100 thousand people are praying for good health to St. John in Sozopol
Translation by Madlen Nikolova
A miracle! The tourists in the southern coastline exchanged their cocktails with candles. And istead going to the beach, there have been lining up for two days in front of the Sozopol’s “St. George” church. The reason - the miraculous relics of St. John the Baptist can be found there. And they are miraculous indeed. Amazing news are travelling all around the Bourgas area - one mute Russian tourist started speaking with the help of the relics. Yesterday everyone from Nesebar, Sunny beach, Pomorie and Primorsko visited the temple. In only two days 100 000 came to worship the relics of St. John the Baptist.
Blind and mute. Sick and crippled. Young and old. Irish and Romanian. Poor and millionaires. Pop stars and ambassadors. Everyone, with their heads bowed, lining up with a candle in their hands. Yesterday Sozopol was too small for the believers who came to worship the Relics of St. John the Baptist in the tiny church of “St. George”. “We cannot turn anyone back, that is why the church will be open all day long”, promised father Ivan, who is serving the church for 33 years. He shared that the huge queues have lead the orthodox authorities to consider the church being open overtime - till 20:00.
Will Sozopol become Jerusalem II? Absolutely, according to the locals. A fact - ingenious entrepreneurs in the tourist sector already include visits of the Relics in their tours. Sozopol is flooded by tourists. Buses full of believers from all over the country have occupied the center. Foreigners are also coming in crowds. “It is unprecedented that we see French people here”, say the locals joyfully. The town is being attacked by the pilgrims also by water - flocks of rich people’s yachts are blocking the bay, as they also want to worship the Baptist. The “new Bulgarians” are also in Sozopol. Irish families, who bought flats near Budzhaka, are also lining up with a candle in their hands. Nevertheless, most of the tourists are Romanians and Russians, who come to pray for health and good luck. “What is most important is to have faith when we visit the Relics. I haven’t seen the miracle with my own eyes, but, as we read in the Holy Scriptures, if have a seed of true faith I can move mountains.”, convincingly argues father Ivan.
There is no single citizen from Sozopol that hasn’t not already worshiped the Baptist, says the priest. The locals say that perhaps it could have been even better if the relics remained in St. Ivan island, because their strength is way higher there. “The relics shouldn’t have come to us, we should have gone to the relics. The idea behind pilgrimage is the travel itself. One needs to be alone with himself, to be humble and to repent for their sins. The relics should not become tourist attraction”, says Katia Nedelcheva. She is one of the young mothers waiting in the line. She came to worship the relics with her 4-months daughter. “I was not sure if the relics were authentic, but when they said that the box has St. John’s name on it, I said to myself - there is hope for Bulgaria”, admits Hristina Ivanova, who is also waiting in the line. “If one has faith, even if one lights a lighter, they will think they have found the Light”, the elder women in front of the temple commented. One thing is certain, all the local people know - the relics are authentic and are capable of healing.
Side by side with the commoners, three ambassadors came to worship too. In less than a month the small church in Sozopol welcomed the ambassadors from Norway - mrs. Tove Skarstein; Cuba - mrs. Ana-Gloria Bousa; and the US - mr. James Warlick. “Sozopol will have a splendid future” stated the US ambassador, before leaving the town. “Such an ancient, beautiful town with its unique history, and now even the relics of St. John! Sozopol is destined to have glorious days to come!”, thinks James Warlick. At the same time, the archaeological team of prof. Kazimir Popkonstantinov continues its work at the island of “Saint Ivan”. According to the archaeologist, who found the relics of st. John the Baptist, the small island surely hides much more secrets.
Local authorities and businesses back up minister Bojidar Dimitrov regarding the issue with the relics of St. John the Baptist
Translation by Madlen Nikolova
The ministry’s cabinet announced that Bozhidar Dimitrov’s position on the relics has received support from representatives of the local authorities.
Panayot Reizi – mayor of Sozopol, Nikolai Dimitrov— mayor of Nesebar, Blagoy Filipov – head of Nesebar city council, Ivan Nikolov - mayor of Sveti Vlas and Elena Ivanova - head of the Owner’s union from the Sunny beach resort have sent a letter to the Minister without portfolio prof. Bozhidar Dimitrov, stating that:
“Recently there has been a lot of polemics, questioning the authenticity of the archeaological discovery of the relics of St. John the Baptist. The debates involved authorative names and scientists, some of them doubting the genuinity of the relics and requesting further research. There has been a public denouncement of scientists who said that Sozopol and the Black sea coastline is the Second Jerusulem.
We urge all the participants in the argument to understand that this debate is completely meaningless and in fact hurts Bulgarian tourism and is against the state in general. There have been reports about Bulgaria by the international press and major TV channels, such as CNN, BBC and EuroNews for example, after the archeological finds. Bulgaria is attracting more and more interest - tourists and travel agencies are directing their attention toward the country. All the preconditions for a rapid increase in the number of tourists are present.
These are precisely the reasons why we support all the efforts of those Bulgarian scholars, lead by the historian Bozhidar Dimitrov, who are trying to make our country a first class destination for cultural and historical tourism. Bulgaria has no less historical sights than Greece and Italy - let’s allow the world to see them.
We are asking all the relevant authorities to be more determined in their support of such efforts, as this works in favour of Bulgaria by popularizing its historical and cultural heritage, and, moreover, by attracting tourists. The more tourists come - the more money will come to the state treasury. That is useful for us all.”