St Three Saints
The Chepintsi monastery’s front door is just a couple of steps away from the northeastern part of Sofia City ring road. The monastery, named St Three Saints (Vasilii the Great, Grigorii the Theologian and John Chrysostom), is one of the few monasteries in Bulgaria that are to be found in the field and not in the mountains. It lies close to the remains of the Thracian “Big Hillock” and about 1,500m away from the former village of Chepintsi, currently a quarter of Sofia.
There is no information on the exact date of establishment of the monastery but according to local people, it dates back to unremembered times. Many years ago, the first monks lived in dug-outs in the hillock. Excavations have uncovered a vaulted tomb (bone-vault) that was used by the monks for a hermitage – i.e. a secluded place used for praying during fasting periods. During the Ottoman rule, the monastery often sheltered Bulgarian rebels, which was the reason for its frequent destruction by the Turks. One of its biggest destructions happened in 1872 following the robbery of the Turkish treasury at the Arabakonak pass and the capture of Dimitar Obshti and later, the Apostle of freedom, Vassil Levski. At that time, a lot of monasteries in the so-called Sofia “Little Sveta Gora” area were set on fire due to their hosting of rebel committees. The Chepintsi monastery was no exception. Hardly anything remained of it, as it was entirely built of wood. Only the stone foundations and ceramic roof-tiles were left. A wooden cross, fixed by the local people in the place of the monastery reminded of its existence for years. At the time of the monastery’s destruction, it sheltered 24 monks, some of which were send in exile to Diarbekir (Asian Turkey), while others managed to reach the Sedemte Prestola (Seven Altars) monastery in the Balkan mountains. Following Bulgaria’s liberation from Ottoman rule in 1878, one of the monks, Nayden Kentrov, returned from exile and together with three other adherents built a fountain with three spouts in the place of the monastery and put the following inscription on it: “God bless him who drinks water from this fountain, and god forgive him when he dies”. In 1906, a new monastery was started to be built in the place of the old one, upon the zealous insistence of an old lady living in Chepintsi, known as grandmother Gesha. The monastery was dedicated to St Three Saints, as according to the old lady’s words, she often saw in her dreams three angels that would not leave her until a monastery is built. On several religious holidays – Ilinden, St Holy Spirit and the Birth of God’s Mother – a lot people have gathered at the monastery for many years now. According to some, this might be due to the former existence of chapels dedicated to those saints in the old monastery. Apart from the main church, the present-day monastery also has two new chapels dedicated to St Petka and St Prophet Ilia, the walls of which are entirely painted, and a new residential building for the nuns, built in 1993 with the help of donors. The official holiday of St Three Saints is celebrated on January 30. A small, almost destroyed building built in 1906, called Shatovska church is also a part of the complex.
The monastery does not offer food or accommodation.
Easy to reach by car; it lies exactly on the ring road surrounding Sofia close to Chelopechene and Chepintsi.