Kalofer Monastery (nunnery)
The Presentation of God's Mother to the Temple
The Kalofer nunnery “The Presentation of Mother God to the Temple” is situated in the Balkan town of Kalofer, on the right bank of the Tundzha River.
The monastery has functioned as a nunnery ever since its establishment in the 18th century. The exact date of its emergence is not known. Initially, the church was small and made entirely of wood, as the Turkish authorities did not permit the construction of high Christian churches. The present-day church of white stones was built following the monastery’s second destruction by fire when the number of nuns already reached 90. Construction works ended in 1862 with the help of donations, raised by nuns in Russia. Unfortunately, however, only 15 years later – on July 26, 1877, the monastery together with the entire town and three neighbouring nunneries was set on fire for the third time. Hundreds of people from the town of Kalofer and nearby villages, as well as monks and nuns were slaughtered by Turkish soldiers during the temporary withdrawal of Russian troops. The bones of those killed were laid in a bone-vault just beneath the altar in its southern part. Following Bulgaria’s liberation from Turkish rule, the nuns of the four Kalofer nunneries that survived the slaughter decided to restore only “The Presentation of Mother God to the Temple” as it was the biggest monastery. For that purpose nuns were once again sent on a fund-raising mission to Russia. In 1881 the monastery was successfully rebuilt, while icons and church plates were gifted to it from Russia. The church was painted no earlier than 1960. It possesses copies of several miracle-working icons of Mother God –from the nunnery in Kazan, from the monks’ brotherhood in Tihvin, from the cathedral in Smolensk, from the Athos-based St. Atanasii monastery and a copy of Vladimir’s Holy Mother, also a gift from Russia. The monastery also keeps three icons that survived the slaughter of the 19th c. – The Pecher Holy Mother (a gift from Kiev that was slightly burnt and that was stabbed by Turkish bayonets in three places), “Wseh skorbyashtih radost” (meaning “All those in grief will rejoice” that was also stabbed by Turks) and another icon, depicting the Holy Trinity, Christ’s Resurrection and many a saint, that was also partly burnt during the fire. The altar of the church preserves particles of the miracle-working relics of St. Mina and the New Greek saint Nektarii of Aegina. The nunnery obtained particles of the relics of St. Nektarii after a nuns’ pilgrimage to the Holy Trinity monastery on the isle of Aegina that was established by the saint. A spring of holy water named after the Holy Mother runs out just beneath the church in the place where the altar of the former wooden church stood and worshippers drink its water for health. Besides the main church, the monastery also has a chapel, dedicated to St. Mina and consecrated in 1950. The church holiday is marked on November 21. Since 1991, the monastery runs a religious school. Classes are held every Friday in a specially furnished room. Apart from Orthodox Christianity, the nuns also teach church choir singing to children attending the religious school. For the last 6 years children have also taken part in theatre dramatizations of works of Bulgarian writers such as Elin Pelin, Yovkov, Fani Popova-Mutafova, as well as foreign writers such as Dostoevski, Viktor Hugo and Balzac that have been adapted and directed by the nuns at the end of the school year. Apart from that, nuns also run optional religious classes at the primary school in the village of Vassil Levski, while during the summer they host a religious camp for poor and institutionalised children.
The monastery does not offer food and accommodation.
The monastery is situated in the upper part of the town of Kalofer. An asphalt road leads straight to it.