Seraphim Danckaert is Director of Mission Advancement at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary. He holds an M.Div. from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and is a Ph.D. candidate in theology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Have you heard of “Grandpa” Dobri, the famous beggar who has sat for over 20 years at the entrance of the majestic Alexander Nevski cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria?
His fame has spread throughout Bulgaria — and is now garnering international attention. The YouTube video posted above gives a good overview of how Dobri’s life and witness has touched many lives. The video begins:
A 100-year-old beggar in a threadbare coat, “Grandpa” Dobri, is already celebrated as a saint in Bulgaria – a symbol of goodness in a country ravaged by poverty and corruption.
For over 20 years, Dobri Dobrev has been begging on the streets of Sofia, collecting alms worth tens of thousands of euros. And he has given it all to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
This has made him the largest private donor of the golden-domed Alexander Nevski cathedral even as he maintains an ascetic lifestyle.
“Take some bread, it comes from God!” the hunched old man mutters under his straggly white beard, offering believers the buns that other people give him as they drop coins into his plastic cup and bend to kiss his hand.
“He gave us 35,700 leva (18,250 euros, $24,900) in 2009, while living a life deprived of all comfort,” Bishop Tikhon, chairman of the cathedral’s trustees board, told AFP.
“Dobri is an extremely rare phenomenon.”
Several smaller monasteries and churches also say they have received between 2,500 and 10,000 euros each from the small man wearing peasant leather sandals.
These sums are considerable in Bulgaria, which remains the European Union’s poorest member seven years after joining the bloc and where the average monthly salary is about 420 euros.
Watch the full report for more details, and let us know what you think: Is “Grandpa” Dobri a modern-day saint?
Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network. You can find the Orthodox Christian Network on Google+.