The Miracles of the Holy Virgin
Central to the monastery’s and pilgrims’ spiritual life is the Miracle Working Icon
of the Holy Virgin. It has belonged to it since its creation. It attracts many visitors from all over the country who come to pray, share their worries; ask for protection and well-being in life.
During the early times of the Ottoman rule, the icon was hidden in the territory of Kluviata
, where it was found again in the beginning of the XVIIth century and brought back to the monastery. On two occasions the icon disappeared by itself only to be found in the same spot by the perplexed monks. Following a dream of one of them, it was finally brought back permanently and placed in a special spot, created for it in the cathedral church of the monastery, on the right from the central door, in a separate iconostasis and onto a small platform. In this way, it could be accessed by everybody in need. Such tales might be part of the mythology surrounding the holy object, but they undoubtedly add to its fame.
The portrayal of the Holy Virgin is one of ‘tenderness’ (a term, used when baby Christ is gently pressed upon the face of Mary). It does have silver and gold repousse cover. It is considered that the icon dates back to the XIth century. On the side of Our Lady, one can see an inscription: ‘Vlaherniotisa’. Most probably, it means that the icon could be a copy of the famous Vlahern Holy Virgin, patroness of Constantinople and protector from unexpected military attacks.
The spaces on the sides of the Holy Mother are covered in a gold plated repousse, donated to it in 1311 by two monastery monks, the brothers Athanasii and Okropir. The inscription on is as follows:
‘ This icon of the Holy Queen, our Holy Mother in Petricion(Bachkovo), was repoussed by two blood brothers from Tao, the sons of Ignatii, Atanasii and Okropir, for 125 perperons(gold coins), together with the silver icon lamp in front of the icon, under the reign of the pious kings Andronik, Michael and Andronik Paleolozi in Byzantium, and under Constantine and Dimitrii Bagratidi in Georgia, in the summer of holy Greek 6819 and Georgian 6915.
Holy Virgin, please, accept this small gift from them and forgive and help them and also their parents, in the day of Last Judgement in front of your Son, our God. Amen, amen.
Year 6819, indict 9.
Jesus Christ, have mercy on their souls, dear human loving God, amen.’
On the head Of the Holy Mother, there is three dimensional diadem, plated with silver and gold(again, around the same time – 1311). Later, in the beginning of the XIXth century, it was covered with exclusively silver halo with the following inscription: ‘Petko Hadji i Dobra 1819’. The same couple, it is believed, donated the three dimensional silver facing, now covering entirely the bodies of Virgin and Christ. According to the tale, the icon ‘cured’ their sick daughter.
In connection with the discovery of the icon and its return to the monastery, there is an organised procession
on the second day of Easter that started in the beginning of the XVIIth century.
The Miracles of the Holy Virgin
Proof of Deacon Mihail
Deacon Mihail had slight mental disability but it did not prevent him from working in the temple. Once, in November 1997, during a mass when the shestopsalmie was read, sitting at his usual place, close to the Miraculous icon, facing it from the right side, deacon Mihail felt peculiar pleasant warm shivers from head to toe. He, then, turned to the icon and whispered: ‘Thank you, Mother Mary!’ The shivers of joy went through the right side of his body once again. After this occurrence, the deacon felt significantly better psychologically.
Three months later, again during mass, at the singing of the Eucharist cannon, deacon Mihail was standing, holding the candlestick, in pilgrimage in front of the royal icon of Jesus Christ. With his own eyes, he saw glistening rays of light under the church’s dome. With a hand on his heart, he whispered to himself: ‘Dear God, I need you, please, come down to me! ’. At this moment, a bright ray descended upon him and he felt tingling shivers all over his body.
After this miracle, his mind felt free from negative thoughts and he even regained his sleep, once irregular.
To this day, deacon Mihail continues to be in good health and to serve the monastery faithfully.
Another Story of Deacon Mihail – Maruda and Cancer
In the beginning of 1980s, while deacon Mihail was standing in front of the monastery, he met two women, one of whom was named Maruda. She had come to visit the Kluviata, with hope of curing nose cancer. The two women asked deacon Mihail to go together with them, so they could send joint prayers. When they reached the place, albeit with some difficulty, they entered the small cave, where the Icon of the Holy Virgin was found, and began praying. The deacon whispered: ‘Dear God, do not let her children become orphans!’. After a few minutes, Maruda felt the power of healing, coming from the side of Mihail. The same day, the woman had to visit a hospital for clarification of the future surgery. During the examination the medics were left in awe, as they discovered that the tumor had disappeared. After questioning Maruda, if she had tried some special treatment, she clarified that she only had visited the special place, where the Miraculous Icon of the Holy Virgin was found, and prayed for healing.
The Story of Elena Popova
Following a breakdown in health, Elena Popova was pronounced dead and her body was sent to the morgue of Smolyan’s hospital. Her daughter Rositsa went to pick it up and arrange the funeral. While Rositsa was in the morgue, she noticed that the thumb of her mother moved. The woman called for the medics and her mother was returned to life. After she recovered, Elena Popova went to Bachkovo monastery to meet the abbot, Filaret, and shared that during the time when she ‘dead’, she had a dream. In it, she was in the yard of the monastery and on the green lawn she saw a white lamb. Her desire was to dedicate her labour to the monastery. The abbot accepted and Elena stayed in the monastery until her death. Towards the end of her life, she adopted the monastic name of Evdokia and was later buried in the monastery graveyard.
But in that dream that Elena had, there was one more story. In it, she also saw Joan the Baptist, who looked very dirty, wearing ragged and muddy clothes. Elena concluded that this vision was referring to an old temple of Joan the Baptist, close to the monastery, which the villagers had turned into cattle-shed. Determined to change that, Elena herself took the initiative to send away all the animals and forbade to the villagers to use the temple in such a way. She and her husband restored and cleaned the temple with their own funds.