Saint Martyr Georgi Sofiyski Novi was born to devout Bulgarian parents Dimitar and Sara in the small town of Kratovo, Macedonia. After he learned to read and write, he mastered the goldsmith’s trade. When his father died, the handsome and smart young man was compelled to escape to the big city of Sofia because while in the small town it would have been easier for the Turks to take him by force into their faith and janissary army. But there, as well, the jealous eye of the Turks soon detected the rare qualities of his external and internal beauty. They sent to him one of their men of letters who pretended to be placing an order but actually wanted to engage him in a conversation about faith. Only 18 years of age with his smart questions and answers St. Georgi made his visitor feel ashamed and short for words. Then the Turk went back to those who sent him and said that that person was dangerous to the Mohammedan faith and should be converted to Mohammedanism by force.

Thus the cadi (the judge) called for Georgi pretending he wanted to place an order with him. Seeing him, he was struck by his exceptional beauty. He, again, struck up a conversation about faith and the young Christian managed on the one hand to defend his faith and on the other to prove irrefutably the dark side of Mohammedanism. The Turks who were present, felt raging animosity towards Georgi and took him prisoner. The priest at whose house Georgi resided and to whom he went to confession managed to finally get to him in order to inspire him with courage in confessing his Christian faith. When for the second time he went to court, the martyr defended himself with evidence from both faiths so that even the cadi was unable to plead him guilty. However he was unable to protect Georgi from his furious coreligionists and so he delivered Georgi into their hands. Then they led Georgi to the city square, made a big fire and threw the martyr into the fire with his hands tied. When the strings burnt and his hands were free, he started making the sign of the cross and prayed and finally said: “My God Jesus Christ, I entrust my spirit into Your hands!” Then a furious Turk hit his head with a log and Georgi fell dead. This happened on 11 February 1515.

No matter how hard the Turks tried to burn his body to dust they could not succeed: the wood would burn but his body would not! At night a Christian secretly took the martyr’s body to the ancient Saint Marina Church (located in the yard of today’s Sofia Bishopric) where he was buried officially with the cadi’s permission. His service was made by someone as far back as in the ancient times and his hagiography was written by Sofia priest “Priest Peyo” whose name remained in the acrostic of the canon and in whose house Saint Georgi lived. As it is asserted by Matey Gramatik, the hagiographer of Saint Martyr Nikolay Sofiyski, after some time the relics of Georgi the martyr were placed in one of Sofia’s churches (may be the same “Saint Marina Church”) for general public worship. Now their whereabouts are unknown. Part of them is kept at the Dragalevski Monastery “The Holy Mother of God”, and another part – in the Rila Monastery.

© Hagyographies. Sinodal publishing house, Sofia 1991, edited by Parteniy, bishop Levkiyski and archimandrite Dr. Atanasiy (Bonchev).

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