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Dobri Dobrev is a Bulgarian man known for his extreme generosity. His many kilometer walks to collect money for charity outside Sofia’s Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky fondly earned him the titles of Grandpa Dobri and Elder Dobri. He is the church’s largest benefactor and the star of several documentaries showcasing his piousness and altruism.

Youth and Personal Life

Dobri Dobrev was born in a small village called Bailovo, in the Ihtimanska forest about 40 kilometers East of Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1914.[1] His mother worked in an orphanage while he was growing up. Dobrev’s father worked and donated money to the orphanage to pay for the electricity needed to heat the building. He fought and died in World War I when Dobrev was only two years old. His mother then raised he and his sisters alone.

Dobri Dobrev supported Bulgaria and King Boris III in protecting Jewish Bulgarians and refugees from across Europe.

Elder Dobri served King Boris III of Bulgaria as his bodyguard. He lost his hearing during an unsuccessful bombing in an attempt to assassinate the king. Dobrev took his survival of the bombing as a sign from God and retired from his service to pursue a life devoted to God. He married as World War II began and worked as a shepherd in a commune throughout the war. He lived through the Iron Curtain and opposed communism by continuing to practice his faith. He also witnessed the return of King Simeon II in 1996 after being exiled for 50 years.[2]

Ascetic Life

Dobrev works in agriculture, but mostly asks for money outside the Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky in Sofia, Bulgaria. He donates all the money to various charities or uses it fund the building and rebuilding of monasteries and churches throughout Bulgaria. Dobrev kisses the hands of every person who makes a donation. He does not know how much he has collected over the years.[3]

Calling Dobrev a beggar is not entirely accurate since he does not keep any money for himself, but only uses his allotted pension to survive.

It is estimated at over 40,000 Euros since he donated that alone to the Cathedral in the single largest donation ever made.[4] Dobrev noted a decline in donations during his interview in the 2013 Bulgarian documentary about his life. He formally received between 100 and 150 Euros in daily donations, but it is much less now.

He does not keep a penny of the donations, even though he lives on a pension of 60-80 Euros per month.[5] The same amount for all Bulgarians receiving a pension.[6] That translates to about 1.5 Euros per day. He also accepts donations of bread from those who want to support his endeavor.

Dobrev donated all his possessions, including his house, to the church. Prior to that, he walked 40 kilometers to and from Sofia every day in order to ask for donations to charity and the church. He would walk in any temperature and almost any kind of weather. Now he lives in Sofia next to St. Kiril and Methody Church in a modest room with no bed, only blankets, and pillows on the floor. He also rides the bus instead of walking since reaching 100 years old. He travels around the city to collect donations at different places and always speaks to the people he meets along the way.

Religious Beliefs and Charitable Giving

Dobri Dobrev rejects newspapers and television. He believes the devil communicates through these and that all things made by man are made by the devil.

Dobri Dobrev keeps his life as simple as possible and extends kindness to everyone regardless of their beliefs.

He believes that Lust is the deadliest of the seven deadly since it destroys families.[7] He does not feel as though he is a beggar, but a devout servant of God and the church. He states of his beliefs in the documentary, Mite, “The good will is just and true. Everything in it is good.” “We must not lie, nor steal, nor commit adultery. We must love each other as God loves us.”[8]

Dobrev donated around 40,000 Euros to the Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky in 2009. He also donated 5,000 Euros to St. Kiril and Methody Church. He collected 12,500 Euros to help restore the Eleshnishki Monastery standing east of Sofia, called Mother Mary, and a small church in the Gorno Kamatsi village.[9]

Global Recognition

Dobri Dobrev gained global recognition in 2013 after the release of a Bulgarian documentary chronicling his life and charitable giving. He became known across the world by his affectionate names Grandpa Dobri, Elder Dobri, and “The Saint from Village Bailovo,” given by the Bulgarians who witnessed his daily journey to and from the Cathedral.[10]

Dobrev has been the subject many articles through western media outlets like The Huffington Post and Yahoo! News.[11][12] He is the subject of the 2015 documentary, The Silent Angel.[13] He also stars in a Bulgarian documentary from 2000, called Mite, made by the Pokrov Foundation. It explores the role of religious philanthropy and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.[14]

References

Bibliography

Nova TV (2013, July 31). Dobri Dobrev the Saint English Version translation, Дядо Добри от с Байлово Отечествен Фронт. Youtube.

Pokrov Foundation (Director). (2010). Mite [Documentary Film].Internet Archive.

Starlight Entertainment, & Puppy Entertainment. (2015). The Silent Angel Movie.

Footnotes

  1. Nova TV, 2013
  2. Starlight Entertainment & Puppy Entertainment, 2015
  3. Nova TV, 2013
  4. Starlight Entertainment & Puppy Entertainment, 2015
  5. Nova TV, 2013
  6. Starlight Entertainment & Puppy Entertainment, 2015
  7. Nova TV, 2013
  8. Pokrov Foundation, 2010
  9. Heavenly Dreams of Easter. (2012, March 15). Стандарт.
  10. Nova TV, 2013
  11. Goldberg, E. (2014, February 27). is 99-Year-Old Man Begs Every Day And Gives It All Away To Churches And Orphanages. Huffington Post.
  12. Jolivet, L. (2013, May 31). 98-year-old homeless Bulgarian man donates thousands to restore churches. Yahoo! News.
  13. Starlight Entertainment & Puppy Entertainment, 2015
  14. Pokrov Foundation, 2010

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