    Recorded as a wishing well in 1938 and as being a hole in the bog below Black Hill. Unvisited.

    An intriguing structure in the centre of the village by the roadside. The well (now dry) is reached down some steps. Over it is a square edifice, with a curved roof with a peculiar carved stone on its apex. A carved stone trefoil arch with hood-moulding stand over a curved iron pipe emerging from the building at the bottom of the steps. Unfortunately this is now a receptacle for village litter and dead leaves. Above the arch is an inscription taken from Revelations, 22:17 –

    And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

    The whole has the air of the work of a philanthropic Victorian squire, but forms a very attractive village feature.

    Bibliography

    Brown, T., (1957) ‘Holy and Notable Wells of Devon’, Transactions of the Devonshire Association, Vol. 89.

    Chard, J., (1978) Along the Lemon. Bossiney Books.

    Crossing, W., (1909) Guide to Dartmoor. (numerous reprints by David & Charles).

    Ellacott, S. E. Braunton. Quest Publications.

    Harvey, H., (1986) Discovering Exeter: Sidwell Street. Exeter Civic Society.

    Hemery, E., (1983) High Dartmoor. Robert Hale.

    Hope, R. C., (1893) The Legendary Lore of the Holy Wells of England. Elliot Stock.

    plus various church guidebooks of the appropriate parishes.

    Text & Illustrations © Laurence Hunt (1989)

    Designed & Maintained by Richard L. Pederick (© 1999) | Created 23/12/99


    The Planting of a Monastery (chapter 7)

    One’s first sighting of the Great Lavra is overwhelming. Constructed over a thousand years ago to withstand attacks by pirates, Latins, and Muslim invaders, it looks like the ancient medieval fortress town that it is. When entering the main gate you immediately notice a trap door midway between the two massive, reinforced doors. Should an invader manage to break down the first gate, hot oil would be poured down through the trap door above. The thick outer walls of the fortress offered further protection for the monks, whose monastery was in a remote part of the Byzantine Empire.

    Inside the monastery’s walls we found a city of monks, with spacious grounds, large buildings that housed the monastic brotherhood, guesthouse, kitchen, trapeza, and many small chapels. The magnificent katholikon (the main church), built by Saint Athanasius himself, was filled with frescos, relics of the saints, and a small side chapel which held his holy remains. Within the walls of the monastery was the Treasure House, where many historic artifacts were kept, including the vestments of the last Byzantine Emperor, Constantine XI Palaiologos.

    Along with ourselves, we were in the company of many Germans who had come to the Holy Mountain, not as Orthodox pilgrims, but as tourists seeking the world class hiking trails, free lodging and the hospitality offered by the monks. Some of these men crowded around the relics of saints, not to venerate, but to gaze as though looking at museum displays. I was angered, and commented to Father Basil my wish that these non-believers would just stay off the Holy Mountain. This “was a place of holy pilgrimage, not a tourist destination”.

    After attending Liturgy the following morning, I left the monastery to explore the outside walls, and happened upon the charnel house, where the bones of thousands of monks are piled upon one another, awaiting the Day of the General Resurrection. Returning to the entrance of the monastery I found Father Basil looking for me. It seemed the monks were just about to begin a service of supplication to the Panagia (the All Holy) Koukouzelissa, in the beautiful chapel dedicated to her. This small Byzantine church was just inside the entrance to the monastery. Upon entering the church we all approached the miraculous icon, prostrated, and venerated her with a kiss. Father Basil lead the way, prostrating twice, kissing the icon, stepping back, and once more offering a prostration in humble veneration.

    As I approached the miraculous icon I heard the voice of the Mother of God, clearly familiar and recognizable to me, speaking in the loving tone of a caring mother who was correcting her child. “You were once a tourist.” Stunned, I felt shame permeate my whole body and soul. Although I had never heard of an icon speaking to anyone, I knew the voice. This voice was as familiar to me as my own mother’s voice, and I knew the Panagia was speaking directly to me, reminding me that I had judged those German men, and that I had once entered an Orthodox church as a tourist. I felt as though I was a little boy being told by my grandmother that she was disappointed in me, and I stepped back, unable to look upon the icon. Unworthy to even venerate her, I kissed the bottom of the frame, turned, ignored the monk who was directing me to a monastic stall, and walked to the very back of the church. There, prostrated behind a large pillar, I remained for the entire service, muffling the sound of my tears. I will never forget her voice, and never forget the shame I felt, having judged these Germans.

