This is the story of 101 year-old Dobri Dobrev, a Bulgarian beggar who wants to change the world. Born in the small village of Bailovo, Dobri is the largest benefactor of the most revered Cathedral in Eastern Europe, as well as other crumbling monasteries and churches. He is praised by thousands of ordinary people who are profoundly touched by his compassion for others. Dobri has received worldwide attention from those who have been inspired by his life. His story is shared in hundreds of thousands of YouTube videos and Facebook posts. He has also been re-Tweeted on Twitter thousands of times where he is called "The most humble man on Earth” and "Dobri the Saint.”
During his childhood Dobri's mother worked at an orphanage. His father paid the orphanage’s power bill so that the children were not left in the cold, since there was no money to pay for it. Young Dobri watched as his parents displayed generous acts of kindness and love, and this example had a powerful and lasting effect on Dobri's young heart. When he was two years-old, his father was badly injured in WWI and died. Because of this, his mother was left alone to take care of Dobri and his three sisters.
This eventually led to Dobri’s defining moment when he served as a bodyguard to King Boris III of Bulgaria and his family. His life was miraculously spared during a failed bombing attempt on the King's life. This escape from death changed his life. He believed it was for a divine purpose. Retiring from the Kings service he made the decision to devote his life to God. He married and began a family as World War II spread across Europe. Dobri stood with all of Bulgaria and his King, pledging to help protect Jewish citizens. By the end of the war 50,000 Bulgarian Jewish lives were saved. Dobri's faith was challenged again as the Iron curtain descended, bringing over forty dark years of communism. Praying for his family’s survival, Dobri worked in a commune as a shepherd. He secretly defied the communist rule by hiking to a holy place deep in the mountains to pray. Dobri’s devotion to God only grew stronger. In 1996 he had the honor of welcoming back King Simeon II as he returned to Bulgaria after 50 years of exile.
Dressed in his homespun clothes and ancient leather shoes, worn throughout the seasons, Dobri can often be seen standing outside the church of St. Alexander Nevsky in Sofia. Every day he clutches his tin box, asking for donations. Softened by his appearance, local’s rush to put coins in the hands of this elderly man. Dobri Dobrev says he seeks redemption and asks God for forgiveness of his sins. His humbleness is unparalleled.
Until recently, he’d get up early every morning and walk the 40 kilometers from his village of Bailovo to the capital city of Sofia, braving the freezing cold or sweltering heat with equal grace. Dobri chose a simple life, never seeking the applause of man. He lives only for an audience of one...His God, and faithfully embraces his holy calling. Visiting cathedrals on public holidays he continues to raise money for churches and monasteries. His one concession in his advancing years, instead of walking, he travels around the city by bus. He enjoys speaking to the busy passers-by and kisses the hand of everyone who stops for a chat. To the people of Sofia he’s been known for many years simply as Grandpa Dobri – their beloved beggar.
Miraculously, the most generous private donation that the church ever received is from the old benevolent beggar. It was an astounding EUR 40,000. And despite his Spartan lifestyle, Grandpa Dobri has never taken a single penny from the financial gifts placed in his hands. He lives off his 100 Euro a month retirement and the fruit and bread people kindly leave him. Every cent of the donations the beloved Bulgarian beggar collected over the years has been donated to the Church or to those in need.
With his child-like sparkling blue eyes he wishes everyone who passes by good health and embraces them all with God's grace. He still reminds us to love God and to remember that our youth and beauty and money can go away, and that friendships are not always everlasting. Dobri continues to point us lovingly toward where to find the truth, and is never afraid to proclaim, "God is the way.” And judging by the reaction of the people who still listen with open hearts, he is right. Because most are moved to tears when he touches their lives with God's message. They know they are standing in a sacred place before a humble holy servant.
Dobri’s virtuous good deeds will likely remain a local secret. A story hidden and left untold. People say he’s given generous gifts to the most needy and to those living in shelters with no home. Yet he doesn’t feel the need to relate his good works. He continues to give without concern for material wealth, fame or even recognition.
This is the reason for his unbelievable energy and strength at the tender age of 100 years. He gives for God ... offering his life ... his heart ... his body and soul.
There is no doubt that as long as God gives him life and breath he will continue on. One humble man ... seemingly unqualified by the world ... but qualified by God, a Silent Angel to all those in need.