The Monastery of Zograf has its origins around the end of the 9th and the beginning of the 10th century. The earliest document of its existence is dated 980. According to oral tradition, three brothers - Moses, Aaron and John Selima from Ohrid, founded it in 919. During this time, hermitage in Bulgaria already had a practice and tradition and gave the world such a great saint as Venerable John of Rila.
When the Monastery was founded, the monks did not know which of the saints to choose as patron. They prepared a board on which to depict the face of their patron saint, and after leaving it in the katholikon, they retired to fervent prayer, asking the Lord to reveal the patron saint's name to them. In the morning, the monks saw with great wonder the image of St. George on the board. Because of the miraculous “painting” of the icon, the Monastery was named Zograf (zograf(os) in Greek means “painter” (from zoe= “life” and grapho= “scribe”).
Again, according to oral tradition, at the moment when this miracle took place, in a Syrian monastery (the Monastery of Phanuel), raided by Arabs, the image of St. George from the iconostasis suddenly disappeared. Then the monks heard a voice from heaven telling them that the Great Martyr had chosen a new house (monastery) for himself and they should follow him there. This was namely the Zograf Monastery of Mount Athos. The miraculous icon of Phanuel is still preserved in the Katholikon.