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  • Writer's pictureStefan Ivanov

Batkun Monastery St. Peter and St. Paul

My dear friends, I invite you to visit the village of Patalenitsa. Together we will head to the northern slopes of the Karkaria mountain from the Batash section of the Rhodopes, where we will visit the Batkun spiritual monastery "St. St. Peter and Paul".

Batkun spiritual monastery "St. St. Peter and Paul"
Batkun spiritual monastery "St. St. Peter and Paul"

Simon Peter, servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to you who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received the same precious faith with us: may grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

The Second Epistle of Peter 1:1-2

How do you get here?

The village of Patalenitsa is located 15 kilometers south of the city of Pazardzhik and is located along the picturesque and charmingly beautiful northern slopes of the Rhodopes.

The Batkun Monastery, which is outside the village, is also very easy to reach.

The turnoff is located on the section Patalenitsa - Vetren dol, by looking for a signpost where to turn off in the direction of the monastery.

The road there is wonderful, from the turnoff to the entrance of "St. St. Peter and Paul" in about five minutes.

Batkun spiritual monastery "St. St. Peter and Paul"
The doors to the Batkun Holy Monastery

Arriving in front of the monastery, leave your car on the side of the road and don't forget to enjoy the unique view opening from here towards the Thracian plain and towards the green and majestic slopes of the Rhodopes.

Batkun spiritual monastery "St. St. Peter and Paul"
Near the monastery

In spring, the uniquely beautiful lavender fields near Patalenitsa enchant every visitor!

Batkun spiritual monastery "St. St. Peter and Paul"
The bells of the monastery

Stepping through the doors of the holy place, the messages of the holy co-apostles Peter and Paul, whose names this spiritual abode bears, surface in my heart.

When we announced to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, we did not follow cunningly invented fables, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory, when such a voice came to Him from the glorious glory: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

We ourselves heard that voice, that it came from heaven, when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

The Second Epistle of Peter 1:16-18

Traditions say that the monastery is old, it probably arose somewhere between the 11th and 12th centuries (exact dating is missing).

In the buried church "St. Dimitar" in Patalenica, a marble slab with an inscription in Greek was found, in which it is claimed that the monastery arose in the Middle Ages, and more precisely between the 11th and 12th centuries.

Batkun spiritual monastery "St. St. Peter and Paul"

Again, according to legends, there was an ancient pagan temple here in ancient times, most likely of the Thracians - Besi, on whose foundations the current monastery was built.

Batkun spiritual monastery "St. St. Peter and Paul"

Near the holy abode are the ruins of the ancient city of Batkunion (Batkun fortress), once the largest city in the region, called "Brilliant and Rich".

Batkun spiritual monastery "St. St. Peter and Paul"

It was here in 1199 that the battle took place between the Bulgarian army, led by the boyar Ivanko, the murderer of Tsar Ivan Asen I, and the Byzantines, led by Michael (Manuil in some sources) Kamitsa, in which the Bulgarians held a brilliant victory through great cunning, and the Byzantine a general is captured.

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart by God to preach the gospel (which He had previously promised through His prophets in the holy scriptures) about His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who was born according to the flesh of the seed of David, and by the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead; through whom we have received grace and apostleship, so that in His name we may bring to obedience to the faith men of all nations, among whom you are also called by Jesus Christ.

The Epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Romans 1:1-6

Until the 14th century, the monastery played the main role of a spiritual center. This activity was stopped when the forced Mohammedanization of the Bulgarian population in the Rhodopes began and the monastery became an eyewitness to the cruel and sad events of "A Time Divided".

The well-known "Batkun Chronicle" originates from here, testifying to the violence imposed by the Ottomans in the Rhodopes.

In 1657, the monastery was first burned and destroyed to the ground.

There are reports that it was half-restored in 1774 and was attacked again by the Kurdzhalians. An old shutter in the courtyard of the holy cloister and the marble slab from the old monastery fountain with a commemorative inscription from 1781, currently embedded in the wall of the monastery, remind of these cruel times.

Despite the difficult times, an active, spiritual and educational activity was continuously carried out here, evidence of which is the existing cell school attached to the monastery.

Batkun spiritual monastery "St. St. Peter and Paul"

A few years before the April Uprising, the monastery was rebuilt again, and then a stone church was built, which still exists today, and was finally completed in 1870.

The monastery was more than once a refuge for dozens of Hajdush groups, and in 1872 Levski founded a revolutionary committee here with representatives from the villages of Patalenitsa, Batkun, Tsrancha, Elidere (today Vetren dol) and Yamurchevo (today Mokrishte).

Did Paul crucify himself for you? Or were you baptized in Paul's name?...

Because Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wise words, lest the cross of Christ be deprived of its meaning...

We preach the crucified Christ - for the Jews a temptation and for the Gentiles foolishness, but for the called themselves - both Jews and Greeks, Christ, God's power and God's wisdom.

The First Epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians 1:13, 17, 23-24

The stone church from 1870 has one nave, one apse and no dome, with a specific construction of the walls, lined with whitewash. A large and very beautiful bell tower is attached to its western facade, which looks more than dignified against the background of the proud Rhodopes.

A rare landmark of the monastery is the old vine!

Batkun spiritual monastery "St. St. Peter and Paul"
Bench for rest under the old vine

Abbot Archimandrite Basil, who lived here for more than 30 years and died in 1977, testified that old winegrowers, through thorough research, established that the vine was over 500 years old, which makes it the oldest on the Balkan Peninsula.

Batkun spiritual monastery "St. St. Peter and Paul"

Its dimensions were extraordinary! The thickness of the stem was over a meter in circumference!

Batkun spiritual monastery "St. St. Peter and Paul"

They say that years ago her crown was many times bigger than it is now, and it covered the entire courtyard of the monastery. But in 1978, a strong storm broke the scaffolding and knocked the vine to the ground, breaking the largest and most fruitful branch, which significantly reduced the size of this centenary.

Today, two new stems have developed in the trunk of the old vine, which are actively bearing fruit.

The vine produces black grapes, with firm grains, and it is mainly used to make wine.

The old vine has been declared a natural landmark!

Entering through the large stone door, you will find yourself in the middle of a real charm - uniquely beautiful green corners, benches, flower beds with sunny flowers and a small zoo that sheltered so many animals here against the background of the majestic, green, northern slopes of the Rhodopes.

The monastery has been declared a cultural monument!

I urge you to visit it too, rest here, enjoy the charm with which industrious hands have shaped these picturesque flower forms, see the animals that are being taken care of, and humble yourself.

Batkun spiritual monastery "St. St. Peter and Paul"

Paul, an apostle, not of men, nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead, and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia: grace and peace to you from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, to deliver us from this present impure world according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

The Epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians 1:1-5

Batkun spiritual monastery "St. St. Peter and Paul"

What can be seen nearby?

In the village of Patalenitsa there is the buried church "St. Dimitar", which you should not miss visiting on your journey to the Batkun Holy Monastery.

I wish you a pleasant stay!

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