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Dobri Dobrev (Stryzhak) Icon - S452

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Dobri Dobrev was a Bulgarian ascetic. Born in 1914, his father died in World War I and he was raised by his mother. He married in 1940 and had four children. He soon found himself serving in World War II, during which an explosion left him almost completely deaf. 

He grew increasingly detached from the material world and became highly devoted to the spiritual life. Few details are known about his middle and later years, as he disliked fame and refused to talk about himself. 

Around the turn of the 21st century, when he was in his 80s, he began to give away his belongings for the benefit of the Church. When he no longer had a home to live in, his parish in Bailovo, Bulgaria, gave him a small room.

He wore homemade clothes and walked some 25 km every day, living as a beggar. Unbeknownst to anyone, he kept none of the money he received; instead, he donated to churches, monasteries, and orphanages across Bulgaria. Whether passers-by gave him money or not, he was always eager to share his love for Jesus Christ with them. When he did receive a donation, he was known to show his thanks with a prostration.

His concern was not with raising money, however, and he did not consider himself a beggar. His aim was to save souls through his work, and making an investment in the future of the Orthodox Church in Bulgaria and its people. His fame began to spread across the Internet in 2012, when he was 98 years old. By this time, he had collected some €40,000 ($46,000 US) for the benefit of others.

He was known as "Elder Dobri" or "Grandpa Dobri." To those who saw his simple life, he was known as kind, humble, and respectful. His holiness was clearly felt by many, and he was considered a living saint.

Elder Dobri reposed on February 13, 2018, at the age of 103. He is already venerated as a saint throughout Bulgaria, and knowledge of his life is spreading throughout the world. There is little doubt that this holy man, whose life touched so many with the love of Christ, will someday be officially glorified by the Church.

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