    With love in Christ,
    Abbot Tryphon

    Photos: It was a joy for our monastery to host the Elder Zacharias of Essex, on Saturday, November 4th, when he addressed some twenty-five Orthodox clergy from Washington and Oregon. Archimandrite Zacharias is a disciple of Elder Sophrony (of blessed memory), who was a disciple of Saint Silouan of Mount Athos. Presently, Father Zacharias is a monk in the Monastery founded by Elder Sophrony: The Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of Saint John the Baptist, Tolleshunt Knights by Maldon, Essex, England. According to our Hieromonk Paul, the Elder was anxious to see our monastery, having become familiar with us through the internet. I’d had already been scheduled to address a retreat held in Calistoga, CA., at Holy Assumption Monastery, thus I will only be able to hear a recording of this momentous visitation of this much revered monk. Father Zacharias and Hammi got along famously.

    Wednesday November 8, 2017 / October 26, 2017
    23rd Week after Pentecost. Tone five.
    Fast. Food with Oil

    Holy and Glorious Great-martyr Demetrius the Myrrh-gusher of Thessalonica (306).
    Commemoration of the Great Earthquake at Constantinople in 740 A.D.
    Venerable Theophilus of the Kiev Caves, bishop of Novgorod (1482).
    Martyr Luppos (306).
    Venerable Athanasius of Medikion Monastery (814).
    Venerable Demetrius of Basarbov in Bulgaria (1685).
    Venerable Demetrius (14th c.).
    St. Anthony, bishop of Vologda (1588).
    St. Cedd, bishop of Lastingham (664) (Celtic & British).
    St. Eata, bishop of Hexham and abbot of Lindisfarne (686) (Celtic & British).
    Martyr Ioasaph, monk of Mt. Athos, disciple of St. Niphon of Constantinople (1536) (Greek).
    St. Alexander Okropiridze, bishop of Guria and Mingrelia, Georgia (1907) (Georgia).
    Martyrs Artemidorus and Basil (Greek).
    Martyr Leptina (Greek).
    Martyr Glycon (Greek).

    16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. 18 You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

    21 “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.

    About Abbot Tryphon

    The Very. Rev. Abbot Tryphon is Igumen of All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. Situated in the heart of a beautiful forest, surrounded by the Salish Sea, the monastery is reached by ferry from either Seattle, or Tacoma, Washington.

    All-Merciful Saviour Monastery is a monastery of the Western American Diocese, under the omophor of His Eminence Kyrill, Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America. The Monastery is a non-profit 501 C3 organization under IRS regulations. All donations are therefore tax deductible.

    We depend on the generosity of our friends and benefactors. You can donate to the monastery through PayPal, or by sending donations directly to the monastery's mailing address:


    60 days in Eastern Europe Itinerary

    Red Town

    Step off the beaten path and head to Sighisoara Historic Center and Citadel of Alba Iulia. Get out of town with these interesting Sibiu side-trips: Sighisoara (Sighisoara Clock Tower & Scara Acoperita-Covered Stairway), Alba Iulia (Catedrala Reintregirii Neamului & St Michael's Roman Catholic Cathedral) and Sebes Evangelical Lutheran Church (in Sebes). The adventure continues: take in the local highlights with Walking tours, take in the architecture and atmosphere at Biserica Romano Catolica, examine the collection at Muzeul ASTRA, and don't miss a visit to Strada Nicolae Balcescu.

    To see ratings, traveler tips, more things to do, and tourist information, you can read our Sibiu trip app.

    Zagreb, Croatia to Sibiu is an approximately 7.5-hour flight. You can also drive or take a bus. You'll lose 1 hour traveling from Zagreb to Sibiu due to the time zone difference. Traveling from Zagreb in October, expect little chillier with lows of 4°C in Sibiu. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 2nd (Fri) early enough to drive to Brasov.


