|The ancient shrine at the St. Athanasius monastery |
in Bulgaria's Stara Zagora region.
According to latest archaeological research, the St. Athanasiusmonastery, still functioning near the village, has been founded in 344 bySt. Athanasius himself, reports the BGNES agency.
Until now, the Candida Casa monastery, founded in 371 AD in Galloway, Scotland, was believed to be the oldest Christian monastery in Europe, followed by the St. Martin monastery in the Pyrénées-Orientales, France (373 AD).
Archaeologists have examined objects in a hermit's cave and shrine located near the present St. Athanasius monastery in Bulgaria, and found evidence that the great saint might have resided there.
Additional studies in archives at the Vatican have confirmed that St. Athanasiuswas present at the Church Council in Serdica (modern Sofia) in 343 AD.
He then travelled on to Constantinople and is believed to have stopped in the area of present Zlatna Livada, which is located in Thrace on the ancient way betweenSerdica and Constantinople.
The small village of Zlatna Livada (pop. 123) is located near the Bulgarian town ofChirpan, Stara Zagora region.
St. Athanasius of Alexandria (296/8-373) was for a long time Bishop ofAlexandria, and is revered as one of the greatest Christian saints.
He did extensive work in theology and was one of the key figures in establishing the dogmata of Christian faith that are still accepted by Eastern Orthodox, Catholicand Protestant Christians alike.