There are still people who have a good heart and good intentions, seeking only to serve the needs of others. In Bulgaria, one of the largest donors to local monasteries, churches, and orphanages was a homeless old man. Kind to all and never thinking of himself, Dobri Dimitri Dobrev was committed to collecting donations in front of the Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky in the country’s capital of Sofia. Over time, Dobri Dimitri became an iconic figure for Bulgaria, the church, and charitable works. Proving that good works are still popular, Grandpa Dobri managed to win thousands of fans and followers on social media.
Before Dimitri became an ascetic dedicated to the church, he did marry and have four children with his spouse. After surviving World War I, and outlived two of his children, Dimitri became detached from materialism. Dimitri was an Orthodox Christian, and he decided in 2000 to live modestly and donate his personal effects to the church. With long white hair and a glimmer in his eye, Dobri lived up to the image of a saintly figure.
Dimitri lived humbly with a bed in the extension of a small church in his native village, Bailovo. Often, Dimitri preferred to sleep on the floor. When out seeking donations, the elderly beggar would sit hunched in handmade clothes with a cup for alms. For almost three decades, Dimitri was steadfast about collecting money to give back to the church. Bulgaria was listed as the poorest nation in the European Union, so Dobri’s fundraising was quite an achievement.
In Service To Other
It was fate, perhaps, that Dimitri’s title of Dobri translated to “good.” While Bulgaria struggled with corruption and high levels of poverty, Dimitri was a light of hope and symbol for others. Grandpa Dimitri loved children and some of his donations went to orphanages. Taking nothing given to him from passersby for himself, Dimitri lived off of a stipend of $100 a month.
Many churches, orphanages, and monasteries in disrepair and in need of funding were eternally grateful for Dimitri’s efforts. Grandpa Dimitri was the largest private donor for the Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky. In 2009, the saintly beggar donated 35,700 leva, which is equivalent to $22,500 dollars. Dimitri was often spotted begging for alms in front of the Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky or the Seven Saint’s church in Sofia.
People like Dimitri are a rare breed in today’s modern, harsh world. Grandpa Dimitri would speak to people about Jesus, whether they would give a donation or not, as he was faithful to his tenet. Despite people making Facebook pages that ushered the kindly beggar into Internet stardom, Dimitri kept away from popular culture. Dubbed a living saint by many who knew him, some passerby would cry at the sight of the pious man begging to aid others. At the age of 103, Dimitri passed away on February 13, 2018. After 25 years of being in service to others, it was time for the old man to rest.
Grandpa Dimitri didn’t only leave a lasting impression in his native Bulgaria but touched the hearts and minds of many worldwide. A beautiful artistic mural featuring Dimitri with a candle was painted on the side of an apartment building in his honor. The recipients of Dimitri’s largest donations did not have a vigil for the saintly beggar, but Grandpa Dobri’s humble, local church in Bailovo did honor his passing. Many passersby in Sofia knew something was amiss when they no longer spotted the elderly beggar making his rounds for churches and orphanages.
Reddit user Divide-By-Zero88 summed it up pretty well: “I remember reading about this man a couple of years ago and I was really touched by his life.”
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