Under the reign of Tsar Ivan Asen II

Over the centuries, the monastic fraternity increased and the Monastery grew stronger. The oldest document kept in the Monastery’s archive, a land sale contract (980), allows us to guess how far the Monastery’s land boundaries had grown, and that the Monastery already enjoyed the status of an independent monastery.  

After the Bulgarian army defeated the Epirus ruler Theodore Komnenos at the Battle of Klokotnitsa (9 March 1230), much of the land in the area of the Chalkidiki peninsula, where Mount Athos is located, came under the rule of the Bulgarian tsar (king) Ivan Asen II. He visited Mount Athos and generously endowed the Athonite monasteries, issuing charters reaffirming their privileges. Today, the Vatopedi Monastery’s archive preserve the gift charter that Ivan Assen gave to it. A similar document was given to the Zograf Monastery. The charter has not been preserved, but a golden seal with the ruler’s image has been preserved. Also in an early copy of the Life of the Holy Twenty-six Monastic Martyrs it is mentioned that the tower in which they burned was built by the same powerful tsar. The oral tradition of the monastery has preserved the memory of the benefactions he did, and his image is depicted, along with the other donors of the Zograf Monastery, in the outer narthex of the Katholikon.

Compiled by: Georgi Mitov