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St. Nicolas Miracle Worker Convent, ArbanasiCod 2567

St. Nicholas Convent is located in a small valley in the southwestern part of Arbanasi Village. The foundation was built during the reign of Asenovtsi in the 13th century.

According to other historical sources the monastery was repeatedly burned and robbed since the ottoman domination of Veliko Tărnovo in 1393, and afterwards numerous consecutive attacks killed all the monks. It’s first restauration was made in 1680, and some structures of the new church were built from the donations of boyar Atanasi, a rich merchant in Arbanasi, involved in the plot for removing the sultan from the governing and killing him during a fight near Sushitsa / Karlovo today /. In 1717, 1729 and 1744 the monastery was abandoned because of the plague.

The monastery was burned again in 1798, and two years later it was taken by the local population. The church was used as a parochial church. In 1833, at the initiative of Priest Zotik using donations of the population of Veliko Tărnovo, Gorna Oryahovitsa, Lyaskovets, Arbanasi and surrounding villages, the church is renovated again. Priest Zotik is the restaurateur of the Transfiguration of Christ and St. Nicolas Miracle Worker Monasteries. He was the spiritual mentor of the nuns from the church and died during the plague epidemics. The monks transferred him to the Transfiguration of Christ Monastery and buried him there.

Shimonah Zotik is one of the few monks who dared to serve in the Church Slavonic, language which wasn’t used in the orthodox churches and monasteries in Bulgaria after its subjugation. During the ottoman domination the sermons in the orthodox churches were in Greek language unknown to the majority of population. For Shimonah Zotik, the father of P. R. Slaveykov said “They honoured him like a saint and therefore he was alive”. In the 60’s of the 19th century in the monastery there are 40 nuns that were weaving carpets and other fabrics, were darning stockings and other more.

During the April Uprising at the recommendation of Matei Preobrazhenski and monk Hariton, the nuns are weaving fabric and sewing clothes for the rebels from the First revolutionary district.

During the Russo-Turkish War, Russian military units were quartered in Arbanasi Village and they received help from the nuns of St. Nicholas Convent and as a token of gratitude Russia donated an iconostasis to the convent. The monastery was extended and its church became the first dome of Arbanasi. At that moment the prioress Zenobia Lambrinova visited Rusia and contributing to the change of the monastery into a girls’ monastery”, the third one of this kind during the Renaissance. “Sf. Nicholas” Church is a basilica with a high dome and an arched chapel, a “St. Ilie” from the north chapel, built and inaugurated at April 15th 1716. Shortly after the “Release”, the mural paintings on both sides of the church were removed and the walls repainted again. Many of the icons were also offered as gifts by Russian soldiers. Very few of the artistic works made it to our days. Two big chandeliers made of bronze from the church of the monastery, one with a hawk with two heads and an inscription praising the donation and mentioning the manufacturing place – Nuremberg – year 1746, June 8th, proved the connections of the local merchandisers – Vlachs, Albanians and Greeks or probably Bulgarians to be, with the Western Europe.
It is worth mentioning that during the reign of the Bulgarian monarchs – King Ferdinand and Czar Boris the 3rd, those two during their journeys used to spend the night at the monastery. The rooms occupied by them during their stay in Veliko Tărnovo eparchy are kept in their state as close as the original as possible.

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