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Dobri Dimitrov Dobrev (Bulgarian: Добри Димитров Добревpronounced [ˈdɔbri dimiˈtrɔf ˈdɔbrɛf]; 20 July 1914 – 13 February 2018), better known as Grandpa DobriElder Dobri (Bulgarian: Дядо Добриromanized: Dyado Dobri) or The Saint of Bailovo, was a Bulgarian ascetic who walked over 20 kilometres (12 mi) each day to sit or stand in front of the Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky in Sofia to collect money for charitable causes. Dobrev donated all the money he collected to charities, orphanages, churches, and monasteries. He turned 100 in July 2014In Bulgarian, his name translates as “good” or “kind”.

Over the years, Dobrev became detached from the material aspects of life and devoted himself entirely to the spiritual world, specifically in the Orthodox faith. Around the year 2000, he decided to donate all his belongings to the Orthodox church when he began to live very modestly in a small extension to the Saints Cyril and Methodius parish church in his native village of Bailovo. About that time, he embarked on his mission to raise funds for the restoration of churches and monasteries across Bulgaria. It is this new direction in life and the example he gave with his asceticism that led many to call him The Saint of Bailovo.

98 year old dobri dobrev, a man who lost most of his hearing in the second world war, has traveled 25 kilometers every day for decades from his village in his homemade clothes and leather shoes to the city of sofia – a trip he made by foot until recently – where he spends the day begging for money.


though a well recognized fixture around several of the city’s chruches, known for his prostrations of thanks to all donors, it was only recently discovered that he has donated every penny he has collected — over 40,000 euros — towards the restoration of decaying bulgarian monasteries and churches and the utility bills of orphanages, living entirely off his monthly state pension of 80 euros and the kindness of others.


Origins:   The photos of the elderly man with a beard reproduced above are familiar to many Bulgarians, who recognize 98-year-old Dobri Dobrev as a fixture on the streets of Sofia, where he regularly begs for money. What many didn’t know until fairly recently was that Dobrev wasn’t begging for himself: he has lived off his monthly government pension and some assistance provided by others, while donating all the money he had collected (estimated at about 40,000 euros) to help cover the costs of restoring decaying Bulgarian monasteries and churches and paying the utility bills of orphanages.

Dobrev’s fame is now spreading outside of Bulgaria as his story is disseminated via the Internet. For example, one laudatory web description of Dobrev states:


He is called a saint, an ascetic hermit, a man who doesn’t take money, an angel, a divine stranger, a traveler from the past, a beggar. Few Bulgarians have not heard of Good Old Dobry Dobrev, many are those who do not have the faintest idea of the true holiness of his cause. This year Elder Dobry turned 98 and still continues to give selflessly to the others his only treasure — kindness and humanity. And at this advanced age he can be spotted from time to time throughout metropolitan streets in search of generous people to implement his cause. 

Elder Dobry has been raising money for decades to restore churches throughout Bulgaria. He is not afraid of cold and bad weather, does not

worry that he will remain hungry. He is not angry at people’s indifferent to his work. The old man radiates kindness and meekness. He is ready to kiss the hand of a who has dropped a coin into his box, to talk about God with every passerby, to give thanks for the charity.

But Elder Dobry is not a beggar. He does not rely on strangers to save his body, but he wants to save their souls. A man like him cannot be called a beggar who has forgotten his needs and is raising money for a lofty mission, far from the material benefits of life. To donate to the church means to bestow to the generations, to faith in a godly future to build a benevolent Bulgaria. This is what Elder Dobry thinks he does without expecting gratitude. He respects people. He sees the world around him is selfish, but he doesn’t get upset and instead provides an example with his donations. So many people worship the faith of the man who doesn’t take money. We don’t know much about Elder Dobry’s life. He does not want fame and does not want to divulge details of his daily life. It’s enough for him people to know he is a good person who collects money and donates it to the Bulgarian churches and monasteries.

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