May 31, 2019, storms rage in western and central Bulgaria, only in Sofia Plain is quiet…
A copy of the miraculous icon of the Holy Mother of God called “Troeruchitsa“ (“The Holly Mother with three hands”) has travelled from the Hilendar monastery at Aton Peninsula to the head office of Trace Group Hold Plc, Sofia. The copy was made in the holy cloister ordered by “Trace for People” Foundation (Bulgaria) and the “Life Aid” Association (Serbia). Prof. Nikolay Mihaylov, Eng. Boyan Delchev, Teodor Odrinski, Nikolay Mihaylov Jr. and the journalist Georgi Milkov, together with a Serbian delegation, carried the icon from Hilendar to Sofia.
„Every copy is miraculous,“ said publicist Georgi Milkov and stated: “The icon was painted in the Hilendar Monastery, it comes with the energy of the holy place and with blessing. The monastery is a sacred place for Bulgarians and Serbs” Milkov recalled. When Serbia fell under Turkish rule for two centuries from the 17th to the 19th century, this monastery was entirely Bulgarian. There are many Bulgarian holy relics in Hilendar. The Bulgarian carriers were able to see one of them – the famous chapel of St. Ivan Rilski, that has been built after donation of a Bulgarian man from Bansko city. The Holy Icon of the Holy Mother of God and her copy are placed in front of the altar of the main church of Hilendar; the altar is whole in gilding, donated by Bulgarians too.
Prof. Nikolay Mihaylov, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Trace Group Hold PLC, after bringing the icon at the holding office in Sofia, said: “Let this icon give a lot of sympathy to the Bulgarian and Serbian people… to our common Balkan spirit. Our goal is to continue to unite our nations through the spirit. “
Mr. Dejan Kostic – Chairman of Vranja City Church Board thanked Prof. Mihaylov and Mrs. Dessislava Lubenova – Executive Director of “Trace for People” Foundation for the donation, calling them „our angels“, who supported through their decision the long-held dream of generations of Orthodox Christians in Serbia.
Colleagues, guests and friends of TRACE bowed to the copy of the miraculous icon and asked for the help of the Mother of God. The miraculous icon remained all night long at the company´s premises, guarded vividly by Bulgarians and Serbs.
June 1st, 2019 – the Icon traveled to Serbia
The Serbian delegation has bowed to the tomb of Serbian king St. Stefan Milutin, buried in St. Nedelya Church in Sofia. The icon was put in a specially crafted wooden box and the delegation traveled to Vranya.
Bishop Pakhomie, the proto-abbot of Hilendar Monastery, the Bulgarian ambassador in Serbia – Mr. Radko Vlaykov, the main donors – Prof. Mihailov and Mrs. Lubenova, along with Mrs. Lubinka Milovanovic – chairman of the “Life Aid” Association, welcomed the icon. A lithium procession with the participation of representatives of the army, clergy, bishops, distinguished athletes, a brass band and thousands of citizens brought the icon to “Holy” Trinity Temple in Vranja. White canvas, path of rose petals, white doves, exclamations: „Our mother came“, „We didn’t have such a precious thing“ … joy, hugs, worship and reverence, faith. The energy of the crowd of spread in Orthodox chants and gratitude.
In his speech, the Bishop of Vranja said:
„Not only those who have gathered here and have been waiting for this day with impatience are pleased today, but also the Holy Mother of God and the Rev. Father Justin are pleased with us. Today is a really big day for the whole Vranja Diocese and the whole region.
On this great day the sky is joyful too!
I would like to thank the donors, Brother Nikolay Mihaylov from Bulgaria and “Trace for People” Foundation, they really showed great love and donating this icon have truly accomplished the teaching that our Orthodox faith goes beyond nations and that this gift of the Holy Icon unites the Bulgarians and Serbs, both in life and in church.
I express my gratitude to the donors and delegations who traveled to Hilandar and came back with this sacre relic here!
We have received a great blessing, but it is also a great responsibility to take care of this holy icon, to overcome the differences between the Christian peoples and to promote love with each other! “
December 17th 2016, Theatrical Christmas Evening of Trace Group Hold PLC
Mrs Lubinka Milovanovic – President of the “Life Aid” Association, attended the Christmas Theater Evening organized by “Trace for People” Foundation. She shared with the Executive Director of the Foundation Mrs. Dessislava Lyubenova her long-held dream to make a copy of the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary from the monastery in Hilendar as a gift to the people of the Diocese of Vranja. Mrs. Milovanovic knew that TRACE has been building burned bridges between Serbs and Bulgarians since 2014, through the work of builders and engineers, initially in Trace Railway Vrania, and later in the construction of Corridor 10, LOT 3 in Grdelica Gorge. (During the First World War, Bulgarians were declared occupiers, although at that time the territories around Vrania were Bulgarian. In 1922, a monument to the victims of the „Bulgarian occupiers during the war“ was erected in the center of the city.) “Life Aid”, chaired by Lubinka, was preparing food for socially disadvantaged families every day, using Trace’s kitchen in Vranja – the list of good initiatives of both organizations is long.
Thereby a decision was taken a copy of the Mother of God icon from the Hilendar Monastery to be made and donated to the Diocese of Vranja. Mrs. Lubenova committed half of the funds needed to be provided by “Trace for People” Foundation and the rest to be collected from voluntary donations by citizens and organizations.
The story and destiny of the miraculous icon is extraordinary. It intertwines the history of the Serbian and Bulgarian people and their affiliation with the Orthodox faith, in an interesting way.
The information about the icon dates from the 8th c., when the warriors of emperor Leo III the Isaurian (714-741) searched the homes of Orthodox Christians to search for icons, passing through the fate of St. John of Damascus, intertwining with the fate of St. Sava Serbian the Enlightener (XII c.), the latter – proclaimed a saint by the Bulgarian state and church. St. Sava, carrying the icon, reached the restless lands of the Balkans. Further, the icon – loaded on a donkey back, found its way to Mount Athos (the Holy Mountain Peninsula) on its own and stoped at a small chapel, where St. Sava and his father built the foundations of the Hilendar Monastery. The Hilendar Monastery has been Bulgarian sanctuary for two centuries, managed by Bulgarian monks. In 1902 it was granted to the Serbian state.
The copy made by order of „Trace for People“ Foundation and “Life Aid” Association is the fourth copy of the Three Hands’ Holy Mother of God, and was inlaid with 5496 gemstones. The first copy is in Bulgaria in one of the relics of Bulgarian Orthodoxy – the „The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin“ Monastery near Troyan city (Troyan Monastery). The choice of the location was made by the icon itself. The other two copies are situated in temples in Serbia.
Miracles happen … today. The glory of the miraculous icon of Our Lady of the Three Hands” is spread long and wide, year after year and century after century. She gives healing to those who come with faith to bow to her.