    Saranda, Albania

    Get a sense of the local culture at Gjirokaster and Penisola Di Porto Palermo e Castello. Explore hidden gems such as Dhermi Beach and Pulebardha Beach. Explore Saranda's surroundings by going to Kalaja e Borshit (in Borsh), Himare (Gjipe Beach & Jale Beach) and Gjirokaster (Skenduli House, Ethnographic Museum, &more). It doesn't end there: explore the ancient world of Agios Saranda.

    For reviews, traveler tips, ratings, and more tourist information, read our Saranda sightseeing planning site.

    Traveling by shuttle from Ohrid to Saranda takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive or take a bus. The time zone difference moving from Central European Standard Time (CET) to Eastern European Standard Time (EET) is 1 hour. Plan for a bit warmer temperatures traveling from Ohrid in September, with highs in Saranda at 32°C and lows at 21°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 25th (Tue) so you can travel to Athens.

    Things to do in Saranda

    Side Trips


    Sainte-Rose, Reunion Island

    Sainte-Rose is a commune on the east coast of the French island and department of Réunion.GeographyThe commune is bordered by the communes of La Plaine-des-Palmistes, Saint-Benoît, Saint-Joseph, Saint-Philippe and Tampon and by the Rivière de l'Est to the nord. On the 20th (Fri), delve into the lush surroundings at Foret de Bebour and then take in the architecture and atmosphere at Notre-Dame des Laves.

    For maps, more things to do, and more tourist information, you can read our Sainte-Rose trip planning app.

    Use the Route module to find suitable travel options from Amiens to Sainte-Rose. Due to the time zone difference, you'll lose 3 hours traveling from Amiens to Sainte-Rose. Plan for warmer temperatures traveling from Amiens in November, with highs in Sainte-Rose at 33°C and lows at 25°C. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 21st (Sat) to allow enough time to travel to Pagadian City.


    Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

    Gibraltar of the North

    Start off your visit on the 26th (Mon): contemplate the long history of Palace of the Grand Dukes (Palais Grand-Ducal), take in the architecture and atmosphere at Cathedrale Notre-Dame, get to know the fascinating history of Le Chemin de la Corniche, then contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Church of Saint John the Baptist, then steep yourself in history at Holy Ghost Citadel, and finally pause for some serene contemplation at Saint Michel's Church. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: shop like a local with Am Tunnel (BCEE Batiment Rousegaertchen), get engrossed in the history at Museum Drai Eechelen, brush up on your military savvy at Fort Thungen, stroll the grounds of Luxembourg American Cemetery Memorial, then explore the historical opulence of Larochette Castle, and finally delve into the distant past at Beaufort Castles.

    For ratings, reviews, maps, and other tourist information, go to the Luxembourg City online trip builder.

    Getting from Brussels to Luxembourg City by car takes about 2.5 hours. Other options: take a bus or take a train. July in Luxembourg City sees daily highs of 28°C and lows of 17°C at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 28th (Wed) to allow enough time to travel to Vaduz.

    Things to do in Luxembourg City

    Side Trips


    Chișinău Etymology and namesThe origin of the city's name is unclear, but in one version, the name comes from the archaic Romanian word chișla (meaning "spring", "source of water") and nouă ("new"), because it was built around a small spring, at the corner of Pușkin and Albișoara streets.The other version, formulated by Ștefan Ciobanu, Romanian historian and academician, holds that the name was formed the same way as the name of Chișineu (alternative spelling: Chișinău) in Western Romania, near the border with Hungary. Discover out-of-the-way places like Sculpture of Lovers and Asconi Winery. Get some historical perspective at Tighina Military Cemetery and Noul Neamt Monastery. Explore the numerous day-trip ideas around Chisinau: Comrat (Sankt Ioan Botezator & Monument of Lenin) and Tiraspol (The Christmas Cathedral, Eternal Flame, &more). There's lots more to do: explore the world behind art at National Museum of Moldovan Art, ponder the world of politics at Chisinau City Hall, take in the architecture and atmosphere at Dormition of the Theotokos, and appreciate the history behind Afghan War Memorial To Sons of Motherland - Eternal Memory.

    For other places to visit, reviews, maps, and tourist information, read our Chisinau tour planner.

    Take a bus from Orhei to Chisinau in 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 23rd (Thu) to allow enough time to drive to Straseni District.


    Watch the video: The Holy Island of Lindisfarne on the Northumberland Coast


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