Hilarion of Meglin
Our father among the saints, Hilarion, Bishop of Meglin in Bulgaria was born in the village of Promahi, Greece around 1080-1090. He is commemorated by the church on October 21 alongside Hilarion the Great and Venerable Hilarion, the Schemamonk, of the Kiev Caves.
Hilarion was born of Greek origin and received an extremally pious and christian upbringing by his devout parents. His parents had been barren and after years of unceasing fasting and prayer, the Virgin Mary appeared to his mother and comforted her with a promise that they would give birth to a son that would turn many to the light of the knowledge of God's truth.
When Hilarion was three he would chant the hymn "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabbaoth!"" constantly. At the age of eighteen, he joined a local monastery and was tonsured a monk. He was well educated and lived in extreme asceticism for many years. Due to his virtuous and strict life, he was chosen to be the Abbott of this monastery. He was very concerned with the salvation of the monk's souls. He was particularly persistent on eradicating drunkenness from within the monastery.
During his life, he was well known for founding and establishing a monastery based on the Rule of St. Pachomius. This monastery was dedicated to the Apostles. The oldest historical Synaxarion record for this saint does not distinguish if this monastery was dedicated to twelve Apostles or merely for the Apostles Peter and Paul. This clarification was later made through an archaeological find called the Markianos Code, Codex #524, dated to the 13th century. This text exists in the Greek language.
In 1134, he was consecrated Bishop of Meglin by Eustathius, Archbishop of Trnovo. Holy Tradition holds that Eustathius was also visited in a vision by the Virgin Mary who announced to him that Hilarion would soon be placed as leader of the Meglin region. During this time, the Bogomil heresy was spreading through Bulgaria. The followers of this group believed that 'good and evil manifest themselves as independent principles and a struggle between the two ensues.'
His lifelong struggle and contribution to the Orthodox church was against the Bogomils. In refuting there teachings Hilarion said:
- "You are not Christians at all, since you are hostile to the Cross of Christ the Savior. You do not acknowledge the One God, you slander the teachings of the Old Testament venerated by Christians. You deceive people by hypocritical meekness while full of pride. True piety is not possible in those who do not see their own heart's corruption, but by those who ask God's grace with prayer and humility. Evil thoughts, envy, vanity, greed, lies are not the deed of some evil thing within man to be conquered by mere fasting. These vices are the fruit of self- love which demands rooting out by spiritual efforts."
Because of Hilarions prayers and exhortations, many of the Bogomils abandonded there teachings and converted to Orthodoxy.
Hilarion struggled successfully against the rise of the Armenian Monophysite in Bulgaria, who acknowledged only the divine nature of Christ.
Hilarion pre-empted his death and reposed peacefully in the Lord in the year 1164.
At his request, he was succeeded as Abbott of the monastery, by his disciple of many years, monk Peter. It is noted in the Codex 524 that during his burial service that myrrh streamed continually from his eyes and that he later appeared on many occassions in visions to the monks of the monasteries to strengthen them in their monastic duties.
Transfer of relics
The transfer of the relics of Saint Hilarion, Bishop of Meglin, to the Bulgarian city of Trnovo, occurred between 1204-1206, by the Bulgarian Tsar Ioannis Asanis to the Church of the 40-saints. Prior to this event, the body of the saint rested in the city of Meglin.