The Maiden Monastery of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Maiden Monastery of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

According to a legend, in 1828 Susana Gencheva from Kazan, a nun from the Kalofer women’s monastery “Introduction of the Virgin”, had a dream of the Mother of God, who advised her to return to her hometown and found a monastery there. The deeply believing woman fulfilled the holy message. She gathered eight girls from Kazanlak as novices and began to teach them Church Slavonic worship and needlework. The newly created female metoch was sheltered in the house of the famous merchant of rose oil Ivancho Klatnata. After some time, the novices decided to become monks, and the haircut was performed by Archimandrite Kalinik – abbot of the monastery in the village (now town) of Maglizh, Kazanlashko.
The nuns lived in poverty and deprivation for 14 years with the dream of building a real monastery. One of the sisters, Zinovia Stancheva, took on the task most actively. In order to secure the necessary funds, she went with two other nuns to Braila, Romania, where her brother, Dimitar Stanchev, was a merchant. With his help, they collected the first thousand groshes from the Bulgarian community there. With 750 of them, they bought the land on which the monastery is now located. However, in order to legalize its existence, a firman (decree) was necessary, which the wealthy Kaloyan merchants living in Constantinople at that time, the brothers Hristo and Nikola Tapchileshovi, managed to obtain. Over the course of several years, the nuns traveled eight times to Russia through Constantinople and Odessa, visiting Kiev, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kronstadt, and other cities, collecting donations for the construction of the church and monastic cells. During the period 1867-1871, they also traveled to Serbia and Austria to raise funds for the construction of a women’s hospital following the European model.

Over the course of 15 years, the monastery courtyard was gradually built up – the high massive fence, the monastic cells in its northern part were built. According to the memories of the nuns of that time, the first haircuts in the new convent were done in the yard under the fruit trees, because there was no church yet. The monastery was called “Introduction of the Virgin” like the one from Kalofer, from which its founder came.

The first sod for its construction was made in 1857. The construction lasted nine years and was carried out by a group of builders from Debar under the leadership of master Kozma. The fact that during this time the local authorities appointed a Turk to guard the monastery is impressive, to protect it from encroachments by his co-religionists!
In 1866, the church was completed and consecrated by the Greek bishop of Tarnovo, Athanasios. Later, a girls’ school was also built here in 1872. The nuns received a large donation from Russia for the new church, including garments, icons, crosses, gospels, and a shroud, as well as funds for the painting of the walls and dome. The church utensils were gifts from Empress Maria, Metropolitan Isidor, and the Lavra of the Trinity-Sergius, Alexander Nevsky, and Kiev-Pechersk. The money and gift chests were sent to Bulgaria through the post office of Naiden Gerov, who was the Russian consul in Plovdiv at that time. The five monastery bells, cast in Moscow, were donated to the church in 1869. It can be rightfully said that these generous donations turned the Kazanlak Women’s Monastery into a symbol of Christian solidarity with the Bulgarians within the Ottoman Empire.

Sometime at the end of 1869, the writing of the temple began. The artists are respected and worthy people and true patriots: Georgi Danchov, famous throughout Bulgaria, who painted the dome in 1871, Petko Iliev Ganin from Kazanlak, who painted the nave of the church in 1870, Pope Pavel and his son Pope Nikola from Shipka, who painted the altar. All of them were couriers of the Apostle Vasil Levski and, traveling around Bulgaria to paint, fulfilled committee orders. 

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