Seven Altars Monastery, village of Osenovlag

The monastery is also known as Osenovlagski Monastery, although it is situated near the village of Elenov Dol. The official name of the monastery is „Virgin Mary“, but its popular name derives from the plan of the church, which includes seven small chapels, each with a separate altar.

It is believed that the monastery was founded during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. The legends associate it with the Bulgarian Tsar Peter Delyan (1001-1041) and his uprising in 1040 against the Byzantine rule. His third brother settled in Pazardzhik, where he took the monk’s name Georgi. When the pechenegs invaded, he went to the second brother Damian in Vratsa where they decided to build the Seven Altars. The two became the first monastery founders. There is a claim that Peter Delyan himself finished his life here and was buried in the monastery church.

The earliest evidence of the monastery’s existence is a four-gospel with an appendix from 1511 and an official document from 1554 found in the monastery’s library. This is sure proof that at the beginning of the sixteenth century the monastery already existed. It is also known that in 1737, at the command of Sultan Mahmoud I, the monastery was devastated and destroyed.

Following the Russo-Turkish War in 1770 and the signed peace agreement, Sultan Abdul Medjit issued a decree allowing subordinate Christians to build churches and monasteries. Then the monastery was reconstructed and returned to life.

The existing temple Rozhdestvo Presvetaya Bogoroditsa (Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God) dates back to the 18th century and was erected on the foundations of an older church. It is unique with its seven chapels (altars) that are included in the church’s general plan. The central one is dedicated to The Assumption and the rest by the brothers Makaveevi, to Archdeacon Stefan, to Saint Sedmochislenitsi, St. St. Kozma and Damian, St. Archangel Gabriel and the Annunciation of the Most Holy Mother of God.

It was a favorite place for worship of the Bulgarian classic Ivan Vazov, who wrote the poem Klepaloto Bie for the monastery.

Among the sights of the monastery are the tomb of the famous Bulgarian writer Zmey Goryanin (1905-1958) in the yard behind the church.

The current monastery was reconstructed in 1970.

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