Shepherdess holy vision
Batoshevo Monastery rose back up in the 19th century after 400 years of oblivion
17 April, 2018
In the heart of Bulgaria, some 26km from the town of Sevlievo and 4km away from the village of Batoshevo, is situated a friary called The Assumption of Mary. There is also a nunnery in the village itself called Presentation of the Blessed Virgin. The friary was established during the Second Bulgarian Empire by King Mihail II Asen (1246-1256), as evidenced by an inscription found near the modern cloister. In the 13th-14th century it was even a stauropegic monastery, meaning directly subordinated to the Patriarch and exempt from taxes. Following the Ottoman conquest of the late 14th century, however, the monastery became desolate for over four centuries. In 1809, a monk named Isaija settled in its ruins. One day, a local shepherdess told him about a vision she had. One night, while looking for her lost livestock, she saw a mother with her child, sitting on a rock and crying for having been abandoned and left homeless. The monk built a hut near that rock and used it as his home. He relayed the vision to the local residents and prayed that a new home of the Virgin Mary is built on that spot one day. In 1831, a plague epidemic broke out and many of Sevlievo's residents fled to the mountain to save themselves. There, they remembered the vision of the shepherdess and the monk's words, and vowed to raise a new cloister on the site of the old monastery if they got back alive and well. And so, in 1836 The Assumption of Mary church was built together with some of the residential buildings and the monastery rose from the ashes. The inscription showing the time of the old monastery's construction was found during the work on its successor. Today, the inscription is kept in the National Archaeological Museum in Sofia. The following year, there were already 23 monks in the restored monastery, a church school was opened for the training of novices and children from the area. The monastery church, the cloister's biggest landmark, is a three-apse, cross-in-square design pseudo-basilica of stone. Besides a closed one, it has an open, richly-painted narthex. Brick layers are embedded in the sandstone walls, lending it style and beauty. The large woodcut iconostasis of walnut made by a master from the Tryavna School of art is extremely valuable. An icon of the Virgin Mary sits in its centre. During the April Uprising, the monastery was burnt down but the church miraculously survived. The cloister was restored immediately after the national liberation of 1878 and completed with a belfry of cut stone.
The monastery church is a true architectural masterpiece.
The belfry dates back to the 19th century.
The monastery church's frescoes are the work of prominent National Revival masters of the mid-19th century.