The Transfer of the Relics of Sainted Ilarion, Bishop of Meglina

Commemorated on October 21

      The Transfer of the Relics of Sainted Ilarion, Bishop of Meglina, to the Bulgarian city of Tirnovo, occurred in the year 1206. Prior to this event the body of the saint rested in the city of Meglina.
      Saint Ilarion had received a fine Christian upbringing. In his 18th year of life he left the world and withdrew to a monastery, which he was soon chosen to head because of his virtuous and strict life. Concerning himself over the salvation of the souls entrusted to him, he unceasingly exhorted the monks not to waste the precious time intended for salvation. With a particular persistence Ilarion eradicated drunkenness. In the year 1134 he was ordained bishop of Meglina. At this time the Bogomil heresy was spreading through Bulgaria. The heretics followed a false teaching, in which good and evil manifest themselves of independent principles, and between which ensues a struggle. With an apostolic zeal and fervent prayer Saint Ilarion rose up in struggle against the heretical pseudo-teaching. He untiringly unmasked the heresy of the Bogomils, snatching from them their hypocritical guise of piety. In refuting the teaching of the heretics, Saint Ilarion said: "Ye be not Christians at all, since ye are hostile to the Cross of Christ the Saviour, ye acknowledge not the One God, ye slander the ancient Revelation (Old Testament), venerated by Christians. Ye do deceive simple people by hypocritical meekness, whilst full of pride. True piety is not possible in those, who see not in themselves corruption of heart, nor beseech the grace of God by prayer and humility. Evil thoughts, envy, vanity, greed, lie – are not the deed of some evil thing within man and to be conquered by mere fasting. These vices – are the fruit of self-love which therefore demands rooting-out by spiritual efforts".
      After the saint's exhortations many of the heretics abandoned their pseudo-teaching and returned to the bosom of Holy Church. Saint Ilarion the same way also untiringly and successfully struggled against the rise in Bulgaria of the Armenian Monophysite heretics, who acknowledged in Christ only the Divine nature. The saint reposed in the year 1164.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.